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What Is A Dog License In Golf? – Explained!

what is a dog license in golf
what is a dog license in golf

Golf is known to be a technical sport full of technical terms that you may not know the meaning of. One of those golf terms rarely mentioned on golf courses and TV broadcasts is the term “Dog License”.

If you are reading this article, you may wonder: What exactly is a “Dog License” in golf?

In this article, we will explain to you exactly what the term “Dog License” means in golf.

What Is A Dog License In Golf?

In golf, a “Dog License” refers to winning a match play round of golf against an opponent, with a winning margin of 7 golf holes, with 6 holes left to play. In other words, in 18-hole match play, if you win with a 7-hole margin and 6 holes left to play, you win a “Dog License”.

In the great game of golf, the expression “Dog License” is rarely mentioned on golf courses and on TV broadcasts.

In golf, the term “Dog License” is the name given to a victory in match play with a winning margin of 7&6.

In other words, winning a “Dog License” in golf requires a golfer to have a winning margin of 7 holes over their opponent in match play, with 6 holes left to play, as per match play nomenclature.

As per match play nomenclature, the “7” is the difference in golf holes won between the opposing golfers; the second number, located after the ampersand (&), refers to the number of golf holes left to play.

Down below, you can read a real-world example of a “Dog License” being won.


Adam & Bob are playing some match play golf together.

After 11 golf holes, Adam has won 8 holes, Bob won 2 holes, and they halved on 1 hole (tied).

Adam’s margin is currently 6 holes over Bob.

The duo still has 18 – (8 + 2 + 1) = 7 holes left to play.

Adam’s score over Bob is currently 6&7 in match play notation.

With 7 holes left to play, Bob can still tie or beat Adam, provided he wins nearly all or all the remaining golf holes.

However, on the 12th hole, Adam wins again, taking his score to 7&6. This means Adam won 7 more holes than Bob, and there are only 6 holes left to play.

With only 6 holes left to play, it is impossible for Bob to overcome his 7-hole deficit.

Therefore, as the winning margin is 7 holes, and there are 6 holes left, Adam wins a “Dog License”.

As you can see in the example above, getting halves (getting ties) on certain golf holes can change how many golf holes you need to win to get a “Dog License”.

Down below, you can see a chart listing all the possibilities for scenarios in which one can win a “Dog License”.

Golfer #1’s Hole WinsGolfer #2’s Hole WinsHalves (Ties)
Number of Hole Wins Required to Score a “Dog License” in Golf match play

If you would like to get better at golf and win more often in match play, you can read our guide: How To Improve Your Golf Score? – 9 Pro Tips.

Origin Of The Term “Dog License”

The origin of the expression “Dog License” in golf is very unintuitive to those who do not know it. It is based in the 20th century history of the United Kingdom, in Europe.

In fact, in the United Kingdom, it would cost 7 shillings and 6 pence to buy a license to own an actual living dog. Naturally, some people made a link between the cost of a dog license, and a 7-6 winning margin in match play in golf.

Over time, the term “Dog License” started being used in golf to refer to a golfer leading by 7 holes in match play.

This means the golfer in question likely won 9 out of the first 12 holes, with 6 holes left to play. In such a case, the opponent would have won 2 holes, and scavenged a half (a tie on one hole).

With 6 holes left to play, it is then impossible for the opponent to overcome the 7-hole deficit, thus the leading golfer wins the “Dog License”.

Due to this history of dog licenses in the United Kingdom and the winning margin of 7 holes, it makes sense where the term “Dog License” shot got its name from in golf.


There you go! After reading this article, you have learned exactly what a “Dog License” is in golf.

Do you have any other golf expressions you wish to know more about? Had you heard of the expression “Dog License” before reading this article? Let us know in the comments down below!

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