Unlike other sports, the game of golf can be played in multiple different game formats. In Stroke Play, the lowest number of strokes taken determines the winner. In Match Play one golfer plays against another and each hole is a separate competition. The golfer who wins the most holes wins the match.
Match Play can also be played by a two-person team against another two-person team. In a Fourball Match all four players play their own ball. The low score (best ball) of the partners on each team is used for the match. A Foursomes Match is a competition where a team of two players alternate hitting the same ball. This is also known as an alternate shot or Scotch Ball competition.
Since Match Play is a player vs. player competition, the strategy is more complex than that for stroke play. In Stroke Play, the golfer plays against the golf course and a large field of other golfers. In Match Play, the golfer plays directly against one opponent who is watching and plotting against you. In addition to managing your own game, you need to know what is going on in the match so you can plan your shots accordingly.
In a stroke play competition, all putts are holed out and counted for score. In match play, conceded putts are part of the strategy of the game, and can also be a gracious thing to do, entirely at the choice of the giver.
The Sergio Mistake
Last Saturday in the quarterfinal round of the Dell Technologies 2019 Match Play World Golf Championships, Sergio Garcia had a 7-foot putt for par to win the par 3, 7th hole and square his match against Matt Kuchar who was in the hole with a bogey. Garcia missed the putt and in haste, and overcome with frustration swiped at the 4-inch putt which lipped out for a double bogey. Kuchar took a 2-up lead in the match.
This scenario of missing a “gimme” putt has probably happened to most golfers with the result that they carry the shame and anger with them for the next few holes. Sergio was no different as he missed another par putt at the 8th hole and then took a full angry swing at the ball with his putter. At the 9th hole he drove his tee ball way right and lost the hole. Walking up the 10th fairway Garcia released his anger by telling Kuchar exactly what he thought about not having the 4-inch putt conceded. Garcia calmed down enough to win the 10th hole, birdied 15 and 16 but lost the match 2-down.
Emotions in Match Play
Match play can easily play with your emotions. Golf demands emotional control for consistency. Control of your emotions is the most important part of your mental game. Your emotions can move you closer to, or further away from your goals.
Anger is a natural expression indicating we are experiencing internal conflict. Usually we get angry because things don’t go our way. When the putt that we know we can make doesn’t come off as planned, the frustration and anger surface. We feel afraid that we have lost control of the situation and feel unworthy. To release the emotion of frustration, exhale forcibly the vibration of that anger you are holding within.
Anger is an example of an unconscious behavior habit. In golf it is important to experience the feeling and then release the thought that connects with it as soon as possible so you don’t carry it over to the following holes. Criticizing and judging yourself causes a mental or emotional down-slide as your reactions can easily become magnified and erode your self-confidence.
When your emotions are out of control on the golf course, it is a perfect time to analyze and change your beliefs that are causing the distress so it won’t happen again. The same negative beliefs will probably cause you problems in your off-course life also.
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“THE HEART OF GOLF, Access Your Supreme Intelligence for Peak Performances” explores and explains negative emotions such as fear and performance anxiety, the four Cs of mind blockage, the four progressive stages of learning the supreme intelligence of the heart, and the way to access the zone in competition. It is a player’s guide for developing your true inner self by returning to the joy and love of self instead of seeking praise and rewards from the outside world.
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