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all square golf

I’m not bothered what the Rules say – It’ll always be ‘all square’ for me

Monty got on his soap box after TV commentators referred to games at the Solheim Cup as ‘tied’. Our club golfer knows exactly what he means…

 

Some habits have proven hard to break. I was refereeing at a recent international contest – England U16 girls against Switzerland – and part of my duties involved radioing scores and the status of matches after the completion of each hole.

It went something like this: ‘Game 2, hole 5, England win, match all square’.

Can you see the error I made? If you were watching the Solheim Cup last week, and are tuning into the Ryder Cup this week, it will leap off the page.

It certainly got Colin Montgomerie going – enough to compel the match play legend to fire out a tweet to his former colleagues at Sky Sports Golf.

“Please a match is all square NOT tied. It is only a tied match when we are playing in the USA and this week we are not. Thank you.”

A passionate plea, I’m sure you’ll agree. But it’s not just in the USA where matches are “tied”. It’s everywhere and has been this way for coming on five years.

golf match play rules

All square golf debate: Where do you stand?

The change came with the publication of the new Rules of Golf in 2019. All square, along with a couple of other cool match play terms – who ever tires of saying ‘dormie’? – disappeared from golf’s official lexicon.

So a match that was all square is now ‘tied’, though a tied hole can still be known as “halved”.

The logic behind the change appeared to be about employing more commonly used language. Would it make the game easier to understand for a casual audience?

Ah, yes. Growing the game. I’m not sure what was particularly difficult about all square as a term of reference. Surely no one has ever sat at home scratching their heads and frantically googling to end their confusion.

But now TV graphics and commentators trot out ‘tied’.

Except I can’t, and I won’t. Some things just live on and this is one of them. Do you think they’re saying ‘tied’ in the club knockout? No, they are saying all square.

This is not a one-person protest. I’m not going to be gluing myself to the club driveway, or spraying orange paint all over the new hole at Hoylake.

Golf’s glorious terminology, though, is worth preserving. It’s part of its history. It’s what makes the game great.

And so I’m not fussed it’s no longer in the rule book. I don’t care if everyone else’s hands are ‘tied’. I’m with Monty and I’m never going to stop calling it all square.

Now have your say

What do you think of this all square golf debate? Does it really matter, or are you with Steve and refuse to bark out ‘tied’? Let him know with a comment on X.

Steve Carroll

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 25 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former club captain, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the R&A's prestigious Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar.

Steve has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying, PGA Fourball Championship, English Men's Senior Amateur, and the North of England Amateur Championship. In 2023, he made his international debut as part of the team that refereed England vs Switzerland U16 girls.

A part of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. He currently floats at around 11.

Steve plays at Close House, in Newcastle, and York GC, where he is a member of the club's matches and competitions committee and referees the annual 36-hole scratch York Rose Bowl.

Having studied history at Newcastle University, he became a journalist having passed his NTCJ exams at Darlington College of Technology.

What's in Steve's bag: TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver, 3-wood, and hybrids; TaylorMade Stealth 2 irons; TaylorMade Hi-Toe, Ping ChipR, Sik Putter.

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