Early Team Matchplay Scoring

When we think of golf matchplay scoring these days we always think of scores like 3/2 meaning 3 holes up with 2 to play. This, of course, means that the defeated player has no chance to win the single match so play is halted after, in this case, the 16th green.

The Golf Australia State Series match play events are all scored this way. It’s a method which also assists with overall pace of play and allows early won matches to vacate the course.

Major Pennant in many states is also played with this scoring method. Teams are arranged into Divisions and Sections according to their previous performance and Semi-Final draws are then seeded on matches won and total games won.

The Sydney Morning Herald – August 19, 1897

But that’s not how it was always played for team matchplay events. An example of the way it was played can be found here in a match between ladies of the Sydney Club and a team from Royal Melbourne and Geelong Golf Clubs.

Each team member played their seeded opponent but each player played the full 18 holes. The number of holes won in total for each player in the match was tallied for the team outcome.

In the above example, of which there are many published during this period, Victoria won by 23 total holes to 4 won by Sydney.

This is the method of matchplay scoring used in the annual Al Howard trophy played between The Golf Society of Australia (incorporated in Victoria) and The Australian Golf Heritage Society (incorporated in NSW). All players get to play a full  18 holes of the course they are playing. The matches are stroke play and handicap based.