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4 Keys to Close Out Your Next Big Match

By Keith Stewart, PGA
Published on

As we prepare to watch the 43rd Ryder Cup this week, pay special attention to the “close” of each match. It won’t matter what format the competitors are playing, the keys to completing the win in match play are the same whether it’s Foursomes, Fourball or Singles.
Have you ever been dormie in golf? Dormie is a match play term and is used to describe one team’s position over another during the match. It happens when the team that is ahead is up by as many holes as there are left to play. For example, if you are 3-up in a singles match with three holes to play, YOU are dormie. The term was attached to match play in golf as those who were dormie could essentially fall asleep and still win.
As a PGA Coach, I’m here to assure you if you do go to sleep, you’re going to be in trouble. Quite simply it is that mindset that adds pressure to our closing situation. Unfortunately, the best matches we witness during the Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits will probably be defined by some sort of amazing comeback. To ensure you don’t fall victim to a storybook ending in a match of your own versus a friend or a match-play event of your own, here are four fundamentals you’ll need to put the result in your favor.
  1. It is human nature to let our guard down when we’re ahead. A golf match is pressure filled from start to finish. We are all looking for opportunities to take a shot or two off. Until you get the result you’re looking for, don’t lose your focus. Follow your personal pre-shot routine until the very end.
  2. Alongside keeping your focus, don’t change your game plan. If you like to hit driver off the tee, continue using it. The game plan you used to get the lead is the same one that will help you keep it and win. Too many times players/teams get ahead, and they go into a “prevent mindset.” The only thing that mindset will prevent, is you winning; stay aggressive.
  3. Make sure you know the score. This sounds completely obvious and yet match participants continually forget where they stand. The easiest way to win is to know when you have won! All golfers fall into the trap of getting lost in our own world. Make sure at the start of each hole you ask for the match status.
  4. Don’t be fooled by the pressure of the moment. Your opponent is behind. They want you to start changing your approach, alter your mindset and feel extra pressure. Take it one shot at a time. The beauty of match play is that our mistakes only last for one hole. If you do lose a hole start the next hole with a fresh approach. Strike a bad shot, reset and make the next one better. Remember, you’re the one in the lead.
Write down these observations and keep them in your bag. When you feel the momentum leave your side, take a deep breath, and read your notes. The difference between closing out that match or not might just be as simple as a powerful reminder.

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