Time waits for no-one. That’s definitely the case when there is a match play game to play and little time left in the calendar to fit it in.
Maybe you just misjudged the days – that date had seemed so far away. Maybe you all just couldn’t arrange a time. Maybe some skulduggery was at play and people were playing hard to get.
Whatever it was, the deadline passed and the match wasn’t played.
If you’re a veteran of such competitions, it’s probably not that unusual an experience. It’s happened to me plenty during my 25-plus years of club membership.
Sometimes, we just couldn’t get it together. Holidays, work, and prior commitments got in the way. Other times, I was the one to blame.
Very occasionally, I got the definite impression my opponents were just trying to make it as hard as possible in the hope I might just give up and wave them through.
Every now and then, though, a game was played when a deadline had passed – and everyone involved crossed their fingers and hoped no one would notice.
But somebody always did.
So on the From the Clubhouse podcast, Tom Irwin and I asked each other the question: Is there ever an excuse for missing a match play golf deadline?
Tom considered how difficult it can be sometimes – even with modern technology – to get everyone’s calendars lined up.
He said: “It’s a first world problem but it seems to be significantly tricky. People communicate in lots of different ways. I definitely prefer WhatsApp. People email me at work – don’t like that.
“It’s very inefficient because a lot of people have Gmail accounts they’re checking infrequently. They’ll send a range of dates, not get back to you for three days, and then those dates are not available. These things happen a lot.”
Is it also a tactic to try and test your patience to the limit?
“I can see the logic in trying to arrange a match that’s inconvenient for your opposition,” Tom added. “But should there be any latitude whatsoever in getting these games arranged?
“Should it be just, ‘This is the cut-off date?'”
As a rules official, I’m used to taking things very literally. The law is the law. But even I think there can always be an extenuating circumstance.
It’s a pretty hard committee which isn’t prepared to accept an emergency, or an extreme situation, as a possibility for extending a deadline. After all, it’s only a game.
At my home club of York, it’s actually written into the Terms of Competition. In the small print for the Howell Trophy, which is our men’s individual handicap match play competition, it’s stated that “in extreme circumstances, when a match has not been played by the final date, and one member or the other believes that he has a grievance, he may appeal to the Chairman of Matches & Competitions for an adjudication”.
“The Chairman’s decision will be final,” it ends.
It’s only a paragraph but, alongside a list of other requirements – such as how many dates to give and whether they should include weekdays and weekends – players are in no doubt as to their responsibilities.
And that’s the key thing in what can otherwise be a murky area.
You can have wriggle room when something happens that’s completely out of the ordinary. But if everyone knows where they stand and still don’t do things correctly, then they’ve only got themselves to blame. Lick those wounds if you’re in the wrong. It’s a long time until the winter foursomes…
What do you think? Should a deadline always be hard or can you have a good excuse for not getting your match played in time? Let me know your thoughts with a tweet.
From the Clubhouse podcast: The match play golf dilemma
Hear what we think on the From the Clubhouse podcast, in association with TaylorMade, in the player below, or on your preferred podcast platform…
- NOW READ: Can I play a match play golf and stroke play event at the same time?
- NOW READ: How does match play golf work?
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