Match play in golf, a fun format you can enjoy in the Costa del Sol

 Tags: Golf

You might have heard of a golf scoring system in which the number of strokes played is not as important as the number of holes won. A system in which each hole is an independent battle that represents one point. Yes, we are talking about match play in golf, an exciting format which sees the golfer playing the hole with the least number of strokes win the hole and the player with the most holes won win the match.

Unlike stroke play, match play modifies the rules of the game to give it an exciting and more competitive twist. Have we piqued your interest? Keep reading to discover more about this golf format before coming to play in the Costa del Golf.


Strokes win holes and holes win games

Match play in golf is all about holes. A steady golfer that plays a low number of strokes throughout the game or progressively reduces their strokes around the course is not rewarded in match play. The rules are clear: the player that wins the most holes wins the game.

In match play, the number of strokes is only important in that it decides who wins a hole; unlike in stroke play where they are added up. A golfer may finish the game with the lowest total number for the 18 holes of the course but may not win a match play game. Conversely, a player with a higher number of strokes (who would never win in stroke play) may win because they won more holes.

match play


Match play, a system with only one winner  

In match play in golf the highly sought-after regularity and low number of strokes, which is a fundamental element of stroke play, loses importance in favour of chance, energy, luck and the golfer’s play at a particular moment. As well as slip ups and lack of knowledge of golf rules.

With match play, there can only be one winner. While in sports like football and even stroke play golf, there can be ties, but this is not the case in match play. If in a game two golfers win nine holes each, the rules state that they must play an additional hole so that a winner can be declared.


A unique set of rules upheld by players

The match is over when a player is “up” more holes than there are holes remaining to play. In match play, not all 18 holes of the course are necessarily played. This is a simple golf scoring system. The hole can be declared played if your opponent concedes it to you (for instance, if your ball is close to the hole and your rival concedes it to you) or when they receive a penalty (if, for instance, you play the wrong ball) that sees them lose the hole.

Match play is a unique format that relies on the players respecting the rules rather than having a referee in play. With this scoring system, it is just as important to respect the order of play (the player that has the ball furthest from the hole plays first) as to have a good knowledge of the rules of each competition. You can thereby avoid penalties and disqualifications, which you would otherwise incur should you breach the rules of the game.

match play pairs


Match play for pairs, two great options

As its name suggests, match play for pairs sees the match play scoring system be applied to a pairs game. There are two options:

  • Four-ball Match, when each player of each team plays their own ball. In other words, there are two teams – each of which has two golfers – within which each golfer plays their own ball. There are a total of four balls on the course. In this variant, the team with the golfer that has the lowest number of strokes wins the hole.
  • Foursome Match, when each team of two players plays with one ball. Here the team with the lowest number of strokes wins the hole. 

Match play in golf is an exciting scoring system that is played in renowned and prestigious competitions. A case in point is the Solheim Cup, which is taking place in the luxury golf resort Finca Cortesín in Casares from the 18 to the 24 September 2023.

While you can join the list of spectators of this prestigious tournament taking place this September, you can also play the 70+ golf courses in the Costa del Sol beforehand. Play the best courses, practise at the training tees and challenge your friends to a round of match play. You fancy discovering all the wonders of the Costa del Golf?

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