Quadratic equations

19 05 2014


Smiling Rock, the good luck charm next to the first tee at Quadra Island golf course. It worked very well on the first hole and then obviously forgot all about me for the next seventeen!

Smiling Rock, the good luck charm next to the first tee at Quadra Island golf course. It worked very well on the first hole and then obviously forgot all about me for the next seventeen!


There’s quite a lengthy list of things I wasn’t very good at during my time at school, but the subject that stands out as being a particular nightmare was high school mathematics. I was okay at sums you could work out in your head – my dad made sure that I had all the times tables up to 12 memorised by the time I was ten – but as soon as formulae were involved I was dead in the water. It didn’t help that I wasn’t that kid who sat quietly at the back of the classroom hoping to avoid attention. I was that other kid who, when bored, found forms of amusement such as nicking classmates’ pens and paper or flicking gobs of paper at the blackboard above the teacher’s head. Sometimes I got away with it, sometimes not. They were quite keen on corporal punishment in those days and a smack across the back of the head was often my ‘reward’ for minor indiscretions. Obviously I wasn’t going to complain to my parents – chances are that would only have led to another clip round the lughole  – so I would just accept whatever punishment was meted out as being a fair cop. On one occasion, though, my maths teacher, ‘Slim’ Folland (height 5 foot 2; weight 220 pounds), got his own back with a few succinct words on my end of term report card: “Prefers to muddle, apparently”. I still have that report card today and laugh at the memory of trying to explain to my parents that “It was just Mr Folland’s weird sense of humour” and “I was pretty sure I was going to pass the course anyway”. Somehow I did scrape through, but that was the end of me and maths and to this day I have no idea what a quadratic equation is or what you would do with it if you found one. It did, however, inspire me to my choice of future career. I mean, what could be more brilliant than saying or writing whatever you wanted about a kid and them having virtually no right of reply? And so the seeds of a lifetime in teaching were sown.

It’s probably pretty obvious by now that this week’s post has nothing whatsoever to do with quadratic equations. It’s just that six of us Sandbaggers played at Quadra Island golf course for the first time last week and the name of the course and the difficulty I had with it brought the obvious connection to mind. The nine hole course is in just its second full year of operation and is an absolute beauty – under 5900 yards off the white tees and with pretty generous fairways, but changes in elevation and some cunningly placed hazards meant that no one in our group found it a pushover. For those whose knowledge of the geography of Vancouver Island is a bit shaky, Quadra Island lies a ten minute ferry ride from the dock in Campbell River which, in turn, lies 45 minutes north of the Comox Valley. A couple of club members picked us up from the ferry and drove us to the course, which was less than ten minutes away and overlooks the Sutil Channel and the coastal mountains of BC. There we were warmly greeted by Carol Ann, the operations manager of the course, who pointed us in the right direction for the practice putting green and driving range. A couple of members (there are, I believe, around a hundred playing members in total, of whom maybe half are what you’d call frequent players) asked if they could play through, having completed their first nine, but by the time we took to the first tee we had the course pretty much to ourselves even though it was a lovely sunny spring day.

I won’t go into details about my round, other than to say I birdied the first hole and then didn’t hit another green in regulation for the next three hours – and even then it was only after my approach shot bounced off a huge rock in the middle of the 16th fairway and ricocheted to within twenty feet of the pin. To use Glennie’s time worn phrase: “I LOVE golf!” Of course I then doubled the last two holes, losing two balls in the process, and the love/hate dial on my relationship with this game switched back to ‘hate’. My black mood soon passed, however, as I watched the group behind us try and fail to reach the 18th green with their tee shots. Two flew straight into the hazard to the right of the green, while Rod’s low trajectory meant that at least his ball skipped right across the pond (three bounces!) before hitting a rock on the far side, rising twenty feet or so into the air before achieving splashdown. Rod re-teed and hit a beauty on his next attempt to within six feet. It goes without saying that he missed the putt.

Not even time for a post round beer on this occasion, as our ride back to the ferry was ready and waiting (we made it by the skin of our teeth), but I for one am really keen to come back and try it all over again.Thanks again to Peter, Carol Ann, and all those Quadra members who helped make our day so enjoyable. I highly recommend you to try it for yourselves – it’s a great day out!

The course designer obviously liked his inukshuks - they were all over the place! These two were at the back of the fifth green.

The course designer obviously liked his inukshuks – they were all over the place! These two were at the back of the fifth green.




Despite appearances, this tree takes up only a very small part of the eighth fairway. Li'l Stevie hit it with unerring aim!

Despite appearances, this tree takes up only a very small part of the eighth fairway. Li’l Stevie hit it with unerring aim.


All da best!


Dave B.




In praise of…MISGA

11 07 2013

For those not in the know, MISGA stands for Mid Island Senior Golfers Association. It’s an organisation that promotes friendly competition between male golfers aged 55 and over who are members of  some twenty clubs located in the central part of Vancouver Island. For some reason, even though I became eligible to join four years ago and love playing different courses, I rarely played MISGA events prior to this year. Partly, perhaps, because there always seemed to be other things I was supposed to be doing on those days, and partly because my lack of organisational skills meant I was constantly missing the cut-off dates for entries. Mostly, however, I suspect that it was because of fear of being outed as a hacker.  After all, it’s one thing for my usual group of buddies at Glacier Greens to know that I’m not exactly Rory McIlroy (actually, on his present form, maybe I am), but quite another to have my shortcomings revealed to an entirely new audience of golfers, stretching the 200 kilometers from Duncan in the south of the MISGA region to Campbell River and Gold River in the north.

Well, needless to say, I shouldn’t have worried. I should have realised when I was told that the prizes for low gross and low net scores were a sleeve of Noodles that the stakes were not so high that I needed to get myself into a tizzy over the odd duffed shot. My experience so far has been that while MISGA guys are, by and large, playing by the rules of golf, once it’s obvious that a player is not going to be at the prize table, the gimmes become a little longer and the exact scores on particularly unkind holes become a little more inexact, shall we say. I have yet to enter the prize winners’ circle, by the way, but live in constant hope of the random draw prize. And then there’s always lunch – uniformly excellent in my opinion, with Fairwinds perhaps shading the rest of the field at this stage of the season.

So today at 9.00 a.m. sharp, to show my appreciation for the great efforts made by volunteers at other MISGA clubs, I found myself  standing in the light rough on the right hand side of #14 fairway at Glacier Greens, ready for my first action as a ball spotter. I didn’t have long to wait: the very first tee shot started down the right edge of the fairway and then, ever so gently, faded into a stand of trees about 180 yards out, right near where I was positioned. I hustled to where I saw it land, saw a ball and signalled the safe sign, as demonstrated to me  by our MISGA rep just before the start of play (me being a Brit, I’m more acquainted with cricket signals than baseball ones, but I had it down pat). When the player arrived (he happened to be from Port Alberni) I was pleased to be able to point out the ball, which had a pretty good lie. He took one look at it and said “That’s not my ball”. Luckily, not ten yards away, but behind a tree and in not quite such a favourable lie, I spotted another ball. Phew! The gentleman from Port Alberni thanked me and played out sideways onto the fairway, while I went back to my spot. Ten seconds later I heard a strangled cry: ” And that’s not my bl**dy ball either!” Oops! So, having confessed to being no great shakes as a golfer, I now have to own up to being the world’s worst ball spotter. To be fair, the gentleman from P.A. did say afterwards that he should have checked the ball more carefully, and I didn’t make any obvious blunders over the next four hours or so and received a lot of thanks from folk who probably do the same job when their club hosts a competition. Even so, it wasn’t the greatest of starts to my new career…

Anyway, this is in praise of MISGA, all the hard working MISGA reps, and all the ball spotters out there who know what they’re doing!

All da best.

Dave B.

P.S. For some reason, when I replayed the wrong ball incident in my mind afterwards I thought of this: