RIP 'Dormie' - the famous golf matchplay saying that no longer exists!

GolfMagic delves deeper into the possible origins of the word 'Dormie'...

Andy Roberts's picture
Thu, 28 Mar 2019
RIP 'Dormie' - the famous golf matchplay saying that no longer exists!


Golf's governing bodies may have modernised the rules on the golf course in 2019, but they've also changed a number of key matchplay terms that we've been using for all these years!

19 biggest changes to the rules of golf 2019



Of the biggest amendments, the matchplay term 'Dormie' - used to indicate where a player leads or trails by the same number of holes left in the match - has been removed from the Rules of Golf. 

Here are some of the biggest changes in regards 'preferred terms' for matchplay:

Tying on a hole has replaced halving a hole
Score of a match has replaced status of a match
Asking/requesting a ruling has replaced making a claim
Telling an opponent about penalty / telling an opponent about number of strokes taken has replaced wrong information
Dormie has been removed from the Rules of Golf

The word's origin - which means "to sleep" in French - has a strong link back to the days of Mary Queen of Scots, who possibly first used the word on the golf course when reigning over Scotland from 1542 to 1567. Mary regularly played golf and also spoke the French language, but that's about as far as the connection goes.

Other theories of Dormie's first use in golf comes out of The Historical Dictionary of Golf, which cites "it may have originated in Scotland, where doormice, or dormies, are small rodents that inhabit the heaths... they are quite reclusive, and a doormice sighting is said to be good luck, hence the term."

Another theory notes that 'dormie house' is the term for a building at a golf club where golfers can get overnight lodging - again tying in nicely to the word's French meaning of sleep.