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Match Play Strategy

September 01 2012 Golfing Tips

One on One

Match play adds nerves and gamesmanship to the golf.  The game is much more personal when the player you must defeat is right there next to you.   Match play is usually played more aggressively than stroke play and it starts from the first tee as you would like to put pressure on your opponent early and keep it there.  Try to avoid falling behind in a match early on as it is difficult to get back. Of course, there are certainly times when it is best to be conservative or to simply take the strategy of “playing your normal game” until someone wins a hole or until your opponent makes a mistake.

Reactionary Golf

If your opponent hits a solid shot that puts pressure on you to match it or hit a equally good shot. I prefer to play with the assumption that my opponent is always going to hit a great tee shot, approach shot and sink her putts so be mentally prepared and never be “surprised” or caught off guard. Remember, all you are looking to do is play hole by hole.

On the Green

Match play strategy is probably best showcased when you are on the green. You should go into your match expecting to make every putt.  Don’t expect your opponent to concede anything – always be mentally prepared to hole out everything. Of course, your opponent and you too will be conceding putts during the round. When is the appropriate time? I think if you fail to concede an early short putt to your opponent then they may not concede anything to you. What do you know about your opponent?  Is she a good putter or streaky? It matters.  A great putter is probably going to make those short putts anyway so pick a distance…say 2 feet as the range that you are willing to concede a putt to her.

Hero Shots

You’re standing on the fairway with a 180 yard carry shot to the green over a creek but that 180 shot is your limit.  Do you go for it or do you lay up?  Depends on where you stand on the hole and in the match.  If you’re ahead in the match it may not be worth the “hero” risk, but if you’re 2 down with 4 to play you may have no choice but to risk it.

Balancing Act

Always know where you and your opponent stand on a hole in the match and how many holes are left to play so you know where you can be more aggressive or need to be more conservative.

© 2019 Christine M Reuss