Is there a better format for the Interprovincials?

By Paul Gueorgieff
GPNZ Editor

Just a thought. Is the format for the Interprovincials tournament the right one?

The latest editions of the Interprovincials were held last month, with the men’s competition in Invercargill and women’s event at Ashburton.

Waikato took out the men’s event for the second year in a row while Canterbury won the women’s competition for the first time in 22 years. Well done to them.

First let me put the Interprovincials into perspective. They are the most prized teams’ events in New Zealand amateur golf. Top players look forward to the event from the moment the latest event is concluded.

But under the current format some of the top teams don’t even get to play each other. Teams are split into two divisions, depending on the results from the previous year, with the top two from each qualifying for the semi-finals.

In the men’s competition, for example, Waikato did not play the likes of Wellington or Auckland. Runner-up Otago did not play the likes of North Harbour or Manawatu-Wanganui.

I know there is no such thing as a perfect competition and a little bit of luck is always needed to win such an event. But I wonder if the Interprovincials could be split into two divisions — one for the heavyweights and the other for the lesser lights.

I am sure that would lead to closer matches. It would also reduce the likelihood of one-sided matches in which part-timers are up against players who are virtually full-time golfers.

I am also sure that more of the top teams playing each other would create greater interest. It would also mean the semi-finals and final would most probably be a repeat of earlier matches but I don’t have a problem with that. Teams beaten in previous encounters would out for revenge while the winners would be wanting to confirm superiority.

There could also be a promotion-relegation playoff between the bottom first division team and top second division team. That would provide an incentive for those playing in the second division. The promotion-relegation playoff could be played alongside the semi-finals of the first division while the final could still be a stand alone event.

I ran this idea past a wise and experienced head. He said don’t fix was isn’t broken.

Just a thought.