Putting names to faces

15 05 2019

I’ve been playing MISGA (Mid Island Senior Golfers’ Association) tournaments for a good few years now. Success has been elusive and prizes (usually in the form of a Pinnacle golf ball or two) few and far between. There are, however, two constants: the post-game lunch is always good and you get to meet some really nice people.

Today at Eaglecrest was no exception. As we milled around on the 14th tee box (our starting hole), waiting for the fairway sprinklers to turn themselves off (it having rained all day yesterday) I commented to my playing partners that this long course – I consider anything over 6,000 yards excessive – was going to play even longer. We set about introducing ourselves: I already knew John from Arbutus Ridge, in his eighties but a prodigious striker of the ball; I’d never met Brian from Arrowsmith, but he told me that he also found Eaglecrest a bit intimidating. The fourth member of our group was an Eaglecrest member, Trevor, who seemed vaguely familiar. When I told him that I was a member at Glacier Greens he remembered that he’d played with someone from our club last year. “Nice guy,” he said. “Not a very good golfer though. Extraordinary thing was that he kept hitting his driver. Not just off nearly every tee box, but off the fairway too. 29 times in all, I seem to remember. Dave something, I think his name was. Perhaps you know him?”

At this point he must have caught sight of the look on my face, because he stopped in his tracks. “Oh God, it was you…”

Yep. It was me. Although I remember it as being only 26 times with the driver. (I mean, 29 would be a bit excessive, wouldn’t it?)

I only hit my driver 15 times today, and not once from the fairway. The good news was that I hit 13 out of 14 fairways. The bad news was that I never hit a single green in regulation. Not one. Under the circumstances, shooting 90 was quite an achievement. Just outside the prizes, as usual…

It was a great lunch though.

All da best, fellow Misgans (as the Rt Hon William Crowther might say)!

Dave Brooker


Lyra McKee

26 04 2019
The funeral of Lyra McKee

Lyra McKee was a journalist from Northern Ireland who wrote about the consequences of the Troubles in Northern Ireland. On 18 April 2019, McKee was fatally shot during rioting in the Creggan area of Derry. She was just 29 years old.

Like many people, I suspect, I’d never heard of Lyra until I read about her death, but when I heard the eulogy at her funeral given by Fr. Martin Magill I found it hard to keep my composure. I was encouraged to read later that the two ladies sitting in the front pew, Arlene Foster (leader of the Democratic Unionist Party) and Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald, were committed to entering talks about power sharing in Northern Ireland.

I shall, of course, be keeping my fingers crossed. I hope Foster and McDonald will be held accountable by the people of Northern Ireland. For a priest’s words to help bring about some kind of resolution to Northern Ireland’s troubles would at least be a fitting tribute to a young woman who never got to fulfil her promising future.

Let’s hope for the best.

Adrian Haut

5 04 2019
Adrian brings home the bacon: Red, White and Blue champion August 2014

We were sitting in the sunshine on the patio at Glacier Greens yesterday morning after our round and thoughts turned to our good friend Adrian Haut who passed away earlier this week. Everyone who has spent time with Adrian has a story to tell, and nearly every story puts a smile on the listeners’ faces.

Joe mentioned Adrian’s love of shopping – and in particular his love of a good deal. Liquidation World was a favourite haunt of his: “Look at this, Joe! Isn’t it great?” “It certainly is, Adrian, but what is it? “I don’t know exactly, but it’s a real good price!” Adrian also loved to buy golf shirts, some of which apparently never came out of their wrapping. Someone suggested that Joe (size Small) could make Moira a bulk offer for Adrian’s never-worn size XL shirts – Joe wouldn’t even have to buy shorts to go with them as the shirts would come down to his knees.

