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The South African Inter-Centre Teams Competition ( up to 1981 )


In the notice of the inaugural SA Tournament played at the Kimberley GC in 1892 the conditions of play for the Inter-Club teams competition were laid down as follows:    Inter-South African Club Competition – One round(18 holes) to be played in pairs and decided by holes.   NB!  Each Club taking part must enter not less than four (4) but not more than eight (8) Players.

It’s difficult to know exactly what they had in mind.  Certainly a team format was envisaged. A further clue is to be found in the conditions of play for “The Championship of South Africa”.   These state:  One round (18 Holes) to be played in pairs.  Losers to fall out.  To be decided by holes.    The terminology is quaint but the meaning here is clear enough: singles matchplay knock-out played over 18 holes.  Certainly this is how that first championship was played.

We can deduce, therefore, that “One round (18 holes) played in pairs and decided by holes”  means singles match play over 18 holes and, although it doesn’t say “losing teams to fall out”, a knock-out format must have been the order of the day.  The games were to be played over the full 18 holes and the team of four (or eight) winning the most holes would go through, their opponents falling by the way side.

In the first years this was an Inter-Club event.  The programme for the 1902 Tournament in King William’s Town includes the “South African Teams’ Match:  Open to Teams representing any South African Golf Club”.  In 1910 this was still an inter-club competition, won to everyone’s surprise by Cape GC’s ‘B’ Team who knocked out their much-fancied ‘A’ Team in the first round, but in 1911 it became an Inter-Centre competition and remained such through to the end, match play until 1930 and thereafter stroke play.

Thus it is that the Inter-Club team event of the early years was the precursor to the Inter-Centre team event, and not the forerunner of the Inter-Club Foursomes.  It is easy to see how this happened.  At the turn of the century there were very few clubs and Durban meant Durban GC, Cape meant Cape GC, Johannesburg meant the Johannesburg GC and so on.  The Inter-Club competition right from the beginning was in effect an Inter-Centre affair, one and the same thing.  When more clubs became established, it was a natural development that the Inter-Club format fell away and that teams were made up of golfers chosen from all the clubs in the particular centre.  The individual clubs continued to be represented in the Inter-Club Foursomes competition.  A club with only two players at any tournament could enter for the foursomes; they would need four players to enter for the teams event.   For many of the smaller clubs this presented a problem.