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CarlOwen

Match Play Opponent "Too Nice" - Gamesmanship?

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Hello everyone.

Last week, my match play opponent was quite a bit older and has a lower handicap of 3 strokes, consequently, he gave me strokes on a few holes. There was a lot riding on this match. The winner makes it to the semi-finals. From there your name makes it on a plaque for everyone to see.

Before my match, one of our pros said to me  "Oh, you're playing Warren, good luck, he's very crafty and a tough opponnentt"

Well, now I know.  This guy actually said, as I was taking practice swings on the tee box  "god, I wish I had a swing like you"

Or if it hit close on the green, he'll say "go get your birdie" when we're both laying two.. Following a very mediocre wedge shot, he'd say "that was a great shot" 

the worst was when I was I was one up and had a difficult chip then one put to win the hole, he say's, I'm not making this up... "so, how old are your kids?" of course, I take the bait, answer the question, and he says "that sounds pretty stressfull, "ive been through that..."

These types of comments and questions went on and on throughout our match. He's a friendly person, but I'd be damned if he didn't know what he was doing. 

Because I was playing some really good golf up until this match, I could have easily beaten this guy, but I didn't, and now I feel like I've been cheated and can't get this out of my head and move on. Any advice is greatly appreciated, I do happen to see this guy around and I do not want this to be an "incident" but at the same time, I feel like exposing him for what he is,-which I would characterize as unsportsmanlike.

I've played a number of match games and never had to deal with this. Most opponents know when not to talk- or leave you mostly alone if you are not initiating convesation. My comments are usually limited to "nice shot" or "what a bad break" if my opponent has an unfair situation, but that's about it. I know there is a little bit of head games with when to conceding puts and the like, but at the same time this is not a pool hall on the south side of town.

 

Edited by CarlOwen

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34 minutes ago, CarlOwen said:

Hello everyone.

Last week, my match play opponent was quite a bit older and has a lower handicap of 3 strokes, consequently, he gave me strokes on a few holes. There was a lot riding on this match. The winner makes it to the semi-finals. From there your name makes it on a plaque for everyone to see.

Before my match, one of our pros said to me  "Oh, you're playing Warren, good luck, he's very crafty and a tough opponnentt"

Well, now I know.  This guy actually said, as I was taking practice swings on the tee box  "god, I wish I had a swing like you"

Or if it hit close on the green, he'll say "go get your birdie" when we're both laying two.. Following a very mediocre wedge shot, he'd say "that was a great shot" 

the worst was when I was I was one up and had a difficult chip then one put to win the hole, he say's, I'm not making this up... "so, how old are your kids?" of course, I take the bait, answer the question, and he says "that sounds pretty stressfull, "ive been through that..."

These types of comments and questions went on and on throughout our match. He's a friendly person, but I'd be damned if he didn't know what he was doing. 

Because I was playing some really good golf up until this match, I could have easily beaten this guy, but I didn't, and now I feel like I've been cheated and can't get this out of my head and move on. Any advice is greatly appreciated, I do happen to see this guy around and I do not want this to be an "incident" but at the same time, I feel like exposing him for what he is,-which I would characterize as unsportsmanlike.

I've played a number of match games and never had to deal with this. Most opponents know when not to talk- or leave you mostly alone if you are not initiating convesation. My comments are usually limited to "nice shot" or "what a bad break" if my opponent has an unfair situation, but that's about it. I know there is a little bit of head games with when to conceding puts and the like, but at the same time this is not a pool hall on the south side of town.

I understand that this seems like gamesmanship, and maybe it was.  But you'll have a hard time convincing anyone that the guy did anything wrong, because he really DIDN'T do anything out of line.  He acted friendly, talked to you about topics beyond the golf course, sympathized with the difficulties that come with raising children, complimented your good (and not so good) shots.  None of those is unsportsmanlike.  My advice is twofold.  On one hand, feel free to limit your end of the conversation, or even to ask the guy not to talk to you.  You can do that relatively politely, just say you prefer to concentrate on golf.  And on the other hand, grow a little thicker skin, you'll run into more of these talkative types in golf, learn to play well with them.

