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.

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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!

 

 

 





All quiet on the western front

4 03 2016

I’d have to say that the past month has been a pretty quiet time for golf here on the wet coast of British Columbia. It’s not that the Sandbaggers and I haven’t been out on the course at Glacier Greens; it’s just that when we have been playing it’s either raining or, even if dry overhead, conditions are – shall we say – a tad soggy underfoot. Every tee shot we hit that lands in the fairway disappears into a hole of its own making, looking a bit like a mini mortar shell crater in no-man’s-land between the trenches in World War One. We’re actually pleased when a tee shot hits the cart path now, because at least we can see the ball bounce.

Li’l Stevie, the Great Robinski and I won a coffee each on Wednesday, but only because the other team, the Axis of Evil (Richard, Billy V and the Budmeister), quit after nine holes, tired of slogging through the mud. After 18 holes I was pretty tuckered out myself, having hit my driver no fewer than 23 times – when you don’t hit it very far anyway and then you get absolutely zero roll, even a 350 yard hole is a long way. I’m getting pretty skilled at finding a nice blob of mud within six inches of my tee shot so that I can perch the ball up in order to hit driver again.

In the mean time, here’s a reminder of what can happen when you’re young and skillful and the ball rolls a bit. I’m not a huge fan of Tiger Woods, but I did enjoy his reaction to this:

Roll on the spring! (Yeah – please let it roll.)

All da best.

Bagger Dave

(P.S. Message to Bud: the kid’s 11, you’re in your 70’s. Isn’t it time you got a hole in one? Just sayin’…)





Andy Murray – King of the Death Stare

19 08 2015

I’m not a huge tennis fan, but I saw this clip this morning and couldn’t help but burst out laughing. It helps if you’re bilingual (French/English or – to be more precise – Québecois/Scottish), but I’m pretty sure you’ll laugh too even if you’re not.

Incidentally, the way Andy Murray is viewed in England tells you something about the great Anglo/Scottish divide. He was born in Glasgow and raised in nearby Dunblane (he was a student at the primary school on the day in 1996 when a local man entered the school and killed 16 children, their teacher and then himself). Perhaps this accounts for Andy’s steely demeanour, or perhaps it’s connected to his parents splitting up when Andy was just 10 years old.

Anyway, whenever Andy Murray wins a tournament (Wimbledon, say) the English consider him to be a Brit. Whenever he loses, he’s Scottish.

Canadians would never be like that, would they?

All da best, and let’s not bring Scottish Wife into this, eh?

Dave B.

P.S. I was going to write about the hole in one I got on #17 at Glacier Greens on Monday, but seeing as I never even saw it go in the hole and I’ve really only got Bud Bryan’s word that it did, it’s not much of a story. Anyway, monkeys and typewriters…





Mother said (there’d be days like this)

8 08 2015
Please don't make me play 13 more holes - I. Can't. Stand. It. Anymore.

Please don’t make me play 13 more holes.  I. Can’t. Stand. It. Anymore.

My friend Bud has a saying that goes “Mother said the cream always rises to the top”. He uses it, of course, just after he’s made a long putt or chipped in for par or done something equally unlikely which means he’ll have the honour on the next hole.

I must admit I used it myself today as I walked to the 4th tee at Glacier Greens. I’d just birdied #3, having hit two good shots in a row, followed by a 20 foot putt. As I’d butchered the 2nd hole (triple bogey 8, thanks for asking) I was pretty pleased with myself and wondered aloud what the opposite of a PBFU was (‘Post Birdie F*ck Up’ for those of you who don’t play much golf). “Well, obviously that would be a PFUB” replied my playing partner Kiefer (I’m sure you can figure that one out for yourself).

Even after putting my tee shot in the pond on #4 and walking off with a double bogey – my card now reading PBFU, PFUB, PBFU  if you’re trying to keep track – I was still pretty chipper and pointed out that even though I was 4 over par for the first 4 holes I was actually one under if you only counted the two par fours.

