Who wants it? RWB 2013

3 09 2013
Who wouldn't want this splendid trophy on their mantle for a year?

Who wouldn’t want this splendid trophy on their mantle for a year?

The Red, White and Blue tournament was first played in 2001 and has been chugging along nicely ever since. It has slipped into a regular slot on the world golfing calendar – the Labour Day weekend – and each year a dozen or so very enthusiastic but largely untalented golfers from Glacier Greens have vied for the right to take home the Big Club, as the trophy is called.

OK. The first paragraph is mostly accurate, except for the ‘vying for the right to take the trophy home’ bit. Somehow in recent years it has become fashionable to claim not to want to win the Big Club. Last year’s winner, for example, the Great Robinski, ensured there would be no repeat this year by contriving to shoot 88 in Saturday’s round. That’s a net 88, not gross, although clearly Robin’s play was. No sense of shame, some people. Bud Bryan was keen to play, but made it clear that under no circumstances was he allowed to win – his better half Alice had threatened to kill him if he showed up at home with the Big Club. As it turned out, he didn’t need to worry. Actually, the Chief is the only one person I can think of as having said he’d quite like to win the trophy, but with his dry sense of humour it’s hard to know if he really meant it. Anyway, given the way he’s been hitting the ball of late, it was never likely to happen.

Some players, like Mike Worleybird (who finished 3rd), Billy V (4th) and Roderick (5th) played well enough to maintain a certain level of self esteem while never actually contending for the title. Others, like Bruce (6th) and the aforementioned Bud and Adrian (7th and 8th), preferred to spend the weekend hurling insults at those around them, which in fact made it a pretty normal weekend for the rest of us. Smokin’ Joe kept under the radar in 9th place and Elmo, deciding he’d had enough of the abuse he got last year for coming last, improved in each round to finish in the top ten, just ahead of Dave Buckley-Jones, who was shockingly well behaved this year. Perhaps he had a headache. To save our blushes, I won’t give the exact placings of the last four. As already mentioned, Robin had his reasons for keeping his head under the parapet. I was just flippin’ inept from start to finish. And let’s be kind to newcomers Michelle M and Mike P and trot out the old clichés: the occasion got to them, they played well but the putts didn’t drop etc etc. Nah! Let’s face it – they were as bad as Robin and me.

So who did want it? For the first two rounds, the answer was clearly Stan Mills, who amassed a six shot lead with a couple of sub par rounds. Over lunch on Sunday, however, I suspect Stan had an epiphany. The man who spent the the first eight months of 2011 looking at the trophy he’d won in 2010 must have decided that he didn’t want the Big Club cluttering up the living room for another whole year. Tee shots started to go awry in the final round, putts started to come up a tad short. News from the course was that someone was coming up on the rails. Who else, but Li’l Stevie Ellis, who barnstormed his way to an amazing net 61. At the last, almost despite himself, Stan the Man made a couple of birdies to force a tie. What now? A tension filled sudden death playoff? Stan bought me a coffee and a muffin – an unsubtle attempt at bribery – and whispered ” I think the trophy should go to the high handicapper, Dave. I’ve already won it once. Let Stevie have his moment of glory.” Nice try, Stanley, but there’s a precedent. In 2006, el Bandito Juan tied with Lou ‘Picasso’ Smith. There was no playoff – everyone liked the idea of both guys having to put the trophy  on display for six months each.

And so that’s how it is this year: your Red, White and Blue joint winners for 2013 – Stan Mills and Steve Ellis. Many congratulations, guys!

All da best.

Dave B.

Yeah, I know, Beauty and the beasts. Michelle wonders what she's let herself in for as Mike W admires Bruce's ball juggling skills...

Yeah, I know, Beauty and the Beasts. Michelle wonders what she’s let herself in for as Mike W admires Bruce’s ball juggling skills. Many thanks to Bruce, by the way, for the prizes he presented to each competitor on the first tee. Thanks to Lordco, too.

Bud chortles at the very idea of Stan winning the trophy for a second time. "Like that's gonna happen!"

