Golf Basic Ways of Play

This is an explanation of the two basic ways the game of golf is played.

Very basics / Ways of play / Golf terms / The course / Tournaments

Playing the Game

The game of golf is played in two basic ways--match play and stroke play.

Stroke Play

In stroke play, the winner is the golfer who takes the fewest number of total strokes to complete a competition. Most professional tournaments use stroke play for a total of 72 holes (four rounds). Ties are broken by a playoff. In most tournament playoffs, the tied golfers continue to play until one golfer scores lower on a single hole. In some cases, ties are settled using an 18-hole playoff.

Match Play

In match play, one golfer or team plays against one or more others. The player or team hitting the ball into the hole in the fewest number of strokes wins that hole. The player or team winning the most holes wins the match. The score is determined by the number of holes won. For example, a player who is "2 up" has won two holes more than the opponent. A match is decided when a golfer leads by more holes than there are holes left to play. If both golfers or teams make the same score on a hole, that hole is said to be halved. If the two golfers or teams are tied at the scheduled end of the match, it is halved and play may continue. Then the player or team who first wins a hole wins the match.

Very basics / Ways of play / Golf terms / The course / Tournaments