In hindsight this may have been a mistake. Not for nothing is hole #5 at Glacier Greens rated the hardest on the course. My tee shot wasn’t actually too bad, landing in the fairway but then taking a bit of a nasty kick right so that I had to play my second shot standing on the cart path (a free drop would have put me right up against a tree). Nothing too scary here – I just needed a nice little fade around the tree 20 yards ahead of me and I could definitely get the ball up near the green. Nice slow back swing and…BANG. The ball ricocheted off the tree and straight out of bounds. Hmm – a little bit of bad luck, as my friend Adrian would say. I dropped another ball, aimed left of the tree once more and…BANG, hit it again, thus proving that the first one wasn’t a fluke. This time the ball stayed in bounds, about six inches away from the boundary fence. A tricky shot, but by no means impossible – a subtle, handsy hook shot with my seven iron and the ball should be back on the fairway. Except I hit the fence instead of the ball. Outwardly calm, but inwardly seething, I repeated the stroke with exactly the same result. At the third attempt I did manage to hit the ball a couple of feet, allowing me to then chip sideways back onto the fairway. I was now lying 8, and my ball was about ten feet away from where it had been after my tee shot. My ninth shot was, if I say so myself, a thing of beauty – a nine wood from 145 yards to the fringe of the green. A delicate chip and a tap in putt for an 11 followed. As we walked to the 6th tee box I tried to put on a brave face to my playing partners: “Well, at least I got a one putt – that’ll help the stats!” “Hate to tell you this, Dave,” came the reply, “but you never took the flag out for the putt, so with a two stroke penalty that’s a 13.”

Well, Lennie Doyle, God of all things connected with Saturday Men’s Club at Glacier Greens, I’m the one who was filling in the scorecard and I have to say I left it as an 11. Tell the Beaker to DQ me by all means, but I figure that there should be a limit as to how much a guy can suffer on a single hole. I mean, a man’s got his pride, right?

Actually, after all that palaver, I guess the answer is no.

All da best!

Dave B.

P.S. Much later, as we walked off the 18th green, I asked Wayne O’Gilvie (the third member of our group) how long our round had taken: “Just a tad over four hours,” he said. “Of course, if you don’t count all the time you spent effing about on the 5th hole it would have been three and a half.”

P.P.S. I guess by Kiefer’s reckoning my woeful efforts on #5 would go down as PFUFU…

And of course I can’t leave the blog without this:





There’s hope for us hackers yet!

22 03 2015
Stevie and his Magic Wand: call 10 - 3333

Stevie and his Magic Wand: call 10 – 3333

One of the hallowed traditions of Saturday Morning Men’s Club at Glacier Greens is the right to complain about how badly you’re playing right now and how your Saturday Morning handicap is consequently way too low. If Len Doyle had a dollar for every time he’s heard that complaint he could have retired as Men’s Director years ago. Oh, hang on a minute – it’s an unpaid position. Still and all, it’s something Len and the guys in the pro shop have got used to hearing from all the hackers (which would be 90% of us), and even the other 10% – the single digit handicap guys – are not averse to the odd whine. I’m surprised our pro, Bill Kelly, doesn’t keep a supply of cheese handy behind the counter.

But if I say that Steve Ellis has not quite been at his best recently, I’m not exaggerating. I always look after the scorecard for our group as well as entering everybody’s Saturday scores in the computer, and when L’il Stevie said on the first tee yesterday morning that he hadn’t broken 90 in months I knew he was telling the gospel truth. His handicap has crept up from 13 to 19 with absolutely no sign of him reaching a point where he might win something for low net. He may have had the very occasional snip for an unexpected birdie, but basically Steve’s been contributing to the Men’s Club prize fund each week with precious little in return – apart, of course, from the delightful company of Kiefer (Keith Allan), Irish (Wayne O’Gilvie) and myself.

There were one or two signs of life in Steve’s game early on in the round, but a triple bogey 8 at the tricky 6th hole besmirched the front nine and then a quintuple bogey 10 (yes, ten!) at the devilishly difficult 14th pretty much seemed to administer the last rites. Steve then missed the green on the par 3 15th by a mile, leaving himself a horribly hard shot over the greenside bunkers. Somehow he manufactured a lob that left him 20 feet from the hole and then curled a beautiful putt right in the heart. Nice par, Steve! His drive on #16 was, if truth be told, pretty sketchy but a friendly bounce off a tree left him with an opening to the green. An impressive approach shot left him about 15 feet from the pin and, once again, he rolled a tricky left to right putt into the centre of the cup. Nice birdie, Steve!