Bud chortles at the very idea of Stan winning the trophy for a second time. “Like that’s gonna happen!”

"You shot HOW many yesterday?" Dave BJ asks Robin if it's contagious.

“You shot HOW many yesterday?” Dave BJ asks Robin. ” Is it contagious?”

Bagger D and Mike P enjoy a moment before the final round. There was little to enjoy for the next four hours...

Bagger D and Mike P enjoy a moment before the second round. Sadly, the last 36 holes brought precious few other moments to enjoy.

A respectable first showing for RWB rookie Billy V. Yet more disappointment for the Chief. The coffee was good though...

A respectable first showing for RWB rookie Billy V. Another disappointment for the Chief. The coffee was good though.

Elmo moved all the way up from dead last in 2012 to a top ten finish this year. Rod moved from 5th to er, 5th

Elmo moved all the way up from dead last in 2012 to a top ten finish this year. Rod moved from 5th to er, 5th

Stan Mills and Steve Ellis, the 2013 RWB champions. The vertically challenged dynamic duo pose proudly behind the Big Club.

Stan Mills and Steve Ellis, the 2013 RWB champions. The vertically challenged dynamic duo pose proudly behind the Big Club.

Editor’s note: sadly, no picture was available of Smokin’ Joe Dunham, who was practising on the driving range at the time the pictures were taken.

Why, Joseph, why?


El bandito Juan: an apology

6 03 2011

A few weeks ago, in my last blog, I mentioned my friend John (aka el bandito Juan) and the difficulty he has with the finer points of golfing etiquette. I made particular reference to his habit of always teeing off first, whatever the scores on the previous hole. He has even  – I kid you not – mastered the technique of throwing his tee in the air on the first tee box so that it unerringly points to him, thus giving him the honour right from the get go. He repeated his party piece yesterday on the 8th tee at Glacier (Saturday Men’s Morning is a shotgun start) and proceeded to reel off eight pars in a row, thus keeping the rest of us firmly in our places. I then spoilt the party  by somewhat fortuitously birdying our ninth hole – if the hole hadn’t got in the way of my twenty foot putt I would have had another twenty footer coming back – but John clearly took this as a challenge and promptly birdied the next hole himself to reclaim the honour and go one under par. Seven holes later, as he addressed a tricky downhill fifteen foot putt for birdie on the long par 5 sixth (our penultimate hole) he still lay even par. Understandably, John was anxious not to give the ball too much of a charge and promptly did the exact opposite, brookering it down the slope and leaving himself a nasty little  two foot downhiller for par. After never looking like missing a putt the entire round, he let this one slide by the hole. Agony! He leant over the hole to avoid standing on Robin’s line, tapped the ball from all of six inches away – and missed again! Four putts from just over four yards! To be honest, I hadn’t even seen the last putt as I was entering our sixes on the score card, but John said straight away ‘No, that’s a seven for me’. He then stood quietly on our final tee box muttering ‘Four f**king putts’ to himself as the rest of us hit our shots. No question of not counting the six inch miss: on Saturday mornings at Glacier Greens you have to hole everything. The dream of an even par round, or possibly even better, had come to a screeching halt.

So probably no low gross for John this week, but a lot of credit for automatically doing the right thing on the course when it counted. That’s got to be worth more than a few dollars in prize money, hasn’t it?

And now the apology: when I said the other week that John didn’t know the meaning of the word ‘etiquette’ (let alone how to spell it) I was being a trifle unfair, as English is not really his first language. He hails from the hamlet of Chester, near the village of Liverpool, way oop in’t north of  England where English as we know it is mangled rather than spoken. I recently emailed John to ask if he wanted to play at Glacier Greens the following day at 9:00. His reply read “That’s the gear, la”. With the help of my English/Scouse (Liverpudlian) dictionary I was able to ascertain that John was in fact saying “I agree with your excellent plan, Dave”.

