Par Four? No – Parkour!

24 05 2017

Ever heard of parkour? No? Well, watch this short video of parkour pioneer Chase Armitage trying to make a tee time with Belgian pro golfer Thomas Pieters and you’ll get the idea:

Not unlike me trying to make my 8.23 tee time at Glacier Greens this morning…

All da best!

Dave B





Me and Clement Attlee

13 05 2017

churchill

If you mention Sir Winston Churchill, most people will think of his bloody-minded leadership of Britain in World War Two and his determination not to give an inch to the Germans. I, on the other hand, tend to think of his withering put-downs of political opponents. Perhaps Churchill’s most famous insult was his reply to the Labour MP Bessie Braddock, who accused him one evening of being drunk in the House of Commons. “I may be drunk, Madam, but you’re ugly – and I shall be sober in the morning.” He also had a particular dislike for the Labour leader Clement Attlee, whom he described as “a sheep in sheep’s clothing” and “a modest man with much to be modest about”.

It’s this last quote that I think about when I try to describe my ability at golf. I have a lot to be modest about. I’m not a terrible golfer – I nearly always break 90; a few times a year even 80 – but there’s nothing about my game that would lead the casual observer to think that I have learnt much from the 100+ games that I’ve played every year for the last decade or so. Normally, it doesn’t matter so much – the group of guys I play with range from a 7 handicap to a 19, so my handicap of 13 puts me pretty much in the middle of the pack.

But it’s when I play with other – much better – golfers that the trouble begins. For a start they all hit it further – and I mean much further – than I do. For example, today in the last round of the Glacier Greens Pairs Shoot Out I hit a perfectly decent tee shot on the first hole – right down the middle, maybe 180 yards. My opponent then also hit it centre cut, but 85 yards – 85 flippin’ yards – further than my effort. The format being alternate shot this week, my partner Doug McArthur, then had to hit a hybrid from 170 yards while our oppos hit a sand wedge from half that distance. A few minutes later – just after missing a three foot putt as a matter of fact – I found myself muttering the dreaded words “Sorry, partner!”

And so it went on. Doug and I would discuss where he’d like me to hit the ball. I’d then hit it somewhere entirely different, Doug would conjure up a miracle recovery shot and I’d tap in for par from a couple of feet. I wasn’t quite as bad as I’d been in the pouring rain two weeks previously – when I’d not contributed on a single hole (other than, as Len Doyle somewhat unkindly pointed out, holding the umbrella over Doug’s head as he selected clubs) – but I wasn’t a whole lot better. Somehow we (i.e. Doug) cobbled together a decent score (always difficult in an alternate shot competition)  and were definitely still in contention when we reached the last hole. Doug hit a great drive, leaving me with a straight forward shot of 100 yards over the – gulp – pond and a greenside bunker. Well, I cleared the pond…but not the bunker. But wait! In this competition each player gets a mulligan and somehow I hadn’t used mine yet. I dug into my bag and produced another ball. “What are you doing, Dave?” asked Doug. “We’re not in the water, are we? Are you sure you’d clear the pond with your mulligan?” Put like that, the honest answer was no. “I’ll play it out of the bunker and you make the putt.” It sounded like a pretty good plan, although I wasn’t looking forward to the ‘me making the crucial putt’ bit.

As it turned out, Doug made things easy for me. His beautiful sand shot rolled to within three inches and even I couldn’t mess up that tiddler. An hour or so later, the score cards were all tallied and the team of Brooker and McArthur had won the 44 team gross competition by a single shot. OK, let me express my contribution by rephrasing a well known saying:

“There’s no ‘I’ in ‘team’ – but there was an awful lot of Doug!”

Thanks, partner!

Dave B.

shoot-out-may-2017

Glacier Greens Shoot Out winners, May 2017: on the left, gross winners Doug McArthur and Tonto; on the right, net winners Gabe Tremblay and Al Cabilan. (courtesy: L Doyle)





Guilty as charged

15 03 2017
03.12.13_Golfer_Laid_OUT470

I’m not sure I can go on like this for much longer…

My intentions are always good as far as keeping my blog up to date is concerned, but recently it’s been really hard to find something to write about. Firstly, the winter here in the Comox Valley has been the worst in living memory so I’ve hardly played at all. Secondly, when I have played, my game has also been…the worst in living memory. As a result my handicap has been getting higher and higher and my spirits (not to mention my self-esteem) lower and lower.

