Definitions

medal play

Stroke play

Stroke play is a scoring system for golf (compare to match play). Another term for stroke play is medal play. Stroke play is the scoring system for the vast majority of professional golf tournaments. (For notable exceptions, see The International and WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.)

In stroke play, players record the total number of strokes taken in the entire round of golf. The lowest total score wins. Players' scores are usually reported in relation to par for easier comparison with other golfers' scores. For example, a player whose score is three strokes over par after a given hole would appear as "+3" on the scoreboard.

If there is a tie after the regulation number of holes in a professional tournament, a playoff takes place between all tied players. Some playoffs employ a pre-determined number of holes, anywhere from three to a full eighteen. If at least two players remain tied after such a playoff, then play continues in sudden death format, with the first player to win a hole outright winning the tournament.

The PGA Tour currently uses the sudden-death format in all of its co-sponsored events (excluding the four majors - see below). A sudden-death playoff can last as little as one hole, but has been known to last at least eight holes before a player emerged as the outright winner.

Of the four major tournaments, The Masters has a sudden death playoff, the U.S. Open has an 18-hole playoff, The Open Championship has a 4-hole playoff, and the PGA Championship has a 3-hole playoff.

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