So, John, your honest actions on the course today spoke louder than any of the incomprehensible words you so often utter – thank goodness – and I apologise unreservedly for anything I may have said or written which caused you offence. Please don’t consult your lawyers – I’m having enough trouble as it is with Peter Dobbs. We salute your skill on the golf course, Ringer,  as well as  your integrity – and we’re prepared to put up with your funny accent…

Finally, courtesy of my good friend Ben Davies, a vintage caddie joke:

A poor golfer (let’s call him Peter Dobbs) is having a particularly bad day, hacking and slashing his way around the course. Eventually he can stand it no more and asks his caddie if he can see any particular reason for his poor play. “Aye, sir, I can that”, comes the caddie’s reply. “There’s a piece of  sh!t on the end of your club.” Peter hands the caddie his driver and asks him to clean the club face. The caddie does so, but says that it won’t do any good. “How so?” asks Peter. ” Because, sir, the piece of sh!t is on the other end”.

An oldie, but a goodie – just like Mr Dobbs himself.

All da best,

Dave B.

The art of caddying (theory and practice)

17 03 2010

I played 18 holes at Glacier this morning with Robin, el Bandito Juan and The Chief. My game was – to put it mildly – slightly off, but somehow I didn’t seem to mind as much as usual. I found myself thinking about what I would be doing if I was caddying this round instead of playing. As a matter of fact, Robin and John had pointed out early on in the round that I had been behaving rather oddly, when I had refused to give John a yardage on #3 or tend the flagstick for Robin on #4. My point was that, now that I’m a professional caddie (gross earnings to date in 2010, after four rounds: $100 US, 4 pints of Guinness and a ticket to the Champions Tour event in Newport Beach, California), they shouldn’t expect me to work for free. Their point was that if I’m as crappy a caddie as I am a golfer I shouldn’t be charging at all. The debate continues…

However, it does bring up an interesting point: just how good or bad a caddie am I? After my very first day as a looper I emailed my future employer, Brian Benedictson, to tell him that I’d found work and gave him a brief summary of how I thought it had gone. Ever the pro, Brian replied with a list of helpful caddie tips which I thought I would share with you, and attempt to analyse my strong and weak points:

1. Show up. Definite success, seeing as I’d travelled all the way from Comox to San Diego, walked the course the day before the tournament and waited five hours until I was finally taken on as a caddie.  Score: 10/10

2. Keep up. Not as easy as you might think. I’m pretty fit for my age (honest) but cleaning a club before putting it back in the bag, scurrying down the fairway after your player and having the next club to hand without making him wait is surprisingly tricky to do. Score: 6/10

3. Shut up. Anyone who knows me would have guessed that this would not be easy for me. Stan birdied the very first hole he played with me as his caddie, draining a 30 foot putt. I must have been nervous, because I found myself saying: “A birdie. Is that the best you can do?” The look on Stan’s face, not to mention his playing partners, was a strong reminder that it was best to keep my funny comments to myself if I wanted to keep my job. It definitely helped two holes later, when Stan hooked his tee shot out of bounds. I handed him a new ball, tried not to make eye contact, and walked up the other side of the fairway for a couple of hundred yards. Score (by my standards): 5/10. By anyone else’s standards: 2/10

4. Don’t let clubs rattle while walking: successful for the most part, except when I dropped my towel (aka club quietener) half way down the 5th fairway but didn’t notice until we’d arrived at the green and I was supposed to clean the ball. Oops. Score: 6/10

5. Be relaxed. I was amazed to see how nervous I was the first day, absolutely dreading that Stan might ask me what club to use for an approach shot, or how much break there was in a putt. I used the ploy of asking what he thought and then agreeing with whatever he said – maybe not that useful, but at least I avoided putting doubt in his mind. By the second round I felt a lot better. Score: 5/10

6. Build my player’s confidence up quietly. I think I was pretty good in this area, in that although I honestly thought just about every shot Stan played was well struck I kept my comments low key. The idea was to act as if I expected all his shots to be good. I think it worked, but you’d have to ask Stan what he thought. Score: 8/10

7. Stand in the same spot every time he’s hitting (i.e. 10 – 12 feet to one side). I did ok with this, mostly by standing wherever the other players stood. They were scrupulous about not standing in eachothers’ line of sight. Score: 8/10

