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​​​​​​​Scoring & Basic forms of golf

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Scoring
The goal is to play as few strokes per round as possible. A golfer's number of strokes in a hole, course, or tournament is compared to its respective par score, and is then reported either as the number that the golfer was "under-" or "over-par", or if it was "equal to par". A hole in one (or an "ace") occurs when a golfer sinks their ball into the cup with their first stroke from the tee. Common scores for a hole also have specific terms.

In a typical professional tournament or among "scratch" amateur players, "birdie-bogey" play is common; a player will "lose" a stroke by bogeying a hole, then "gain" one by scoring a birdie. Eagles are uncommon but not rare; however, only 18 players have scored an albatross in a men's major championship.

Basic forms of golf
There are two basic forms of golf play, match play and stroke play. Stroke play is more popular.

Match play
Two players (or two teams) play each hole as a separate contest against each other in what is called match play. The party with the lower score wins that hole, or if the scores of both players or teams are equal the hole is "halved" (or tied). The game is won by the party that wins more holes than the other. In the case that one team or player has taken a lead that cannot be overcome in the number of holes remaining to be played, the match is deemed to be won by the party in the lead, and the remainder of the holes are not played. For example, if one party already has a lead of six holes, and only five holes remain to be played on the course, the match is over and the winning party is deemed to have won "6 & 5". At any given point, if the lead is equal to the number of holes remaining, the party leading the match is said to be "dormie", and the match is continued until the party increases the lead by one hole or ties any of the remaining holes, thereby winning the match, or until the match ends in a tie with the lead player's opponent winning all remaining holes. When the game is tied after the predetermined number of holes have been played, it may be continued until one side takes a one-hole lead.

Stroke play
The score achieved for each and every hole of the round or tournament is added to produce the total score, and the player with the lowest score wins in stroke play. Stroke play is the game most commonly played by professional golfers. If there is a tie after the regulation number of holes in a professional tournament, a playoff takes place between all tied players. Playoffs either are sudden death or employ a pre-determined number of holes, anywhere from three to a full 18. In sudden death, a player who scores lower on a hole than all of his opponents wins the match. If at least two players remain tied after such a playoff using a pre-determined number of holes, then play continues in sudden death format, where the first player to win a hole wins the tournament.

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