Grudge match at Gold River

25 06 2011

Looking back down at the 2nd fairway at Gold River Golf Club. It’s quite a climb up to the 3rd tee box!

If you’re a regular reader of my blog, then the subject of this week’s post will need no introduction. Step forward Mr. Peter Dobbs – one time whisky salesman, police officer, teacher, mechanic and car importer. You name it, Peter’s done it and usually has a strong opinion about it. Our friendship dates back to 1992 when I bought a used Volvo from him, sight unseen, while I was still living in England but needed a vehicle ready for as soon as I immigrated to Canada. I sold it for a profit 10 years later, after many adventures – including discovering a box of rotting fish, thoughtfully provided by Peter, in the wheel arch three days into a journey to San Diego. I’d slighted Peter a few days earlier apparently, and he knew his generous offer of a free service just before the trip would not be refused. Revenge for Peter was sweet, but for me it was totally rancid!

We’ve played a few rounds of golf together over the years, but never really seen eye to eye over how the game should be played. I am Mr Rules Guy; Peter has an altogether more cavalier approach. I know my handicap index to the last decimal point; Peter enjoys negotiating strokes on the first tee, knowing that it really winds me up, and thinks that his correct handicap is whatever he can get away with. I believe that good etiquette is a fundamental part of the game; Peter is of the opinion that anything he can do to put me off my game is all part of the fun. I could go on, but you probably get the picture by now.

I play LOTS of golf, maybe 150 rounds a year. Peter claims to play about 10 rounds a year and usually has some trivial ailment – last year it was open heart surgery or some such thing – that he believes entitles him to an extra stroke or three. He phoned me up a couple of weeks ago and asked if I was interested in a trip to Gold River and the chance to get my $5 back. Well! Talk about red rag to a bull! Peter knew perfectly well that this was an opportunity I would not be able to resist. Six years ago, with a couple of friends, we played the rugged nine hole course in beautiful Gold River, a small town a couple of hours north west of sunny Comox. I’d been sucked in on the first tee re handicaps as usual, played particularly badly, and reached the 15th green three down and needing a tricky downhill four foot putt to stay in the match. As I drew the putter back, ready to apply the most delicate of touches, Peter loudly broke wind. Not surprisingly, my ball missed the hole by a mile, and the match was over. I could – and should – have dealt with defeat graciously, but was completely unable to do so. To make matters worse, when I handed over the $5 bill, Peter promptly wrote the date, location and my name on it and, to the best of my knowledge, has never removed it from his wallet since.

So on Monday Peter and I headed up to Gold River in his luxurious camper van for a 54 hole, winner takes all, final decider as to which of us is the true heir apparent to Rory McIlroy when the lad finally hangs up his mashie niblick. We spent the first half of the journey discussing the merits of our respective grandchildren (Peter’s 11 month old granddaughter Makayla and my 10 month old grandson Eli), when and where the arranged marriage should take place and who should pay a dowry to whom; the second half of the trip was spent on the much more serious topic of how many shots I would be giving Peter. We agreed upon a starting figure of 8, but with wiggle room for the second and third rounds if necessary.

My belief that Peter would struggle with the hilly terrain was quickly proved well founded as he hacked his way to a 7 on the very first hole. Sadly I had a few difficulties of my own and, with his stroke, Peter went one up. I never really recovered and 3 hours later we were shaking hands on the 16th green, with Peter the 3 and 2 winner. Grrr!

A great fish and chip supper in the clubhouse and a couple of beers, followed by a couple more around the campfire,  put me in a much better frame of mind for the morrow and, now only giving the arch enemy 6 strokes, I found myself 3 up in the morning round with 3 to play. At this point my game totally deserted me and Peter fought back to tie the match on the 18th green. Double grrr!

I should mention at this point the hospitality of the Gold River Golf Club. Laurinda, the lady behind the bar, immediately won my heart by telling us that Mondays were two for one and then added that “You”, pointing at Peter, “definitely get the Seniors rate!” When I tell you that between us we played six rounds of golf over two days, rented a cart for 27 holes, had two delicious fish and chip suppers and half a dozen beers and paid a smidgin over $80 each you’ll appreciate that you get value for money at Gold River!

