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Why is there a Loss of Hole Penalty in Match Play?

post #1 of 33
Thread Starter 

I don`t understand why golf has a different set of penalties for stroke and match play?  Wouldn`t it be easier and fairer to simply assess penalty strokes in all situations?

 

Take a look at the examples below.  Is the loss of hole penalty fair?

 

Ex 1.

After losing a ball, hitting another OB and another in the water, player A lies 8 on the green.

Player B lies 2 in the green side bunker and inadvertently touches a leaf with his back swing while taking his 3rd shot which stops 1 foot from the hole.

Result- Player A wins the hole in match play with his 9+, but in stroke play B would make a 6 (assuming he made his 1 footer).

 

Ex 2.

 

After losing a ball, hitting another OB and another in the water, player A lies 8 on the green.

Player B lies 2 on the green side bunker and taps down a spike mark in his line before 2 putting

Result- Player A wins the hole in match play with his 9+, but in stroke play B would make a 6.

 

 

Ex 3.

After losing a ball, hitting another OB and another in the water, player A lies 8 on the green.

Player B lies 3 on the green 85 feet from the hole and putts his ball into the cup, striking the unattended flag stick in the process.

Result- Player A wins the hole in match play with his 9+, but in stroke play B would make a 6.

 

 

Ex 4.

Player A lies 3 on the green.  His ball has come to rest on top of a leaf and he pulls the leaf out from under the ball causing it to move.  He replaces the ball without penalty before 3 putting for 6.

Player B lies 2 on the green and putts his ball towards the cup.  While his ball is rolling towards the cup, a leaf blows into Player B`s putting line and his caddie removes the leaf.  Player B`s putt goes into the cup.

Result- Player A wins the hole in match play with his 6, but in stroke player B would make a 5.

 

In all of the above cases, Player B would make a lower score than Player A in stroke play after including a 2 stroke penalty, but Player A would win all 4 holes in match play.

 

Wouldn`t it be easier and fairer if there was the same set of penalties for stroke and match play?

post #2 of 33
I'm with you - but interested to hear from pros/rules experts on this one ... Although you could have stopped after one example. :)
post #3 of 33

I believe the presumption is made that players in a match are fairly matched. Either by handicap or by the standard of the competition.

In such circumstances a loss of two strokes will almost certainly make the cause irrecoverable and continuing the hole would simply waste time.

 

The following doesn't answer the question directly but here is what the great rules guru Tufts has to say.

 

 

 

The penalty must not be less than the advantage which the player could derive from the particular Rule violation. In other words, whether the violation be inadvertent or deliberate, or whether it occurs as a result of play or be due to the accidental or purposeful act of the player, or whether it be brought about by failure to proceed in accordance with the Rules regardless of the circumstances, the penalty must always be of sufficient magnitude to discourage the player from seeking or receiving advantage under the Rules.

 

The purpose of the Rules is to insure that as far as possible everyone plays the same game. The penalties serve to police the chance that by taking advantage of an inadequately protected Rule players will play a game wholly different from golf. The penalties must be adequate to provide this protection for if they are too light it is conceivable that golf would become a game of negotiation, with the golfer deliberately accepting penalties in order to obtain some advantage. Thus the Rules

themselves would provide the golfer with an inexpensive method of avoiding the results of a badly played shot. Under these conditions golf would lose all character and become a travesty. In order to maintain this principle, it must be admitted that at times the penalties appear to be unduly severe. It is impossible to provide a completely graduated scale of penalties, though the Rules do permit modifying the penalty of disqualification [Rule 33-7], and the penalty applied to each particular rule must be specific and adequate at least to match the maximum advantage which the player is likely to receive. The penalties cannot be expected, nor are they intended to exactly offset the advantage gained from the violation.

post #4 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by MEfree View Post

I don`t understand why golf has a different set of penalties for stroke and match play?  Wouldn`t it be easier and fairer to simply assess penalty strokes in all situations?

 

Take a look at the examples below.  Is the loss of hole penalty fair?

 

Ex 1.

After losing a ball, hitting another OB and another in the water, player A lies 8 on the green.

Player B lies 2 in the green side bunker and inadvertently touches a leaf with his back swing while taking his 3rd shot which stops 1 foot from the hole.

Result- Player A wins the hole in match play with his 9+, but in stroke play B would make a 6 (assuming he made his 1 footer).

 

Ex 2.

