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April 2009
By Clyde Luther

With more and more schools playing in match play competitions and with the finals of the NCAA Division I to be played in a match play format I thought it would be wise to cover a couple of the match play Rules to help you when the time comes.

First, let's take a look at Rule 10 - Order of Play. Rule 10 has a few features in match play that are totally different than in stroke play.  The main point is that THE BALL FURTHEREST FROM THE HOLE IS ALWAYS PLAYED FIRST.  Even if you putt a ball to six inches from the hole, only two things can happen, you get a concession from your opponent or you mark and lift the ball so that your opponent may putt.  You cannot agree to just continuous putt.  If the players were to agree to play out of order they can be disqualified. If you were anywhere else on the course the ball furthest from the hole must be played first.  But, what if  both balls happened to end up in a water hazard, then they are played in order of their relative positions, not necessarily where they last crossed the margin of the hazard.  What if both balls are lost in the hazard?  The order of play is then decided by lot.

Now then, what if a player does play out of turn, what is the penalty?  There is no penalty other than the players opponent may recall the stroke played out of order.  So if your opponent hits a great shot out of turn you may recall the stroke, but if the opponent hits a poor shot you may choose not to recall the stroke.

What happens if we are on the teeing ground in accordance with Rule 11 and play out of order?  The player with the honor plays first.  There are no exceptions.  What if you need to play a provisional ball for a ball that may be lost outside a water hazard or out of bounds and you have played from the teeing ground?  The order is the same as in stroke play; you play after your opponent.  But, elsewhere, other than on the teeing ground, you would hit your provisional ball immediately following your declaration to do so  

You will find other differences between stroke play and match play that are too numerous to mention here but I do suggest that you read Rule 2, 9, 18-3 and 19-3 to clarify a few matters.

Good luck and enjoy your match.

 
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