mark immelman golf broadcaster standing on putting green beside yellow flag

The WGC Dell MatchPlay

MatchPlay – in my opinion it is the purest and the best form of the game.

Head to head; mano e mano; 18 holes of pure competition against one opponent.

It is a straightforward, uncomplicated form of golf, and this week we have it front and center on the PGA TOUR.

The Top 64 players in the Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR) line up in Austin Texas as they vie for the World Golf Championships – Dell MatchPlay title.  Contested on the hilly, challenging Pete Dye designed Austin Country Club the field is broken down into 16 pods of four players.  Days 1 through 3 comprise round-robin matches within the 16 pods.

In the round-robin stage each player plays 3 matches versus the players in their pod with the player with the best record in each pod advancing into the knockout stages on Saturday and Sunday. 

The “Sweet Sixteen” matches are on Saturday morning with eight winners advancing to the Saturday afternoon are the “Elite Eight” matches.  The four winners on Saturday afternoon play in the Final Four on Sunday morning, and the two finalists compete in the Championship match over 18 holes on Sunday afternoon.

It is a bonanza of golf played in its purest form and I am amped to be a part of the PGA TOUR LIVE broadcast covering the action.

Some things to look for:

MatchPlay is scored by keeping track of holes won and lost.  E.g., the player with the lowest score on the hole wins the hole and goes 1 Up; obviously the player losing the hole is 1 Down.  The score on the hole in terms of strokes taken doesn’t matter – a player taking 3 strokes versus his opponent’s score of 6 still only wins the hole; he isn’t 3 strokes ahead.  If the two players make the same score on the hole, the hole it tied.

Holes, and putts, can be conceded.  If a shot is close enough to the hole a player can concede the shot, meaning it is counted but his opponent doesn’t have to play it.  Oftentimes you may see players going “give-give” when both have short putts and they concede the putts to each other and tie the hole.  Typically if a player is in trouble and sees no way to tie the hole he will concede that hole (lose it) and move on the the next hole.

Using holes won and lost for scoring (in MatchPlay) means that the match can run out of holes.   Sometimes the final match scores can appear a little confusing.  You may see scores like:  Player A won the match 3&2.  That means that Player A was 3 Holes Up and there were only 2 Holes left to play – in other words the match ended on the 16th hole.  6&5 means 6 Holes Up and only 5 left.  1Up means the match was won on the 18th Hole.

MatchPlay is a very strategic form of the game and you will see players paying a lot more attention to what their opponent does and that often dictates decisions and plays made. 

MatchPlay also tends to be a more aggressive form of golf given that a player is only playing against one person.

MatchPlay certainly sets the table for a little more gamesmanship and mental interplay as competitors look for any edge over their opponent.

In short, MatchPlay is like a boxing match or a sword-fight with golf clubs and the best man on the day is left standing.

I love it!


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Mark Immelman

Mark Immelman

Mark’s knowledge, insight and experience have made him a sought-after mind on the PGA and European tours. Through his career, he has taught and/or consulted to various Major Champions, PGA Tour winners and global Tour professionals.

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