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So I made the 32 man field for our playoffs that start tomorow. 
 

It’s a match play event.  I am a 14 and playing a 6.  So I’ll get strokes on 8 holes that he doesn’t.   
 

My plan  is to just go play my game like I have done the last 4 weeks in which o played my way in.  My thought is to not worry too much about those holes. 
 

Is that the correct approach.  Or should I go a bit more conservative on the holes.where I stroke and force him to beat me. 
 

Or do I go all out trying to shoot the lowest score possible and strokes be dammed. 
 

Curious to hear everyone’s thoughts. 

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I do agree you have to play your game but you do need to plan out a hole by hole strategy. The 8 holes you get a stroke on really need to count. That isn’t to say you need to press and try to make birdie but at the very least match your opponents score. There is also a mental side to this competition. Things like giving him a 2-3 foot putt early but then making him make a similar putt later is a strategy you can use to make him nervous over those putts if he might otherwise be really confident. But I’ve always felt like the biggest trap is to think you have to play different or better than you normally do. One really bad hole doesn’t hurt as bad in match play as it does in stroke. Let the bad hole go and refocus on the next. This is more of a mental competition than stroke play is. Be the smarter golfer and odds are in your favor. 

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Thanks  all good stuff.  I know this guys group routinely gives 3-4 footers.  Not today!! Maybe one or two early if it doesn’t matter like you say.  But then he’ll be putting.   
 

Yeah the one bad hole is key. That is what keeps most of my scores in the 88-93 range vs &2-85 range.   So got to let that for if/when it happens.  It’s just one hole doesn’t affect any more than that.  

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If he gives you a 3-4' putt then I would still putt it after the fact to make sure you stay mentally ready to make those putts when he stops giving them to you. He likely won't give you that putt when it counts and you want to be confident standing over it if/when you have to make one. Remember, match play is more about playing the person than it is playing the course. Kind of like poker. Although it's hard to beat someone when they are having one of their best days, it isn't impossible. 

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Congrats on making the field.   
 

I know everyone has different strategies on how to best do match play and strategies for taking more risk and/or laying back.  My personal advice would be to play the game that got you here and not worry about what holes you get strokes on.  
 

good luck!

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I know this was a heated topic, in regards to the Ryder Cup results.  The only thing I would concentrate on, when each hole is won/lost,  is playing from the fairway, especially on the holes you are getting a stroke.  Remember its  like the old adage, 

I don't have to be able to outrun the bear, I just have to be able to outrun you.  You don't have to shoot the lowest score possible, you just have to shoot lower than him, on more holes than he does you.

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10 hours ago, Golfspy_CG2 said:

So I made the 32 man field for our playoffs that start tomorow. 
 

It’s a match play event.  I am a 14 and playing a 6.  So I’ll get strokes on 8 holes that he doesn’t.   
 

My plan  is to just go play my game like I have done the last 4 weeks in which o played my way in.  My thought is to not worry too much about those holes. 
 

Is that the correct approach.  Or should I go a bit more conservative on the holes.where I stroke and force him to beat me. 
 

Or do I go all out trying to shoot the lowest score possible and strokes be dammed. 
 

Curious to hear everyone’s thoughts. 

I recommend having a hole by hole strategy. A lot depends on your swing on the day. On the days your swing is working like a machine, then you can be a little more aggressive. However, it should be measured aggressiveness. Never attack sucker pins.
Bad swing days you are just trying to save strokes and get it around. These days it is fairways and middle of the green. A lot of lag putting. However, you are still trying to make your best score. Remember being conservative doesn’t mean not swinging. Meaning I have witnessed a lot of players trying to play safe, but the quit on the swing. You still have to commit to each swing. 
Remember he will be under more pressure giving you 8 strokes. So, make him play. If you hit 5 or 6 of those greens in regulation, then he may try to press. If you can get 2 up early you will rattle him. Good luck!

Play like a champion today!

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So Rob, what I can say as someone who normally gives up a ton of strokes when I'm playing with my usual group, there is nothing more frustrating as a better player when the person you perceive as an easy win just doesn't go away. I'd say you focus on consistent golf and you'll be fine. 

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30 minutes ago, Javs said:

Remember being conservative doesn’t mean not swinging.

