Playing To My Handicap Put Into The Finals Of The Stroke Match Play Tournament

I made it to the finals of the Osprey Links Stroke Match Play Club Championship. It is the first for me to make it this far. In the past I usually lost in the semi or quarter finals. But not this year; this year I made it to the final match by playing my handicap or at least very close too it. I have said for years that to compete in any tournament, just shoot your handicap or a bit better. Most players do not respond well during competition and generally shoot higher than expected. My approach is a great recipe for success.

During all my rounds in the Match Play, including the net Match I lost, I shot between 74 and 78. This is my routine score and the lower end of this range is how my handicap was shaped. During my last match on Friday, I continue my steady play and my opponent, Pat, struggled to stay out of the traps. As such, I established a large lead after the front and cruised to a victory on the back. Pat and I are old friends, so the match was as much a competition as two friends playing a round. It was a fantastic day and I am grateful to be moving on to the final.

My point about shooting your handicap to win any Match Play or Stroke Play has been true through the my career. Every time that I competed and shot within two strokes of my handicap, I was in the running to win or to move on to the next stage of the event. There is no magic formula to process of wining because we should be able to shoot our handicap during events…..right?

Many players find that shooting their handicap is a challenge when we have to count every stroke, play the ball down, and follow every rule. I realize some of you are yelling at me right now, but I suggest that most handicaps are light at best and are established during rounds where are under less scrutiny. Additionally, during now competitive rounds many players (including myself from time to time) will take favourable relief, establish good lies more often than not, and using the odd foot wedge. I am not suggesting that most golfers cheat, what I am saying is that we want to have fun on a regular basis, so bending the rules a bit from time to time is par for the course.

When the pressure of the any match starts to mount, many amateurs do not have established any coping techniques. I would consider this oversight as a failure in mental preparation. Personally, I have a process that keeps me calm and focused during most competitions. Mentally, I avoid thinking about shots I cannot make and things I do not want to happen. I stay in zone of positive outcomes and playing to my strengths. Many players overlook the risk reward of challenging shots and think that one shot will win an event….any event. I would suggest that constant and steady play is garnered through a mental focus on the positive aspects of my game.

Well, that is my secret to winning. Focusing on shots I can make and focusing on the outcome I want to occur for every shot. Of course I am not always successful, but my misses are smaller and my options for my next shot greater. My mental preparation to playing competitions is much greater than the above mentioned techniques, but on the course they are very important to shooting my handicap. When I do this, I am competitive and have greater odds to win.

I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!


6 thoughts on “Playing To My Handicap Put Into The Finals Of The Stroke Match Play Tournament

  1. Well done Jim and good luck in the final. On the thoughts of playing to handicap, it was interesting during my time in Australia as they only allow competition rounds to be recorded, therefore handicaps are strictly enforced. They do allow for “establishing” handicap in 5 social rounds, however the cards must be signed by another member of the club. This type of rule means that your handicap rolls through a system based on the season. Although you play year round in AUS, the weather does turn and form three different golf seasons. Handicaps hit their lowest in Jan/Feb as full summer play is occurring while lower handicaps happen on either side. A bit different than here in Canada as we push out of the gate in Apr/May and hit full stride in Jul/Aug before the weather sets in for Fall golf. I look forward to seeing your prize during our upcoming visit. I may also have a small prize for you – yellow in colour…….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kirk,

      Thanks. Your description of how handicaps are established in Australia are definitely based on a year around season. I cannot image trying to use those rules at my home course. There are not enough events to make it happen; as it is, there very few people establish a handicap anyway. Looking forward to seeing you soon.

      Cheers Jim


  2. Jim, good stuff here and congrats on advancing to the finals. I have always found it easier to score well in competition because my focus is sharpened during preparation and play. Lean on your strengths, pound fairways and greens, and the competition usually melts away. Good luck in the finals!


    Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t play tournament golf but I still wouldn’t post a score if I’d used a foot wedge. That’s just dumb. But even when you’re smart enough not to cheat yourself that way, it’s still hard to play to your handicap. After all, it’s based on your best rounds in the last 20. Not your average. That means you need to stay in your game better than your opponent to take the win. Great job.

    Liked by 1 person

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