Tales from the golf course

5 08 2017

two women golfers in a cart

Every week at Glacier Greens Golf Club dozens of members take part in our Saturday Men’s Club competition. At this time of year there might well be nearly 100 players competing, some of whom are really pretty good golfers. I, along with my two perennial partners, Kiefer and Rod, am one of ‘the others’: we’re not terrible golfers as such, but nor are we likely to play 18 holes without the odd mishap along the way. As a result, our concentration tends to waver after a while and we resort to laughing at each other’s poor shots (of which there are usually plenty) and telling jokes and stories. Some of these stories are obviously only loosely based on fact, but occasionally the teller swears that the story is true.

The following is the story that Rod, who also works as a greens keeper at the club, told us today while waiting on the 18th tee:

A couple of days ago he and a fellow greens keeper were tidying up one of the bunkers on the 18th hole. It’s a tricky dog leg par 4, requiring a decent drive followed by a well-judged approach shot across the pond. Two young women were walking past them towards the green, each with a number of clubs tucked under their arms. Their cart was still at the tee box, apparently abandoned.

“Trouble with the cart, ladies? Can I be of assistance?” asked Rod’s workmate Paul, obviously keen to help out these damsels in distress and, in Rod’s words, being ‘sickeningly polite’.

“No, we’re fine,” said one of the women, “We’re just, you know, following the instructions on the sign.”

The women carried on walking towards the green while Rod and Paul, somewhat perplexed, walked back to the tee, where they gazed at the sign in question. It read as follows:

“GOLFERS ATTEMPTING TO DRIVE THE GREEN WILL HAVE THEIR PLAYING PRIVILEGES SUSPENDED.”

Rod swears it’s a true story. Do you have anything to match it?

 

All da best.

Dave B.

 





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





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.





In praise of…Doug McArthur

7 05 2016
He stoops to conquer.

He stoops to conquer.

Everyone – and I mean everyone – at Glacier Greens has a Doug McArthur story. They may not have ever actually played with the great man or even engaged him in conversation, but everyone has a tale to tell about Mac. Often it will involve his superhuman power of hearing and accompanying short fuse, which in days of old could be lit by something as innocuous as a butterfly landing particularly heavily on the green just as Doug was putting. Doug has mellowed over the years but, even today, woe betide the greens keeper who starts up a machine, or the playing partner who thoughtlessly whistles or, God forbid, jingles coins while Doug is going through his pre-shot routine.

My first encounter with Doug, which I’m sure he’s long forgotten, came nearly two decades ago, when I’d only just joined the club. I was about to putt on #9 green when I was interrupted by a shout of ‘Hey, you! Can’t you read?’ An angry man with a beard was fast approaching, pointing to a sign which said ‘Keep pull carts 20 feet away from the green.’ Admittedly my cart was a bit nearer than that (although at least one of the wheels wasn’t on the green at all), but still. This human whirlwind left as quickly as he’d arrived, leaving my playing partners to explain that I’d just met the legendary Doug McArthur: designer and builder of Glacier Greens golf course, many time club champion and all-round scary person.*

As luck would have it, a few days later I arrived at the course to find that I’d been put in the same group as Mr McArthur. Fortunately he didn’t appear to remember who I was, as he never once mentioned the unfortunate cart incident. He played beautiful golf, shot two or three under par, and left me to fend for myself as I hacked and thrashed my way around the course. As we shook hands on the 18th green he asked what I’d scored and I told him: 88. ‘Wow’, said Doug. ‘With a swing like yours I’m amazed you broke 100.’ I don’t think I actually burst into tears, but I must have been pretty close because Doug then surprised me by saying ‘We could try to fix it if you want. How about meeting at the driving range at Mulligans on Sunday?’ We did meet and Doug spent an hour or more working on my grip. He managed to change my pronounced slice to a slightly more acceptable fade and if, 20 years later, I’m still not quite the finished article it’s not for want of trying on Doug’s part. ‘Check your grip!’ I’ll hear him yell from the second fairway as I’m about to tee off on #1.

And so to my latest Doug McArthur story. For some inexplicable reason (insert your own suggestion here), I found myself without a partner for this year’s shoot out. Over breakfast with Len Doyle I was explaining my predicament. As is often the case, Len had a possible solution to the problem: ‘Jim Livingstone can’t play this year, so Mac needs a partner. Why don’t you ask him?’ I was a bit doubtful at first. It wasn’t just the disparity between Doug’s level of skill and my own. There was the question of, well, talking. Doug has a high level of concentration (stratospheric, really) and I er, don’t. Doug likes to focus before each shot and I tend to fill in all the gaps in conversation with whatever comes into my head at the time.

To cut a long story short, I proposed a partnership with Doug (or ‘marriage from hell’ as my fellow Sandbaggers called it) for the shoot out, promising to be on my best behaviour, and he – surely with some misgivings – accepted. I then came up with a cunning plan: as playing partners for the first two weeks I suggested Keith Allan and Rod ‘Fifty Shades’ Gray, or ‘Statler and Waldorf’ as I sometimes call them. My reasoning was as follows: they are just as much hackers as I am, plus their on course behaviour is, if anything, worse. True, Doug would be distracted by their antics, but I would look pretty good in comparison. What could possibly go wrong?

Sadly, the answer last week was ‘a lot’. Apart from a fortuitous chip-in for birdie on #2 (if my skulled chip hadn’t hit the flag stick and ricocheted into the hole my ball would have finished in the ditch), I contributed absolutely nothing on the front nine. Nada. Not a single par. In this team event of all team events, Doug was playing completely on his own.

On #10, after yet another poor drive, I trudged miserably up the fairway. Rod and Keith came up alongside me. Doug, wisely, was keeping his distance, presumably in case whatever golfing affliction I had might be infectious. ‘Hey Dave,’ said Rod, just loud enough for Doug to hear. ‘If you want to be of help to your partner, why don’t you carry his bag or offer to clean his shoes or something? I mean, let’s face it, you’re doing f*ck all else!’

Thanks a lot for that, Rod.  And let’s just see: next week we’re playing the dreaded alternate shot, where there’s absolutely nowhere for me to hide. I can hardly wait…

All da best.

Dave B.

*I have long since downgraded Doug from ‘all-round scary person’ to ‘a kind and friendly person it’s still probably better to keep on the right side of.’

And if you’re reading this, Doug, let me get my apologies in nice and early: ‘Sorry, partner!’ Quite simply, the Glacier Greens we all know and love wouldn’t exist without you. Mac – you are a legend!