Welcome To Stroke/Match Play: Learn The Basics And Advanced Strategies

Nick Sahrmann | Game Update


Welcome to CGT’s guide to stroke/match play. In this blog, you’ll find helpful information regarding the basics of stroke/match play in CGT, as well as advice on strategies you should take advantage of while playing your round. For instructional videos on how to play stroke/match play in CGT, visit our YouTube channel.

Learn The Basics
First we should distinguish the difference between stroke play and match play. The way in which a hand is played will not differ whether you’re playing stroke play or match play. The only difference will be how the hand is scored.  

Stroke Play- Each player’s hand is totaled and then the resulting score to par is recorded on the scorecard. For example, if Player A shoots a 9 (Par), and the par of the hole is 4, than Player A will record a 4 on the scorecard for that hole. Each player will keep a running total of their score for the remainder of the round, and the lowest total at the end of the round wins. 

Match Play- This is a game that can only be played with two or four players. In match play, each player will be competing directly against a singular opponent. If two people are playing, the opponent will be the opposing player. If four people are playing, a players opponent will be the person directly across from them. In this case, there would essentially be two individual matches occurring within one group. Unlike stroke play, a players score to par only matters for the given hole. This is because the person who has the better score to par on the hole between the two opponents wins the hole and goes “1 hole up” on the other player. For instance, on the first hole, Player A shoots a birdie while player B shoots a par. This means that Player A is now +1 on Player B. Now on hole two, Player A shoots a bogey and Player B shoots a par. The two players would be tied once again. If the two players shoot the same score to par on a hole, the match score will not change.  

To find instructions on key components of stroke play in CGT, such as cancelling cards out, how to use the stoke index system, and how to determine the order of play on each hole, reference the rules sheet included in our game box. 

Learn The Strategies

  1. Rearranging face-up cards prior to the start of the hole: This is a strategy that can only be used on a par 4 or par 5. Let’s say that on a par 4, player A turns their two cards (which are in different rows) over before the start of the hole, and that the two cards have matching colors and values (two green 7 irons for instance). Player A is allowed to rearrange these two cards in their hand so that they are in the same column and thus cancel out. The same rule applies to par 5’s when three cards are turned over prior to the start of the hole. Note: This is the only time in the hand when a player is allowed to rearrange their cards.  


  1. Keeping in mind cards removed from the deck based on the stoke index of the hole when determining whether to keep/discard a card: An important reason to be aware of the stroke index of the hole is that it will affect your chances of drawing a card you may need. For instance, let’s say Player A turns over a green 7 iron at the beginning of the hole. However, a green 7 iron has been removed from the deck because of the stroke index system. Player A’s chances of cancelling this green 7 iron out have now been decreased. While this may seem like a minor inconvenience, cancelling two 7 iron cards out could save you 14 strokes, and potentially move you from a bogey to a birdie. In this situation, it would be wise of Player A to replace the green 7 iron as quick as possible with a card that has better odds of being cancelled out. 

Pro Tip– If you are late in the hole and stuck with a card you want to cancel out, but realize that there is only one card of that type left in the draw pile, you may want consider picking up a card of a higher value. An example of this situation would be that you are stuck with a green 7 iron and know that there is only one green 7 iron left in the draw pile. Towards the end of the game, you draw a black 9 iron, but are aware of the fact that there are still three other black 9 irons left in the draw pile. In this situation, it could be wise to replace your green 7 iron with the black 9 iron. While you are losing two points in the short run, your odds of cancelling out and saving yourself 18 points are higher than if you had stuck with the green 7 iron. 


  1. How to determine where to place a valuable card (2 iron or better) in hand: A common mistake among new CGT players is that when they draw or pick up a valuable card (2 iron or better), they will place the card in the same column as an unwanted card (usually 5 iron or worse). This is harmful for two reasons. First, you want to try to keep the column with the unwanted card open for as long as possible, in order to potentially cancel the column out. If you have already placed your valuable card in the same column as the unwanted card, and then draw or pick up a card that would allow you to cancel out the unwanted card, you would be giving your opponent that valuable card. Secondly, you want to try to place valuable cards in the same column. Since you will save little to no points from cancelling two valuable cards out, you might as well place them in the same column to give yourself more room to cancel out unwanted cards. 


  1. Awareness of other players’ discards: Staying vigilant of other players’ discards is a very valuable strategy. Too many times new CGT players will be too focused on the draw pile, and accidentally pass on a helpful card that has just been discarded. For example, Player A needs a green 7 iron to cancel out a column, and the player ahead of them has just discarded a green 7 iron. If player A is not paying attention, they may miss this and opt to draw a card instead, which is not smart.  


  1. Awareness of other players’ hands: Having table awareness is key to shooting well in CGT. There are two reasons for this. First, it may be a wise move to hold on to an unwanted card if you notice that the player ahead of you has one of these same cards. More likely than not, this player will discard the card at some point during the hole, which means you’ll have an easy cancel out. However, the opposite could also be true. They might be trying to cancel out that same card, which means you have a slimmer chance of getting the card you need. Assessing when to replace this card is tricky.  

Pro Tip– Playing defense in CGT can be a very smart strategy. If you notice that the person who is receiving your discards needs a card you currently have in your hand, holding on to that card can be a great way of damaging your opponents score.  


  1. How to pace yourself during the hole: Determining when to finish your hole if given the option can be difficult. You can take one of two approaches. You could either play aggressive and accept a bad score, go out early, and force your opponents’ hands. This could be a great way to sabotage their scores, but you have to hope they do worse than you. You can also play the slow game, and try to see if you could improve your score. This strategy is useful if you’re on the edge between two scores, and have time because your opponents are multiple cards away from going out.  


Learning stroke play and match play in CGT will be easy, learning the advanced strategies is the hard part. However, if you are able to successfully master the six strategies outlined above, we have no doubt you’ll be coasting to victory in no time! Stay tuned to our blog page for upcoming releases of new ways to play CGT, as well as monthly updates on how the business is going.
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