Ryder Cup-winning captain Sam Torrance OBE is to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2012 Annodata Scottish Golf Awards in Glasgow later this week, watched by his family and proud father Bob.
In 2003 when his autobiography was published, I spoke with him at his home in Sunningdale and hopefully newcomers to Golfmagic will appreciate the reproduction of excerpts.
You’re a great fan of matchplay what makes it different from almost any other tournament?
I think we’re very lucky in golf. Playing tennis or snooker or darts you’re either in the game or you’re not. With matchplay you’ve always got a chance.
The secret is not trying to be too ambitious or do anything stupid. Play your own shots but always be aware of what your opponent is doing.
In the book I talk a lot about the essence of matchplay, trying to find the right partnerships sometimes with players with different characters.
Another key thing is to never give the hole away, make sure your opponent has to win it. Even if the best you can do is a bogey or double bogey – make them beat you for it.
There have been stories about gamesmanship in golf over the years. Where do you stand?
I abhor it, hate it. I don’t mind a wind-up, never have; but I don’t believe in gamesmanship at all. I think it’s part of the sport that is certainly not necessary. Gamesmanship to me is cheating. It’s like footballer when the two of them go for the ball and one knows they touched it last as it goes out of play. Almost always they both put their hand up to appeal that it wasn’t them. One of them is lying but they get away with it. In golf, it’s such a fair, honest sport that gamesmanship cannot come into it at all.
A European Tour Rules official once told me your good friend Ian Woosnam asks for more Rulings than any other player. What are you like on the Rules?
(Torrance laughs with that familiar Scottish chuckle) I must tell Woosie that next time I see him. I’m not bad on the Rules really, though I did get disqualified once for a Rules infringement, then got re-instated.
It was in the third round of the Italian Open in Sardinia and my ball finished over a drainage ditch but between two out of bounds posts. I asked for a ruling and three Rules officials in blazers came up and said I was okay to carry on. My ball was in play, no penalty.
Later I was told I was disqualified. I was furious and after appealing I was re-instated because, as it turned out, the guys in blazers weren’t official rules men, even though I’d taken their word for the ruling I got.
It was very important at the time because I finished high enough in the tournament to get second or third in the Order of Merit and qualify for the US Masters.
You’re known as a bit of a gambler. Do you recommend club golfers always have a side bet when they play?
Definitely. I don’t care whether I play for a £1 or £1,000 it doesn’t make an difference to me. It’s that edge – that you’re actually playing for something. You either put your hand out at the end or put your hand in your pocket. I always think it’s important to play for something because it keeps you competitive – that each shot means something.
Interview continues. Click here to find out Sam's advice for son Daniel...