The Wabash golf team will tee off at Covered Bridge Golf Club in Sellersburg, Indiana, to take on DePauw in a match play format on March 27-28. Rather than the traditional stroke play format, where each player attempts to re- cord the lowest score possible, players in this two-day tournament will attempt to score lower than one specific opponent on the other team.
In this match play format, each Wabash golfer will be paired with a golfer from DePauw with the goal to score lower than their counterpart on a hole-by-hole basis. For example, when a Little Giant birdies a hole and his Tiger opponent only makes a par, the Wabash golfer wins that hole, and he leads 1-0.
Although this tournament style is not played as often as stroke play, there are many tournaments like this, such as the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play event on the PGA Tour, which tees off on March 22. This tournament is basically the PGA equivalent of March Madness.
Because of the different format, the approach to a match play tournament must change as well. Lewis Dellin- ger ’25 views match play as a more head-to-head and competitive environment than stroke play.
“You can view the opponents shots and choose whether you want to attack or lay back and let them make a mistake,” said Del- linger. “You aren’t just play- ing the course, but now the guy across from you.”
Brayden Weiss ’24 sees match play as a mental ad- justment. “Every shot matters in stroke play, because up until that last putt on the 18th, all of your shots count,” said Weiss. “In match play, you have a much better opportunity to make up for mistakes, but at the same time your opponent can also quickly come back from a tough hole.”
There is also a huge adjustment in expectations for individual Little Giants. For the team, the approach for the tournament has been to compete against each other with match play rules in practice. Additionally, the golfers want to take a very smart and strategic approach to every individual hole.
“We are going to play a practice round the day before the tournament,” said Dellinger. “Once down there, I plan to look at each hole and determine which holes suit my game and which don’t.”
One of the key distinctions between match play and stroke play that both Dellinger and Weiss stressed is the ability to learn and experience the pressure.
“It is either win or lose in match play—there is no middle of the field,” said Dellinger. “You aren’t there to finish 20th, you are there to win.”
This, along with the even-keeled mental approach, are two focuses for the Little Giants’ preparation for conference.
“It is really hard to believe in yourself to do something you have never done,” said Weiss. “This tournament gives us an opportunity to get some experience winning all the way down the team.” Dellinger echoed a similar sentiment.
“The idea of winning a match against another team doesn’t always come naturally,” said Dellinger. “You have to practice it, and I think this is going to be a huge step toward winning conference.”
Learning to win is a seemingly subtle but crucial goal for the Little Giants’ quest for a conference title. Although beating DePauw is far from the largest goal this year, the team looks to take another step in developing the program.