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What is Match Play?

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Paul Casey of Europe and Brooks Koepka of the United States shake hands during singles matches of the 2018 Ryder Cup at Le Golf National on September 30, 2018 in Paris, France. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The long-awaited 43rd Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits is right around the corner.
As some of the best male players from the United States and Europe prepare to compete for the Ryder Cup Trophy, we’re ramping up our coverage with a deep dive into match play throughout the entire month of September.
From today’s introduction below to tips, strategies, and approaches from PGA Coaches and more, we’re excited to help you learn more about all that goes into the best golf event in the world.
In the end, we hope that you’ll learn a bit more not just about how to be better as a player — both in stroke play and match play — but more importantly, appreciate the uniqueness and social fun that comes with a different scoring format.
So let’s get started…
What is Match Play?
Match Play is a scoring system that awards a player or team one point for “the hole” if they beat their opponent on that hole. The winner is the player/team who has won the most holes.
What is different from stroke play?
Match Play scoring is based on the number of holes that are won during the round as opposed to the number of strokes accumulated. Essentially, if a blow-up on a hole doesn’t ruin the match and play can be viewed as a series of 18 different games within a round.
How do you keep score?
The player or team with the lowest total score for the hole wins and is awarded a point. If you tie, the hole is “halved.” At the end of the round, the player or team with the most points win. A player can win a match without playing all 18 holes (i.e. — If player A is up 4 with only three holes to play, the match is over).
What is Fourball?
Four Ball match play is when teams of two compete against each other. Each player plays their own ball and the score of the player with the lowest total for each team is used. Another variation of four ball involves players hitting alternating shots.
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