And a merry Christmas to all…

25 12 2015

What follows is shamelessly reblogged from the ineffable Barry Rhodes, author of the weekly “Rules of Golf”, a blog which I highly recommend. I’m pretty sure most of the following have happened to me this year. How about you?

  • Thinning your first chip on the practice green, ending up stone dead at the wrong hole, then chipping the rest of your balls to that hole.
  • Rushing to get something out of your golf bag and getting a tee right under the fingernail.
  • Checking the hole in desperation when you can’t find your ball in the rough around the green.
  • Chasing after a runaway cart. 
  • When you are looking for a fellow competitor’s ball saying unhelpful things like; “What ball are you playing?”, “Did you get a line on it?”, “I didn’t see it come down”, “You’re probably better off not finding it”, “That’s very strange, it shouldn’t be lost here”. 
  • Calling a fellow competitor by the wrong name for most of the round.
  • Telling yourself to play safe before the round…. then hitting driver off every tee and lob wedge around every green.
  • Smashing the ball into the dividing partition at the driving range and looking round to see if anyone noticed. 
  • Cleaning your clubs in the kitchen sink on the night before you are due to go on a golfing vacation.
  • Hearing golf balls rolling around the trunk of your car when you go around a corner.
  • Before going to sleep on Saturday, reliving three missed putts, two chunks and one skulled chip and thinking about what you should have shot in Men’s Morning if only…
  • Practicing your swing in front of a mirror using a TV remote control for the grip.
  • Realising that you are addicted to golf, as you start looking for golf courses through the aircraft window as you take off and land.

And finally, in honour of my good friend Glen Parsons:

  • After a good shot: “I love golf. Did I tell you guys how much I love golf?”.
  • After a bad shot: “Sl*t!”

All da best to one and all.

Dave B.

REMEMBER:  Google “Barry Rhodes – Rules of Golf”. Sign up for your free subscription to his weekly email and other good stuff!





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.





B.C. Bud

22 02 2012

Dear Chief,

Just a few quick lines to let you know how things are going in sunny Comox. First off, it actually is sunny in Comox today. True we had a bit of a frost delay this morning, and granted Dave Laird  is still firmly of the opinion that the day would have been better spent working as an (unpaid) labourer on his son’s house rather than spend 4 hours shooting 105 yet again and having to buy Steve Ellis another coffee. Glen Parsons, who cheerfully admits to ‘not being much of a mudder’, is still in a state of shock at being expected to play in temperatures hovering around 6 degrees C. (Serves him right for floating around the Caribbean in his cousin’s gin palace if you ask me). As you know, muddy fairways don’t bother me so much, me being British and all, and it definitely helps being able to tee my ball up on the nearest glob of mud: I’ve been hitting some great 3 woods off the fairway (well, great if you consider 170 yard 3 woods to be great. I do). On the other hand, I actually pulled my groin hitting out of the mud on #6 fairway the other day, so it’s not all wine and roses. Robin’s playing very steadily and doesn’t complain much – he never does, does he? – and is quietly becoming the star performer in the group. But the main focus of attention over the past few days has been the Budmeister:

Is it ‘Honest Bud’ or ‘Not Quite As Honest As He Appears’ Bud?

Last Friday we played our normal three v three, best aggregate net score wins game, as we often do when six of us show up to play. As you know, honesty is key to this game, as each group is responsible for keeping its total net scores and then comparing them at the end. Following the time-honoured ball toss on the first tee, Robin, Lairdo and I finished up playing against Bud, Elmo and Steve. Our group played steady if unspectacular golf and finished with an aggregate net score of 217, or 4 over par. It would have been a couple of strokes better, but for Robin and me somehow switching balls half way down the last hole and thus having to take automatic doubles. Bah! We were hoping it wouldn’t affect the outcome of the match but, sure enough, Bud’s group came in at 216 to win by a single stroke. Double bah!! Somewhat glumly our group paid for the post round coffees in the clubhouse and generally bemoaned our misfortune (or stupidity – call it what you will), while Bud’s group exulted in their victory. “And boy, you sure hit my driver well on those last couple of holes, Bud!”, said Steve. “Pardon?”, I said, “YOUR driver?”. “Shut up, Steve”, said Bud. Too late, the cat was out of the bag. Clear infringement of the rules, two stroke penalty for using someone else’s club. Only trouble was, we’d already bought the coffee and Bud was claiming it wasn’t a ‘proper’ rule anyway. All appeals to his sense of justice and fair play fell on deaf ears. The fact that Robin and I had fessed up to our own faux pas made no difference either. Even my plea to Bud as a fellow Hampshire Hog (motto: ‘Ampshire born and ‘Ampshire bred – strong in the arm and thick in the ‘ead) had absolutely no effect. Calling him a cheating b*st*rd made me feel a bit better, but still didn’t get me my money back.

