Ryder Cup Match Play Strategies

The Ryder Cup Matches use the match play scoring system, in which holes rather than strokes are what counts. This has some significant effects on the strategies open to the players.
In the average stroke play tournament, it’s the course – and a potentially large field of golfers – that players test themselves against. In Ryder Cup match play, each golfer plays directly against another golfer (or partners compete). So golfers can continuously adapt their play based on how their opponents perform.

Generally, match play scoring results in more competitive, aggressive golf. A very poor result on a hole is no worse than "second best", because both will lose the hole and the point that’s available for it. So it pays golfers to take maximum risks to win holes.

A player can also adapt strategies based on an opponent’s strengths and weaknesses. If an opponent makes a bad opening shot, for example, the player may reason that it’s safest to win a hole using conservative shots. Once a golfer is 1-down in a match, he is likely to risk far more aggressive play.

Conceding Putts

In Ryder Cup match play, an opponent may choose to concede a putt. For example, a golfer may concede all short putts to his opponent early in the game – unless the golfer suspects that his opponent may miss these putts.
This adds another dimension to Ryder Cup strategy. If a golfer concedes all short putts early in the game, it may encourage his opponent to concede similar putts. Suddenly failing to concede a short putt well into the match might then add to the pressure the opponent is under, making a mistake more likely.

For golfers, successful Ryder Cup match play depends on continuously balancing the need to take risks against their standings – and their opponents’ standings – in individual matches. This makes for intensely exciting, highly competitive golf.