What Does Dormie Mean in Golf?

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“Dormie” is a golf term that has been around for a long time. But what does dormie mean in golf?

Dormie means that a player or team is winning a match play game by the same number of holes as there are holes remaining in the match. You could say that the winning group is dormie. You can also specify the number of holes left that the team is winning by: dormie-two, dormie-three, or dormie-four. 

When the match is dormie, the player or team that is leading only needs to tie one of the remaining holes to win the match. The worst case is that they lose all the remaining holes and the match is tied.

This article has everything you need to know about the term dormie in golf. We’ll cover what dormie means, the history of the word, and some examples of how dormie works in match play. 

What Does Dormie Mean In Golf?
What Does Dormie Mean In Golf?

What Does Dormie Mean in Golf?

Dormie in golf means that a player or team is ahead during a match play competition by the same number of holes as are remaining in the match. For example, if a player is dormie after the sixteenth hole, that means they up two with two to play. They only need to tie or win one hole to win the match. 

When the match is dormie, the leading player can win the match with a tie on any of the remaining holes. They can also close the match by winning one more hole, but a halved hole is all that’s required.

On the other hand, if your opponent is dormie, you need to win all the remaining holes just to force a tie. Even if you tie only one of the remaining holes, your dormie opponent will win the match.

Dormie is only applicable during matches that can result in a tie or halved points. In some match play events, ties are not allowed. Players must play extra holes and continue the match until a winner is decided. In this case, the term dormie does not describe the situation accurately.

Since the match cannot be halved, only won or lost, neither player can be dormie. Instead, players continue to play additional holes until a winner is determined. They will have to play a sudden-death playoff until one player wins a hole. The longer they continue to tie holes, the longer the match will go on.

You always want to prevent your opponent from becoming dormie during a match play event, otherwise you no longer have a chance to win the match. At the same time, you want to put yourself in a position to become dormie, so you can more easily close the match on the remaining holes. Once you become dormie, a tie is the worst possible result for you.

History of the Word Dormie in Golf

The origin of the term dormie is still debated among golfers and golf historians. However, there is a common history of the word that the USGA confirms

The term dormie in golf comes from the Latin word dormir. Dormir means to sleep. If a player or team is dormie, they can “go to sleep” since the match cannot be lost.

Of course, they can’t actually go to sleep. They still need to be awake to finish the round. It simply means the dormie team can relax over the last few holes since a tie is the worst possible outcome.

When a player is dormie, the round must be finished to be official. If they did fall asleep the match would be forfeited.

Dormie was an official term in the golf rulebook, specifically in the rules regarding match play. However, in 2019, the term was removed from the golf rulebook. The removal of dormie coinsided with other changes to official golf terminology. 

Another word that was removed was “halved.” In match play, players would half a hole if they got the same score. That result is now officially called a tie.

Many golfers still use the term dormie in their casual rounds. You may hear broadcasters use the rem dormie too, especially the commentators who have been covering golf for a long time. Since the word is less common today and no longer an official golf term, it could die out completely over the next few decades. 

Dormie Meaning In Match Play Golf
Dormie Meaning In Match Play Golf

Examples of Match Play Dormie

Let’s look at some examples of how dormie works. If two opponents have played 14 holes of match play, and one player is winning by four, this situation could be described as “dormie-four.”

If the player who is dormie wins one more hole, they will win the match. 

If the two players tie one of the remaining holes, the dormie player will still win the match. 

The only way the dormie player cannot win the match is if the other player wins all the remaining holes. Then the match will end in a tie. 

It is possible to have dormie-one, dormie-two, and so on, all the way up to dormie-nine for an 18-hole match.

For a player to get to dormie-nine, they must win all of the first nine holes of an 18-hole match. Even if they lose every hole on the back nine, the match will still end in a tie. And, if they can win or tie just one more hole, they win the match.

On the other hand, if the holes of the match do not allow for a tie, there is no opportunity to be dormie. The players must continue on until a winner is determined. If there is no winner after regulation play, they will play extra holes until someone wins.

Final Thoughts

Unfortunately, dormie is no longer an official golf term. It was removed from the rule book along with halved and some other terms. You might still hear it used in casual golf settings when one player only needs to tie a single hole to win the match.

However, if the player who is not dormie can manage to win all the remaining holes, they can still force a tie. If the match play rules do not allow for ties, no one can be dormie.

Looking for more interesting golf vocabulary? We’ve explained the meaning of terms like mulligan, pin high, up-and-down, and many other golf terms in our golf knowledgebase section.

David Shelly
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