 

After losing a ball, hitting another OB and another in the water, player A lies 8 on the green.

Player B lies 2 on the green side bunker and taps down a spike mark in his line before 2 putting

Result- Player A wins the hole in match play with his 9+, but in stroke play B would make a 6.

 

 

Ex 3.

After losing a ball, hitting another OB and another in the water, player A lies 8 on the green.

Player B lies 3 on the green 85 feet from the hole and putts his ball into the cup, striking the unattended flag stick in the process.

Result- Player A wins the hole in match play with his 9+, but in stroke play B would make a 6.

 

 

Ex 4.

Player A lies 3 on the green.  His ball has come to rest on top of a leaf and he pulls the leaf out from under the ball causing it to move.  He replaces the ball without penalty before 3 putting for 6.

Player B lies 2 on the green and putts his ball towards the cup.  While his ball is rolling towards the cup, a leaf blows into Player B`s putting line and his caddie removes the leaf.  Player B`s putt goes into the cup.

Result- Player A wins the hole in match play with his 6, but in stroke player B would make a 5.

 

In all of the above cases, Player B would make a lower score than Player A in stroke play after including a 2 stroke penalty, but Player A would win all 4 holes in match play.

 

Wouldn`t it be easier and fairer if there was the same set of penalties for stroke and match play?

 

You have it backwards.  Match play came first, by a couple hundred years.  The 2 stroke penalties were "invented" to accommodate medal play long after the match play loss of hole penalties were well established.  What you propose would completely change the flavor of match play.  There would be little reason to even bother with the different formats if it was all stroke play anyway.   One of the most attractive aspects of match play is that no matter how well or how badly you play a hole, or how serious a rules breach you make (with one or two rare exceptions), the result is never greater than one hole won or lost.

 

 

 

 

Quote:

Ex 1.

After losing a ball, hitting another OB and another in the water, player A lies 8 on the green.

Player B lies 2 in the green side bunker and inadvertently touches a leaf with his back swing while taking his 3rd shot which stops 1 foot from the hole.

Result- Player A wins the hole in match play with his 9+, but in stroke play B would make a 6 (assuming he made his 1 footer).

 

 

Player B needs to be more careful.  He breached a rule and deserves to lose the hole.

 

 

 

 

Quote:

Ex 2.

 

After losing a ball, hitting another OB and another in the water, player A lies 8 on the green.

Player B lies 2 on the green side bunker and taps down a spike mark in his line before 2 putting

Result- Player A wins the hole in match play with his 9+, but in stroke play B would make a 6.

 

 

Same answer.  B needs to learn the rules.

 

 

 

 

Quote:

Ex 3.

After losing a ball, hitting another OB and another in the water, player A lies 8 on the green.

Player B lies 3 on the green 85 feet from the hole and putts his ball into the cup, striking the unattended flag stick in the process.

Result- Player A wins the hole in match play with his 9+, but in stroke play B would make a 6.

 

 

Same answer.... keep trying.

 

 

 

 

Quote:

Ex 4.

Player A lies 3 on the green.  His ball has come to rest on top of a leaf and he pulls the leaf out from under the ball causing it to move.  He replaces the ball without penalty before 3 putting for 6.

Player B lies 2 on the green and putts his ball towards the cup.  While his ball is rolling towards the cup, a leaf blows into Player B`s putting line and his caddie removes the leaf.  Player B`s putt goes into the cup.

Result- Player A wins the hole in match play with his 6, but in stroke player B would make a 5.

 

 

Player A didn't make a 6 because he never had to finish putting.  Since it is match play, he marked after his first putt, lying 4 and we will never know if he made the second putt or not.  Player B's caddie screwed the pooch and lost the hole for his bag before Player A played hi 2nd putt.  Player A never had to make another stroke.  Player B didn't make a 5 since the hole was done the moment his caddie moved the leaf.

 

The whole point of the different formats IS the difference in scoring and thus a very different approach to planning one's strategy.  The loss of hole penalties is just one of the more attractive aspects of match play.  I really don't get your objection.  Skins is sort of a hole by hole stroke play for money.  You can always play hole by hole stroke play if you want to with your buddies, just don't call it match play, because it isn't.

 

I've played a lot of matches over the years and I've never had a loss of hole penalty come into play on me or on my opponent.  I know the rules well enough to avoid it, and I've stopped a less knowledgeable opponent a few times before allowing him to make such a breach.  That is how it is more likely to go in a match between gentlemen.  