Today, however, fortune dictated that Bud and I were on opposing sides once again and this time my threesome scored a pretty comprehensive victory. I tried not to be too gleeful as Bud paid for my coffee, not even throwing in the old line about how it was the best coffee I’d ever tasted. Then, unasked, Bud slid a toonie across the table in my direction. ” Now, Brooker,” he said, fixing me with a pretty evil glare, “We’re quits.” “Er, thanks Bud,” I gulped. I guess now’s not the time to mention a certain person in our threesome hitting the flagstick with a putt on #8 today. Probably best left to a future occasion. Anyway, the good news is that Bud has been officially upgraded back to “Honest Bud” again. “Honest Dave?” Not so much. I guess I’d better buy him a coffee on Friday…

In the meantime, Chief,  I hope all is well with you in Arizona. Yes, I am glad that it’s so sunny and warm there and no, I don’t want to see your  knobbly knees when you get back, however brown they are.

All da best!

‘Somewhat Honest’ Dave





If…

22 09 2011

One’s wistful and the other’s a bit of a winker. Find out who’s who below…

My gran used to have an embroidered copy of the poem ‘If’, by Rudyard Kipling*, hanging on the wall in her sitting room. I always liked it and am given to quoting from it now and again. My most recent opportunity was yesterday at the gorgeous Highland Pacific golf course in Victoria. Or at least I thought it was gorgeous, what with the sun shining, the birds singing and me being only one over par halfway though the front nine. Joe Dunham, who – along with Glen Parsons – had joined me on a two day golf trip to BC’s capital, was perhaps not quite so enamoured with his surroundings, having butchered each of the first four holes. Now Joe is not much of a club thrower or a swearer, but he does go a bit quiet when things are not going swimmingly. So, seeking to lighten my old friend’s mood, I unleashed a bit of Kipling as we walked the (short) distance to where his tee shot on the fifth hole had landed in the rough. “If you can meet with triumph and disaster, and treat those two imposters just the same…”, I began. “That’s all well and good,” interrupted Joe, “but I’ve just started with four double bogies. Where’s the f***ing triumph in that?” You have to admit that he had a very fair point. So I stopped Kipling and got back to what I’m good at – pretty much bogeying my way round the rest of the course. Joe, naturally, chipped in for birdie on the very next hole – a well-deserved bit of triumph.

Now while it’s true that we didn’t exactly tear up the track at Highland Pacific, we were positively brilliant compared to our efforts the previous day at Bear Mountain. Our first mistake was to decide to play off the black tees, measuring nearly 6400 yards. Let me correct that. Our first mistake was deciding to play the Mountain course at all – it’s tough! Actually it was fun, in a it’s-fun-when-you-stop-banging-your-head-against-the-wall kind of way. The scores were nothing to write home about (I squeaked in with an 89, Glen was in the low 90’s and Joe wasn’t), but the course is mightily impressive and it’s fun riding around in a cart with all that high tech GPS stuff to help you. Or, in my case, to confuse you. Lunch was good, too.

Glen is always in charge of travel and accommodation on these trips and got us a good rate at the downtown Victoria Quality Inn. The rate was so good because Glen and Joe qualified for the senior rate. I just had to look old, which I found disappointingly easy as I swept past the front desk with absolutely nobody trying to stop me by saying “Hey, you! The young looking guy! You’re not a senior!” Joe is always in charge of the weather and handicaps. As usual, he did a great job on the weather and bamboozled us completely with the handicaps. His system involves tweaking our handicaps on the second day to reflect how we played on the first day. Somehow this always involves him getting loads of extra shots.

By the way, I learnt something about Joe during this trip: he’s a bit of a winker. We had supper at the Cactus Club before heading off to the pub. Joe’s teetotal, and when the young server brought me and Glen our beers she also, unasked, brought Joe a glass of iced water. As he thanked her, I noticed that Joe also winked at her. I was shocked and, when she was out of hearing distance, I tackled him about this inappropriate behaviour by an elderly and seemingly respectable gentleman. Joe then winked at me, but didn’t say a word. I realised that I am entering a new age (‘sudden death overtime’, as the walking group put it), when my fast-disappearing somewhat youthful somewhat good looks will have to be replaced by old school charm. Wow! This could be a tough transition. Glennie, of course, will never make this transition. Whenever we pass a good looking young lady on the street, Glennie is wont to say wistfully “It’s enough to make an old man cry, Davey lad.”

What made me want to cry, however, was this: having made my first birdie in two days at the 16th at Highland Pacific and then a nailed on par at the 17th, I hit a solid tee shot to the middle of the green of the tricky par 3 18th and had a shot at another birdie. I four putted. Now that’s enough to make an old man cry!

Another nice liquid lunch quickly put me in a better frame of mind, however, and by the time we’d driven out of the sunny south island and into the wind and rain that lay north of the Malahat, we were already eagerly planning next month’s return to Victoria. Somebody warn the greenskeepers at Olympic View and Bear Valley – it’s your turn next to have your lovely courses hacked to bits by the terrible trio!

All da best!

Dave B.

