The players in the Ryder Cup had to change their mind-set this week for a variety of reasons. This event takes a traditionally individual game and turns it into a team game. Also, the format changes from stroke play to match play.
Match play is a format we rarely see. Almost every PGA Tour event is conducted using stroke play. The rules change in match play and becoming successful at match play takes practice and experience.
Next time you are playing in a match-play setting, keep these helpful pointers in mind. It will increase your chances for victory and create a more enjoyable experience.
• Base your shot-making decisions on what your opponent does. For example, if your opponent is in trouble, make sure you play conservatively. Sometimes a bogey or worse will win a hole for you. If your opponent hits one close, it is now time to be aggressive.
• Keep in mind that playing first from the tee and fairway is usually an advantage if you can hit quality shots. Positioning your ball correctly will wear down your opponent.
• You are allowed to give putts in match play. Give your opponent those really close putts. It is proper etiquette. Your opponent should reciprocate.
• Play in turn. If a player plays when his opponent should have played, there is no penalty, but the opponent may immediately require the player to cancel the stroke and, in correct order, play a ball as nearly as possible to the spot where the original ball was last played (see Rule 20-5).
• You are usually allowed, unless forbidden by a local rule, to practice putting and chipping once the hole is over. Feel free to practice but keep your pace of play moving.
There are a lot of rules and strategies that are unique to match play. Incorporate the above and you will have a better chance for success.
John Stahlschmidt is a teaching professional for espngolfschools presented by Lexus.