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How a Match Play Mentality Can Help You In Any Format

By Brendon Elliott, PGA
Published on

Eun-Hee Ji of South Korea reacts to making a putt on the 14th hole during the Bank of Hope LPGA Match-Play Hosted by Shadow Creek at Shadow Creek Golf Course.Getty Images

When I turned on the LPGA Tour’s Bank of Hope Match Play on Sunday night, Eun-Hee Ji was hitting her third from the fairway on the par 5 ninth hole. She holed it for eagle. As I yelled, like all golf fans would, that just watched a hole out, I shook my head and said, “That’s the magic of match play.” Eun-Hee Ji went on to win the championship match 3 & 2.
What is it about match play that seems to provide such big moments in the professional ranks? We often see amazing things happen in match play, including hole outs and unlikely saves from improbable positions.
I think I have an answer to my question posed above, and that answer could conceivably be something that could help you with your game, regardless of the format you are playing.
In match play, every single shot matters and each could be the turning point of the match. I’m not saying that all shots don’t matter in stroke play, but it's very different in the head-to-head setting you find in match play. Match play forces a golfer to look at every shot on every hole as a unique challenge.
When discussing the mental game, and strategy in golf, and having a mindset conducive to scoring our best, experts often say you should have a “One Shot at a Time” mentality. When grinding during a match play event, that train of thought is absolutely one that is often found in a winner.
Think of every hole as a new hole…that is because, every hole is literally a new hole in this
format. We should really have that mindset every time when we tee it up, match, stroke, or any other form of play.
Try thinking in a match play mentality the next time you tee it up. Use this thought that was shared with me by my dad when I was young: “What was; was. Your next shot is a new opportunity."