Ryder Cup Sunday singles: How does it work?

With 12 points to play for, the Sunday singles is the crescendo of the Ryder Cup, so we're taking a look at how the format works and how you can play it, too. 

Ludvig Aberg
Ludvig Aberg

With the final day of the 2023 Ryder Cup fast approaching, we're going to take a look at how the Sunday singles format works and how you can play it with friends or family when you're next out on the course.

A true gladiatorial battle, singles match play is the ultimate test of nerve and skill, pitting one golfer against the other in a head-to-head match.

Played on Sunday at the Ryder Cup, the singles gives each team the chance to win a total of 12 points, with every member of both sides playing on the day.

Arguably the purest form of competitive golf and perhaps the oldest, singles matchplay is straightforward to play. Thanks to the handicap system, it can be played by golfers of all ages, genders and abilities, making it an excellent format to play with friends and family.

Let's take a look at how it works.

Jon Rahm
Jon Rahm


Played on the Sunday of the Ryder Cup, singles has the most simple format to follow. Each player will be going head to head against the other, with the lowest score on each hole winning it.

For example, if Rory McIlroy scores a four and Xander Schauffelle scores a five, then Rory McIlroy wins the hole. 

With both players playing off scratch, no handicap advantage is given to either golfer.

For the average golfer, though, singles handicapping is very simple to calculate. 

Each player will be given their full handicap allowance, and the player with the lowest handicap will be dropped to zero, with their shots deducted from their opposition's handicap.

For example:

Player 1: Handicap 5

Player 2: Handicap 10

Deduct the lowest player to zero

Player 1: 5 -5 = 0

Player 2: 10 - 5 = 5

Player two will then have a five-stroke advantage, with each of those coming into play on the holes, which are stoke index one to five.

Max Homa
Max Homa

How can you play the Ryder Cup singles format?

In order to play these formats, in an ideal world, every golfer would have an official handicap, and now, thanks to England Golf and the new iGolf app, it's never been easier to get one. 

Whereas before, you had to be a member of a course in order to register an official handicap, now, using the iGolf app, you can acquire one for the very reasonable price of £44 per year. 

The setup is very simple, and once you have registered three rounds of golf on the app, you will have an official handicap under the World Handicap System. 

Not only will this allow you to play fair and honest matches with your friends and family, but it also means you will be able to enter official competitions. 


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