It was decent weather today but we didn’t get off to the best of starts when only five of us showed up to play. This meant that we would have to split into two groups, a twosome and a threesome. This is rarely a good thing, as there would be foursomes ahead of us and the pace of play was bound to be slow. Actually, my round started quite promisingly and I even birdied the par 5 second hole, albeit in somewhat dubious circumstances. I was on the green in three shots but miles from the pin, so I told the Budmeister not to bother tending the flag. Of course I then holed the putt. Strictly speaking that’s a two stroke penalty for hitting the flag stick, but I explained that I was just playing by the proposed 2019 rules a bit early, so it should still count as four. Being my partner, Bud said that sounded fair enough.

However, by the fourth hole Bud and I found ourselves filling in time by practising our chipping on the tee box while waiting for the group ahead (who were also probably waiting for the group ahead of them). When Richard, Joe and Bill joined us on the tee someone suggested that we play as a fivesome as the guys ahead were unlikely to move any faster. Now some golf clubs have a fairly relaxed attitude to winter golf and I must admit that as long as players keep up with the group ahead I can’t really see any harm being done. Even so, I felt a little uneasy and insisted we check with the group behind us to make sure they didn’t mind. They were fine with it, they said, as long as we kept up with the group ahead – which of course is exactly what didn’t happen. Balls went into trees, balls went into ponds and we quickly dropped behind. After three holes of this Richard declared that he’d had enough and went home for a nap.

So at least we were a legitimate foursome for the remaining holes. Not that my game improved. Bogies were followed by double bogies and despite the sunshine overhead – the warmest day of the year to date – my mood became blacker and blacker. I skulled a chip into the pond on #18, muttered some words I wouldn’t want my mother to hear, and skulked off the course with a score of 89*.

Over coffee afterwards the rest of the guys were discussing my round in nauseating detail when Ben, the food and beverage manager, who I’d always thought of as one of the nicest men on the planet, came up to me with a big grin on his face. “Hey Dave! I saw that big splash when you hit into the pond just now, but what was that thing I saw sailing into the air just after? Was that a club?”

“Er, yes, but it kind of slipped out of my hand,” I lied. Somehow the rest of the group hadn’t spotted my club toss and I thought I’d got away with it. Now, however, I was done for. Billy V spoke on behalf of the rest of the group. “So let me get this straight. We find out this week that you’re to become captain of this golf club for the next two years and then in the space of a single round you commit four major transgressions: ignoring a penalty on #2 for hitting the flag stick with your putt, allowing a fivesome to play together contrary to club rules and then club tossing on #18 fairway.”

Well, when he put it like that it did sound pretty bad. I didn’t really have much to say in my defence, although I did point out that he’d only come up with three transgressions and not four. “I was coming to that,” said Bill. “Do you realise that your fly’s been undone ever since you came out of the washroom?”

Oh boy. This could be a long two years… I plead guilty as charged and throw myself upon the mercy of the Glacier Greens membership. (Like that’s gonna work.)

All da best.

Dave B.

(* OK. 91)





Season’s Greetings

18 12 2016
Yes it's lovely, but...

Yes, #12 at Glacier Greens certainly is lovely, but…

I’ve written before of Len Doyle, Glacier Greens’ Saturday Men’s Director and all-round good guy. He’s not had much to do of late as the course has only been open for Saturday play once in the past eight weeks, initially because it was waterlogged and then the temperature dropped a few degrees, so Len went out to the course yesterday to remind us of what we’re missing.

Given that it’s still hovering around zero, it looks as if my golf may well be done for 2016. It’s been far from my finest year on the links, but hope springs eternal and – born optimist that I am – I’m sure that things will turn around next year.

With thanks to Len for his gorgeous photo and season’s greetings to you and yours.

All da best!

Bagger Dave





The Cat

7 10 2016

I was 12 years old when England won the World Cup on home soil in 1966. Four years later, defending the trophy in Mexico, they made it through the group stages without difficulty and in the quarter final match led West Germany 2-0 with 20 minutes to go. England’s legendary goalkeeper Gordon Banks had had to pull out of the game with food poisoning but they had a great replacement in Peter Bonetti, nicknamed ‘the Cat’ because of his amazing agility and reflexes. Unfortunately, Bonetti fumbled a shot to give the Germans hope. Sure enough, Germany went on to win 3-2 after extra time and Bonetti never played for England again. I’m now 62 and still waiting in vain for a second England victory.

