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)

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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!

 

 

 





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: