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)

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Hasta siempre, Comandante!

13 04 2017

Scottish Wife and I got back from a 15 day visit to Cuba last week. We had a wonderful time in a fascinating country and have many tales to tell of the dynamics of the Cuban state and its people. There were a couple of constants, though: firstly, there was music everywhere we went, and secondly there were the slogans, some obviously state sponsored but many others daubed on walls or rickety posters. Many were in praise of Fidel Castro, but many others referred to ”el Comandante”, Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara. I leave you to your own opinion about Che – after all, one man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist – but I do love this song:

In every city, town and village we visited we saw the iconic slogan ‘hasta la victoria siempre!’ (‘to victory, always!’), Guevara’s closing words in his farewell letter to Castro and the Cuban people, written just before he left the country for the Congo and Bolivia where he was captured and then killed by U.S. backed forces in October 1967.

My own favourite slogan, however, was one I saw written on a dilapidated cement factory wall just outside of Havana: ‘Aqui no se rinde nadie, cojones!’. I figured out that the first four words meant ‘no-one’s surrendering here’ and our Cuban guide Eric explained they were shouted at President Batista’s men by Juan Almeida when his men were surrounded by government forces during the Castro-led invasion of December 1956. Almeida was one of only 12 out of 78 revolutionaries to survive that particular battle, but went on to become an important part of the ‘Triumph of the Revolution’, when Batista was finally ousted in December 1958 and Castro took power.

“But what does the last word mean?” I asked Eric. “Ah, mi amigo,” came the reply, “That word is too rude for me to tell you!” So I looked it up – and if you want to know the answer, you’ll have to Google it too!

Viva Cuba y la gente cubana!

Dave B.

(P.S. I should mention that SW and I travelled on a tour organised by Tom Robertson of the Comox Valley. I can’t speak highly enough of the tour. Tom can be contacted by email at tom@cuba1tours.com or by phone at 1 877 334 0355. I’m not on a %age for endorsements – as far as I know, anyway!)

Viñales haircut

(Oh, and here’s the customary me-getting-my-haircut-in-another-country picture. The catch? The hairdresser has nipped out of the kitchen – yes, that IS a kitchen – for a minute and our bus driver Angel has grabbed the comb and scissors and is actually cutting my hair!)





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)





Trumped by the Dutch

26 01 2017

I’ve not played golf for nearly two months now, largely because the famously mild Vancouver Island winter was replaced this year by weeks on end of sub zero temperatures. I’m not sure my fellow Canadians from the Prairies and back East are truly sympathetic for us wussy Westerners, but still…

Anyway, rather than focus on the train wreck that was my golf game before the big freeze I have been forced to look outwards to take in the wider scene of what’s going on elsewhere on the planet. I couldn’t help but notice that a very angry man with orange skin and an extremely dubious hairstyle has been elected leader of the free world. Unfortunately, he is now setting forth policies that seem to threaten the well-being of the said free world.

I must admit I found this somewhat troubling, but then yesterday I received this video from my good friend and fellow Sandbagger, Smokin’ Joe Dunham. Please watch it. It’s great. You’re gonna love it, you really will. Trust me, it’s fantastic:

P.S. I’ve heard Donald Trump’s real golf game is about as bad as my own, in which case I do have a certain (limited) amount of sympathy for the man. Of course that could, in the words of the equally vile Kellyanne Conway, just be an alternative fact…

All da best!

Dave B.





A Boxing Day slip-up

29 12 2016

In Europe most countries take a winter break during their football season (that’s soccer for those of you of a North American persuasion). Given the cold, wet climate that would seem pretty sensible. Britain, of course, does not. Not only that, but games played over Christmas regularly attract the highest attendances of the season. When I was a kid teams actually played local derbies on Christmas Day itself, with the reverse fixture played 24 hours later, but nowadays they’ve settled on a full Boxing Day programme with two more games to play in the coming week.

I was particularly excited about this year’s fixture list as my favourite team, Southampton (known by all as the Saints), were playing my brother Mike’s favourite team, Tottenham Hotspur (known as Spurs by their fans and ‘those north London ba$tards’ by everyone else), and the game was going to be televised.

Over the years Spurs have definitely had the better of Southampton and Mike has rarely been slow to point this out. Determined to stake out the high moral ground, I phoned Mike ten minutes before kick off (7.45 pm British time, 11.45 am here on the west coast) to suggest that there was no need to phone each other every time our team scored – we could just have a nice, civilised chat once the game was over.

Well, that plan went straight out the window when Saints scored barely 60 seconds into the game. It was like reaching for that third mince pie – I knew I shouldn’t but I just couldn’t help myself: I rang Mike immediately. He was pretty good about it, but did point out that there were still 89 minutes left. And, of course, karma kicked in: 15 minutes later Spurs equalised. Surprisingly, Mike didn’t call. Early in the second half Spurs went ahead. Still no call. Saints conceded a penalty and had a player red-carded. Still no call. Spurs scored a third. Nothing. Finally, 30 seconds after Spurs went 4-1 up, the phone rang. Sure enough, call display showed Mike’s number. I picked up the phone and, without giving him the chance to speak, I said “Well, you can f#ck off for a start.” There was a pause… and then my 84 year old mum, without missing a beat, said “And a very Happy Christmas to you too, darling!”

So that’s me out of the will, then.

Love you, Mum!

Your truly penitent son

David

(Oh, and Mike – well played, both you and Spurs!)





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





Wow!

20 11 2016

Sometimes you see something and you’re just lost for words. It’s a rare occasion when that happens to me, but here’s one such instance. I’m sure you don’t have to be a fan of cricket – or, for that matter, any sport – to have the same reaction as I did. Wow!

The fielder, Liam Thomas, was playing for the England Physical Disability team against Pakistan in the final of a recent tournament in Dubai.

How can you not be inspired by that?

All da best.

Dave B.