Match Play Scoring

Have you ever watched golf and wondered what does 1 up mean?  Or, how about what does 3 and 2 mean?  These players or teams are playing match play and are playing against a single opponent, instead of an entire field of players.  The main objective of match play is to score better than your opponent on as many holes as possible.  Overall score is not relevant, with the main goal being to win more holes than your opponent.

Match play is seen on television during special events  such as the Ryder Cup, President’s Cup, or WGC Match Play championship.  It is also used in numerous amateur tournaments.


# of players Single or Team play Uses Handicap?
players teams hcp
2 to 4 Both Yes or No



  • Players or teams have one opponent they are playing against in their match.
  • Each team is trying to score better than their opponent for an individual hole.
  • The winning team on each hole is considered to be “1 Up”, while the losing team is considered to be “1 Down”.
  • If the two teams tie, the teams move onto the next hole as no one has won the hole.
  • Actual number of strokes over or under par are irrelevant.
    • You’re only trying to score better than your opponent, which is why you will see teams pick up their ball if they know they cannot beat their opponents score.
  • Teams are allowed to concede the hole to their opponent, as well as give them a “gimme”, for shots they know they will most certainly make.
  • Other formats (fourball, foursomes, singles) can use match play scoring.


Hole 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Out
Adam 4 4 4 5 3 4 3 3 4
  AS  AS   AS AS 1 UP 2 UP 2 UP 2 UP
Phil 3 - 4 4 4 4 4 5 4


  • Adam and Phil are opponents playing a match play game.
  • Phil scores a 3 on the 1st hole, where Adams scores a 4.  Phil is now considered 1 Up going to the 2nd hole.
  • Phil hits 2 balls into the water on the 2nd hole, and Adam is safely on the green after 2 shots.  Phil concedes the hole to Adam knowing that it is almost impossible for Adam not to beat Phil’s score on this hole.  The 2 players are now “All Square”, or tied for the match.


Hole 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 In Total
Adam 4 4 4 3 4 6 3 3  X
 2 UP 2 UP 2 UP 2 UP 1 UP 2 UP 2 UP 2 UP     2 and 1
Phil 4 4 4 3 3 7 3  3  X
  • Now, let’s fast forward to the last couple of holes in the round.
  • Once the players reach the 17th hole, Adam is still 2 Up.  This means that Phil must win the hole outright, otherwise, Adam will be 2 Up with only 1 hole to play, and have no chance of winning the match.
    • This is where you’ll see “2 and 1″, which means the player won with a 2 Up with only 1 hole to play.
    • 3 and 2 means that a player is 3 Up with only 2 holes to play.


  • Even though Match Play Scoring is used for head to head competition, it is possible for a player to have multiple matches going on at 1 time.
  • Scores are kept for each player, and can be compared to the players opponent’s scores.