Past Mass Amateur Champions Discuss Keys To Match Play Success - MASSGOLF

Mass Amateur Winners Offer Insight On Surviving Match Play

NORTON, Massachusetts – Match play has created thrilling moments in Mass Golf Championships for over a century, which is why it has remained a part of the Massachusetts Amateur throughout its 113-year history. The Mass Women’s Amateur and Mass Junior Amateur are the only other events to use the format in statewide amateur championship competition.

During match play, players compete head-to-head on each hole, with 1 point given to the player who earns the lowest score on a hole. If the players shot the same score, no points are awarded. The match is over when one player leads by more holes than there are still to play.

The action is intense, nerve-wracking, and each hole is more important than the last. Match play can be intimidating but also rewarding. Matthew Organisak (2020), Patrick Frodigh (2018), and Matt Parziale (2017) are three competitors who’ve all recently survived the gauntlet of 32 players in match play to win the Mass Amateur.

Each past champion was asked the same set of questions regarding match play.

Note: Responses were edited for clarity and brevity

ONLINE: MASS AMATEUR CHAMPIONSHIP CENTRAL

Matthew Organisak – 2020 Massachusetts Amateur Champion

What was the difference between your first match ever to the most recent time you competed in match play? 

The first time I was at Charles River (2017), I definitely learned a lot. Even though I got beat pretty well, I learned that in match play anything can happen. You can’t go build a six-shot lead if somebody makes double or triple or something like that. You can have a couple of good holes, a couple of bad holes, and all of a sudden you’re 2-up or 2-down with four holes to play. I remember just thinking to stay extra patient and trust that my ability was good enough to get something done.

Matthew Organisak won the 2020 Mass Amateur as a No. 4 seed in match play. (David Colt, file)

What is the biggest tip or piece of advice you’d give to someone competing in match play for the first time?

Make your pars. The Mass Amateur is usually contested on pretty difficult golf courses and Mass Golf always has the golf course in awesome shape. It’s all about how you respond. A lot of the times you can get caught up in who you’re playing and how they’re playing and the shots that they’re hitting. If you just keep your head down and worry about yourself and what you’re doing and just make your dang pars, that’s probably the best advice that I could give.

How do you stay calm and manage nerves when competing in match play?

Last year, my high school golf buddies who I hadn’t seen in a couple of years were caddying for me. Honestly, that was a huge help, just having a good caddie and somebody you can stay light with in between shots. You have to stay light, take it easy, keep taking some good deep breaths.

What is your favorite aspect of match play?

Grinding out pars for sure. Making birdies and making eagles is always fun, but there’s nothing like grinding out a really good par for a half or even for a win in match play. There’s a sense of accomplishment there. In match play, if you make the hard par and your opponent just barely misses a birdie putt and makes an easy par, you almost feel like you won something there.

Can you compare match play to anything else, either in golf or outside of golf?

I remember thinking that match play is a lot like tennis. It’s just you two out there versus each other, versus the conditions. In match play, if your opponent is down a little bit and you can see that they’re down, you can feed off that and try and try and build some momentum off that. You can’t look down and let your opponent get that hint of motivation that you might be down because that could be all that they need to beat you.


Patrick Frodigh – 2018 Massachusetts Amateur Champion

Q: What was the difference between your first match ever to the most recent time you competed in match play? 

At Oak Hill (2015), I remember I made it into match play in a playoff. I was the 31st seed and ended up losing in the finals to Nick McLaughlin, so that was my first taste of match play. It doesn’t matter what your seed is because you can’t control the draw. You never know who you’re going to play. If you’re towards the top, you might get through the first round or two, but you never know. It’s just about getting into match play, and it’s a completely different tournament as soon as Wednesday starts.

Patrick Frodigh was the No. 16 seed at the 2018 Mass Amateur where he defeated Herbie Aikens in the final round. (David Colt, file)

Q: What is the biggest tip or piece of advice you’d give to someone competing in match play for the first time?

Don’t get discouraged hitting bad shots. Don’t even think about your score at all, just think about the guy you’re playing against and you’re just trying to strategically place around and beat that guy. If you need to just punch out, take a bogey or whatever it is, if that’s good enough to push the hole then you have to accept it. You can’t push too hard to be making birdies because you don’t really need to.

Q: How do you stay calm and manage nerves when competing in match play?

For me, I just think taking one hole at a time. You have to slowly try and build yourself a little bit of a lead and take advantage of some of those momentum moments where your opponent may screw up or you’re making a couple of birdies in a row and you build the momentum early.

Q: What is your favorite/the best aspect of match play?

Not being out of the hole ever. You can hit some horrible shots, miss greens, miss fairways by 50 yards, but you just have to grind. If you can grind to get up and down from somewhere that your opponent thinks no chance, then that’s going to be kind of a dagger. If you can make surprise pars out of nowhere, then that’s going to affect your opponent.

Q: Can you compare match play to anything else, either in golf or outside of golf?

I compare match play to just playing with my buddies. Whenever I go out with whatever foursome of friends or my brothers, all you’re thinking about is hole-by-hole. It’s not stress-free, but it’s more of a comforting feeling. It just feels more natural. 


Matt Parziale – 2017 Massachusetts Amateur Champion

What was the difference between your first match ever to the most recent time you competed in match play? 

When I first qualified, I was a freshman in college and had just finished my first year. I was just trying to play some more competitive golf. You still have to play really good golf, so I don’t look into past years and whether I did poorly or well. I just try to approach it as a new week. It’s a fun week. It’s usually the longest one of the year, especially locally, and you need to be good for all five days to have a chance.

What is the biggest tip or piece of advice you’d give to someone competing in match play for the first time?

At the 2017 U.S. Mid Amateur (Parziale won), the one thing I was most proud of that week is that every day was a new day. It really is what you need in a week like this. In stroke play, usually, the best golfer in that week is going to win, but in match play, that’s not always the case. I’ve played poorly and won, and I’ve played really well and lost.

Matt Parziale won the Mass Amateur in 2017. (David Colt, file)

Q: How do you stay calm and manage nerves when competing in match play?

I’ve been very fortunate to compete at a lot of different levels. The older you get, it’s not easy and it’s not comfortable, but you kind of know what to expect. I think that’s the only benefit of getting older is you know what could go wrong and how to get it back on track. That’s what gives yourself the best chance to do well.

Q: What is your favorite aspect of match play?

It’s a different competition. In match play, I try not to play the player, but things change depending on what they do. That’s the coolest part about it. There’s a different set of emotions and a different set of strategies. Even though I try to make it the same as stroke play, that’s never the case. Obviously, if your opponent does something wrong, you might be a little bit more conservative. If you do something wrong, you might be a little more aggressive than you normally would.

Q: Can you compare match play to anything else, either in golf or outside of golf?

When we play with our buddies it’s always match play. You’re never really playing medal play. That’s kind of the game you always play messing around with them and there are definitely similarities there. But, it’s a different level playing for the state amateur. They’re playing the opponent, but we are actually playing the course. That’s the difference between golf and other sports. You play your opponent in other ones, in golf you are just playing the course, even if there’s an opponent there.