Conceding A Hole In A Match Play Golf Tournament

Part of the strategy of in a match play golf tournament is conceding a hole. The challenge for many players is understand the impact of conceding a hole. Losing one hole doe not generally impact the overall result early in the match, but as the holes unfold this may not be the case. Additionally, there is a mental side of conceding a hole that might have a greater impact on the score may not be immediately seen. Additionally, conceding a putt to half a hole is in a way letting your opponent off the hook and this might be the deeper issue of match play golf.

Playing in a match play tournament for the first time is a challenge because the rules for finishing a hole are completely different than that of stroke play. A competitor can concede a hole or a stroke to finish the hole at any time. If, for example, I am hitting my 6th shot and my playing partner is on the green putting for birdie, I may decide to concede the hole (and one point on the score card). If I do, we both pick up our golf balls and proceed to the next tee box. If I bound two balls out of bounds off the tee and finally get one in play I would be lying 5 and depending on what my opponent does, I might concede the hole. There are no restrictions or rules about conceding the hole, except that once the hole is conceded, that hole is finished. There are no take backs.

Understanding the above, I have a few personal guidelines I follow when in a match play tournament. These are solely for my use and are not codified anywhere. If you want to use them, then of course feel free. My guidelines are pretty simple:

  1. Never concede a hole that loses me the match. Make the player earn it regardless of the situation.
  2. Never concede a hole if I am within 2 strokes of my opponent. Make the player putt for the win; one never knows if the pressure will cause them to miss.
  3. Concede a hole if we are on the green and I am 3 strokes down before our putts.
  4. Rarely concede a hole in the last six holes of the match. Generally, the pressure builds for most players and that is when mistakes happen.
  5. Never take an opponent for granted especially when playing in a net match play tournament. Match play format is considered the great equalizer and in many cases this is true. It allows all levels of players to compete equally in a competition.
  6. Close out a player as soon as possible. What this means that if I can win the first 9 holes and tie the 10th, then I do. Never open the door for your opponent see a glimmer of hope.
  7. Lastly, play my game. Regardless of what my opponent is doing, I play my game and let the chips fall where they may. There is a tremendous opportunity to interact with your opponent in a match play format, but do not let this lull you into a sense of security. Play golf to the best of your ability…..always!

As you can see, my guidelines are pretty straight forward. Conceding a hole in golf basically gives your opponent one point. With only 18 available during any round, I do not give them away lightly. I have played in matches where I have one and lost early in the round. Regardless of the results, conceding a hole is a major part of playing match play golf.

I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!

4 thoughts on “Conceding A Hole In A Match Play Golf Tournament

  1. Mostly good strategy although I do not fully agree with #7. I want my opponent’s situation (# of strokes, difficulty of next shot, etc) have some impact on how I play my next shot. I don’t just always “play my game”. Players should always thoroughly read the match play sections of rule book before a match. Actually quite a few material differences vs stroke play.

    Also, from rules perspective, they are not a “playing partner”, they are an “opponent”.

    Liked by 1 person

    • David,

      As a very experienced player, I do track my opponents progress for each shot. But that is an advabced skill most novices will struggle with when playing. I feel it is best if they stat focused on their game for their best results. You correction about the differrnce in olaying partner and opponent is well received, thanks.

      Cheers Jim


  2. The same strategy goes for our skins games but I seldom feel like going for the throat. I should probably, since they’re all going for mine. lol Not really. We’re not playing for big money. Mostly for the pride. So most of us will give our opponents breaks we probably shouldn’t. But that doesn’t mean we don’t make them wait for it. lol

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kevin,

      I agree with your approach to your friendly skins game. There is that source of competition, but it really is for the fun of the game. It is different in a tournament when you do not generally play with your friends, it is a bit more serious.

      Cheers Jim


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