When I immigrated to Canada in 1992 I joined a local soccer team called the Collingwood Innvaders. Our goalie was also English, also named Peter and also known to his team mates as the Cat – not because of his great skills, however, but because of his tendency to have a nap if play was concentrated in our opponents’ half of the field. Peter Dobbs only played for that first season, but we’ve become great friends over the past two decades – and fierce rivals on the golf course.

For the last few years, always in late September, we’ve played a series of matches – always match play – at Gold River. Peter plays fewer than a dozen rounds a year (and I play 150), he doesn’t have a proper handicap (and I know my factor down to the last decimal point) and his knowledge of the rules is selective at best (and I’m a rules official). Despite all this our games are nearly always close (thanks to some pretty tough negotiating on the first tee re exactly how many shots I’m to give him). And at close of play, one of us always looks pretty smug:

Just how smug can a man look?

This is Peter after the first round at Gold River last year.

So last week I phoned Gold River to make our usual booking for two rounds of golf, overnight camping and our standing order for lots of beer and fish and chips. To my dismay I was told that the course was closing the very next day! Oops – lucky I phoned. Plan B was quickly put into operation. A quick look at the weather forecast, an equally quick look at Peter’s 2 for 1 Lung Book, and phone calls were made to Cowichan Golf and Country club and Mount Brenton in nearby Chemainus.

The weather worked out perfectly. It was lashing down when we left Comox on Wednesday morning, but sunny and warm when we arrived in Cowichan. I played pretty well, shooting 81, but I was giving Peter a shot on all but the Par 3’s and it proved too much. He made a great up and down at the 18th to win the match one up. “Well played, Mr Dobbs”, I muttered through gritted teeth. I was about to mention my bad luck in mysteriously losing a ball on the 17th fairway, but then remembered my tee shot on #16 which landed in the bunker, hit a rake and ricocheted onto the green. Better to maintain a dignified silence and hold on to the moral high ground…

Right next to Mount Brenton golf course is a large parking lot ‘for the use of golf patrons only’ and that’s where we camped in Peter’s RV that night. Peter had provided supper, so I bought the beers at the somewhat dubious-looking pub a couple of hundred yards down the road. Peter was pretty quiet (he’s not usually quiet after a victory) and when I asked him why he explained that he’d just remembered that he’d had a heart attack last time he’d played Mount Brenton. Not only that, but the guys he’d been playing with (not knowing how serious it was) had insisted that he paid up his $6 bet before he left the course! Now Peter is quite capable of playing mind games if he thinks he can gain an advantage, but I knew that even he wouldn’t stoop so low as to make up a story of this magnitude. Actually, it reminded me of another reason why he’s called the Cat – with all his heart attacks and other medical issues over the years, he must have nine lives!

The morning got off to a rocky start when the pro shop pointed out that our 2 for 1 coupons were not valid until noon. Even Peter couldn’t talk his way out of that one and I think that may have affected his play. I wasn’t at my best, but Peter struggled too – except on the greens where he irritated me no end by making every single short putt he looked at. After 14 holes we were all square, but suddenly his putter deserted him and he three putted the next two holes to leave me dormie two. When he hooked his tee shot into the trees on #17 we knew Peter needed a miracle. We found his ball, but all he could do was chip out sideways while I – for once – hit my second shot pretty close to the flag. As we walked to the green, Peter mentioned he’d felt pretty nervous about his tee shot. I agreed that #17 was indeed a narrow fairway to aim at. “It’s not hitting the fairway I was worried about,” Peter replied. “This is where I had my heart attack.”

We were pretty sombre for all of thirty seconds and then it was back to the usual insults, with Peter insisting I putt out from 18 inches when I had three putts for the match. When I queried the need to putt out, he simply said “Well, you never know.” And of course he’s right – you never do.

Over coffee on the patio afterwards, Peter brought out a trophy he’d made for the event. To say it was ugly would be putting it kindly. Thinking of Scottish Wife’s probable reaction if I showed up with the trophy in tow, I protested: “But we won one match each, Peter, so surely we should share it.” “Indeed we do, my son – but you get it for the first six months!”

ugly-trophy

ugly-trophy-2

Don’t tell anyone, but the way I’m playing these days I’m actually pretty happy to be part winner of a trophy, however ugly it may be:

All da best (and cheers, Peter!)

Dave B.





Thank you, Mr Palmer!

26 09 2016

As most of you will know, Arnold Palmer died yesterday at the age of 87. The short video below captures something of the essence of the man and how he transformed golf. Perhaps an extract from an article by Ewan Murray in today’s Guardian newspaper sums it up even better:

Eighteen months ago in the clubhouse at Bay Hill, venue for the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the adopted winter home of this golfing icon, Rory McIlroy was approached. “Rory, if you need anything this week, you just let me know.”

McIlroy’s reply was as swift as it was pertinent. “Mr Palmer, I will never want for anything at all in life. That’s all because of you.”

My favourite anecdote, though, also from today’s Guardian but this time from the letters page, reads as follows:

In the 60’s my uncle, a keen golfer, took a friend who’d only just taken up golf to see the Open at Lytham St Anne’s. It was quite a long trip. They arrived and were bundled along by the crowds and found themselves on the front row of a tee where looking up, they saw the mighty wrists of Arnold Palmer addressing the ball. My uncle says that Arnold hit his drive with such aggression that there was a collective intake of breath from the watching crowd – all except my uncle’s friend who spontaneously shouted out ‘fucking hell fire’ as the ground shook and the ball sailed into the distance. The stewards promptly threw them both off the course. They got to see one shot. But what a shot.

Brilliant.

All da best  – and thank you, Mr Palmer!.

Dave B.

 

 





R+B 2016

18 09 2016

Every September for 16 years now the Red, White and Blue tournament (or RWB, as it soon became known) at Glacier Greens has consisted of three rounds of golf played from all three tee boxes over the course of two days. This past weekend the intention was, as usual, to play 18 holes on Saturday and the final 36 holes on Sunday. Saturday morning, however, dawned dark and very, very wet – so wet, in fact, that Len Doyle cancelled the usual Men’s Morning competition. My first thought was that we should press on regardless – after all, we’re proud west coast Canadians and unlikely to dissolve in a spot of rain. I looked at the faces of my fellow competitors for confirmation that we would go ahead as planned, but all I saw was a lot of head shaking. “Not me, buttercup,” as Stan Mills so eloquently put it.

Plan B was quickly decided upon: 36 holes on Sunday, blue tees in the morning and, as always, the reds in the afternoon. But what should this year’s tournament be called? B+R didn’t quite have the right ring to it; R+B sounded better. But who would have the Rhythm and who would be left singing the Blues?

These guys?

Did these guys have the rhythm? Nope.

These guys?

These guys? Nuh uh.

What about them?

Any of these? (Maybe Joe’s snooty look gives it away.)

It soon became clear that last year’s winner, Chuck Kennedy, was under strict instructions from Mrs K not to return home with the Big Club and he left his best shots until the last nine holes when he was sure he had no chance of retaining the trophy. He finished fourth. Murray Polson (12th) and Bill O’Neill (6th) had apparently got the same memo but Murray managed to really focus his efforts on coming last and therefore got first pick of the prizes – a golfing Toronto Maple Leaf, if you will. Sadly, just like the Leafs, first pick didn’t work out too well.

Newcomers Brian Goodwin (7th) and Robbie Moore (8th) showed promise – and Brian clearly picked up on the varying quality of the wrapped prizes that would be on offer, announcing that he would select his own prize if he got the chance. He never did, but he is to be commended for coming up with such a cunning ruse and at least was able to avoid this year’s Truly Awful Prize, unwittingly selected by Murray, which seemed to involve some kind of penis enhancer. It was donated by someone whose identity I cannot reveal but whose first name is Keith and last name Allan. It’s an unjust world when Mr Allan himself was the recipient of  a very nice bottle of red. Keith, by the way, finished in a tie for 10th place with his cart companion Rod Gray. Two other cart-sharers, Steve Ellis (5th) and Dave Buckley-Jones (9th), moved up a spot or two in the rankings after decent final rounds.

The final group included myself – somewhat surprisingly in the hunt, as I had started the morning round at a stunningly pitiful 10 over par after 5 holes – past winner Stan Mills and perennial runner-up Joe Dunham. Stan showered his opponent with praise and insults in equal measure throughout the round, but Joe withstood it all to deservedly win the trophy by two shots. A bridesmaid no more – at last Joe is the blushing bride!

The

The Rhythm King. Joe gets kissy with the Big Club

At the time of writing, a few hours after the end of the event, I’m feeling a lot of aches and pains as are, no doubt, my fellow competitors. Old age, I’m increasingly discovering, is indeed no place for cissies – but let’s hope we’re all ready to get back at it again a year from now. In the meantime, well done Joe and…

…all da best.

Dave B.