Any tips for winning Match Play games?

Bamberdele2.0

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I suppose it is a bit of inexperience here but I’ve played half a dozen match play games now and the only one I’ve won is when I got ahead on the first hole. Every other time the opponent has gone 1 up and it feels as if there is no ‘plan b’ and struggle to compose myself in playing my ‘normal’ game. From here on I find myself taking risky shots etc and the pressure to get back in front seems to alter my game completely.

Maybe it’s a psychological thing now but does anyone have any tips on winning match play games as it seems to be my nemesis
 

Orikoru

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Just play each hole as a fresh start. It really is irrelevant what the score is. Each time you tee it up again, there's an opportunity to win a hole. I've done a huge amount of match play, but even in the foursomes cup I played last winter, we had every kind of scenario on our way to the quarter finals - in one match we were 3 down with four to play and won it on a play-off hole. In another match we were 4 up after the 9th then lost the next four holes in a row - followed by winning the 2 after that and eventually winning the match still. At my old club I remember a betterball match where we lost the first 3 holes but still came back to win. No matter what the score is, just take each hole as it comes and play it to the best of your ability, like you would in a normal competition. There is definitely no need to go aggressive because you lost a hole. Write it off and go onto the next one.
 

Slab

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You need to get rid of that ‘pressure’ you describe, it’s not justified, there’s still 17 holes to go, the match has barely started

“Pressure to get back in front…” you only need to be in front on one hole so ease up on yourself on the early tee boxes and stop going for the risky shots on any hole until you really are in the doodoo and need that hero shot to keep the match alive (although situations where you need a hero shot to survive almost never happen anyway)

From the matches I’ve played, steady golf (par and net par) wins far more holes than holes with risky shots, let the other bloke chase birdies if they want to
 

Bamberdele2.0

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i think the difference in formats to compare with a stab / medal is that you are playing the whole 18 holes. I’m used to this and prefer it on an overall scoring basis as I generally start firing on the back 9.

With match play you can shake hands on the 10th even if you are playing ok and by that time enough damage has been done.
 

Orikoru

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i think the difference in formats to compare with a stab / medal is that you are playing the whole 18 holes. I’m used to this and prefer it on an overall scoring basis as I generally start firing on the back 9.

With match play you can shake hands on the 10th even if you are playing ok and by that time enough damage has been done.
Firstly, if you always play better on the back nine, try warming up better, or for longer, or at all.

Secondly, it must be practically unheard-of that the match is over by the 10th. Most matches, as long as handicaps are accurate, are going at least 16 holes I'd have thought. Losing the first or second hole makes no difference, there's such a long way to go.
 
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There will be a load of crap written about playing match play.

But, it’s quite simple and not really any different from stroke play. You need to give yourself the best chance of scoring on every hole.

Playing more aggressively, going for pins or hitting shots you wouldn’t normally will only lead to losing holes.

Never think a hole is won or lost until it actually is. Expect your partner hole out from long range when you have a short putt.

I had a match play game on Saturday. I was behind from the first hole. I was 3 down after 8 and looking like going 4 down on 9 until I holed a 40footer for par and my opponent 3 putted.

I won the match 3 & 1.

Steady net pars will win many a match play game.
 
D

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You could try getting in their heads on the first tee?
Giving them all putts 3ft and in for a few holes then making them hole everything of significance after that.
You could try coming out of the blocks firing at pins?
Or you could stick to your own game, play the way you play and enjoy it , win or lose, what real significance will it have on your life? You’ll still be the right side of the ground when you shake hands be it on hole 10 or hole 18, regardless of the outcome.
Golf is supposed to be fun, get back to enjoying it and see what happens, and after it’s over go for a pint with your opponent and move on.
 

SwingsitlikeHogan

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With experience you’ll find that you can be 2, 3, 4 down after 4 and still win. That ‘being down early on‘ pressure you feel goes. You just have to keep in the hole; playing the shot you can play well that when executed gives you the easiest next shot - as just doing that puts pressure on your opponent; keep it one hole at a time, and have confidence in yourself. Most importantly enjoy the challenge of doing that.

note…this advice given by the winner of the Farnham GC season 2021/22 Winter individual matchplay K/O ?
 
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Neilds

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To the OP - I think there is a bit of a trend with a lot of your posts and you wanting to improve. You seem to get very bogged down with specifics and techniques. Just go out, swing the club and hit the ball.
 

Slab

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i think the difference in formats to compare with a stab / medal is that you are playing the whole 18 holes. I’m used to this and prefer it on an overall scoring basis as I generally start firing on the back 9.

With match play you can shake hands on the 10th even if you are playing ok and by that time enough damage has been done.