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You are right Dave. I'm sure many a match play have been much worse.  and yes, he didn't do anything wrong as it relates to rules and as I said, is indeed a friendly person.

I suppose since I've never experienced this before, I wasn't equipped mentally to deal with it. 

It's interesting because, a frieindly round with the guys has A LOT of banter and trash talk which is what makes golf fun, but in a competitive match situation, it is anything but welcome. From what I've seen on TV, Is appears that no one talks at all during a match. 

The next time, I play with someone like this, I'm going to be quiet as a churchmouse and say nothing at all the entire round. This to me seems unfriendly, sure, but lhe only solution, without actually having an akward conversation about it.

Edited by CarlOwen

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1 hour ago, CarlOwen said:

These types of comments and questions went on and on throughout our match.

He was schooling you and yes the next time limit the chatter replies, making good shots will turn the pressure on your opponent and they will become quite.

Most guys tend to be more sportsman like and do not revert to mind games during competitions.
Although, I have had a few who tried with me and my response would be - "Here hold my beer and watch this and hit a shot next to the flagstick."  :whistle:

 

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On further reflection, I am changing my statement about my opponent being "unsportmanlike". 

This is a game afterall, and I guess I wanted to badly win and it got under my skin and now I'm looking for excuses. In the end, I was responsible for the outcome and lost.

I want to learn how to better equip myself for these situations, again any replies are greatly appreciated.

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24 minutes ago, CarlOwen said:

On further reflection, I am changing my statement about my opponent being "unsportmanlike". 

This is a game afterall, and I guess I wanted to badly win and it got under my skin and now I'm looking for excuses. In the end, I was responsible for the outcome and lost.

I want to learn how to better equip myself for these situations, again any replies are greatly appreciated.

Both @Club Rat and I have been playing match play for decades, we've both developed the thick skin I recommend.  I know I've played with annoying "chatty" types, I do try my best to ignore a lot of what they say.  I've definitely had guys try to "game" me, usually with minimal influence.  Interestingly enough, when we were filming Vlogs for last year's Newport Cup, one of the potential West team players said he thought I would be one who might "game" my opponents.  I don't think I do that, certainly not on purpose, but who knows how someone else might perceive it. 

The other thing I think I've probably developed is a way to limit my "golf concentration" to relatively short bursts.  Once the ball stops rolling, I try not to think golf for a minute or two, that's when most conversation takes place.  Planning for the next shot begins as I near my ball, evaluating all of the important stuff and making my decisions.  Once I start doing that, I mentally shut out the other player(s) until I've hit my shot.  

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It's actually kinda interesting hearing this come up so recently after I've read "Golf is not a game of perfect" where it's recommended to not think about golf until you are starting up your preshot routine.  It is something that I prefer to do, but you also have to be diligent about focusing on the shot at hand when you're about to hit and not letting the outside world distract you from golf when you have to golf.

I try to match my opponent.  I feel confident in my ability to focus on shots (now, moreso than ever) so sitting in silence is my preferred way to golf (introvert) but I'll chat with my opponent if they're the talkative type.  There will be topics that I wouldn't want to talk about, so I'm generally pretty dismissive at those but otherwise I just have to play my game and focus.

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I can definitely be taken out of my game;  it's worth developing the skill (for any style of golf) of being able to step back and refocus.  The other day, I was chipping at hole 10 (medal play, not match play) and could hear a conversation at the #5 green (right nearby) about who would win the British Open.  I stood over my chip right as they started talking, I stepped back, was about to ask them to pipe down when someone in their group asked them the same.  I refocused, hit a decent chip, and moved on.

Especially if you know what he's doing, it'd be good to stop and step back.  If he says it right as you're about to hit a shot, it might be time to say "let's talk about these things between shots, not when I'm about to hit, okay?"

I'm definitely the chatty type when I'm comfortable with someone, and something I work on is trying to not annoy my playing partners.  You can ask some other TST folks if I succeed on that (unclear to me).

