Matchplay favours the brave who play the man

2012-05-12 00:00

VICTORIA Country Club and Maritzburg Golf Club will both be staging their Matchplay Championships this weekend.

The participants had to qualify by playing in the Strokeplay Championships two weeks ago. The main difference in the two forms of the game (apart from some of the rules) is that in strokeplay you are playing against all of the other golfers in the field, while in matchplay you only have to beat your opponent in order to progress to the next round.

There are two schools of thought when it comes to winning in matchplay. Some say you must play the course and not the man. In other words, ignore what your opponent is doing and concentrate on playing a good round of golf to win your match. This method generally belongs to the steady defensive player.

He will tell you that he has success with this method, but these days most golfers play the man. It is difficult not to. Your opponent must have an effect on the way you play each hole. There are hundreds of examples of this, but there are some golden rules in matchplay that should be remembered.

There are no heroics required; for instance, when your opponent is in the process of making a big score on a hole, there is no sense in taking risks. To win the hole you only need one stroke less than him. On the other hand, if you are two up with three to play, don’t be too defensive.

Then again, if you are in this position, don’t count your chickens. If you happen to lose two consecutive holes due to a couple of unexpected long putts, you are guaranteed to be flustered and that’s exactly what your opponent wants.

This is when matchplay really tests the golfer’s resolve.

Perhaps the old maxim, “Fortune favours the brave” is suited to the way matchplay should be played.


A couple were going out for the evening. They were just about ready to go, all dolled-up and with the dog out of the house. The taxi arrives and as the couple walk out, the dog shoots back in the house. The wife goes out to the taxi while the husband goes upstairs to chase the dog out.

The wife, not wanting it known that the house will be empty, explains to the taxi driver, “My husband is just going upstairs to say goodbye to my mother.”

A few minutes later, the husband gets into the cab. “Sorry I took so long,” he says. “She was hiding under the bed and I had to poke her with a coat-hanger to get her to come out.

“Then I had to wrap her in a blanket to keep her from scratching and biting me as I carried her downstairs and then I tossed her out in the backyard. I hope she doesn’t crap in the vegetable garden again.”

The silence in the cab was deafening.

•  Charles Severn’s weekly golf column was inadvertently omitted from yesterday’s Witness. Apologies to Charles and local golf readers.

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