Another old adage says the same thing, "pick conservative targets, make aggressive swings".  For the OP, I generally try to play my own normal game almost all the time.  You don't have to be perfect, because your Opponent isn't perfect either.  As the higher-handicapper, if you can hit fairways and greens, especially on stroke holes, you can put a lot of pressure on the other guy.  He's going to make his share of bogeys, don't worry if you get out of position.  Unless you get well behind in the match, do NOT try "hero" shots, make reasonable shot selections, give yourself a chance to get up and down for par, or make bogey at worst. 

As for conceding putts, I'm not so sure that the conventional wisdom of "give early, make him putt late" is really the right thing to do. Sure, he might make a few putts early and have improved confidence.  On the other hand, if he misses one early, not only do you win or tie a hole, but he may be nervous over every short putt for the rest of the round.  And that win or tie will put you in a better position in the match, which adds more pressure on him.  So I make my opponents putt questionable putts all day long.

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You're a 14, you're going to make bogies. Figure out whatever strategy you need, based on the girl you brought to the dance that day, to not make a double. If you simply do that, you'll be in on every hole and make him have to beat you. Remember, he's a 6. He will also make bogies.

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Thanks for all the advice suggestions. 

We tied the match, so it went to a scorecard playoff, our No. 1 handicap hole where we both got a stroke was a par 5, I lost it off the tee (in the actual match) by pushing it into a wooded area, I was able to punch out but only advance it 40 yards or so, I ended up in a greenside bunker on my 3rd shot and left in the bunker---I never do that.   So I had a 7 and he bogies.  So he had that in his pocket knowing he only needed to tie the match.

As the match itself, it was a good match pretty close all the way.  I did get 2 up after 7 holes,   he fought back took a 1 up lead, I won a couple holes back to back to take a 1 up lead with 2 holes left.   I hit into trouble on our 17th hole off the tee had to layup short chipped long and two putted for bogey, he made a nice par.  So we went inot the last hole a 160 yard par 3.  He hit first and was near some trouble far right of the hole.  So I'm thinking he possibly has a penalty drop coming or at worst a tough up and down.  I figured I only needed bogey,  I hit my shot a bit too conservative and left myself 10 yards short of the green.    Same with my chip, it was over a ridge then downhill to a back pin.  I left it on the top of the ridge about 25 feet for par. 

He said his ball was just outside the penalty area, I didn't walk over t check as I was on the far side of the green, maybe I should have but Iknow the guy and trusted him.  He hit a great chip to about 5 feet.   My 25 footer came up 2 feet short.    If he missed, I would have a 2 footer to win the match outright.   His putt caught left edge and dropped in.  We both thought it might miss.

In a show of good sportsmanship, he gave me the 2 footer so the match was tied and he had had the tie breaker.   he could have made me putt it and hope I missed to win outright. But I hadn't missed a short one all day. 

So he gave me 8 strokes and beat me by 8 strokes 79 to 88.  Funny how that works out.  We both overall played pretty well but both had a few holes we'd like to have back.  

Match play is fun and definitely put a different perspective on the round. 

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45 minutes ago, Golfspy_CG2 said:

  He hit first and was near some trouble far right of the hole.  So I'm thinking he possibly has a penalty drop coming or at worst a tough up and down.  I figured I only needed bogey,  I hit my shot a bit too conservative and left myself 10 yards short of the green.   

Sounds like it was a good match. Well done to advance that far!

What did you learn throughout all the matches? 

The above is a perfect example of why changing match play strategy can backfire. Opponent hits a shot and it looks like it is in jail, so we change our strategy based on that shot, only to find out opponent is not in jail. Not saying the results would have been any different but overall, unless we know for a fact, changing strategy based on opponent can cause issues.

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55 minutes ago, THEZIPR23 said:

Sounds like it was a good match. Well done to advance that far!

What did you learn throughout all the matches? 

The above is a perfect example of why changing match play strategy can backfire. Opponent hits a shot and it looks like it is in jail, so we change our strategy based on that shot, only to find out opponent is not in jail. Not saying the results would have been any different but overall, unless we know for a fact, changing strategy based on opponent can cause issues.

No you're absolutely right about not changing strategy.

This was the situation.  The group in front of us was very very slow.  We waited on the tee of this hole for at least 5 to 7 minutes, not exaggerating, possibly longer.  The distance was not an ideal number for me.   165 to 170 would have been my 4 hybrid.  150 would have been a solid 6 iron.  So Opted to go with a "easy" 5 iron and well as I said above, I went too easy...on both it and the pitch shot.  Long is not good at all on this hole, but I was TOO short.