Steve’s tee shot on the short 17th wasn’t the best, but a good chip left him with about 8 feet for par. An anxious wait while Wayne sank a great birdie putt and then Steve followed it in with a putt of his own. Three threes in a row! But wait –  Steve wasn’t finished yet. A decent drive at the last still left him with a difficult approach shot, over trees on the left and across the pond. A lovely high trajectory got him to about 12 feet, this time a tricky right to left sidehill gouger. He couldn’t, could he? Darn tootin’, he could. The man who scored 10 on #14, finished 3,3,3,3! I do realise that a low handicap golfer might look at Steve’s finish as simply having played the last five holes in three over par, but true hackers will appreciate his achievement and share my excitement at having witnessed the most spectacular comeback from a quintuple bogey that I’m ever likely to see. L’il Stevie, on behalf of hackers everywhere – you are the man!

Dave B.

(P.S. Someone pointed out the other day that I haven’t published a blog for ages – over three months in fact. I told him that nothing worth writing about had happened really, but I would as soon as it did. And yesterday it did – thanks, Steve!)

(P.P.S. As usual, Len mailed out the results first thing this morning. Snips for Steve’s birdies on #16 and #18: $40. But finishing 10,3,3,3,3 and making a little bit of history: absolutely priceless!)

And then there's those other days...Someone in the group ahead of us is missing a ball on #2

And then there’s those other days. Someone in the group ahead of us on #2 is missing a ball.





Dave Laird

13 07 2014
Dave Laird (1946-2014)

Dave Laird (1946-2014)

In all honesty I have to say that Dave Laird, who passed away earlier this week, was a pretty awful golfer. In all fairness, however, I should add that he was also awfully good fun to play with. Dave’s handicap, which hovered around the 30 mark throughout the decade that I played with him, was a pretty accurate reflection of his inability to “get the little round white thing into the slightly larger round holey thing”, as he once described the purpose of his twice weekly outings at Glacier Greens. (Dave only did Mondays and Wednesdays; the rest of the week was dedicated either to the gym or to being Poppy and devoting himself to grandchild sitting). It also gave him a sense of perspective which the rest of us Sandbaggers sometimes lacked: while Joe and Bud would be bemoaning their ill luck in narrowly failing to break 90, Glen and Robin would be dissecting their 85’s, Richard and I would be cursing an outbreak of three putts and Ringer was railing at the injustice of the putt he missed for a 72, Lairdo would sit reflectively at the patio table over a post-round coffee. “106 today, was it?” he’d enquire. “A bit better than Monday then…” Talking of John Ringstead, Ringer partnered Lairdo once in the annual Glacier Greens Shoot Out. After the third round – the dreaded alternate shot format – John tried to describe his experience: “Dave put me in places on the course that I’d honestly never even seen before. I have to say I have a whole new respect for Lairdo and what he has to deal with just to complete 18 holes of golf.”

Twice I saw Dave hole out from the middle of the fairway, both times from 80 yards or so, once on #13 and once on #16. Both times it was for par. More often, however, Dave’s progress on the Par 4’s and 5’s was measured by a half decent drive followed by a series of chunks until he finally reached the green. Occasionally he would hit an approach shot way over – I mean WAY over – the back of the green. Lairdo would always be pretty pleased with himself. “Right club, but I hit it well” was his explanation. He actually birdied #17 twice in the space of a couple of weeks. The second time he had a picture taken of himself on his i-phone for posterity. I suggested that we rename #17 ‘The Dave Laird Memorial Hole’. It seemed quite funny at the time. It doesn’t now.

The Sandbaggers are going to play our round of golf in Dave’s honour tomorrow. At Rod’s suggestion we’ll play Stableford points “because the highest score wins” and Joe has suggested we use ‘experienced’ Top Flites because, well, that’s what Dave always used. We’ll try to be a bit more organised than usual as we sort out our groups on the practise green before the round, but I guarantee that someone (probably Robin) will do their best Lairdo impression and mutter: “Come on, you guys – it’s like herding cats out here!”

There’s one other impression that the rest of the Sandbaggers already do on a regular basis. Dave probably hit more provisional balls off the first tee at Glacier Greens than anyone but on one occasion, just as his provisional was disappearing into the same tree as his first one, he announced to the rest of the group “The first ball was a Top Flite 3 and er, the second ball was a Top Flite 3 as well.”

All da best, Poppy. Awful golfer, really good man. You’ll be missed.

Dave B.