 

I would rather play a one on one or two on two match than stroke play anytime, anyplace.  Match play is really how golf was intended to be played.  You have in the past shown an inordinate amount of concern for pace of play.  Match play is the ultimate speed golf.  Both players on the green, A is lying 3, B is lying 5.  Each hits one putt, B concedes and they pick up and head to the next tee.  A hit's his next tee shot OB and plays his 3rd stroke into a difficult lie in the deep rough.  B stripes his tee ball down the middle.  Both play  one more stroke, with B on the green in 2 and A is lying 4, still 100 yards out.  A concedes the hole and they head to the next tee.  They just played 2 holes in slightly more than the time it would usually take for one.  This is a very typical match play scenario.

 

Match play rules aren't going to change.  They have been the foundation of the game for 400 years, and it would be sacrilege to do what you propose.

post #5 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rulesman View Post

I believe the presumption is made that players in a match are fairly matched. Either by handicap or by the standard of the competition.

In such circumstances a loss of two strokes will almost certainly make the cause irrecoverable and continuing the hole would simply waste time.

 

A couple other reasons too.

 

  1. Match play can affect the play of another player far more so than stroke play. If one player committed a penalty, and that caused another player to change his play on the hole, that would be unfair, particularly since the infraction may not be discovered immediately. Imagine two players, one is deep in the woods on a par five and the other is in the fairway. The one in the woods hits a miraculous shot to within feet of the hole, forcing the second player to go for the green to try to halve the hole. He dunks it in the water or flies it OB or something. Then he discovers the first player incurred a loss of hole penalty. He'd have probably played differently if he knew the player had incurred a stroke or two-stroke penalty.
  2. Loss of hole is a significant penalty. We may see cheating if the game was played as you suggest. To use your example of the player lying 8 while his opponent is in the bunker, why wouldn't the player intentionally ground his club behind the ball to "tee up" his ball int he sand, knowing that a two-stroke penalty wouldn't hurt him much but it would darn well eliminate the chances of him blading the ball OB over the green or into the water or something?
  3. Violating the rules is worse than stinking it up on a hole. You could argue that the leaf toucher did "worse" on the hole because he broke the RULES, he didn't just have a bad hole. Cheating is worse than playing poorly.
post #6 of 33
Perfectly reasonable explanations from rules man and iacas .... I now see the light.

Mefree, you satisfied also?

Edit: sorry four putt, your explanation was good also!
post #7 of 33
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Golfingdad View Post

Perfectly reasonable explanations from rules man and iacas .... I now see the light.
Mefree, you satisfied also?
Edit: sorry four putt, your explanation was good also!
 
Reasonable explanations, yes, completely satisfied, no.
 
This one makes the most sense to me-
Quote:
Originally Posted by iacas View Post

 

  1. Match play can affect the play of another player far more so than stroke play. If one player committed a penalty, and that caused another player to change his play on the hole, that would be unfair, particularly since the infraction may not be discovered immediately. Imagine two players, one is deep in the woods on a par five and the other is in the fairway. The one in the woods hits a miraculous shot to within feet of the hole, forcing the second player to go for the green to try to halve the hole. He dunks it in the water or flies it OB or something. Then he discovers the first player incurred a loss of hole penalty. He'd have probably played differently if he knew the player had incurred a stroke or two-stroke penalty.

 

 

I knew that match play came first and agree that that was the way the game was originally meant to be played.  I also agree that golf can be more fun in a match play environment and that it can also speed up the pace of play.  However, match play as described by fourputt seems inconsistent with the current handicap system.  Yes, I know that you are suppose to record your most likely score, but there are certainly times when that will cause your handicap to be off from where it be for an identical player who always played stroke play.  i.e. suppose I am given 10 putts from inside 5 feet during a match...while my most likely score on each would have been what I was laying +1, it is likely that I would have missed at least one or two of these.  
 
As far as golfers being evenly match- heck, I could compare my score card from back to back days and find multiple holes where I was 2 or more shots apart.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by iacas View Post

 

A couple other reasons too.

 

3. Violating the rules is worse than stinking it up on a hole. You could argue that the leaf toucher did "worse" on the hole because he broke the RULES, he didn't just have a bad hole. Cheating is worse than playing poorly.