And then there was the famous story of Bud and Adrian on the 5th hole at Glacier a few years ago. Adrian had made a particularly rocky start to his round – maybe 6 or 7 over after four holes, whereas Bud had parred every hole. At the 5th however, Bud hit a big slice, right behind a tree. His only option was to to play back towards the tee box. “So let’s see you make a par out of that, you pr!ck” said Adrian, whereupon Bud hit an amazing 190 yard fairway wood to within five feet of the hole and sank the putt. No-one enjoyed the whole thing more than Adrian and the rest of us have been using that expression ever since, whenever we possibly can.

In May 2010 I was lucky enough to go on the golfing trip of a lifetime, to some of Ireland and Scotland’s greatest courses, with Glen, Robin and Adrian. “Remember the love grass?” said Robin today, whereupon we both burst out laughing. At Ballybunion in Ireland Glen and I shared a caddie named Mickey. Not only did he carry both our bags, but he also gave free, unsolicited advice to all four of us. Adrian was easily the longest hitter, but was having trouble keeping his ball on the fairways. “Good shot, sor, but try to stay out of the love grass!” he kept saying to Adrian. Eventually Adrian bit: “Why do you call the rough ‘love grass’, Mickey?” “Well sor, at Ballybunion if you hit the ball in the love grass, you’re f*cked.”

At the end of the round I remember Adrian giving Mickey – who’d explained earlier that he had a wife and five daughters at home, which was why he spent as much time as he could out of the house – a sizeable tip. “Maybe you could buy your wife a nice bunch of flowers,” he suggested. Mickey nearly fainted. “Buy the missus flowers?” he gasped. “You do that stuff once and the auld woman will be expecting it all the time!”

Ah, Adrian. You were a great friend and always able to bring a smile to our faces. We’re going to miss you a lot.

All da best, Chief!

Dave B.

On the first tee at St Andrews Old Course, May 26th 2010

“The greatest ice-related disaster since the Titanic”

2 03 2019

One good thing about my friend Peter Dobbs (and, to be honest, the list of good things about Peter is fairly short) is that you’re never in doubt about where he stands on any topic. I tend to have fairly strongly-held opinions myself and this can lead to some lively discussions whenever we meet up. The arguments we have on the golf course have to be heard to be believed. For example, a lady we played with earlier this year asked if we were married. I told her we were, but just not to each other. “Well, your wives must be absolute saints,” she said. So step forward Saint Julie and Saint Diana…

We’ve continued to air our differences of opinion on the ice. As a new curler, I’ve been really impressed by the great sportsmanship and generosity of all the teams we’ve played against in the Friday Fun League at the Comox Valley Curling Club. I always thought golfers were pretty decent about etiquette and praising good shots, whoever makes them, but so far I think curlers are even better. (I admit I’ve only been playing for a few months, so please don’t disabuse me of my notions just yet.)

Luckily other teams seem to understand that when the Numbnuts – the team name was chosen by Peter, of course – continually insult each other end after end, whatever the score, we are doing so purely in fun. Poor shots by our team are greeted just as enthusiastically as good ones – more so actually, because they lead to fines which are put into the beer kitty. A couple of weeks ago, for example, I was playing lead and inadvertently threw the wrong coloured rock. In my defence, I’d been distracted by a really friendly lady playing on the adjoining sheet and my concentration may have wavered a little. Our opponents were very good about it (“Could happen to anyone, we’ll replace the rock and there’s no penalty”) but my guys were positively gleeful: “Never mind the rules, it’s still a $2 fine for being such an eejit!”

And then last week, when I was playing as skip (we rotate positions every week), I played worse than I thought it was possible to play. I literally missed every shot – not a good thing whatever position you’re playing, but really bad when you’re skip. In fact the only point we scored was when my last rock caromed off one I definitely wasn’t aiming for and finished bang on the button. “Shot!” said the other skip, somehow managing to keep a straight face. “Well that was a total flippin’ disaster” said Peter, and Martin and Darrel nodded in agreement. “Let’s add up all your fines and go get a beer” he continued, and my team mates nodded in agreement again.

