How do you get the psychological edge on opponents?February 6, 2019 The Scoop
We're all itching to get back out on the course for the annual knockouts. In this week's Niggle our team discuss their matchplay tactics to try and gain the upper hand
Steve Carroll: “I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want. If you are looking for ransom I can tell you I don’t have money, but what I do have are a very particular set of skills. Skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my daughter go now that’ll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you, but if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you and I will kill you.” Liam Neeson, Taken.
Mark Townsend: Are you OK?
Steve Carroll: “What I do have are a very particular set of skills. Skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let the game go now that’ll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you, but if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you and I will kill you…”
Mark Townsend: Do you want to go and have a lie down?
Steve Carroll: “I shake their hand but think ‘I’m going to bury you’.”
Mark Townsend: Shall we start now?
Alex Perry: I’m generally awful when it comes to this sort of thing. I wish I could be more ruthless, I’d rather just concentrate on getting the ball in the hole in as few shots as possible.
But then I’m the worst person on the planet for letting my opponents get to me. Last week I had a 20-foot uphill putt. As I was reading it, he said: “Painfully slow, isn’t it?”
I thought he meant the putt and I ended up knocking it 10 feet past – not sure if it even stayed on the green.
He actually meant the pace of play.
Steve Carroll: You won’t get any gimmes from me…
Alex Perry: I quite like doing the old trick where you give them everything inside a couple of feet then wait for them to leave a slippy downhiller and make them play it.
Mark Townsend: Given I’m quite weak I tend to get led by what my opponent is doing. If he’s given me a three-footer at the 1st then I spend most of my time thinking about how soon I can repay the favour. I’ve only once not agreed to a ‘good good’ situation as my opponent had the most appalling yips and could barely make contact with the ball from two feet let alone hole it.
Steve Carroll: One of my tactics is to get my opponent to mark the scorecard. I need every ounce of concentration for my golf. Last thing I need is to be scrabbling around looking for a pencil.
Alex Perry: How do you do it though? Demand it? Or just kind of casually drop in like, “You’re good to score, yeah?”
Steve Carroll: Basically. Or I’ll just say I haven’t got a card. Or a pencil.
Alex Perry: Or know how to score.
Steve Carroll: I basically spend 18 holes trying to suppress growing rage. “So you’re really off 18?” is an old trick but can work wonders too.
Mark Townsend: I get thrown by a shiny set of clubs with everything in the right place in the bag.
Alex Perry: If someone showed up to play me with a Maxfli bag, lake balls, and a set of Dunlops off the Sports Direct shelf, it would boost my confidence. (It shouldn’t have. He thrashed me.)
Mark Townsend: Another matchplay oddity is announcing the score. I always think it should be the person who is in arrears but that can get a bit odd as you might go half a dozen holes and even bypass the conclusion of the match as nobody has spoken for an hour?
Alex Perry: Always ask the score, never announce it. “Are we still level?” When you know you’re 1-up it feels like a psychological body blow.
Steve Carroll: “I’m 2-up now, aren’t I?” Preferably repeated as many times as possible on the walk from the green to the next tee. And in the fairway, if you are in a bit of trouble. Or the green, if you’ve got a tricky downhill five-footer.
Mark Townsend: And don’t get me started on looking for opponent’s balls. I try really hard but only because I’m a big believer in karma. As soon as he or she says ‘we’ll leave it’ I’m straight out of there.
Steve Carroll: I always give it full effort. Even though it seems to always bite me on the backside. I don’t mind a little bit of gamesmanship but not helping to look for a ball always seems to be in very poor spirit for me. Once you’ve decided it’s lost, though, I’m gone.
Alex Perry: I enjoy the moral high ground too much…