Butler Cabin, Augusta National (c) Burgh Golfer

Friday, July 29, 2011

Match Play Strategy

Last weekend, I was fortunate enough to be a finalist in my Club’s 2011 Championship Match.  With a lot of practice and a little luck along the way, I defended my 2010 title and won the event.
At our club, the qualifying rounds are played under stroke play format.  From there, the low eight scores move into the championship flight.  Three rounds of match play determine the winner.  I love match play, probably because it reminds me of my junior and high school golf days.  I’ve developed a strategy over the years for match play that I thought I would share in this post.  For anyone who has ever played match play golf under pressure, you might realize that that pressure you put on yourself to win each hole can disrupt your focus and strategy.  I have found this to be true in my own game, especially when I am down in the match or am struggling with my game.  
  • Par, Par, Par – meaning, make as many pars as possible; force the other player to beat you.  Do not beat yourself.  If you make a bunch of pars during the round, you will most likely win.
  • Play your own game – do not get distracted by your opponent’s play; stick to your own strategy.  You can watch what they do and react accordingly, however, do not be obsessed by it.
  • Rhythm 1, 2, 3 – this is a good drill to stay loose and not get too rushed.  Stick to a good rhythm and swing smoothly, especially as the round goes on.  Remember -- loose golf equals good golf.
  • Always leave a putt to win or tie the hole- one of the things that I love about match play is that you can turn a hole or an entire match around with a single stroke.  Many players panic and think they need to do something outstanding to get back into a hole or to win it.  Do not fall into that trap; get the ball on the green and try and sink a putt.  Also leave the putt back up the hill whenever possible, because it is easier to be aggressive when putting uphill.
  • Be patient early; the best golf is on the back- even if you are down early in the match or if you are not playing well, remind yourself that the best golf is still yet to come.  You will almost always play better on the back nine as you get loose and become comfortable in the round. Even if you are down on the front nine, you can stage a comeback on the back nine and win.  Don’t mentally defeat yourself too early. Remember Tiger Woods in the US Amateur?  I think he was down early in every final match and came back to win.
  • Remain confident to win- never lose confidence that you can win.  No matter how far down you are, stay calm and remain confident that you can win.  As long as there are holes left to play, you have a chance to come back.  You may suddenly start paying better or your opponent may start to struggle.
  • More practice swings- I always like to take more practice swings during a competitive match, especially on the short shots.  Since every shot has more at stake, make sure that you are completely ready to play the stroke before pulling the trigger.
  • Deep Breadths – sounds like a cliché, but it works.
I have a similar list for stroke play events that I’ll share in a future post.
What strategies do you use to win match play events?  Post a comment with your tips!

No comments:

Post a Comment