8. Wear flat sole runners rather than golf shoes. Luckily I’d read about this in the Canadian Tour caddies’ manual, so it wasn’t an issue. Score: 10/10

9. Be helpful to all players, but remember my first loyalty is to my player. I tried to help out by raking bunkers for all the players and offering to attend the flag whenever anyone was about to putt. I think my gestures were appreciated, but I also think the players were used to having to do it for themselves usually, so we sometimes got our lines crossed. I might get bonus points here for bringing some fruit, granola bars and water for Stan and reminding him to rehydrate every few holes. Of course, I might have just sounded like his Mum nagging him, but my intentions were certainly good. Score: 9/10

10. Finally, concentrate for the entire duration of the round. I was determined to really concentrate hard for all 18 holes (just as I try to do when playing), but it’s easy to let your guard drop. My low point was walking off the 15th green, congratulating one of Stan’s partners, who’d just made a good par saving putt. We’d got half way to the next tee, when he looked at me kind of funnily and said ” How far are you gonna carry that thing?” I still had the flagstick in my hands! Score: 5/10  Must try harder…

So I make my total 72%, which is a C+/B grade. What do you guys think? Any comments, either on my self assessment or on what you think a good caddie would do?

BTW: many thanks to Brian Benedictson for taking the trouble to send me his caddie tips. With any luck it will make me slightly less of a liability at the Times Colonist Open in Victoria, the first week of June, when I get my first chance to caddie on the Canadian Tour. I can’t wait!

All da best!

Dave B.

Golf 101

18 02 2010

Our Saturday morning men’s foursome had an unusually successful outing a couple of weeks ago. Or, to be more precise, three of us did…

Robin (nicknamed ‘Robin Hood’  because of the large amount of time he usually spends  in the woods over the course of a round) broke 80 for the first time ever on a Saturday morning and duly won low net in the B flight; el Bandito Juan would have shot even par but for bogeying the last two holes; I myself managed a very respectable 76, including the unheard of (for me) tally of three birdies, all of which I had high hopes for in the snips competition.

‘And what of  the fourth member of your group?’ I hear you ask. Well, Glenny didn’t exactly have the best of days. I put down 101 on the score card, but to be honest it could have been a couple more. I know, I know – on Saturday mornings you have to play every shot and every shot counts; but the better John, Robin and I played the worse things got for Glenny and after a while I couldn’t face asking him if he’d scored a double or a triple on the same hole that John had just chipped in on for a birdie. Sometimes there’s a glimmer of hope in a round like that: a monstrous drive, perhaps, or an amazing par saving putt, maybe even a birdie on the pot of gold hole. But not for Glenny, not this week. Bad was followed inevitably by worse until his four hours and ten minutes of suffering were done.

On the patio afterwards, Robin was his usual modest self – the difference being that after most Saturday morning rounds he has lots to be modest about; John was describing his misfortune on the last two holes to anyone at the table who cared (i.e. nobody) and I was loudly cursing people who were crossing my name off the snips board because of their own (obviously fluky) birdies.

And Glenny? He slowly sipped his pint and said philosophically, as he’s been known to say on occasion before, ‘She’s a harsh mistress, golf is, a harsh mistress…’

By the way, John’s 73 left him precisely nowhere in the top flight’s low gross scores and I missed third place for low net on the dreaded countback system that only Len the tournament director truly understands. I told him that I’d be away for a few weeks, so maybe it wasn’t worth cutting my handicap. ‘We’ll be waiting, Davey,’ said Len with what I thought was a particularly evil grin. Anyway, the failure of John and myself once again to get in the money on a Saturday morning just goes to show what a bunch of sandbaggers, er deep pool of talent we have at Glacier Greens…

All da best.

Dave B.

P.S. Robin, Glen and I are heading off to Las Vegas early Saturday morning for a quick exploratory trip to find out what desert golf is all about. May your rounds at Glacier be filled with birdies and the ground be firm beneath your feet!