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First Match Play Event-Suggestions/Tips


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I'll preface this with saying we do 2 man match play for our weekly league and I've already done a two man/match play event this year.  I have never done a singles match play and this is my first go round at it.  When I joined a club a few years ago I wanted to start playing in events like this to make myself a better golfer.  

 

 

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Definitely need to make sure you know the quirks of match play rules as on singles play, it's just your and your opponent. Might be lucky to have a ref.

 

Expect the unexpected and don't be generous with concessions. Especially when you still need to make a putt tie the hole.

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There are a few rules differences you should know as already stated, but like stroke play it's not beating yourself that matters most. 

Don't get too distracted by the different format- play each shot with full focus. 

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1 hour ago, Soloman1 said:

Expect your opponent to hole every putt or chip. Don't be surprised if they hole a bunch, and just keep playing. People 4 up with 5 to go can still throw up all over themselves. Just keep playing.

This is classic Nicklaus.  Great piece of advice, especially in matchplay

 

18 minutes ago, SNIPERBBB said:

 

Expect the unexpected and don't be generous with concessions. Especially when you still need to make a putt tie the hole.

Never be too generous with gimmies, unless they are really close.  Pressure builds up and the shortest putts are tough.  

 

And always be ready in case of rulings because it's just you and your opponent on the course.

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Know the rules of golf, don't give short putts with a lot of break. If you opponent is playing very well compared to his hcp and you get down early, don't worry it wont last :). If you get up early don't adjust your play, just keep doing what you're doing. If you do get out of position just stay disciplined and take your medicine, playing against par in a strokeplay event is harsh but in matchplay there's ample opportunity for your opponent to go wrong. Never give a hole when you're not on the green yet.

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I don't know your our your opponents skill level, but I've always found you can definitely be a bit more aggressive when it comes to match play. Making a double bogey or even an 8 is only going to cost you 1 hole as opposed to 3-4 shots. 

 

Also, as others have mentioned make sure you know the rules for match pay because they differ from stroke (i.e., whoever is further away MUST play before the closer player, you can practice putt on the green after the hole is over, etc.).

 

As far as conceding putts goes... You don't' want to be the guy that makes them putt out everything, but you also don't want to be the guy that gives away holes because he's conceding too many putts. Try to find a good middle ground. 

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20 minutes ago, Abh159 said:

I don't know your our your opponents skill level, but I've always found you can definitely be a bit more aggressive when it comes to match play. Making a double bogey or even an 8 is only going to cost you 1 hole as opposed to 3-4 shots. 

 

Also, as others have mentioned make sure you know the rules for match pay because they differ from stroke (i.e., whoever is further away MUST play before the closer player, you can practice putt on the green after the hole is over, etc.).

 

As far as conceding putts goes... You don't' want to be the guy that makes them putt out everything, but you also don't want to be the guy that gives away holes because he's conceding too many putts. Try to find a good middle ground. 

I have not played with him yet, but we look to be of similar skill.  I'm a 5.2 right now and he's a 6.2.  Low HC's of 2.5 for each of us.  I'm 38 and he's probably late 50's, early 60's.  I'll probably be a little longer than him, but not by much, if any since the dude is around 6'5.  

 

One thing I've been trying to figure out is what tees to play.  His scores show he bounces back and forth between the forward tees and the tees I normally play.  I don't know when you have to declare which tees you're playing, but I'd prefer to play the tees he plays and hope to hit 2nd into more greens.  If I play my normal tees and he plays the forward tees I get a stroke (I think) and if he plays back with me, he'll get one stroke.  

 

Regarding putting, say we're on the first hole and he putts first.  If I putt up to 6" for par and he has 3' left to tie, I don't want to give him that putt, do I?

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1 minute ago, Lefty_3Jack said:

I have not played with him yet, but we look to be of similar skill.  I'm a 5.2 right now and he's a 6.2.  Low HC's of 2.5 for each of us.  I'm 38 and he's probably late 50's, early 60's.  I'll probably be a little longer than him, but not by much, if any since the dude is around 6'5.  

 

One thing I've been trying to figure out is what tees to play.  His scores show he bounces back and forth between the forward tees and the tees I normally play.  I don't know when you have to declare which tees you're playing, but I'd prefer to play the tees he plays and hope to hit 2nd into more greens.  If I play my normal tees and he plays the forward tees I get a stroke (I think) and if he plays back with me, he'll get one stroke.  

 

Regarding putting, say we're on the first hole and he putts first.  If I putt up to 6" for par and he has 3' left to tie, I don't want to give him that putt, do I?

 

As for the tees, I'd play whichever ones you are used to playing. I assume you know the yardages and feel confident in club selection if you play those tees regularly. Let him play from wherever he wants and don't focus on whether or not he is in front or behind you after the tee shots.

 

Regarding the putts... It's totally up to you if you want to give the guy the putt or not. My rule of thumb initially is that I'll concede anything inside of 2 feet to start out and then go from there. If he starts missing some short ones (3 - 4 ft) then I'll start making him putt those 2 footers. That being said, if it's a significant putt in the match (maybe it's a close match with only a few holes left) then I'm making him putt anything outside of a foot. 

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37 minutes ago, farmer said:

Play the most boring golf you can.  Drive into the fairway, knock it on the green, two putt, move on.  Don't try hero shots, accept that sometimes a safe bogey is better than trying for a risky par.  I hate gamesmanship BS, I never indulged.

That's my play everyday.  If he's on the green in two and I'm forced to punch out or try a shot that might end up making a double on, I'll be more inclined to try to go for the green, but only if I can see a possibility of it happening.  If I have to hit a 3W out of the rough to a pin surrounded by a creek, I'll pitch out and try to one putt, but if I have an iron in hand and a look at it, I'll go for it.  

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13 minutes ago, Lefty_3Jack said:

That's my play everyday.  If he's on the green in two and I'm forced to punch out or try a shot that might end up making a double on, I'll be more inclined to try to go for the green, but only if I can see a possibility of it happening.  If I have to hit a 3W out of the rough to a pin surrounded by a creek, I'll pitch out and try to one putt, but if I have an iron in hand and a look at it, I'll go for it.  

 

Just remember that match play is as much about knowing your opponents game as your own. If he's prone to 3 putts for example, then you might be better off punching out and then playing for bogey to tie the hole. There's nothing more heartbreaking than you trying an impossible shot, making a stupid double bogey, and then still losing the hole when he three putts.

 

It sounds like you and him are pretty close in skill level so I don't envision a ton of holes being won/lost. Play for ties (pars) and try to take advantage when he makes a mistake. 

Edited by Abh159
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it terms of the the putting convo within; don't be afraid to throw a little gamesmanship in there. Just note it can backfire.

 

But sometimes I'll concede a 3 foot breaker early in hope they have one later in the match when the pressure is tighter, it might get in their head why that one wasn't given, and at the very least they haven't hit one of those testy ones since the practice green.

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I’ve never played match play personally, but when I play with other competitors I do internally will myself to do better than the other two I’m playing with. 
I feel one big important idea is that, 

you don’t owe them anything. 
“Take everything and give nothing back” *Jack sparrow vc*

 

*** I’ll also add don’t underestimate or overlook anyone. A spark of brilliance may come to whoever. 

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Just play your normal game ,avoid mental errors, and never give up on a hole. Pressing and trying to get more aggressive because you think your opponent is in better position doesn't work well. Even if you are in trouble, a longish par putt is better than the high risk shot that brings double or worse into play

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1 hour ago, SylvesterLundgren said:

I’ve never played match play personally, but when I play with other competitors I do internally will myself to do better than the other two I’m playing with. 
I feel one big important idea is that, 

you don’t owe them anything. 
“Take everything and give nothing back” *Jack sparrow vc*

 

*** I’ll also add don’t underestimate or overlook anyone. A spark of brilliance may come to whoever. 

In 5 league matches my team is 0-5.... I'm well aware about not overlooking anyone!  My partner and I both shot even par from the back tees and were closed out on the 8th hole (9 hole match) by two high handicappers playing up a few boxes.  

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If you are the longer hitter, you want to play as far back as you can get the short hitter to go; even if you have to give up that 1 stroke.  Playing closer tees when you are not used to it is potentially a problem.  It does depend on the course.  Sure, it is better to have wedge in hand more often than not, but be careful of the tee shots.  The shorter hitter is in every hole from closer tees, but when they play back, there will be a few holes that put them on the defensive right away.

 

I play a lot of matches and pretty much follow most of what is already posted, just play your game, play smart, and focus until it is over no matter how bad the other player is doing (or good).  I am paying attention to what the other player is doing to adjust my strategy when it is smart to do so, but this does not happen much.  Really, the only example I can think of is when the opponent is messing up a hole then if on the same hole I am not in optimum position then I do not do anything stupid to let the person back in the hole.  This happens a lot on long par 4s/5s.  Opponent misses green on 2nd / 3rd shot, then for my 3rd shot I am not pin hunting even with wedge, it is fat part of the green.  I will take my odds of a two-putt vs opponent getting up/down every time.

 

I would not call it gamesmanship, but if the opponent is showing early they are not a good putter, then I am not conceding anything more than 2 feet, and even the 2 footers only when dead flat.

 

 

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Ended up playing the match on a course we weren't supposed to play on (we have two-18 hole courses) the day after a lot of rain.  They had the practice area closed and it was cart path only.  I showed up 15 min before the match expecting them to call it (I emailed multiple times with no answers), only to find out it was still on.  I wasn't happy about it, but I knew that I had to be right mentally and let it go.  I closed him out with a birdie on 12 to win 7 and 5!  

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1 hour ago, Zitlow said:

Before the match you were giving off vibes that you were going to be the prey, somehow you turned it around on the course and became the predator. 

I was very careful to not act aggravated at the situation.  Mentally I was as ready as I could have been and told myself earlier in the day to not let something like the conditions get into my head as an excuse.  Had I been playing in a stroke play event I think it would have been harder to let up on the emotions of a sopping wet course (they didn't even tell us we could do lift/clean/place) and not having the range available prior to.  I was even thru 12 so not warming up didn't affect me.  

 

I ended up feeling bad for the opponent, because the no warm up did seem to affect him.  I'm thankful of the result, but for his sake I wish he would have come around a little quicker in the match.  By the time he found it, it was over.  

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You can google strategy for match play also for ideas and suggestions.

 

One important thing is to play at your pace.  If you can very your pace so much the better.  Ideally you want to slow a fast player down.  It is harder to speed up a slow player, but there are ways to make them feel pressure to speed up the pace.

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Posted (edited)
On 6/28/2021 at 8:07 AM, Soloman1 said:

Expect your opponent to hole every putt or chip. Don't be surprised if they hole a bunch, and just keep playing. People 4 up with 5 to go can still throw up all over themselves. Just keep playing.

I cant add anything to this to top it.  ^^. It’s literally the golden rule of match play.  Head down one shot at a time. Never stop playing.  I’ve seen guys throw up all at once after being 3-4 up the whole front 9.  
 

maybe last. Lower expectations.  To be good at this game you have to pay a lot of dues. You are going to lose a lot.  Try to pick out something to learn in each loss.  

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