by Joyce McCann – Rules Chair

You can have a partner in either Match Play or Stroke Play (Rule 23). In Match Play, you and your partner (called a “Side”) play against another Side of two opponents. This happens, for example, in East Bay Team Play. In Stroke Play, your Side plays against all the other Sides in the field. In both cases, your Side’s score for each hole is the lowest score between you and your partner.


There are special Rules that come into play when you have a partner.


  1. Both partners do not have to be present. Thus, if your partner can’t play for some reason, you can still play without your partner, even if they aren’t present (Rule 23.4).


  1. You can take any action concerning your partner’s ball before the stroke. For example, you can mark your partner’s ball, or if your partner needs to take relief, you can drop your partner’s ball. (unlikely, but legal!) BUT, if you break a Rule doing any of these things (e.g., cause your partner’s ball to move), your partner will get the penalty instead of you (Rule 23.5)!


  1. In Match Play, if an opponent concedes your next putt, you cannot go ahead and putt if it would help your partner. If you do, there is no penalty to you, but your partner’s score for that hole will not count (Rule 23.6, Exception).


  1. Order of Play. In general, in both Match and Stroke play, the player furthest from the hole plays first, but not always. Here are some Order of Play Rules to keep in mind.


a) in Match Play, if you or your partner play when the ball of one of your opponents is further from the hole, there is no penalty, but your opponent can cancel the stroke. If they do, when it’s your turn to play, you will have to hit the ball again from the original position. If your opponent does not cancel the stroke promptly, the stroke counts (Rule 6.4a(2)).


b) In Match Play, to save time, when your opponents’ side is away, you or your partner may play first if your opponents agree (Rule 6.4a(2)Exception). In Stroke Play, ready golf is encouraged (Rule 6.4b).


c) When it is your Side’s turn to play, you and your partner may play in whatever order you consider best (Rule 23.6). For example, let’s say that your ball is 130 yards from the hole and your partner’s ball is 100 yards from the hole. Even though your two opponent’s balls are 120 and 125 yards from the hole, you may tell your opponents that you want your partner to play first (Rule 23.6).


In competitions like East Bay Team Play, it’s important to know these Rules, because your Opponents will!