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Can I play in a match play and stroke play event at the same time?

Looking to double up? Our Rules of Golf expert looks at whether you can compete in multiple formats at once

 

Golf Rules For Match Play

Golf Rules For Match Play

You won’t often find me traversing the course during the week – 9 to 5 and all that – and when the competition season gets into full flow, that can present a problem if I’ve also got a raft of club knockout matches to fit in too.

I’m forever trying to organise them within a pretty tight window, so when Steve Deacon’s email popped into my inbox I was up for a little detective work.

“Can a member play in a match play knockout event whilst also playing in a club Stableford the same time?”

I’m sure a few of you will be interested in this one. So what’s the answer? Can you double dip when a club tournament is on? Let’s take a look…

Rules of Golf explained: Combining match play and stroke play

You need to dig around a bit to find the answer, but it’s buried away in the Committee Procedures in the Official Guide to the Rules of Golf.

You can do it, but don’t be surprised if your club are not a fan. A section detailing what to do during a competition considers the question of combining match play and stroke play and says it is “discouraged as certain Rules are substantially different between the two forms of play”.

That said, if you ask to do it, or just crack on by yourselves and then ask for a ruling, “the Committee should make its best efforts to support the players”.

Let’s say you go ahead. We already know that the rules can differ for match play and stroke play so does one set take precedence?

They do. If you’re committee allows you to play a match when a stroke play competition is being held, the Committee Procedures say “the players should be told to apply the Rules for stroke play”.

That has some very practical effects which you may not have considered. For a start, concessions are out. Here’s another. Usually, if you play out of turn in match play your opponent has the option of recalling your stroke. They lose that privilege if you’re combining match play and stroke play.

You need to have your wits about you if your committee give you the green light to do it. It’s all right me writing no concessions, but it’s natural when thinking about match play to just give and go in certain circumstances.

If you’re playing in a medal, though, and forget to hole out, you’re going to get disqualified. If it’s a Stableford, it’s going to mean writing a zero on the card for that hole. A costly mistake that could outweigh the convenience? You decide.

Have a question for our Rules of Golf expert?

Despite the simplification of the Rules of Golf, there are still some that leave us scratching our heads. And as I’ve passed the R&A’s Level 3 rules exam with distinction, I’ll try to help by featuring the best in this column.

You can read all of Steve’s Rules of Golf explained columns here.

A Brief FAQ

What is match play in golf?

Match play is a scoring system where players or teams compete per hole, earning a point for each hole they win.

How does stroke play differ?

In stroke play, players count the total number of strokes taken over the course, aiming for the lowest score across all holes.

Can match play and stroke play be combined in a tournament?

Yes, some tournaments feature a combination, testing golfers’ versatility in both formats.

How does scoring work in combined play?

Typically, a portion of the tournament is decided via match play (by holes won), while the remaining is scored by stroke play (total strokes).

Why combine both formats?

Merging both offers a unique challenge, highlighting different skills and strategies in golfers, and providing variety for spectators.

Tom Irwin

Tom Irwin

Tom is a lifetime golfer, now over 30 years playing the game. 2023 marks 10 years in golf publishing and he is still holding down a + handicap at Alwoodley in Leeds. He has played over 600 golf courses, and has been a member of at least four including his first love Louth, in Lincolnshire. Tom likes unbranded clothing, natural fibres, and pencil bags. Seacroft in Lincolnshire is where it starts and ends.

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