As you prepare for the 43rd Ryder Cup this week, pay close attention to the “end” of each game. It doesn’t matter what format the competitors are playing, the keys to winning match play are the same, regardless of whether they are foursome, foursome or singles.

Have you ever been to golf? Dormie is a match-play term and is used to describe the position of one team against another during play. It happens when the team ahead has as many holes as there are left to play. For example, if there are three of you in a three-hole single game, YOU are dormie. The term has been associated with match play in golf as those who were dormie could essentially fall asleep and still win.

As a PGA coach, I’m here to assure you that if you go to sleep you will get into trouble. Quite simply, it is this way of thinking that puts pressure on our closing situation. Unfortunately, the best matches we see during the Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits are likely to see an amazing comeback. To make sure you don’t fall victim to a storybook that ends in your own game against a friend or your own match-play event, here are four basics you need to keep the outcome in your favor.

  1. It is human nature to abandon our vigilance when we are ahead. A golf match is filled with pressure from start to finish. We’re all looking for opportunities to fire a shot or two. Don’t lose focus until you get the result you want. Follow your personal pre-shot routine to the end.

  2. In addition to changing your focus, don’t change your game plan either. If you want to hit the driver off the tee, keep using it. The game plan you used to take the lead is the same one that will help you keep it and win. Too often players / teams make progress and fall into a “prevention mentality”. The only thing that will prevent the mindset is that you win; stay aggressive.

  3. Make sure you know the score. That sounds completely natural and yet the match participants keep forgetting where they are. The easiest way to win is to know when you won! All golfers fall into the trap of getting lost in our own world. Make sure you ask for game status at the start of each hole.

  4. Don’t let the pressures of the moment fool you. Your opponent is behind. They want you to start changing your approach, changing your mindset, and feeling extra pressure. Take it one shot at a time. The nice thing about matchplay is that our mistakes only last for one hole. If you lose a hole, start the next hole with a fresh approach. Hit one bad shot, put it back, and make the next one better. Remember, you are the leader.

Write these observations down and keep them in your pocket. When you feel the swing deviate from your side, take a deep breath and read your notes. The difference between closing this game or not can just be a powerful memory.

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