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Here you will find a description of Medal Play (also known as Stroke Play) as well as Stableford and Match Play. They are three different types of competition and they each have their own form of scoring.
The description of Stableford and Match Play use of handicaps can seem quite daunting. Don't worry, read the descriptions a few times and there are plenty of people who will help you with any questions you may have. As you play, the most important thing is simply to remember how many shots you have taken on each hole.
Also, look at the article on Completing a Scorecard in the Getting Started section.
Medal Play or Stroke Play
This is the simplest form of scoring a round of golf. You simply keep track of the total number of shots you have taken (including any penalty strokes) on each hole. At the end of the round you add up the total gross score and subtract your handicap to give your total net score. The winner is the player with the lowest total net score.
Although it is the simplest form of scoring, it is a difficult form of golf for someone new to the game - one bad hole can ruin an otherwise good scorecard. Stableford is a more appropriate form of scoring for someone new.
In this form, you use your handicap allowance on each relevant hole, rather than in stroke play where you take your handicap allowance off at the end of the game. Depending upon your handicap, take off the appropriate number of shots (this can be zero, one or two shots) from your gross score at each hole to calculate your net score and that will determine how many points you receive for that hole.
In order to determine the relevant holes,you will also need to look at the scorecard for the Stroke Index column. Each hole is assigned a stroke index between 1 and 18. This is simply to determine the ranking of each hole on the golf course - the hole with a Stroke Index of 1 is deemed to be the hardest hole on the course, that with 18 is deemed to be the easiest.
To explain, it is easiest to give some examples.
On each hole, if a player holes the ball in net Par they receive 2 points, see the table below
If you can no longer score on a hole you should pick your ball up and play no more shots on that particular hole. At the end of the round, add up the total number of points scored. The winner is the person with the highest number of points.
This is a particularly good form of scoring for someone new to the game. To get you started ....... when practicing and before you have gained a handicap, target some holes where you think you can score some points (or at least, take less shots) then build up your confidence to move on to other holes. Try starting with the 1st, 4th and 6th holes initially.
Remember if you can no longer score on a hole, then pick up your ball and move on.
Match Play is played either as individuals or in pairs.
Before the start of the match, the competition organiser will calculate the number of shots received by each player by subtracting the lowest player's handicap from each of the others and then typically taking 90% of the difference.
An example is given below of a "pairs" competition (one team comprises Players A and B, the other team comprises Players C and D) :-
You determine who has won or lost each hole as the match progresses and as you finish each hole. On those holes where you receive shots, you subtract the number of shots received from your gross score to calculate your net score.
In a pairs competition, typically only the best score of each pair is counted to determine the result on that particular hole.
The hole can be won, lost, or the hole can be a draw in which case the hole is said to be “halved”. You keep track of a running total throughout the round e.g. the team of Player A and Player B has won 6, lost 4 and halved 5 holes, then they are said to be “2 up” after having played 15 holes (or "2 up with 3 to play").
You carry on playing until one player (or team) has won the match. E.g. if the team of Player A and Player B then goes on to win the 16th hole, they are 3 holes up with only 2 left to play so the other team can no longer win or draw the match. They are said to have won “3 and 2”. If the match is drawn after 18 holes, then depending upon the format, either the result is a draw or alternatively the match is decided by carrying on to play a 19th hole (i.e. re-playing the 1st hole) and if still drawn after 19 holes, play a 20th hole (i.e. replaying the 2nd hole) and so on until there is a winner.
You may hear the expression “Dormey 2” (or Dormey 4” etc.). This means one player (or team) is 2 holes up with 2 left to play (or 4 holes up with 4 left to play).