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I'm not good enough to bother with match play, but I've heard some stories.

Apparently my association has one guy that is known for accusing people of cheating early in a match if he thinks he can get away with it. He never actually take it to the powers-that-be. It's just try to upset the oppo and put him on tilt. 

All the old-timers know this routine, but he'll get a few people when they aren't aware.

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3 minutes ago, mcanadiens said:

Apparently my association has one guy that is known for accusing people of cheating early in a match if he thinks he can get away with it.

Wow. How do you handle that one? Insist that he make a claim about it (stating that otherwise it could risk agreement to waive a rule and get you both disqualified)?

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7 minutes ago, Missouri Swede said:

Wow. How do you handle that one? Insist that he make a claim about it (stating that otherwise it could risk agreement to waive a rule and get you both disqualified)?

Yeah. Pretty much. 

From what I've heard, he'll hit you with it and when he sees he's got you upset, he'll say "don't do it again," or something else to get on with things.

Eventually, the guy learns he just got scammed. Some hold it against him. Some don't.

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Many are known to have "Ice in their veins" while others they run on Alcohol.
Many players are better equipped for Match Play competitions than Medal Play.

I credit my abilities are due to playing Nassau's in my early golfing years.
Along that journey, I've seen all the Gaming routines, heard all the BS by many and dealt with the many head games.

As @DaveP043 mentioned, we both have played years of various competitions which is a great experience and enjoyable.

Most Match Play events allow players to have a Caddie, I would recommend having someone join you in a match.
If nothing else, it will keep an opponent at bay and usually when a player has a Caddie, opponents often are less sociable.   

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5 minutes ago, mcanadiens said:

Yeah. Pretty much. 

From what I've heard, he'll hit you with it and when he sees he's got you upset, he'll say "don't do it again," or something else to get on with things.

Eventually, the guy learns he just got scammed. Some hold it against him. Some don't.

Thats the kind of thing that will almost assure I beat that guy. That stuff doesn't get under my skin in the same way it does some others. It pisses me off just enough to focus me on my game even more. Its a sleazy tactic though...

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There are a couple of players like this on my home course. But the not friendly comment types. After a lot of years competing my skin got thicker and in adittion i´m not a chatty person while playing. 
Played against this kind of player and they not even try to make a move on me. Because of that i beat them every time. 

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30 minutes ago, HJJ003 said:

Thats the kind of thing that will almost assure I beat that guy. That stuff doesn't get under my skin in the same way it does some others. It pisses me off just enough to focus me on my game even more. Its a sleazy tactic though...

Yes, know that feeling! At 3 down thru 12 last year, my opponent decided to chance his arm and tell me tipping my ball off the tee counted as a shot. Having a decent knowledge of the rules, I informed him that as my ball was not in play yet, anything other than an intentional stroke can/should be counted. I invited him to play his shot as I checked the actual ruling (yes, I do carry a R&A mini rule book, just in case!). Clearly perturbed that I knew the rules and wouldn't simply accept his 'loss of hole' theory, he proceeded to knock a ball OB right, then duck his provisional left into a hazard (in play for the previous hole, not even the one we were playing). I hit an 8 iron off the tee, then said I wasn't watching his shot, so couldn't help determine POE, to which he replied 'just pick it up'. We shook hands on the 17th. 👌

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It is only gamesmanship if you think of it that way.  I figure an opponent who talks a lot is nervous...or just likes to talk a lot.  Either way it isn't anything to be concerned about.  I've made innocent remarks that have been taken the wrong way and I figure other people do also.

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19 minutes ago, Piz said:

It is only gamesmanship if you think of it that way.  I figure an opponent who talks a lot is nervous...or just likes to talk a lot.  Either way it isn't anything to be concerned about.  I've made innocent remarks that have been taken the wrong way and I figure other people do also.

We do have one member here who is ALWAYS complimentary about his opponent's shots.  That's fine, until he's saying how well the ball is hit, as it heads directly into the middle of a pond.  Some of the rest of us have wondered whether he's intentionally "gaming" us, but we don't think he's smart enough to do it on purpose.

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