Last night I got to play in my very first bonspiel. It’s actually called the ‘Gladspiel’ as Gladstones Brewery sponsors the Fun League (yay Gladstones). Disaster struck when we found out on the way to the rink that our lead had cracked a couple of ribs. Obviously we decided immediately that he should be fined for being so thoughtless. Fortunately a lovely lady by the name of Sandy stepped in (at literally 20 minutes’ notice). It turned out that she was a way better curler than the rest of us and we managed to win four straight mini (i.e. two end) games before losing to our arch rivals Slipslidinaway. Don, Mike, JB and Brian were (reasonably) gracious in victory and we were secretly pleased to be able to go home after five rounds of curling and four rounds of Gladstone’s finest. We old guys are not used to being up and about after midnight.

Anyway, that’s me done for curling this year. It’s been an absolute blast. I’d like to thank Keith Parry, manager extraordinaire, for ratcheting up the fun level to 10 out of 10. I’d also like to apologize to my team mates for all the lousy shots I’ve delivered this year – and to promise them more of the same next year.

All da best!

Dave B.

Put Martin, Darrel, yours truly and Peter together and you’ve got…the Numbnuts!

Flagstick in or out?

14 02 2019

A couple of weeks ago I posted a video my friend Peter had sent me which showed that it was definitely a good idea to leave the flagstick in when putting (see my most recent blog ‘As Shakespeare might have said’, below). Then my other friend Keith sent me this video which shows the exact opposite:

The plot thickens…

So I’m not exactly sure where that leaves us, except to say that a lot of golfers are going to be trying out both methods in the next wee while. Not here in the beautiful Comox Valley though, where there’s six inches of snow on the ground and sub zero temperatures are forecast for another week at least. Beautiful it may be, but it’s not much use for putting (see what I did there?) all the new rules of golf into practice…

All da best!

Dave B.

As Shakespeare might have said…

3 02 2019
As Shakespeare might have said: “Flagstick in or flagstick out? That is the question.”

Well, thanks to the good folks at Expert Golf, we now have the answer. The video makes it pretty clear that – with some provisos – you’re usually better off leaving the flagstick in when you putt.

My good friend Bud Bryan will doubtless remain a naysayer, but then he’s always thought those new-fangled automobiles would never replace the good old horse and cart. On the other hand, Bryson Dechambeau – who took home a cool $3 million U.S. when winning the Dubai Classic last week – is a firm believer in leaving the pin in.

To be fair, Bud did bring home $25 for winning B Flight at Men’s Morning at Glacier Greens yesterday, so the evidence isn’t all one way, but it looks if Mr Dechambeau – known by his peers on tour as the Mad Scientist – may just have a point.

Anyway, I’ll be trying it for sure this year. After all, my putting really can’t get any worse…

All da best!

Dave B.

Last Rites

2 01 2019

My brother Mike and I were firing emails at each other first thing this morning, as we often do. We quickly covered soccer (his team, Spurs, are going great guns right now; my team, Southampton, are more like cannon fodder) and then moved on to music. He sent a link to a song by Mungo Jerry (if you’re not British and in your 60’s you’re unlikely to have heard of them). It was called “Memoirs of a Stockbroker” and included these memorable final lines:

“Now I’m getting pretty old, I like to think back to the past. I think of all the things I used to do, while sitting by the fire on my arse.”

This mention of old age got me to thinking about my ‘Funeral Playlist’, which I first drew up years ago and proudly showed to Scottish Wife. She vetoed it straight away: “No one’s going to hang around for all those songs (admittedly there were 20 on the list); and you’ll keep changing your mind anyway.”

True on both counts.

So here’s the latest (shortened) version that I came up with today. I don’t think anyone who knows me will be too surprised by my choices. It may not be your taste in music, but if SW does see fit to play them at my funeral* I’m pretty sure there’ll be free drinks after to soften the blow!

So feel free to listen to none, one, some or all of my choices below and perhaps consider what would be on your own list.

Happy New Year to all!

Dave B.

(* not that I have any plans for a funeral at this point, but still)