Match Play Rules and Picking Up The Ball

Update: If you’re looking for a full explanation of match play and its scoring, try here.

In an article on the President’s Cup yesterday, I wrote that when Love picked up the ball, the penalty was technically one stroke, but that because he thought Weir said “its good,” no penalty was assessed.

Now, I’ve received a bunch of emails from people telling me that I don’t know the rules—that the penalty is loss of hole.

No. I do know the rules. And the penalty is one stroke, unless is was truly a mistake, in which case there is no penalty:

From the USGA rules book:

2-4/3 Player Lifts Ball in Mistaken Belief That Next Stroke Conceded
Q. In a match between A and B, B made a statement which A interpreted to mean that his (A’s) next stroke was conceded. Accordingly, A lifted his ball. B then said that he had not conceded A’s next stroke. What is the ruling?
A. If B’s statement could reasonably have led A to think his next stroke had been conceded, in equity (Rule 1-4) A should replace his ball as near as possible to where it lay, without penalty.
Otherwise, A would incur a penalty stroke for lifting his ball without marking its position — Rule 20-1 — and he must replace his ball as near as possible to where it lay.

The Golf Blogger is correct. Tom Meeks ruling on the course was correct.

My critics need to get their own copy of the rules.

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5 thoughts on “Match Play Rules and Picking Up The Ball”

  1. Can you please explain what it means when the report says that Team A beat Team B 5 and 4? or 2 up? or 3 and 2?

    I am confused as to what is being reported …

    Thanks for your help in understanding the President’s Cup.

  2. Sure. The President’s Cup is match play. That means that score is kept by the number of holes that are won—the individual stroke count doesn’t matter, except to determine who won a particular hole.

    So, if someone is 2-up, that means that he has won 2 more holes than his opponent at that point in the match.

    To say that someone has won “2 and 1” means that the player was up by 2, with only one hole to go, so the match is over; the last hole doesn’t matter, since there is no way for the guy who is down to win.

    Similarly, “5 and 4” means that the winner was up by 5, with only 4 holes to go.

  3. I just read a recent news story found by using Google News about this controversy and the writer was contending that Mike Weir was correct on the rule and that the rules official was incorrect.  Thanks for posting the actual rule that supported the rules official’s ruling.  It’s amazing that people are still debating this.  But, the way this most recent article was written, I’m thinking the author may have been Canadian.  He was quite supportive of Weir.

  4. A quick question on Matchplay scoring.

    In a mixed match the same hole can have a different par (par 4 for men , par 5 for women).  If player A (Female) pars the hole (with 5 strokes) and then player B (Male) bogeys the same hole (with 5 strokes) – 

    What is the result if player A has a shot on the hole (Assume A wins), Neither player has a shot (?), player B has a shot (Assume player B wins).


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