Strategy, Strategy, Strategy
In lieu of the upcoming President’s Cup event this week, I feel it necessary to discuss the best way to play a match play event.
Never is it more important to have a great “strategy” about your round, than when you are playing a match play event. Most recreational golfers seldom play this format, and all to often as you look at the highly competitive amateur and the professional ranks, the match play format is used fairly infrequently.
When you step up to the first tee, you need to have a plan of how you want to play each shot, REGARDLESS of what your opponent is doing. Are you going to lay up on par 5’s, or go for the green in two? Do you know when to play safe and when to be aggressive? If your opponent hits a great shot into the green, do you try and hit it closer to the flag or stick to your plan and aim for the center of the green?
These are just a few of the situations that you are sure to face in a match play event. Plus there is the added feature of conceding your opponent’s next shot, and similarly them towards you. This can be viewed as both a courtesy, but also a way to play “mind games” with your foe. Even though they are sure to make that 1-foot putt, you can still make them hole it out. Just remember they will likely return the non-favor to you at some point in the round.
Another great feature about match play, is that you can have a couple of holes that you play just awful and have an unusually high score, but you’re still able to win the match. Unlike stroke play where each swing of the club counts towards your score at the end result, in match play, each hole is essentially it’s own event. If you have one bad hole it isn’t going to ruin the entire day.
Now, don’t go out planning to have a bad hole. If you can play steady, consistent golf you are likely to win the match. In the match play events I’ve played in, I prefer to try and hit first off of the tee box, and first into the green. My thinking on this is that if you are able to put the ball in the fairway, and the first one to hit the green, you’ll likely force your opponent to hit shots either a little farther down the fairway or closer to the hole. They might be able to accomplish this a few times, but more often than not it will result in them missing the fairway in the rough, or missing the green and having to get up and down to force a tie on that hole.
Knowing when to attack and when to play safe is the best way to win a match play event. Once you have your plan, stick to it! Don’t let how your competitor is playing force you to alter what you need to do. Remember…consistency is key to winning!