I regularly receive requests for rulings relating to match play situations after a player has lost a hole, or the match, due to a rules incident that they were not sure about.
Most golfers play far more rounds of stroke play golf than match play golf and do not realise that there are several important differences in the rules of these formats.
Below are 12 tips that every player should understand and remember before commencing a match.
- You may practice on the course on the day of a match (Rule 7-1).
- You must not touch your opponent’s ball in play, unless you are helping to search for it (Rule 18-3).
Do not mark an opponent’s ball on the putting green, unless they ask you to.
- A concession of a hole may be given at any time and cannot be declined or withdrawn (Rule 2-4).
You may putt out after receiving the concession, providing the action is not of assistance to your partner in a four-ball or best-ball match.
- Incorrect information (Rule 9-2).
If you give your opponent wrong information about your score, you must correct it before they make their next stroke, or you lose the hole. Similarly, if they give you wrong information.
- Order of Play (Rule 10-1).
If your opponent plays out of turn you may let their stroke stand, or require that they cancel the stroke and play again in the correct order. In four-ball match play, balls belonging to the same side may be played in the order that the side considers best.
- After a stroke your ball hits your opponent, or their equipment (Rule 19- 3).
You may choose to replay the stroke, or accept it and play your next shot from where the ball had come to rest.
- Putt from the putting green hits a ball at rest on the putting green (Rule 19-5).
There is no penalty in match play, the other ball must be replaced and your ball played from where it comes to rest.
The author is a R&A certified tournament administrator and referee. He is a founding member of the Professional Golfers Association in Malawi, a teaching Professional and a member of the Professional Golf Association of South Africa. For feedback, E-mail:dingaank@gmail. com or call 0888 346 510.