Even so, no great deals were going to ease the pain if I lost to Dobbs, so I began the final round in determined mood. Five straight pars to start with definitely gave me the upper hand but Peter’s own improved play (and those darn shots I was giving him) left me only one up as we played the final hole – a hole I had to at least halve to square the match. Things were looking good after two shots each, with Peter still 150 yards short of this long par five and me lying just off the fairway but only 80 yards or so out. It was at this point that things took a turn for the worse. We drove up to where my ball lay, and there it was: gone! My heart sank and my heart rate rose. Four minutes were spent trudging through the rough as I desperately tried to find my ball. Finally, with less than 30 seconds to go before I had to declare my ball lost and concede the match, Peter called out “I think I’ve found it!” Sure enough, there it was. An ugly lie, but at least I could lay a club on it. Three shots later I’d won the hole and halved the overall match, but Peter – the subject of a threat of litigation from me just a few months ago (read my post “Legal Notice” for more details) – was now confirmed as a man of honour. Who’d a thunk it!

So honour was satisfied, Peter’s reputation enhanced and Gold River Golf Club firmly ensconced as one of my favourite places on the planet. This may or may not be good news, Laurinda – we’ll be back in September!




6 responses

25 06 2011

It’s a great track, isn’t it DB? Had lots of fun playing there and like you said, the hospitality was nice as well. Great post..enjoyed it!


25 06 2011
Bagger Dave

I would have to say that our Gold River trip reminded me what real golf is all about, Ben!


P.S. Please don’t misinterpret this, but…how’s yer bum?

25 06 2011

David me boy, you have my utmost respect from now on, whatever you do. Anyone who would go to Gold River or any other place to play golf with Mr. Dobbs has to be respected. I tip my hat to you, for the patience you must have showed in dealing with the Dervish Dobbs, and the gentlemanly way you conducted yourself while in his presence. I say all this because Mr. Dobbs allowed me to lead him around the Maritimes last year. He followed at a suitable distance, allowing me to suss out the good and not so good places to visit before he took himself there. Not once did he offer a payment for my guiding services and still owes me a coffee. David, once the church has done with John Paul, you are the next in line for beatification.

25 06 2011
Bagger Dave

Thanks so much, Martin. To be honest I was a little concerned about ‘being judged by the company I keep’, not to mention ‘supping with the devil’, but I feel somewhat reassured by your kind words…


12 07 2011

Never never reply to irrelevant comments until one is of clear mind and constitution. I am now both of these and wish to reply to the unkind and untruthful comments slanted at me by Sandbugger Brooker.
One only has to read his own comments to realise what a scandalous bunch of lies he tells, somewhat like Richard Murdoch in the News of the World. He gives me a handicap on the first day of our three round World Match Play Championship and dutifully gets whipped. Next day he adjust the handicap again to be more favourable to himself and still can’t win so on the final day adjusts the handicaps yet again and has to wait for his opposition to find his ball on the crucial 54th hole to enable him to tie the last hole and walk away with at least some kind of diginity.
To be fair though he did suffer some mental trauma on the 5th green, hidden on the approach shot. After taking his blind approach shot we crest the hill guarding the green and see a ball on the green (see picture in previous blog). Sandbugger puffs out his chest and smiles like a Cheshire cat; leaving his cart on the edge of the green he bends to pick up his ball only to find it is a local tradition to leave a ball on the green at this hole to fool the tourists; the look on his face was worth the whole trip when he finds out he’s been had and his ball is actually deep in the rough 10 yards short of the green.
Hopefully others will join us on the rematch in September and enjoy the wonderful hospitality that is Gold River; even you Mr Taffy Davies, and I will buy that coffee you’ve been dreaming about. Last time I invite you to the great pumpkin race in Nova Scotia with free coffee and dinner.

23 07 2011
Bagger Dave

Your story of the 5th green is pretty much how it happened, Peter. I’m certainly glad there are no pictures of my face when I realised it wasn’t my ball.

As usual, the rest of your account is fictitious and until you get an RCGA approved handicap no one is going to accept your claims. Even so, I look forward to our rematch in September and I hope others will join us. It’ll be a blast!


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