Matchplay is a game I play quite a lot with friends. It's definitely a more social, enjoyable game as you can have a blow out on a hole and it only counts as 1 hole lost. Matchplay is often used to decide the club champion after playing multiple stroke play rounds as well used in interclub competitions. Once you have adopted sound matchplay strategies, you can become a feared opponent in any realm of competition.
The first part about being a good matchplay player is treating it like a normal stroke play event. Meaning have the mentality of always thinking that you need to hole out every putt. If you start focusing on the other player too much during the hole and he unexpectedly holes the putt where you think he should miss, it may affect the way you approach your putt. Always focus on your game and doing your best on each shot regardless of what happens.
If you fall behind in the match, have the mindset of not trying to go for every shot but more have a score goal that you're trying to achieve so that your focus is again not on the other player. You want to play the long game with them so that you don't panic and start hitting shots that you wouldn't normally. Instead just be calm and focus on your strategy of how to play that course. If they still beat you then that's out of your control.
The only time where you would react to what they're doing is if they put the ball in the water or hazard and looks very likely they may make bogey. You might for eg. not be so aggressive on that Par 5 and hit the green in two shots but instead aim to get the ball in three. But you need to still be careful because if they are someone who has great recovery skills, you may still need to keep the original strategy and be aggressive.
If you're down with only a few holes to go, this could be another time that you may need to be aggressive so that it changes the dynamic of the game. Once they lose one hole, they could start to second guess and cause them to play out of their rhythm causing unforced errors.
Lastly learn to be a clutch putter by rehearsing situations on the practice putting green where you must make the putt. This range will be typically be within 10 feet.
If you need further help about being a good matchplay player, book in for a lesson and we'll adopt strategies for you.