Event Formats

Single Stroke

Single Stroke or Medal play is the simplest of all the games of golf. The game is played in most professional tournaments and requires all strokes to be counted. The player with the lowest score wins. Because all strokes are counted and players cannot pick up as in other forms, this is considered to be the toughest type of golf game.

In handicap competitions within clubs, the players are usually divided into grades and the lowest nett score in each grade wins. The club often awards a special trophy to the best gross score on the day (Gross score—Playing Handicap = Nett Score).

Single Stableford

Stablefords are popular in club competitions because they help to speed up play. Since a player can pick up his/her ball when they can no longer score on a hole, it assists players having a “bad hole”. The worst they can score on a hole is zero points, which can be made up on other holes during their round. Each player is able to score “Stableford points” on a hole based on their handicap and the stroke index for the hole. During the round, each player and marker has to calculate the points allocated to each score on a hole based on the stroke index. A player on 12 handicap receives shots on holes marked index 1—12, i.e. the 12 hardest holes. A player on 36 handicap receives two shots on each hole. At the end of the round, only the Stableford points are totalled and the results are shown. The highest point score wins the competition.

Points are accumulated using the following scoring format:

  • 0 points for Double Bogey or worse
  • 1 point for Bogey
  • 2 points for Par
  • 3 points for Birdie
  • 4 points for Eagle
  • 5 points for Albatross

Four-Ball Aggregate Stableford

A team version of Single Stableford where all scores count on every hole. Unlike the four-ball best-ball version where players pick up their ball if they cannot beat their partner’s points score, each player here must have an allocated score on each hole. When marking the card, the stroke score and points or each player is marked on the card for every hole on which they score points. The total points score reached by adding the Stableford points for the two partners are also recorded for each hole. The result for the round is then calculated and recorded by adding the total points scores for each hole. The highest points score wins the competition.Don’t forget to sign your card.

 Four-Ball Best-Ball Stableford

This is the team version of Single Stableford.

As with Single Stableford, the shots are allocated via the stroke index. Only one player can score for each team on a hole, so the points calculated on the hole are based on the best results from the two partners in the team. Where the partners score the same points on a hole, the result is marked down for the player who “holes” out first. If a player cannot beat the points score of their partner, they usually pick up to help the speed of the game. The end result is calculated by adding the Stableford points. Only one marker and one player from each team need sign the card. The highest points score wins the competition.

Four-Ball Handicap Matchplay

The rules are the same as with single matchplay, but the handicap difference are based on the lowest handicapped player in the two pairs. The lowest marker “goes back to scratch”. Then the other players have their handicaps lowered by subtracting the handicap of the low marker. For example, four players with the following handicaps would be treated thus.

A    16 Hcp

B    12 Hcp

C    5 Hcp

D    22Hcp

‘C’ is the low marker and would have a new handicap of scratch. The other new matchplay handicaps would then be:

A   16—5 = 11 ( A receives 1 stroke on matchplay indexed holes 1 to 11)

B   12—5 = 7 (B receives 1 stroke on matchplay indexed holes 1 to 7)

C   0 (C plays off scratch and receives no strokes)

D   22—5 = 17 (D receives 1 stroke on matchplay indexed holes 1 to 17)

The side which wins a hole is then the side with the best nett stroke score on a hole after comparing the adjusted matchplay handicaps to the matchplay index on the holes.

Example 1: On hole indexed 6 for matchplay, players A,B &D each receive 1 stroke and player C plays of scratch. 

Example 2: On hole indexed 11 for matchplay, players A & D each receive 1 stroke and players B & C play of scratch.

Example 3: On holes indexed  12,13,14,15,16,17 for matchplay, only player D receives 1 stroke and players A,B & C play off scratch.

Example 4: On hole indexed 18 for matchplay, no players receive strokes and all players play off scratch.

Scoring a card is once again up to the individuals or the committee if they wish to have the scores kept as a record.

The USGA recommends:(i) Match Play

A match that ends all square should be played off hole by hole until one side wins a hole. The playoff should start on the hole where the match began. In a handicap match, handicap strokes should be allowed as in the stipulated round

Par Format

In Par play the score is entered on the card in the same way as in stroke play with the exception that where the score exceeds par for the hole, after allowing for handicap stroke (if the player is in receipt of one), the score need not be written in. It is the custom that when a player is beaten by par, the ball shall be picked up. This helps speed up play.

After entering the stroke score on the card, the result is marked in the column provided with a ‘+’ sign for a win, an ‘o’ for a half and ‘-’ for a loss. At the end of the round the plus and minus signs are added and the nett result written in as so may ‘up’ and ‘down’ or ‘all square’.

A player is allowed his full stroke handicap and the strokes are taken at holes as indicated on the card.

Where the handicap is more than 18, two strokes will be allowed on the number of holes that the handicap exceeds 19. These strokes will be taken in the same order as followed for the first 18 holes unless the index goes beyond 18.


“Ambrose Competition” is another name for a scramble, but one in which a team handicap is used. All players tee off, the best shot is selected and all players hit again from that same spot. The best second shot is selected, and all players hit from that same spot, and so on until the ball is holed.If the scramble is called an “Ambrose,” it means that handicaps are used in play, with a fraction of the total handicaps of the group members serving as one handicap for the group.For example, if it’s a 2-person scramble, the handicaps of the two players are added together and divided by 4. For a 3-person scramble, divide by 6; for a 4-person scramble, divide by 8.The arithmetic produces one group handicap which is used during play.

Single Matchplay

“Match play” is a competition format in which the round is played with the goal of winning individual holes. For example, on No. 1, you score 4 and your opponent gets a 5 – you win the hole.Scoring is kept by comparing the holes won by each player. If each has won the same number of holes, the match is said to be “all square”. If you have won 4 holes and your opponent has won 3, you are said to be “1-up” while your foe is “1-down.”Final score reflects the margin of victory and the hole at which the match ended. If the match goes the full 18 holes, the score would be 1-up or 2-up. If it ends before the 18th, the score would look like “3-and-2” (the winner was 3 holes up with only two holes to play, thus ending the match early).

The USGA recommends:

(i) Match Play
A match that ends all square should be played off hole by hole until one side wins a hole. The playoff should start on the hole where the match began. In a handicap match, handicap strokes should be allowed as in the stipulated round.


A multiplier competition is played in teams of 2 or more using the stableford scoring system. The two partners record their stableford points and then multiply the two scores to give them the score for that hole. Should any player score zero points on a hole, then the multiplier score would also be zero. At the end of the round, the team with the highest score is declared the winner.