What is the proper mindset for match-play golf

By Steve Silverman

Match play golf is alive and well. While professional golfers don't usually play in more than one or two match play tournaments per year, it is the way most amateurs compete in matches at their local golf course. It's also the way the Ryder Cup is conducted, and that matchup between the top pro golfers from Europe and the United States is considered to be one of the most competitive and exciting golf tournaments the professional golf calendar. Match play gives the underdog a much better chance of hanging in when playing a better player.

Clean Slate

Match play differs from stroke or medal play because the match is decided on a hole-by-hole basis. If player A shoots a 4 on the first hole and player B shoots a 7, player A is plus-one on the scorecard. If player B shoots a 3 on the second hole and player A shoots a 4, the match is now even. Even though player A won his hold by three strokes and play B won his by a single shot, the stroke differential does not matter. This allows the golfer to put bad holes in the rear view mirror. That's the big difference between stroke and match play.

Building Momentum

When you win a hole, you have played well enough that you should be able to take that confidence with you on the next hole. Remember what you did right and why you won the hole. If it was a long putt, bring that with you and know that you can sink another long one on the next hole. Also, your opponent may start to press after losing a hole. Take a lesson from that and realize that golf is a stroke-by-stroke game--you can't look back and you can't play ahead. The only thing you can do is concentrate on the next shot. Match play, as opposed to stroke play, lends itself to this kind of thinking because each new hole represents a major opportunity to turn the tide of the match.

Positive attitude

If you are playing a golfer who is better than you are, you might not be able to come within four strokes of him in a medal play match. Your opponent may beat you by two or three strokes on certain holes. The fact that it will not give him any extra advantage works in your favor. Having two or three poor holes is not going to matter. If you can put those holes behind, you should be able to compete and possibly pull the upset.

About The Author

Steve Silverman is an award-winning writer, covering sports since 1980. Silverman authored The Minnesota Vikings: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and Who's Better, Who's Best in Football -- The Top 60 Players of All-Time, among others, and placed in the Pro Football Writers of America awards three times. Silverman holds a Master of Science in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism.


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