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Definitions of "forms of play".

rules match play stroke play definitions forms of play

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#1 TheCityGame

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Posted 24 January 2013 - 02:34 PM

You call up your buddy on Saturday morning and tell him, "we have a threesome. You want to play?" "Sure." You get to the course, tell your other partners, "we have a foursome" and someone says, "what's the game?" You say, "best ball."

Most everyone knows what that means. . .you had 3. Now you have 4. You're playing two vs. two, better ball from each team wins the hole.

But, according to the USGA defintions, originally you were playing a threesome, a match where 1 player was playing against two other players, those two players playing one ball. I've never done this in my life. And, probably, neither have you.

Then, you changed to a foursome, a competition (stroke or match) where each team played one ball. Also, never done this in my life.

Then, when you said, "best ball" you made a competition where one guy was playing against the better ball of the other 3 players. I actually have done this against 2, but it is very rare.

What you're actually playing, according to the rules, is a Four-ball match. If you got to the course on Saturday, and said, "we're playing a fourball", how many people would know what you meant?

There are some people that know the definitions, but they know they can't use them to communicate with MOST golfers. There are some people that know the definitions are different than common usage, and they might remember them when the Ryder Cup is on, and then forget them until the next time it comes on. Then, there are people who never know the real definitions, and don't care.

If the definitions in the Rules were for unrelated words, it probably wouldn't bug me. But, we're using the same words for completely different things in a similar context. There's definitely room for confusion.

Best-ball, as it's commonly used, simply doesn't mean what the USGA rule book says that it means. (And that's to say nothing of the people who think that "best ball" is what we mean by "scramble" or "captain's choice", yes those people exist).

Anyway, this is what I think about when it's 20º out and I can't even hit balls. I've played the lion's share of my golf in Maine, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Maryland, and I can say that the usage is pretty consistent from place to place, and NOT what the USGA rule book says.

Maybe your course/golfing buddies are different. Do you really do some of these other forms, or use the correct terms to refer to your matches?

I don't know if it's different in Great Britain where match play seems to be more common.

Here are the USGA Definitions for FORMS OF MATCH PLAY and FORMS OF STROKE PLAY followed by my suggestions.

Forms Of Match Play
Single: A match in which one player plays against another player.

Threesome: A match in which one player plays against two other players, and each side plays one ball.

Foursome: A match in which two players play against two other players, and each side plays one ball.

Three-Ball: Three players play a match against one another, each playing his own ball. Each player is playing two distinct matches.

Best-Ball: A match in which one player plays against the better ball of two other players or the best ball of three other players.

Four-Ball: A match in which two players play their better ball against the better ball of two other players.

Forms Of Stroke Play
Individual: A competition in which each competitor plays as an individual.

Foursome: A competition in which two competitors play as partners and play one ball.

Four-Ball: A competition in which two competitors play as partners, each playing his own ball. The lower score of the partners is the score for the hole. If one partner fails to complete the play of a hole, there is no penalty.


Here's what I'd like them to say, totally trimmed, and redefined. . .

Forms Of Match Play
Single: A match in which one player plays against another player.

Best-Ball: A match in which two players play their better ball against the better ball of two other players.


Alternate Shot: A competition where players alternate shots playing one ball.

Forms Of Stroke Play
Individual: A competition in which each competitor plays as an individual.

Best-Ball: A competition in which two competitors play as partners, each playing his own ball. The lower score of the partners is the score for the hole. If one partner fails to complete the play of a hole, there is no penalty.


Alternate Shot: A competition where players alternate shots playing one ball.

Notes: see some old ratty rule book for forms of competition that are only played in tournaments like the Ryder Cup.


The only reason I'd put "alternate shot" in there is that sometimes I've played it in a tournament and it's in the old rules under a less meaningful name,


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#2 mark m

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Posted 24 January 2013 - 03:13 PM

Basically, I think you are right in that many do not understand the definitions in the rule book. When I write (or talk about) formats, I explain what I mean in the entry form so all (will hopefully) understand. I am somewhat torn on this as I do like that the game of golf is "ancient" and has great history and traditions. I think if we were starting now, your definitions would probably be used.

