Match Play

In match play, the game is played by holes. Except as otherwise provided in "The Rules of Golf," a hole is won by the side that holes its ball in fewer strokes. In a handicap match, the lower net score wins the hole. A match (which consists of a stipulated round, unless otherwise decreed by the committee) is won by the side which is leading by a number of holes greater than the number of holes remaining to be played. The committee may, for the purpose of settling a tie, extend the stipulated round to as many holes as are required for a match to be won ("The Rules of Golf," 2-1, 2-3). The committee must also determine the proper handicap allowances before adjusting for competitions from different tees or in competitions between men and women from the same tees. (See Section 9-3c.)

(i) Singles Match Play
In singles match play, the match is won by the player who is leading by a number of holes greater than the number of holes remaining to be played. After handicap allowances are determined, Section 9-3c must be applied in competitions from different tees, or in competitions between men and women from the same tees.

Allowance: The higher-handicapped player receives the full difference in Course Handicap between the two players; the lower-handicapped player plays from scratch. (See Decision 9-4a/1 and 9-4a/3.)

Example: A player with a Course Handicap of 17 receives four strokes from a player with a Course Handicap of 13. The player receives them on the first four allocated handicap-stroke holes.

 

Four-Ball Match Play
In four-ball match play, two play their better ball against the better ball of two other players ("The Rules of Golf," Rule 30 and Definitions). After handicap allowances are determined, Section 9-3c must be applied in competitions from different tees, or in competitions between men and women from the same tees.

Allowance: The Course Handicap of all four players is reduced by the Course Handicap of the player with the lowest handicap, who then plays from scratch. Each of the three other players is allowed 100 percent of the difference. (See Decisions 9-4a/2).

Example: Players A, B, C, and D have a Course Handicap of 5, 10, 15 and 20, respectively. Player A plays at scratch, B receives 5 strokes, C receives 10 strokes, and D receives 15 strokes.
In mixed four-ball match play, strokes are taken as assigned on the players' respective stroke allocation table. The committee in charge of the competition designates the tees to be played.


 

Four-Ball Stroke Play
In four-ball stroke play, two competitors play as partners, each playing their own ball. The lower of the partners' scores is the score for the hole ("The Rules of Golf," Rule 31 and Definition of Four Ball). After handicap allowances are determined, Section 9-3c must be applied in competitions from different tees, or in competitions between men and women from the same tees.

Allowance: Men receive 90 percent of Course Handicap; Women receive 95 percent of Course Handicap.

Example 1: On men's side A-B, Player A has a Course Handicap of 8 and Player B has a Course Handicap of 20. At 90 percent of Course Handicap, Player A receives 7 strokes (8 x 90% = 7.2, rounded to 7) and Player B receives 18 strokes (20 x 90% = 18).

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Best-Ball-of-Four Stroke Play
In best-ball-of-four stroke play, four players play as a side, each playing their own ball. The lowest score of the side is the score for the hole. After handicap allowances are determined, Section 9-3c must be applied in competitions from different tees, or in competitions between men and women from the same tees.

Allowance: Men receive 80 percent of Course Handicap; Women receive 90 percent of Course Handicap.

Example: On a mixed side A-B-C-D (A,B men, C,D women), Player A with a Course Handicap of 8 receives 6 strokes (8 x 80% = 6.4, rounded to 6). Player B with a Course Handicap of 10 receives 8 strokes (10 x 80% =8). Player C with a Course Handicap of 12 receives 11 strokes (12 x 90% = 10.8, rounded to 11). Player D with a Course Handicap of 14 receives 13 strokes (14 x 90% = 12.6, rounded to 13).The lowest net score for each hole is then used to determine the overall score for the stipulated round. Strokes are taken as assigned on the players' respective stroke
allocation table.

(v) Two-Best-Balls-of-Four Stroke Play
In two-best-balls-of-four stroke play, four players each play their own ball and the two best balls on each hole is the score for the hole. After handicap allowances are determined, Section 9-3c must be applied in competitions from different tees, or in competitions between men and women from the same tees.

Allowance: Men receive 90 percent of Course Handicap; Women receive 95 percent of Course Handicap.

Scramble and Skins Handicap Allowance

 

Q. Does the USGA® have handicap allowance recommendations for a scramble or skins event?

A. Visit Section 9-4 of the USGA Handicap System manual for handicap allowances recommended by the USGA Handicap Department. Since a scramble is not played under the principles of The Rules of Golf, it will not be found in the manual. However, this recommendation seems to work well for most groups, regardless of minimum number of drives required or other special conditions:

4-Person Scramble*:

 

2-Person Scramble*:

20%

A

 

35%

A

15%

B

 

15%

B

10%

C

 

 

 

5%

D

 

 

 

* Based on a percentage of Course Handicap™

 

The USGA does not have a formal recommendation for a skins event. A skins event closest resembles an individual stroke play competition so the committee may decide to use a full Course Handicap and let the player take strokes as they fall. With the dynamics of all handicaps that could compete, it is impossible to recommend a blanket allowance. Try experimenting with the allowance that works best among your group.