As was mentioned in the introduction, the game of golf consists of playing a bail from the teeing ground into the hole by a stroke (if you’re exceedingly lucky) or successive strokes in accordance with the Rules, However, one of the great attractions of the game of golf is that it can be played in two ways – matchplay or strokeplay.
Matchplay is the original format of golf and at many long-established clubs it is still the principal diet for its playing members, in matchplay the game is played by holes. A hole is won by the side, or player, that takes the fewer strokes. If you win the first hole, you go ‘one up’. If you lose it, you go ‘one down’ and if you halve it you are ‘all square’. The outcome of the game is decided when you are either ‘up’ or ‘down’ by more holes than there are left to play. For instance, if you are four holes down with three holes to play, then you are deemed to have lost the match ‘4 6- 3′.
Dormie’ is a term used to describe a situation where you are up or down by the same number of holes that remain of the round. For example, four down with four holes to play is ‘dormie-four down. In the event of a tie, the ‘stipulated round’ may be extended for the purposes of producing a winner, That is known as a play-off.
Now for some of the finer points. Concessions are an integral part of matchplay. If your opponent putts up to within a foot of the hole, and you fee! generous, you are perfectly entitled to concede the next stroke, The concession cannot be refused and neither can you decide to change your mind- In a fourball match, concessions can have added significance, say, if you wish to prevent one of your opponents showing his partner the line of a putt. The penalty for a breach of any Rule in matchplay is the loss of the hole, unless otherwise stated.
Now we move on to pencil-and-card golf – the staple diet for professionals and most club golfers alike. All competitors keep score and the winner is the person who takes the fewest strokes; it’s as simple as that. The outcome is based either on the net score, i.e. the score minus any handicap, or on the gross score, where no handicap allowance is taken into account.
No concessions are allowed in strokeplay- You have to hole out, no matter how short the stroke or how charitable your playing partners might be.
Under the umbrella of these two contrasting formats exist numerous other types of play. To mention and explain them all would fill an entire book. The main ones are, however, listed in the official Rules of Golf.