Merry Christmas, Gazza!

22 12 2011

I’m not sure why, but we Brits don’t seem to be able to leave names like Barry or Larry or Garry alone. They become Bazza, Lazza and Gazza. On the other hand, I’ve never heard Prince Harry referred to as Hazza (and my brother Graham works at Prince Charles’ gaff – excuse the shameless name dropping – so he should know). Maybe it’s a class thing. Be all that as it may, this is my way of introducing the subject of this week’s post, a gentleman by the name of Gary Renton.

I met Gary for the first time last week at Cottonwood Golf Club, just north of Nanaimo Airport. I’ve driven past the entrance to the course dozens of times and have been meaning to play there for years, but somehow never got around to it. My daughter, who’s just moved to Nanaimo, gave me a gift certificate as a thank you for a stint of babysitting I’d done for our grandson Eli, so on Friday I finally got my chance to see what the course was like. I bumped into Gary in the pro shop and he said he’d be pleased to play 18 holes and show me the course. We didn’t really have time for a chat or even an exchange of handicaps on the first tee as a foursome was right behind us. Gary let me have the honour, pointed out a good line and I proceeded to hit one of my better drives, right down the middle of the fairway and over 200 yards. Gary, who must be all of 5’6” and weigh 150 pounds soaking wet, then hit a tee shot that flew over a stand of trees and out of sight. “Uh oh,” I thought, “That’s gone.” Gary didn’t seem too concerned and it was soon obvious why: when we reached my ball, 100 yards or so short of the green, we could see Gary’s ball on the fringe of the green – a drive of at least 270 yards. A chip and a putt later and Gary had got his first birdie of the day.

An hour or so later we were walking up the seventh fairway, me very happy to be two over par, Gary still outdriving me by forty yards on every hole and apparently satisfied to be two under, when he suddenly said: “So, Dave, are you very polite or just unobservant?” I had no idea what he was talking about, but said that both statements were probably true (thinking as I did so that some of my fellow golfers at Glacier Greens might not be totally in agreement on the polite bit). “Why do you ask?” In reply, Gary put down his six iron and held up his hands – there was a thumb and only one finger on his left hand. “I guess I’m what you’d call a single digit golfer,” he grinned. “Well, that’s just flippin’ brilliant,” I said. “Just when I was feeling pretty good about my game I find out I’m being whupped by a man with three fingers missing. I can’t even claim you’ve got a dodgy handicap.”

We really enjoyed the rest of the round, Gary talking quite openly about losing his fingers in an accident at work when he was 21. He was determined not to let it stop him from doing all the things he loved and he’s played golf and racketball to a high standard as well as getting his qualifications as a teaching pro in golf. Talking of which, Gary had some fairly harsh things to say about my swing: “It’s awful – but it works, so don’t change it.” I can cope with Glennie or Adrian  insulting my swing, but this is a teaching professional talking! Nearly as bad as the day that Scott Fraser, the former head pro at Glacier Greens, saw me hitting balls on the driving range. “Have you got a bad back, Dave?” he asked. “No,” I said, “Why?” ” Keep swinging like that and, trust me, you will!”

Anyway, I broke 80 for my first round at Cottonwood, about 6 shots adrift of Gary, and had some great memories of a lovely day’s golf. We arranged to play again a couple of days later, and it turned out that Gary was also a club repairer. How he changed the loft on all my irons – yes, Gary’s a professional club repairer as well – fixed my putter and threw in a new sand wedge for free is a story that can wait for another day. But in the meantime, thanks for a great round of golf and – merry Christmas, Gazza!

And merry Christmas and a terrific 2012 to everyone reading my post as well.

All da best,

Dave B.




4 responses

22 12 2011

Merry Christmas! Look forward to more stories from the links in 2012!

22 12 2011
Bagger Dave

Thanks, Ben. I’m sure stuff will continue to happen to me on the course in 2012 – it always does!

Merry Christmas to you and Josée.


2 01 2012
Kevin Wass

Inspiring and good humoured, just as I remember our collective jaunts at Queens Park early on Saturday mornings. Lovely stuff Dave, Happy New Year to you all.

2 01 2012
Bagger Dave

Cheers, Kevin. Good to hear from you, and Happy New Year to you guys too.


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