As we have talked about many times, in the game of golf, there is quite a bit of terminology that can be confusing to understand.
One area of the game that can really confuse people is the scoring.
Golf scoring is confusing, and it changes based on the format that you are playing.
Let’s look at what 3 & 1 means in golf and how this will impact your next round of golf.
What Does 3 & 1 Mean In Golf?
In golf, the term 3 & 1 means that a match was completed, and a player was three up with one hole to play.
For some players, this may seem a little confusing, but there is a reason behind it.
In order to win a golf match 3 & 1, you will have to be leading by two as you approach the 17th hole.
On the 17th hole, the trailing player has a chance to win the hole to extend the match and move it toward the 18th hole.
However, if this hole is split, the match would finish 2 & 1.
If the player who is leading happens to win the hole, the total for the match will be 3 & 1.
This means that player is up three shots with just one hole left to play.
The term 3 & 1 in golf is only used in match-play events where players win holes instead of comparing total strokes at the end of a match.
When a golfer wins a match 3 & 1, they have a great performance that allows for some extra holes to be won right near the end of the match.
How Is Match Play Scoring Different From Stroke Play Scoring?
In a traditional round of golf, where players keep their score for every shot they take, you will never see a score like 3 & 1 come up at the end of the hole.
However, match play is different.
With match play, golfers will compete to win each hole.
If you make par on a hole and your competitor makes a bogey, you will go one up.
This match continues until you can’t go any further, and one player is ahead of another.
Match play scoring is entirely different from a mental perspective as well as it can impact the way a golfer plays on the course.
Instead of focusing on your own round, you become a bit distracted by what the other player is doing.
Match play scoring is very easy to figure out, and it can even be done with handicap strokes for golfers that are looking to play a match against a player with different abilities.
Overall, it’s great to play a mix of match play and stroke play events so that you can work on your game to become more consistent and competitive.
Tips To Gain And Maintain The Lead In Golf Match Play
To win a match 3 & 1 in golf, you will have had to have had some excellent holes.
Winning a match by being three up with just one hole left to play means that you also know how to close a match.
There are times when our competitors make match play easy on us by making mistakes on the golf course.
However, this is not typically the case, so you can’t bank on this.
You must prepare yourself to win.
Here are a few ways that you can learn to gain and maintain the lead in a golf match play event.
1. Play Your Own Game
The most challenging part of match play is keeping your head in your own game.
So many great golfers make the mistake of worrying about what the other person is doing and how that will impact their match.
It’s best to focus on each one of your shots and play them to the best of your ability.
For some golfers who hit the ball a bit shorter, there is an increased desire to get more distance from the shots to keep up with the competitors.
This is a mistake and will cause some unbalanced swings.
Work on staying in control and making great contact.
If your shot is ten to fifteen yards back from competitors, it won’t matter much as long as you can get it close to the pin.
Don’t focus on these small differences between you and the other golfer.
Instead, try to focus on the issues you are having with your game and keep them in check.
Sometimes if a competitor has a terrible hole, you will let your guard down, and it leads to bad swings.
Always try to birdie or par the hole regardless of what anyone else is doing.
As great as this advice is, it becomes hard to follow on the golf course and will likely take some practice before you truly have it down.
2. Work On The Recovery
In match play, you may hit a bad shot.
At first, your competitor may think that this bad shot has you out of play.
However, if you are smart about it and can get yourself out of trouble, you can still win the hole.
Sometimes you will hit a ball in the water off the tee box.
This does not mean that par or bogey is out of the question.
When you can recover from a bad position on the course and make the right adjustments in your game, it will likely rattle the person you are playing with.
They will get this idea in their head that this is their hole to win.
If you take it back from them with your stellar scrambling performance, it could change the entire trajectory of your game.
3. Don’t Be Afraid To Concede
In match play, you do not need to finish out every hole.
This means that a player can concede a hole if necessary.
Let’s say you hit two golf balls off the tee into the water.
You are on the green putting for your triple bogey, and your competitor is just five feet away from their par.
You know they will not take several putts from this location, and to keep things moving along and show your respect to the other player, you can concede the hole.
Although conceding the hole may seem like you are just asking to lose, there is some benefit here that should be considered.
Sometimes out of frustration, you will continue to swing away and hit poor shots.
These shots are not helping your game, and you are likely not in the proper mindset as you make the swings.
If you simply know that the chances of you winning the hole are slim, pick up the ball, concede the hole and move on.
Don’t torture yourself any longer, and you can now go to the next hole thinking about positive things instead of a slew of bad shots you hit on the previous hole.
Losing one hole does not have to make or break your entire match.
Stay strong on the next hole and win that point back.
4. Every Hole Is A New Chance
Every hole in match play is a new chance.
It’s kind of like waking up on January 1st each time you move to the next tee box.
With this thought in mind, there is no need to carry over any negativity from previous holes.
If you have a bad hole, simply move on to the next one and try to do better.
If your driver is giving you an issue today, simply start using a 3 wood on the next tee box.
Overall it takes time to learn this strategy as it is so much different than an 18-hole round of stroke play.
One of our key pieces of advice is to focus on this as if it were 18 individual matches.
The more of them you can win, the better you can do.
This is a great way to consider your scoring as well.
It won’t put pressure on what you made on the previous hole or the next hole that you have coming up.
Instead, you can simply just play the hole to the best of your ability.
I would also highly recommend trying to capitalize on the golf holes you love the most.
If you have a favorite par three or par four, try to win that hole to the best of your ability.
This will be a good confidence boost for you, and you can check the box on your scorecard.
Working on some mental strategy before you head out for a round of golf will also help ensure that you have a plan for these holes.
The night before a big match, it pays to sit down and look at what you have in front of you and how you plan to attack the golf course.
5. Practice Those Clutch Putts
There will be a few putts in the course of your match play round that will make or break your performance.
Most of these putts are not long.
In fact, the majority will be under ten feet.
The key is to learn to look at these ten-foot putts as must-makes instead of trying to get the ball close to the hole.
You have to focus on your ability to get the ball in as opposed to your ability to get the ball close.
Sometimes if you miss a green and chip to ten feet, you can feel like you are a little behind on the hole.
However, when you roll that putt down and your competitor two putts, you are right back in the hole.
The majority of matches will come down to who makes these types of putts in the course of a round.
If you are a golfer who struggles to make consistent putts like this and you end up hitting the ball short or long, depending on the day, you want to practice putting quite a bit before your next tournament round.
Playing a match without a hot putter will make it hard to get to that 3 & 1 spot!
Hopefully, you now fully understand what 3 & 1 means in golf.
The scoring in match play is not all that difficult to follow, but you have to be smart about how you play if you want the chance to go up 3 & 1.
Keep in mind that match play competitions can be either 9 or 18 holes, but the scoring would still show 3 & 1 if there was one hole left and a player just went 3 up.
The game of golf provides so many opportunities for tournaments, and learning to play different formats ensures that you never get bored when you are out there!