Something for the Weekend: Matchplay strategy with Hal Sutton

The 18th in our Friday tips service

Tue, 15 Feb 2011
Something for the Weekend: Matchplay strategy with Hal Sutton

Last week we urged you to go out and try some matchplay golf - one of the most fun formats of the game. Now let's take it a step further and start thinking about a matchplay strategy.

If you're due to play early rounds of your club or society matchplay competitions think on...

Be aggressive with your game plan

Matchplay golf demands a mental approach that's completely different from stroke play. As well mental toughness, it requires patience, experience, and competitiveness with close attention needing to be paid to what your opponent is doing. 

This format doesn't always favour the players with the best golf handicaps especially if the higher handicap uses his or her strokes over the lower handicapper to the best advantage.

To win, you must form a game plan - and stick to it. Don't let your opponent dictate play but take control of it early and try to keep it throughout the match. 

Size up your opponent and the golf course and disregard golf handicaps when doing this because they don't mean much in matchplay.

Then, decide how to play each hole based on your capabilities and in formulating your game plan, keep one thing in mind: pars win matches.

Former major winner Hal Sutton says his matchplay game plan was always to play aggressively at the outset.

“Singles matchplay is war. I believe in stepping on your opponent's neck when he's down, and never giving up if you fall behind. Those things are basic. But you also need a game plan,” says the American.

“The best one for me is to bring my most aggressive game to the first tee, with the knowledge that I may have to change gears if things don't go my way.

“If your opponent gets off to a hot start, a bold, aggressive strategy will allow you to match him shot for shot. That's the way to make an opponent start to crack. Now, if you build a two- or three-hole lead, you may then want to shift gears and play more conservatively, forcing him to beat you with birdies rather than beating yourself with go-for-broke shots that wind up producing bogeys.”

Want more?

Head to our Something for the Weekend index. Remember to let us know how you get on and share your own tips with us in the forum and on our Facebook page. You can also tweet us @Golfmagic.