Reviving this old-timey match-scoring system is a Cool Golf Thing

Some things 125 years old are new again.
Yale and Columbia's golf teams recently revived a 125-year-old rivalry with an interesting old-time twist.

How much time must pass before doing something a very old way becomes, effectively, a new way of doing that thing?

Is 125 years enough?

It might be, in the context of a recent tussle between two of college golf's oldest programs.

On October 22 at Saint Andrews Golf Club in Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y., Yale and Columbia renewed the format of their very first meeting, held on November 6, 1896.

With seven players appearing for each squad, the two Ivies hewed to the seemingly anachronistic format that governed that first encounter: a total-holes-won scoring system where the players on both sides of each match play all 18 holes, even when one would otherwise be closed out. Playing their home course, Columbia avenged their lopsided 1896 loss by beating Yale, 15 holes to 2.

I see some advantages to this way of keeping score, as opposed to the Ryder Cup-style one-point-per-match scoring that dominates team match-play golf. It retains the hole-to-hole rhythms and excitement of match play, but rather than rendering the final several holes meaningless in a blowout, a losing player can still help his or her team by winning a couple late and closing the gap, which could make all the difference in the overall score. Winning one's match remains crucial, but playing hard for 18 holes takes on slightly more importance, too.

If I find myself organizing a large buddies trip in the future, I think I'll incorporate this format for one of the rounds, with the each member of losing team paying the winners a dollar or two per hole of scoring difference, just to keep things interesting.

6 Min Read
November 6, 2014
The Brits do it right -- match play, alternate shot, Stablefords, etc. -- to keep things moving. If you've had enough of stroke play, here are 10 suggestions.

Tim Gavrich is a Senior Writer for GolfPass. Follow him on Twitter @TimGavrich and on Instagram @TimGavrich.
Commented on

This is a very clever format that would seem to work better than the nonetheless tried-and-true Ryder system. 125 years seems quite a while for a readoption of this long-in-the-tooth scoring system, but hey, necessity is often the mother of renewal (in this case).

It’s interesting to see Columbia, where I played in the 70’s when their home course was Rockland Country Club, now playing at St. Andrews in Hastings-on-Hudson. The course looks to be a slight upgrade, maybe, from what was their former home turf. And their victory over Yale on October 22nd is yet another Cool Golf Thing.

More from the author
6 Min Read
November 30, 2021
From the home of Arnold Palmer to top resort courses and hidden gems, Orlando is loaded with options.
4 Min Read
November 23, 2021
We scoured the web of golf and found holiday savings up to 50% off.
4 Min Read
November 19, 2021
Architect Tom Doak’s annual Renaissance Cup is equal parts competition, collaboration and celebration.
1 Min Read
November 19, 2021
Cut class, tee it up and get some food, just like the old days.
2 Min Read
November 15, 2021
Golf course news and notes: November, 2021.
2 Min Read
November 15, 2021
Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson and world-class instructors help you get up-and-down more often.
6 Min Read
November 20, 2021
Help the golfer in your life shoot lower scores, look and feel better than ever this holiday season with these eight golf gifts.
3 Min Read
November 30, 2021
The Jamaica Invitational "Annie's Revenge", one of the Caribbean's best pro-ams, introduces the fun and the sun of Rose Hall near Montego Bay.
5 Min Read
November 2, 2021
Some U.S. cities have frighteningly few public-access courses for its residents. If you like variety, you may not want to live in these metros.
12 Min Read
November 18, 2021
Golfers can choose from a wide variety of portable launch monitor price points and user experiences. Here is what's new and the best ones to consider to improve your golf.
Load More
Now Reading
Reviving this old-timey match-scoring system is a Cool Golf Thing