Cognizant Classic in The Palm Beaches

PGA National (Champion Course)


Win Your Match Tomorrow With These 3 Tips

June 03, 2016

David Cannon/Getty Images

Memorial Day usually means the beginning of the club tournament season -- the rust has been shaken off, and now it's time to go head to head.

After some friendly hit-til-you're-happy rounds with your buddies, a real match in a real event can torque up the pressure. The shots count, and if you're playing a partner event, you have the team dynamic to consider.

Here are three tips from our archives to send you off on the right foot.

Penalty shots and two-chips are your worst enemies Your game is what it is, and that's cool. But whether you fade it or draw it, throwing away shots in water or out-of-bounds and failing to at least get on the green with a short game shot are the biggest hole killers. "Eliminate penalty shots, three-putts and two chips, pitches or sand shots on a single hole," says 50 Best Teacher Hank Haney. "Then you have a chance to win."

Let the lower-handicap player play second There's a reason some players are 10-handicappers and some are 20s. Give the higher-handicap player some freedom by letting him or her hit first off the tee, trusting the better player to play a safe shot if necessary. Seve Ballesteros and Jose Maria Olazabal played this ham-and-egg game to perfection for more than a decade in Ryder Cups. "Never underestimate the value of experience," Seve said. "If I had gone first and hit a poor shot, the pressure on Jose Maria, in his first Ryder Cup, would have been immense."

Treat your partner's play like a bonus Nothing makes a match go south faster than partners who resent each other for mistakes. Even tour players hit bad shots. It's going to happen. The best way to handle it is to take Jack Nicklaus' approach: "Don't rely on your partner, rely on yourself," Nicklaus says. "You're playing your own ball, so think about what you can do." Root for your partner to make his or her best score on a hole, but don't let that distract you from your own responsibilities. Keep grinding it out. That hard-earned bogey just might save the day.