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.
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 players are tied after the regulation number of holes in a professional tournament, there is a playoff between all tied players. The playoff is a pre-determined number of holes (anywhere from a single hole to a full round). If players remain tied after the playoff then play continues in sudden death format, with the first player to win a hole outright winning the tournament. Of the four major tournaments, the Masters has a 1-hole playoff, the US Open has an 18-hole playoff, the British Open has a 4-hole playoff, and the PGA Championship has a 3-hole playoff. Virtually all regular tournaments employ 1-hole playoffs.
The U.S. Amateur Championships for both men and women are conducted with two rounds of strokeplay to cut the field to 64, and then proceeds to a single-elimination match play tournament.
Unlike strokeplay, in which the unit of scoring is the stroke, in match play the unit of scoring is the hole.
On the whole match play encourages more aggressive play, especially at the professional level, where a par is not usually good enough to win a hole, as a quadruple bogey is no worse than a bogey, if your opponent made a par.
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