 

While I agree that cheating is worse than stinking up a hole, many rules violations that result in loss of hole can be unintentional.  You and I have different philosophies- I would rather hit quality golf shots and inadvertently touch a leaf than hit multiple bad shots on a hole.  Overall, I think the rules of golf are more penal than they need to be with too much emphasis being placed on following the rules rather than playing well.  Imagine if in football, you immediately lost possession of the ball for an offensive penalty or immediately awarded points to the offense for a defensive penalty.  

 
Other than Iacas`s first point, I disagree with those that say match play would be fundamentally changed if all penalties were stroke based instead of loss of hole.  Most of these penalties rarely come up so most holes would not be affected.  As Fourputt noted, the 2 stroke penalty was added to the initial rules of golf (which were 1 page long when first published).  When rules are added to but never simplified, you go from pages to books like we have seen with the Tax Code.  Given that we now play both match play and stroke play, I think it would be beneficial to modernize and simplify the rules so that infractions carried a single penalty for both stroke and match play.   
 

 
post #8 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by MEfree View Post

While I agree that cheating is worse than stinking up a hole, many rules violations that result in loss of hole can be unintentional.  You and I have different philosophies- I would rather hit quality golf shots and inadvertently touch a leaf than hit multiple bad shots on a hole.  Overall, I think the rules of golf are more penal than they need to be with too much emphasis being placed on following the rules rather than playing well.  Imagine if in football, you immediately lost possession of the ball for an offensive penalty or immediately awarded points to the offense for a defensive penalty.

 

Other than Iacas`s first point, I disagree with those that say match play would be fundamentally changed if all penalties were stroke based instead of loss of hole.  Most of these penalties rarely come up so most holes would not be affected.  As Fourputt noted, the 2 stroke penalty was added to the initial rules of golf (which were 1 page long when first published).  When rules are added to but never simplified, you go from pages to books like we have seen with the Tax Code.  Given that we now play both match play and stroke play, I think it would be beneficial to modernize and simplify the rules so that infractions carried a single penalty for both stroke and match play.

  

You really didn't get the point of anything that was posted did you?  The 2 forms are supposed to be different.  There is a fundamental difference in the thinking that goes into each form.  While I agree that posting match scores for handicap purposes is a flawed policy, not doing so would be self defeating for someone who never played anything but matches.  In such a case the player could never establish or change his handicap.

 

Again, all I see with your idea is a dumbing down of the game.  For most of us it would diminish the challenge and the pleasure derived from the significant differentiation of the two formats.  I will never agree that the player who breaches a rule (and that doesn't have anything to do with cheating, as you seemed to assume - breaching doesn't mean that it was intentional) should prosper more in a match than the player who plays the hole within the rules.  The player who makes the effort to learn the rules and play by them deserves that added consideration.

post #9 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by MEfree View Post

I knew that match play came first and agree that that was the way the game was originally meant to be played.  I also agree that golf can be more fun in a match play environment and that it can also speed up the pace of play.  However, match play as described by fourputt seems inconsistent with the current handicap system.  Yes, I know that you are suppose to record your most likely score, but there are certainly times when that will cause your handicap to be off from where it be for an identical player who always played stroke play.  i.e. suppose I am given 10 putts from inside 5 feet during a match...while my most likely score on each would have been what I was laying +1, it is likely that I would have missed at least one or two of these.

 

If you're honest with yourself and know that you're likely to miss a few, for handicap purposes you record your score as +1 on seven on eight or nine of the holes and +2 to account for the missed putts on one or two of them.

post #10 of 33

Tufts again

 

 

Since few violations are of the deliberate sort, it is obvious that the word “penalty” is not used in the Rules in its sense of being punishment.

 

The word “adjustment” would be more appropriate and it is here that we arrive at the principle which applies to penalties. The penalty must not be less than the advantage which the player could derive from the particular Rule violation. In other words, whether the violation be inadvertent or deliberate, or whether it occurs as a result of play or be due to the accidental or purposeful act of the player, or whether it be brought about by failure to proceed in accordance with the Rules regardless of the circumstances, the penalty must always be of sufficient magnitude to discourage the player from seeking or receiving advantage under the Rules.

 

The purpose of the Rules is to insure that as far as possible everyone plays the same game. The penalties serve to police the chance that by taking advantage of an inadequately protected Rule players will play a game wholly different from golf. The penalties must be adequate to provide this protection for if they are too light it is conceivable that golf would become a game of negotiation, with the golfer deliberately accepting penalties in order to obtain some advantage. Thus the Rules themselves would provide the golfer with an inexpensive method of avoiding the results of a badly played shot. Under these conditions golf would lose all character and become a travesty. In order to maintain this principle, it must be admitted that at times the penalties appear to be unduly severe. It is impossible to provide a completely graduated scale of penalties, though the Rules do permit modifying the penalty of disqualification [Rule 33-7], and the penalty applied to each particular rule must be specific and adequate at least to match the maximum advantage which the player is likely to receive. The penalties cannot be expected, nor are they intended to exactly offset the advantage gained from the violation.

post #11 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by MEfree View Post

Imagine if in football, you immediately lost possession of the ball for an offensive penalty or immediately awarded points to the offense for a defensive penalty.

 

I don't know if I'd hold football up as an example of how rules should be implemented. Breaking the rules as much as possible without being called for a penalty is now an integral part of the game, and that is what is meant in the quote above about the game becoming a "travesty."

 

It seems to me that the key problem you have with this is a philosophical one, and given that, I don't know that there is an explanation that will satisfy you. The basic idea, as expressed several times above, is that you are expected to comply with every rule every time you play. In match play, if you don't follow the rules on a hole, then you lose the hole. It's that simple. (Well, almost that simple---there are the various 1-stroke penalties, but these tend not to be penalties for breaching the rules so much as for "buying" relief from a water hazard or unplayable lie.) I really don't see the argument that this is unfair.

 

In stroke play, there simply isn't a perfectly analogous penalty since you have to write down a total score at the end of the round. The powers that be have determined that 2 strokes is the best simulation of this. In the majority of cases (for reasonably skilled golfers), a 2 stroke penalty does mean loss of the hole, so it's similar in that sense. It's not so severe that it destroys your entire stroke play round, which would be too harsh. If pushed, I think it'd be easier to make the case for increasing the penalties in stroke play than for reducing it for match play, though.

post #12 of 33
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by iacas View Post

 

If you're honest with yourself and know that you're likely to miss a few, for handicap purposes you record your score as +1 on seven on eight or nine of the holes and +2 to account for the missed putts on one or two of them.

That makes a lot of sense to me, but is that what the handicap manual says to do?  I thought your most likely score is done on a hole by hole basis (but would be pleased to hear that it could be done cumulatively for the round as you suggest).

post #13 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by MEfree View Post

That makes a lot of sense to me, but is that what the handicap manual says to do?  I thought your most likely score is done on a hole by hole basis (but would be pleased to hear that it could be done cumulatively for the round as you suggest).


That's the same thing. If you're likely to miss one of them, you don't just keep giving yourself the putts if your odds of making them are 51% or higher. You do the right thing and say "I'd have missed that one" after you give yourself four or five of them.

 

But that's OT for this thread, so... moving on...

post #14 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by iacas View Post


That's the same thing. If you're likely to miss one of them, you don't just keep giving yourself the putts if your odds of making them are 51% or higher. You do the right thing and say "I'd have missed that one" after you give yourself four or five of them.

 

But that's OT for this thread, so... moving on...


I just go ahead and putt it for handicap purposes.  Whether I make it or not is irrelevant for the match, but I can still putt it for my posting score.

post #15 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by turtleback View Post


I just go ahead and putt it for handicap purposes.  Whether I make it or not is irrelevant for the match, but I can still putt it for my posting score.

 

That's good too. You're allowed to finish the hole (even if your opponent concedes on the tee).

post #16 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by turtleback View Post


I just go ahead and putt it for handicap purposes.  Whether I make it or not is irrelevant for the match, but I can still putt it for my posting score.

Err.... Its very relevant for the match, if you miss it, I'm not giving you the next one from that distance. Pick it up and walk away showing confidence.

post #17 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wansteadimp View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by turtleback View Post


I just go ahead and putt it for handicap purposes.  Whether I make it or not is irrelevant for the match, but I can still putt it for my posting score.

Err.... Its very relevant for the match, if you miss it, I'm not giving you the next one from that distance. Pick it up and walk away showing confidence.

 

He's talking about a situation where the hole has already been conceded or he has already lost the hole and is just finishing out for the heck of it.  No doubt that he takes his normal time if he's still in the hole. 

post #18 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fourputt View Post

 

He's talking about a situation where the hole has already been conceded or he has already lost the hole and is just finishing out for the heck of it.  No doubt that he takes his normal time if he's still in the hole. 

I know, I still don't give my opponent the chance to see that I might not have made it.

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