Master of Match Play? No, Not Quite
August 2, 2002
I really love match play.
I just wish that match play loved me back.
For those unfamiliar with golf, there are two basic ways to compete–match play and medal play. In medal play, such as the routine LPGA and PGA tournaments, golfers simply add up their total scores for the three or four 18-hole rounds that make up the event. Lowest score wins.
Medal play is really a series of three-way competitions. In a sense, the golfers play against the golf course as well as each other.
Match play, on the other hand, really pits the golfers against each other, with the golf course simply the backdrop for the event.
That’s because the golfers compare scores at each hole. Their total scores for the 18 holes are irrelevant. In fact, in many competitions the game ends before the golfers even reach the 18th hole, such as when one player is up two holes when they play the sixteenth, and he wins that one as well. Under match play, the golfer wins 3-2, because he was up three holes with two remaining.
If the players are tied after 18 holes, for many competitions there is a sudden-death playoff, in which the players continue until one of them wins a hole outright. In other match play events, however, such as the famous Ryder Cup series, the match ends with 18 holes, and the players each earn a half-point for their side.
Every year I enter the Shawnee Cup match play event at Shawnee Country Club with great anticipation. Maybe this year will be the one where I put together a string of stirring triumphs all the way through the final match.
Thus far, some matches have been stirring, perhaps even semi-inspirational, but the goal remains unachieved. Sigh.
This year’s event was structured a bit differently, in that the better half of all of the competing golfers was placed in one bracket, and the bottom half was put in the other.
Apparently some of the better golfers complained about “giving” too many strokes to other players in the early rounds.
With my current handicap index, however, I didn’t face that risk. I was firmly in the middle of the lower half.
In my first match Kurt Katz played a great front nine, and had me down 3 holes at that point. Then he started playing the back nine the way I played the front, while I managed to find parts of my previously missing game. Thanks to a few good putts, I won the match on the 18th hole, 1-up.
My next match was probably just as much fun for my competition, the amiable Jim Calloway. I had to give him a stroke on the 3rd and 11th holes, but he beat me on those two holes without needing them. Calloway went three-up on the 15th hole, a match play occurrence called “dormie”. This meant that he could do no worse than tie for the 18 holes, and a tie on any of the three remaining holes would give him the match.
At that point Calloway started showing a bit of nerves. I won the 16th and 17th holes, and was in a better position after two strokes on the 18th than he was.
With a pitching wedge in my hand, my thoughts were keyed on reaching the green for a one-putt par or a two-putt bogey at worst.
That’s when I hit an extremely rare shank into the rough in front of the ladies’ tee for the 10th hole.
After a fourth shot lob wedge to about 10 feet, I lipped out my last-gasp bogey attempt, and lost 1-up.
No more Shawnee Cup heroics for me–at least, not until next year.
Julie Robinson wins DWGA event
Congratulations to Cape Region resident Julie Robinson for her recent victory in the Delaware Women’s Golf Association Junior Championship July 23 at Seaford Country Club.
Her first day score of 86 put her three strokes ahead of her competition, and her second day total of 91 gave her a total winning margin of two strokes for the 36-hole event.