As you say, many guys think a best ball = scramble. Team best balls need to be expalined as well - especially to the new members. They may not know what "Best 2 of 4 Net" means. Anyway, good job!
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#3 kevcarter

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Posted 24 January 2013 - 03:20 PM

LOL

I agree with every word. Years ago we had a tournament named the ELK RIVER BEST BALL. I changed the name to the correct ELK RIVER FOUR BALL Nobody had the first clue what I was talking about. :-)
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#4 teejaywhy

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Posted 24 January 2013 - 04:30 PM

View PostTheCityGame, on 24 January 2013 - 02:34 PM, said:


What you're actually playing, according to the rules, is a Four-ball match. If you got to the course on Saturday, and said, "we're playing a fourball", how many people would know what you meant?


Not many,  But it is our job to educate them!

I have no doubts that when most people hear best ball, they think of a scramble.

#5 Graymulligan

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Posted 24 January 2013 - 04:52 PM

I don't think it necessarily matters what term is used, as long as the participants understand the rules set forth to govern the competition.  Like local rules, but in a much more "macro" sense.  While yes, best ball gets used incorrectly 90% of the time, I don't think it's necessarily an issue in almost all cases.

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#6 rogolf

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Posted 24 January 2013 - 06:00 PM

I think the most mis-used term(s) in North America all end in 'some' - twosome, threesome, foursome.

#7 profsmitty

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Posted 24 January 2013 - 10:43 PM

When I talk to my students about the importance and power of the written word, this is the kind of thing I should pull out as evidence. We all know what we mean, except, we don't.

#8 Sawgrass

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Posted 24 January 2013 - 11:26 PM

@thecitygame:

An articulate and well thought out post.

Language does change. "Terrific" used to mean "terror-related."  It pretty much doesn't anymore.

I like your new names, but I don't know how we can get from here to there without causing even more confusion during the evolutionary period.

#9 Newby

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 03:13 AM

View Postrogolf, on 24 January 2013 - 06:00 PM, said:

I think the most mis-used term(s) in North America all end in 'some' - twosome, threesome, foursome.

And North America is the only place where a scramble is thought of as a sensible form of competitive golf.

#10 kevcarter

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 07:07 AM

View PostNewby, on 25 January 2013 - 03:13 AM, said:

View Postrogolf, on 24 January 2013 - 06:00 PM, said:

I think the most mis-used term(s) in North America all end in 'some' - twosome, threesome, foursome.

And North America is the only place where a scramble is thought of as a sensible form of competitive golf.

That posts brings a lot of clarity to past discussions and comments...

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#11 teejaywhy

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 08:39 AM

View PostSawgrass, on 24 January 2013 - 11:26 PM, said:


I like your new names, but I don't know how we can get from here to there without causing even more confusion during the evolutionary period.

I guess I didn't read the OP far enough to see he was proposing new terminology.  I don't agree that different terms should be adopted.  If one wants to be a golfer, one should learn the language.  People (this forum in particular) should make more effort to learn about the game and spend less time measuring each others shafts.

#12 Newby

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 10:45 AM

View Postteejaywhy, on 25 January 2013 - 08:39 AM, said:

People (this forum in particular) should make more effort to learn about the game and spend less time measuring each others shafts.

:rofl:

#13 Sawgrass

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 10:30 PM

View Postteejaywhy, on 25 January 2013 - 08:39 AM, said:

View PostSawgrass, on 24 January 2013 - 11:26 PM, said:


I like your new names, but I don't know how we can get from here to there without causing even more confusion during the evolutionary period.

I guess I didn't read the OP far enough to see he was proposing new terminology.  I don't agree that different terms should be adopted.  If one wants to be a golfer, one should learn the language.  People (this forum in particular) should make more effort to learn about the game and spend less time measuring each others shafts.

Here's something else people in this forum should do: actually read the OP's post before forming an opinion on the OP's post.

It's easy to say, "What was should be . . . because it was." Fortunately, IMO, the ruling bodies seem to be interested in changing things now and then with the goal of making them better. Can we not have a discussion about whether this should be one of those times?




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