In match play, every single shot that you hit could mean the difference between winning or losing a hole. In stroke play, you always have the opportunity to make up for bad shots and still post a great score which could keep you in the mix.
If you get down early in match play, it could make recovery, and victory, much more of a challenge to achieve.
Many times, it is a putting miscue or a thinned chip…perhaps even a chunked pitch or leaving a bunker shot in the sand. These types of misses are costly no matter what format you are playing, but in match play, it means a lost hole and a lost opportunity. With that said, let's look at some ways to stay sharp with your short game during pressure-filled matches.
Fully Assess the Situation
If you already have a pre-shot routine where you look very carefully at all aspects of the shot at hand, Bravo! You are among a small minority. You should strive to learn how to feel the firmness of the putting surface with your feet…asses the wind speed and direction…look for the direction the grain of the grass is growing, both on the green and the areas around it.
Even by watching how the ball is reacting with the shots your opponent is hitting you can learn a lot. Set a goal to get better at taking everything in.
Look From All Sides
No matter if it’s a putt, chip, greenside pitch, or bunker shot, make sure you don’t just give it the old once over from behind the ball and down the target line. There is so much more information you can gather by making a quick trip all the way around the hole. Not only look for slopes but as I said earlier, try to feel them with your feet. You may be very surprised by what you learn from this all-points analysis; And it could help you win the hole too.
Get Dialed In on your Spot
Once you make a thorough analysis of the situation, commit to your spot. In putting, find and commit to your aim point and really get hyper focused on it. Remember, many times, it's not the hole itself that you are going to be looking at. In pitching or chipping, you must commit to a landing spot around the type of shot that you are going to be using.
Know What Shot You Want to Hit
Indecision is deadly around the green. Getting caught in-between deciding if the shot calls for something low and running or higher with spin can really be a recipe for disaster. Once you make your assessment of what’s needed, make your decision, be confident with it and execute the shot to the best of your ability.