If you ever find that you "played ok" and still shook hands on the 10th its not a match you were ever going to win :sneaky:
Imagine what the opponent has to have shot on front 9 for that to happen!

That's probably more a statement borne out of the unnecessary pressure you're putting on yourself and not something you really believe (y)
 
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timd77

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I lost my first ever match on the 11th hole, I’d pretty much given up by the 8th, didn’t see much point carrying on!

After that my fortunes have changed considerably and the 2 main things I started doing differently (possibly after asking a similar question on here):

Never give up. If you’re 3 down with 3 to play, win the next hole and your opponent will likely start to think negative thoughts, play conservatively etc and make a mistake. You never know. I was 3 down with 5 to play last year, won the last to square the match, fantastic feeling. But also never give up on a hole, you never know when they might get a bad bounce or you might get a good bounce!

The second is, if you’re in the poo, chipping out, taking a drop or whatever, try to get your ball ahead of your opponent so that they’re hitting next. If you’re hitting next again after a chip out, the pressure’s on you to hit a great shot and if you don’t they’ll have a slight edge, so always make sure they’re next. They might make a mistake and leave the door open for a half.
 

CountLippe

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Putting is hard in match play.
Be good at 2-3ft putts. This will allow you to be positive with putts 'to win' without being worried about the one coming back.
 

Bamberdele2.0

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You could try getting in their heads on the first tee?
Giving them all putts 3ft and in for a few holes then making them hole everything of significance after that.
You could try coming out of the blocks firing at pins?
Or you could stick to your own game, play the way you play and enjoy it , win or lose, what real significance will it have on your life? You’ll still be the right side of the ground when you shake hands be it on hole 10 or hole 18, regardless of the outcome.
Golf is supposed to be fun, get back to enjoying it and see what happens, and after it’s over go for a pint with your opponent and move on.

I have a match play game this week which is between myself and a 14HC. I’m 18 and I’m giving him 4 shots. There’s quite a lot at stake with the main one being pride - but not as much pressure on me seen as I am the underdog. Long story short - I should be lower than 18 and he should be higher than 14 so it’s a close match.

Lots of people interested mainly for entertainment purposes - and once all the sides bets have come in it’s a match that a lot of people are invested in.

And now the finer details of the contract have changed it’s turned into a 3 way game. Match Play, Stroke play and Stableford between ourselves. Good job two friends are joining as a 4 ball to keep the scores and make sure all the rules are applied.

Fun?

Absolutely.
 

Slab

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I have a match play game this week which is between myself and a 14HC. I’m 18 and I’m giving him 4 shots. There’s quite a lot at stake with the main one being pride - but not as much pressure on me seen as I am the underdog. Long story short - I should be lower than 18 and he should be higher than 14 so it’s a close match.

Lots of people interested mainly for entertainment purposes - and once all the sides bets have come in it’s a match that a lot of people are invested in.

And now the finer details of the contract have changed it’s turned into a 3 way game. Match Play, Stroke play and Stableford between ourselves. Good job two friends are joining as a 4 ball to keep the scores and make sure all the rules are applied.

Fun?

Absolutely.

I think I've just sussed out your match play issue! :LOL:


enjoy the game, sounds like an epic
 

Bamberdele2.0

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I think I've just sussed out your match play issue! :LOL:


enjoy the game, sounds like an epic

Was agreed to play off scratch. His idea which I accepted.

Not long wrapped up my football and this is as close as it gets to being involved in a ‘big game’

The nerves are there but it’s a nice feeling - something to really get me pumped.

Struggle at match play tho ?
 

Slab

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Was agreed to play off scratch. His idea which I accepted.

Not long wrapped up my football and this is as close as it gets to being involved in a ‘big game’

The nerves are there but it’s a nice feeling - something to really get me pumped.

Struggle at match play tho ?

As was the case on another recent thread, I reckon you're gonna have to keep the forum updated with the outcome on this one.... good luck


.... Oh and as a concession for giving him 4 shots (bloomin generous) why didn't you insist that you swap the 9's and play your favoured nine first ?
 

evemccc

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The only advice I can give - and this is merely my opinion - is to not give any verbal (or other body language) signs of frustration after a bad shot or bad piece of luck — A round of golf is long and bad shots and near-misses will happen to most of us..
I can’t tell you how much of a mental ‘gee-up’ seeing a Matchplay opponent struggle with his frustration / emotions, gives me.
Even if the opponent recovers his stoicism somewhat and hits a worldie with the next shot, seeing him annoyed, even for a moment, helps to keep my concentration, and encourages me to keep focused
 
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