What happens when players are mistaken about the status of a match?

Published 28/01/2011 07:20:00

In a match-play event at their club, Craig and Brian leave the 18th green thinking their match is all square. They play extra holes and Brian wins at the 20th hole. Then, Craig and Brian both realize that Craig was actually 1-up after 18 holes.

Who is declared the winner of the match?

Brian is the winner. In match play, if there is a doubt or dispute between the players, any claim must be made before either player tees off on the next hole (Rule 2-5). No later claim can be made unless it is based on facts previously unknown to the player making the claim, and he was given wrong information by his opponent on the number of strokes taken on a hole. Since that isn't the case here -- the players were just mistaken -- the match must be considered all square as soon as either player hits from the 19th tee. Similarly, if Craig and Brian were all square after 18 but mistakenly reported a 1-up win for Brian, the win for Brian would stand if no wrong information had been given.

Such confusion can arise in match play because there is no official scorecard to turn in at the end of the match (Rule 6-6 on scoring applies only to stroke play). The players need report only the result, not their hole-by-hole scores. Of course, it is a good idea for each player to keep a scorecard in case a dispute arises.

Now What If?

When they leave the 18th green of their match, Brian claims he is 1-up, while Craig claims the match is all square. The tournament committee gathers all available evidence, but is unable to determine the true state of the match.

What should the committee do?

Decision 34-3/5 states the committee "should resolve the matter in the fairest way," and goes on to suggest that an equitable solution would be to order that the match be replayed.


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