The Curtis Cup Match is played by women amateur golfers, one team from the United States (USA) and one team from England, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales (GB&I). The teams consist of not more than eight players and a captain. The Match is conducted every two years, alternately in the United States and Great Britain/Ireland.
FORMAT: A total of 20 matches will be played during the three-day competition. Three different forms of match play are used in the competition: foursomes (alternate shot), four-ball (better-ball) and singles. Three foursomes and three four-ball matches are played on the first two days, and eight singles matches are played on the final day.
Foursomes is an alternate shot format where two players who are partners (a side) will represent each team and will alternately play one ball. One player from each side will play from the teeing ground of the odd number holes and her partner will play the tee shots on the even number holes. During play of the hole, the partners alternate play of their ball into the hole.
Four-ball is a match where two players are partnered on each team playing their own ball. The low score among the two partners on each team is that team's score.
Singles is a form of match play that most are familiar with and is what takes place at each of the USGA amateur Championships.
SCORING: Whether a foursome, four-ball or single match, scoring in match play is the same. Let's have a look at the following imaginary single match between players A and B:
A match always starts at "All Square," that is, the match is even, no one has an advantage or disadvantage. A wins the 1st hole, so A is "1 up." After A wins the 2nd hole, A is then "2 up." (It doesn't matter how many strokes the hole is won by, no more than "1 up" can be the result of the scores from any one hole.)
The players halve the 3rd hole, so there is no change in the status of the match. B then wins the 4th hole, which leaves A only 1 up. B wins the 5th hole, so the match returns to All Square ("AS"). B then wins the 6th hole, and takes the lead 1 up. And so on.
Notice that a score does not have to be recorded in match play (see the "x" on the 6th hole for A). The result of the hole (won, loss, or halved) simply needs to be determined. In fact, "conceding" is allowed. A, for example, can concede the 6th hole to B without finishing it. Players may also concede that their opponents will hole out with their next strokes; therefore, if B wants to concede A's one foot putt on the 7th hole for a 4, B can - and A doesn't have to putt.
The match goes on in this fashion until a side is leading by a greater number than the number of holes left to be played. For example, if B is 5 up with 4 holes left to play, the match is over as A can not possibly come back. B is said to have won the match, "5 and 4."
In the Curtis Cup, each of the 20 matches is worth one point in the larger team competition. So, in the example above, if B was a member of the US team, the US would earn one point toward their team total. If a match is All Square after the 18th hole extra holes are not played. Rather, each side earns 1/2 point toward their team total. The team that accumulates at least 10 1/2 points wins the competition. However, if both sides earn a total of 10 points the competition is deemed halved and, in this case, the United States would retain the Curtis Cup trophy since they won the 2010 match.
The Curtis Cup was donated by the sisters Harriot and Margaret Curtis in 1927 and is inscribed: "to stimulate friendly rivalry among the women golfers of many lands." However, largely due to financial reasons, the first official match was not played until 1932 at Wentworth where the US beat GB&I 5 1/2 - 3 1/2. The official name for the competition is "The Women's International Cup." The cup is a silver bowl of Paul Revere design.