Golf Definition: 'Closed Out'

Sometimes in golf we hear that one golfer "closed out" another, or closed out a match. What does that mean? Simple: "Closed out" means beat or won. But when the expression closed out is used, it is almost always accompanyied by information about how a match was won.

"Closed out" is mostly a match-play term (see alternate definition below). Imagine Golfer A is leading Golfer B in a match by a score of 4-up. They are on the 14th hole and Golfer A wins that hole to go 5-up. But there are only four holes (15, 16, 17 and 18) left — Golfer A just closed out the match. His lead — 5-up with four holes remaining — is insurmountable. He cannot lose. He just won the match — he just closed it out.

We noted that "closed out" is often accompanied by information about how the match was won, or when (which hole) it was won, or both. "She closed out the match on the 17th green," or "she closed out the match, 3 and 2."

For example, in its Sunday edition of October 11, 1964, the New York Times published a UPI wire story about the Picadilly World Match-Play Championship. Arnold Palmer defeated Gary Player in a 36-hole match, 8 and 6. "After shooting a 5-under-par 69 for the morning 18 holes to take a 4-up lead," Palmer, the article continued:

"... got an eagle and three birdies on the first six holes of the afternoon round and closed out the match by sinking a 40-foot birdie putt on the 30th green."
Alternate definition: "Closed out" can also refer to how one finished a stroke-play round. For example, from her autobiography This Life I've Led (commissions earned), Babe Didrikson Zaharias wrote: "So I closed out with an eagle. That gave me a 72 for the round."

Note that there is also a wager in golf known as the closeout. See How to Play the Closeout Golf Bet.

More definitions:

(Book titles are affiliate links; commissions earned)
Kapriskie, Ron. Golf Digest's Complete Book of Golf Betting Games, 2007, Doubleday.
Universal Press International. "Palmer defeats Player," New York Times, Oct. 11, 1964
Zaharias, Babe Didrikson. This Life I've Led: An Autobiography, 1955, A.S. Barnes and Company

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