Introduction to Match Play Madness
Dave Tutelman -- September 23, 2005
Match Play Madness (MPM) is a variation of golf
by David "Thor" Collard and intended to be the bare-bones essentials of
the game (or the "gemme", as he insists on calling it). It is golf as
he imagines it was in the beginning, before the golf-lawyers started
putting in rules to cover every eventuality. His views are expressed in
more detail in his own article on the subject.
I was about to say,
"Here are the basics," but the whole thing is so basic that this short
article contains everything you need to know about MPM.
There is only one rule. Well, one rule in two parts, as follows:
The "decisions" are equally simple. There is one decision:
- Play the ball as it lies.
- Play the course as you find it.
At this point, you should know everything there is about MPM. But I'm
sure the implications haven't sunk in yet. So let me review some of the
consequences of these simple rules.
- No relief. Not from anything! Your ball came to rest on a paved cart path? Hit it from the cart path. Think you get the idea? Think again, there's more.
- "No relief" applies to water hazards as well. Hit it in the lake? You're out of the hole,
unless you can see the ball and hit it where it lies in the lake. (This
has been done in MPM events, with varying degrees of success.)
- "Out of the hole" is not the same as "lost the hole".
It is OK to insist that your opponent finish out the hole. This
situation usually results in a concession once your opponent has passed
all the "sticky" places where he/she is likely to lose a ball.
Out of bounds? There is no such rule as OB in MPM; just "play the
course as you find it." If you can find the ball OB, you can play it
with no penalty. MPM is the only format where I have ever heard, "He is not only in the parking lot, he has a bad lie in the parking lot."
can't mark the ball on the green. Consider the ball a "third rail"
until it is holed; touch it and you're dead -- or at least out of the
- Example: Tom has hit his shot into the lake, so he is out of the hole. Jerry hasn't hit
yet. Tom says, "I think I'll watch you hit over the lake." If Jerry's
ball lands in the lake, the hole is halved. If it crosses safely, Tom
concedes the hole.
cannot improve your lie by any of the normally legal means.
That's what "play the course as you find it" and "No you can't" mean.
For instance, you can't remove twigs or leaves around your ball. You
can't clear leaves -- or anything -- from the line of your putt. You
can't repair ball marks on the green until you've finished the hole. If
you suffer a mental lapse and do any of these, you're out of the hole.
- But what about "stymies"? That is the option of
the players. If both agree at the beginning of the match, then you can
mark and lift your ball -- but only at the request of your opponent. And, while you may pick it up, you can't clean it or
knock mud off it. Hold it between the thumb and one finger, and replace
it as it was.
In fact, you can't ask for a cart to be moved if the cart was
there when your ball arrived. (No, your opponent can't deliberately
park the cart between your ball and the hole after your ball
got there. You can ask for the cart to be moved in this case, to return
the course to the way it was when you finished your last shot.)
your ball in or near a sand trap is tangled in a rake, you have to hit
it from the rake. You can't remove the rake. We have some pretty cool
photos of exactly that situation from real MPM competition.In
case of a conflict, see the Decision. For instance... "My approach shot
landed on the green. My opponent's shot, made after I hit mine, created
a ball mark between my ball and the hole. May I fix the ball mark to
restore the course to the way it was when my ball arrived?" See the
Decision! Basically, you can paraphrase it, "If you have to ask,
the answer is 'no'."
I believe you get the idea now.
BTW, it is considered really bad form to keep your stroke score
for the round. This is match play, not stroke play; you count strokes
only until the hole is decided; then the state of the match is all that
matters. Some MPM events make it a DQ offense to be caught writing
strokes on a scorecard.
Memorable MPM MomentsAt
RSG-Ohio, we play nine holes of Match Play Madness as the Saturday
afternoon round. Since there are roughly as many locals as those who
traveled from out-of-state, we play "Ohio vs the Rest of the World" as
if it were the Ryder Cup singles matches. Here are some Saturday
afternoon accounts, some with photos or videos, that have
quintessential Match Play Madness moments.
- 2001 - Pflum hits ball from a culvert pipe.
- 2005 - John Griffin's famous mud epaulettes, and puddles in bunkers.
- 2006 - Yoshi's bad lie in the parking lot, gettin' goofy at the last hole, the first playoff.
- 2007 - Thor's rake shot, Markus from the creek, Jacob from the gallery.
- 2012 - Rock under his golf cart.