Playing match play golf has been around for centuries. With a handicap system to equal the field, just about anyone can beat anyone on any given day. That's what makes it so much fun to play. All inclusive.
I have had a formative career playing match play events. I have won some and lost some heart breakers. As I look back on it honestly I have learned more about myself and game than any other format of tournament play. So I wanted to share some of what I have learned with you today.
I guess you could call them rules, mistakes, or things that have worked for me. So lets begin!
Doomed Before You Start
In the days leading into a big match can set a tone for your match without you even knowing it. Perhaps you know this player ahead of time or maybe you don't. Regardless of that everyone around you will have expectations about the outcome of your match. Only you have control over you. Don't let the distractions bother you.
While we are here let’s add a few more things that can cause you to be doomed to the start. Things like lack of sleep, improper nutriution, and lack of preparation time all can have you doomed before the start.
What Happens During The Match
Being reactive instead of proactive will ruin your chances to win matches. A big rule that I stand by is that no matter who you are playing against, play the course and play that course to the best of your ability. If you try to keep up with the 350 yard bombing opponent, most likely you will be hurting only yourself by slashing balls deep into the forest. Be proactive by knowing your own game limitations and maximizing them.
Always go into matches with a “let them beat you” mentality. Dare them right? If they do beat you and produce great golf, hats off to them! Your opponent's play throughout the day had nothing to do with yours. You just didn’t play well enough to win. and…..that’s ok. We often learn more by losing than by winning. Losing does inspire greatness!
Never get too far ahead of yourself. Each hole is it’s own entity. It doesn’t matter what has happened before in the match, and….guess what? It doesn't matter what will happen after either. Be concerned with what you are doing on each shot on each hole. Many a player has had a thought they had it in the bag coming down the stretch and found victory fall through their fingers. Which brings me to my final point.
Never underestimate your opponent. Your opponent is here for one reason and one reason only….to beat you. You can’t go through a match hoping that your opponent makes mistakes. It’s draining on you and you aren't paying attention to what you need to do to play your best and win the match. Be encouraging to your opponents, show respect for the good shots they hit, you will be a better player for doing these things. The world’s best player can be beaten in match play, we have see it done before. Play YOUR game and not to theirs.