As for what did I learn?  I think to stick with what I'd do normally.  One hole when he was OB off the tee, I tried to play TOO safe on a shot and didn't commit to a full swing and ended up in trouble off the tee myself.    That's the big thing as mentioned above.  Stick to what you'd normally do unless 1000% assurance of doing something different is the best option.

i think overall my strategy wasn't bad, there were a couple swings on the tee box I'd like to have over.  But I'm sure there are one or two he would as well.   Playing to a couple shots of my handicap I can't be overly angry.  

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The question is puzzling -- do we actually have any control of our game?

I play a 9-hole match every week in league.  It's unusual to have 4-stroke delta (half of 8.)  So, this insight will be of little use as that many pops are likely to be well distributed.  In my case it depends on the side we're playing.  On the front the pops are at the beginning (#1 & #2 then #6) when no one is "warmed up" or knows where the ball is going.  So, there is not much to worry about.  I always play #6 conservatively as I can't par it anyway.  But on the back, the pops come in the latter half.  Since late hole pressure is worse, I would like to start off fast -- either cover what I'm giving or leverage what I'm getting.  Again, what does it matter what I want?!

IMHO handicaps favor the better player as the pops are on longer holes, generally.  So, on par fives the recipient should be conservative and hope.  However, on those 420-440 par fours he's just hoping to tie anyway.

BTW, one can play from a penalty area.  As long as he didn't move the ball there is no issue.  Nothing to see here.

PS- I think match play is the better way to improve one's game.  Also, try a four-ball (better ball) Nassau in your regular foursome.  If you have good handicaps, you might find it to be a really fun game.

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3 minutes ago, mardukes said:

The question is puzzling -- do we actually have any control of our game?

I play a 9-hole match every week in league.  It's unusual to have 4-stroke delta (half of 8.)  So, this insight will be of little use as that many pops are likely to be well distributed.  In my case it depends on the side we're playing.  On the front the pops are at the beginning (#1 & #2 then #6) when no one is "warmed up" or knows where the ball is going.  So, there is not much to worry about.  I always play #6 conservatively as I can't par it anyway.  But on the back, the pops come in the latter half.  Since late hole pressure is worse, I would like to start off fast -- either cover what I'm giving or leverage what I'm getting.  Again, what does it matter what I want?!

IMHO handicaps favor the better player as the pops are on longer holes, generally.  So, on par fives the recipient should be conservative and hope.  However, on those 420-440 par fours he's just hoping to tie anyway.

BTW, one can play from a penalty area.  As long as he didn't move the ball there is no issue.  Nothing to see here.

OH i know you can play from a penalty area.  But not this one, it is immediate DOA if you are even more than 2 inches in it.  waist high fescue with a sharp 5 foot drop off.   I'm surprised he was even to make a back swing.    There is a dark part of me that feels like I should have walked over with him to make sure he actually found it from where he played it.   But I didn't want to be "that guy"   although I'm sure with the match literally on the line on that next shot, most would have.  I still like to think golf is a game of honor and most still play it that way.  Maybe I'm naive.

 

 

 

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Thanks for the summary of your match @Golfspy_CG2.  There was a lot of good recommendations listed above.  I thought I'd add two related recommendations after the fact:  never assume you won or lost a hole until the last ball drops and always assume your opponent will make their shot.  As soon as you think you have your opponent on the ropes, the second part of the recommendation applies.  I was in my first match play event about 30 plus years ago.  We were on the par four third hole.  I hit a poor drive and chunked my second shot that just bearly got past my opponent's drive.  He hit the green in regulation.  I subsequently pulled my third shot into a deep trap.  I know he felt good walking toward the green.  As he was lining up his birdie putt, I hit the sand shot of my life and holed it out.  That frustrated my opponent who proceeded to three putt the hole and loose it.  Hey, you never know!  So if you assume he/she will make it, your feel better when they don't and not surprised when they do.

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 2 months later...

While I agree that playing your game is crucial, it's equally important to devise a hole-by-hole strategy, especially for the 8 holes where you receive a stroke, making each one count. This doesn't necessarily mean aggressively pursuing birdies, but rather ensuring you, at the very least, match your opponent's score. There's also a psychological aspect to this competition, such as offering a short putt early but then making them attempt a similar one later, potentially inducing nervousness. However, I've always believed that the most significant pitfall is thinking you must alter your usual style or play better than your norm. In match play, a single bad hole doesn't sting as much as in stroke play; it's crucial to let it go and refocus on the next. This format leans heavily on the mental aspect of the game, and being the savvier golfer often works in your favor.

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