Myrtle Point: battle of the baggers

13 09 2012

“What did you make on #7, Donnie?” “Oh, just a par.”

The handicap system is, in my opinion, one of the best things about golf. Obviously it levels the playing field in a way that just isn’t practicable in other sports. Put me in a head to head 100 metre race with Usain Bolt, for example, and for me to win I’d either have to cheat (like Prince Harry did recently), or insist that Mr Bolt wore lead diving boots or that he let me start from, say, the 80 metre line. In soccer, there would have to be a rule that no one was allowed to tackle me once I’d got the ball. But in golf, ah, all things are possible: the higher your handicap the more strokes you get off your opponent and thus the better chance you have of winning.

But, of course, you can’t get a high handicap without paying a price. For a start, you have to play badly for a fairly lengthy period of time, which means that you’re getting abuse from your buddies for being such a hack AND you’re probably having to buy the coffee at the end of every round. On the other hand, once your handicap is up there and you start winning, then everybody is on you like a sack of spuds for being – the ultimate insult in our circle – a sandbagger. Of the eight of us who play regularly together at Glacier Greens, I would say that seven have been accused of sandbaggery in the last three weeks. All it takes is a couple of sub 70 rounds, and I’m talking net scores here – God forbid that anyone in our group should ever get a gross score even approaching par – and the others are onto them like a pack of wolves. All the usual suspects – the Budmeister, Smokin’ Joe, newly crowned Count Robinski and the Chief – have been publicly accused, and have been joined by hitherto blameless characters such as Glennie, Li’l Stevie and even Lairdo, for goodness sake. To take Lairdo as an extreme example: here’s a man who is genuinely golfingly challenged. He finally breaks 100 two rounds in a row and the coffee buyers are scathing in their criticism of a handicap system which can allow a score of 93 (net 64) to win all the marbles! Actually, maybe Lairdo is a bad example – he’s the one person we’re all happy to see do well, because he’s suffered so long, with nary a cross word. I’m not sure the rest of us could say the same.

You may have noticed that one name was absent from the list: mine. That’s because for the past three weeks whatever format we play, whoever my partners are, I have finished up on the losing side. So do I get credit for my honesty and integrity on the golf course? Do I heck. I’m accused instead of being the one thing even worse than a sandbagger – a whiner. I’ve tried to defend myself by saying it’s really more whimpering than whining, but that just hasn’t cut it. I am in a lose/lose situation: not playing badly enough for my handicap to go up but not nearly well enough to actually win and have someone buy me a coffee. I’ve resorted to just handing over cash now at the end of each round. Bud’s started a vacation fund with all the toonies I’ve had to give him. The ba$tard’s talking about taking the missus to the Caribbean this winter. (His missus, not mine).

Anyway, all this is really just a preamble to a matchplay tournament that Glennie organised for us yesterday in which most of the above named miscreants were involved. Eight of us took the delightful 75 minute ferry ride over to Powell River to play 27 holes, in a series of nine hole matches, at Myrtle Point, which is a gorgeous Les Furber designed course ten minutes south of town. Bud and Adrian were unavailable, but excellent replacements were found in Dave Proctor, who plays at Crown Isle (and is thus a very dubious character) and Don McCririck, who doesn’t really play anywhere, and so for whom a handicap had to be agreed. Somehow a figure of 22 was decided upon. To the delight of everyone except Joe, his first round opponent, Don’s tee shot on the first hole flew 230 yards straight down the middle of the fairway, 40 yards past Joe’s ball. Now here was someone we could openly scorn as a sandbagger of the first order! With all the shots he was getting, Don kept the game close until the seventh hole, a short but tricky par 4. Don’s tee shot went way right, nearly taking out the group waiting on the sixth tee. His second hit a branch and landed back near his feet. He chunked his third into the rough, still 120 yards from the green.  His fourth soared into the air and landed on the green, as David Feherty once said, ‘like a butterfly with sore feet’, and gently rolled into the centre of the cup. Joe made par himself, in slightly more orthodox fashion, but lost the hole on Don’s handicap stroke. What can you do,eh? Joe lost in a putt-off and Don moved on to the semi finals.

In the end, the tournament (aka the battle of the baggers) was won by yours truly. First place prize money was $14; the cost of a jug of pale ale, paid for by the winner, was also $14. Runner up Rod Cobham made a net loss by the time he’d bought a jug. Ah well, it’s the glory that counts, I suppose. No doubt I’ll be hearing the word ‘sandbagger’ used in conjunction with my name when we play next week. I’m actually quite looking forward to it.

Shot of the day obviously goes to Don for that marvellous hole out from the rough on #7. Quote of the day – and proof that a couple of beers at lunchtime doesn’t always work wonders for your eyesight – goes to Steve Ellis, our resident wildlife expert. He interrupted our conversation on the clubhouse patio to tell us excitedly that he could see a herd of elk in the distance on the 18th fairway. Everyone looked up. There was a short silence as we all took in the wondrous diversity of wildlife on the Sunshine Coast. Finally, Rod spoke: “Er, I think that’s a flock of geese, Steve.” Which, of course, is exactly what it was.

A great day out. Thanks, Glennie!

Another example of  wildlife at Myrtle Point: Joe plays his 3rd shot from the pond at the par 3 sixth hole.

All da best.

Dave B.

BTW – I can’t speak highly enough of the course at Myrtle Point, or its staff. They pick you up at the ferry terminal first thing and drop you off at the end of the day – no charge – and our 27 holes cost just over $33, tax included. Plus, it’s a great course. Seriously – you can’t beat that!

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