How Walker Cup Match Play Works

Most players know about Stroke Play - every shot is counted and added up and the player with the lowest score of all wins. But Match Play (the oldest form of golf) is not as commonly understood. Perhaps the following explanation will help.

Match play is a competition played by holes rather than total strokes for the round. At the Walker Cup Match, there are two forms of match play utilized in the two days of competition.

The first is foursomes or alternate shot where two competitors compete against two other competitors. Players alternate taking shots until the completion of the hole. Players alternate tee shots, with one playing teeing off on even holes and the other on odd holes. At the Walker Cup, which features 10-man amateur teams from the USA and Great Britain and Ireland, four foursomes matches are conducted each day (Saturday and Sunday morning). 

The final format is singles, which will be used on Saturday and Sunday afternoon. One player competes against another.

Unlike regular USGA amateur competitions, if a match is all square after 18 holes, the match is considered halved and each team receives a 1/2 point. One point is awarded for a winning match. With 26 full points available, the first team to achieve 13 1/2 points wins the Match. If the teams end up tied, the team currently holding the Walker Cup retains it.

At the Walker Cup, eight singles matches are played on Saturday and 10 singles matches are played on Sunday, allowing each team member to participate.

Scoring in match play is determined by holes. For example, let's look at the imaginary match between players A and B below. A match always starts at "All Square," that is, the match is even, no one has an advantage or disadvantage. A wins the 1st hole, so is "1 up." After A wins the 2nd hole, A is then "2 up." (It doesn't matter how many strokes the hole is won by, no more than "1 up" can be the result of the scores from any one hole.)

The players halve the third hole, so there is no change in the status of the match. B then wins the fourth hole, which leaves A only 1 up. B wins the fifth hole, so the match returns to All Square ("AS"). B then wins the sixth hole, and takes the lead 1 up. And so on.

Notice that a score does not have to be recorded in match play (see the "x" on the sixth hole for A). The result of the hole (won, loss, or halved) simply needs to be determined. In fact, "conceding" is allowed. Player A, for example, can concede the sixth hole to B without finishing it. Players may also concede that their opponents will hole out with their next strokes; therefore, if B wants to concede A's one foot putt on the seventh hole for a 4, B can - and A doesn't have to putt.

The match goes on in this fashion until one player is leading by a greater number than the number of holes left to be played. For example, if B is 5 up with 4 holes left to play, the match is over as A can not possibly come back. B is said to have won the match, "5 and 4."

We hope this will assist in your understanding of match play and specifically the method of scoring that is used. Please contact the USGA Rules Department with any additional match play questions.

 

Hole 1

Hole 2

Hole 3

Hole 4

Hole 5

Hole 6

Hole 7

Hole 8…

 

1 up

2 up

2up

1 up

AS

   

AS

Player A

4

4

5

6

5

x

4

3

Player B

5

7

5

5

3

4

4

5

         

AS

1 up

1up

AS