(*Rudyard Kipling (1865 – 1936) was a British writer famous for his celebration of British imperialism and for writing ‘The Jungle Book’ and the poem ‘If’. He was also the subject of what was my favourite joke when I was seven, and is pretty close to the top of my list half a century later:

Posh man at dinner party: “I say. Do you like Kipling?”

Equally posh lady: “I don’t know. I’ve never kippled”.)

Sorry.





The Sweet Sixteen – the official entry list for the 2011 Red, White and Blue

1 09 2011

This weekend marks the 11th running of the famed Red, White and Blue tournament at Glacier Greens here in the sunny Comox Valley. Since 2001 some of the greatest names in world golf – Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Lee Westwood to name but three – have never even heard of the competition, let alone entered it. But for those who have, I think it’s fair to say that many have become obsessed with the thought of going home with the Big Club – the prestigious trophy handed to the winner. What I mean by this is that most entrants are looking forward to an enjoyable 54 holes of golf over the Labour Day weekend but will do virtually anything to avoid the embarrassment of having to lug home one of the largest (not to mention ugliest) trophies in the world of golf. Last year Stan Mills was the one who got caught up in the excitement of it all and was sitting in the chair when the music stopped. Twelve months later, burdened by the three stroke penalty automatically handed to the holder of the trophy, the shame of having the Big Club on permanent display at home and the expense of having his name engraved on the base, Stan is unlikely to repeat his mistake.

This year we have a full slate of sixteen entrants in the ‘Fifth Major’, as it is known by absolutely nobody except me. Full results, including photos and details of the (un)lucky winner, will be published next week, but in the meantime here, in descending order of competence, are the Sweet Sixteen along with the reasons why they won’t win this year. (Hey – I’m bound to be right for 15 of them!)

1. Sir Stanley Mills: Technically not actually knighted yet, but surely it is only a matter of time before Stan is recognized by Her Majesty for his services to golf after his epic victory in 2010. Handicap this year: 7 (inc penalty for last year’s win). Chances of a repeat: nil.

2. Bruce Coulter: By some way the lowest capped player in the field, Bruce is still celebrating the missed putt on the 54th hole last year that handed victory to Stan the Man. A handicap of 3 should ensure failure again this year in this net only competition.

3. Mad Mike Worley (8 hcp) :  Normally the most mellow of men, the pressure of the final day got to Mike last year when he fired a tee shot on #14 into the group ahead. His defence – that they were in the middle of the fairway and therefore should have been considered safe – was immediately accepted by the rules committee.

4. Dave Brooker (11 hcp) : Dave’s new career low came last week when Trevor Jones quietly asked him if he was deliberately missing all those three footers to give his opponent a chance. Sadly, the answer was no. The man’s a putting machine. A broken down machine.

5. Bud Bryan (12 hcp) : Recently returned from his trip to Alaska, Bud has as much chance of winning the RWB as he did of climbing Mount Denali in his flip flops.

6. Adrian Haut (12 hcp) : We all know the Chief is a bit different. For one thing he is on record as saying that he would actually like to win this tournament, which pretty much ensures he won’t.

7. Smokin’ Joe Dunham (13 hcp) : A shoo-in for ‘most improved’ golfer of 2011, but this basically just reinforces how bad Joe was before he purchased the White Knight. If desire alone wins tournaments Joe will be right up there. It doesn’t.

8. Jack Jackson (13 hcp) : Jack finished 3rd last year in his tournament debut and is actually my pick to win this year. That would be the kiss of death for Mr Jackson’s chances then.

9. Rudge Wilson (13 hcp) : Rudge was a regular entrant back in the day, but the moonshine liquor he magically produced on the 14th tee usually led to a disastrous finish for the Rudgemeister and the rest of his foursome. Understandably, none of them seemed to mind very much.

10. Elmo Guinan (16 hcp) : Possessor of the finest Mickelson style flopadopolous shot in all of Canadian golf, Elmo is the only player in the field who can chat with Dave about cricket. It doesn’t help his score, but ensures that he’s invited back every year.

11. Glen Parsons (16 hcp) :  Glen sent me an urgent email from Port McNeill yesterday requesting reinstatement in the tourney. I’m only guessing here, but I would think wife Maureen has made it clear that he can play as long as he absolutely promise not to bring the Big Club home with him on Sunday. You don’t mess with Mo.

12. Vic Crisp (20 hcp) : Vic was the victor of the 2007 tournament (see what I did there?) but old age and treachery have not really done much for him recently. Perhaps he could try talking a bit more. Or even singing.

13. Bill O’Neill (20 hcp): This is Bill’s first go at the event. He seems like a very nice person. What’s he doing playing in the RWB?

14. Wayne Mabee (20 hcp) : Another first timer, Wayne is also a longtime subscriber to my blog and thus should know better than to risk winning this weekend. You don’t just get the trophy for a year, you get 12 months of abuse. Just ask Stan.

15. Al Pasanen (21 hcp) : The third and final new entrant. I think Wayne maybe talked him into it. (I hope you’re spotting all these grammatical devices. That was a homonym). And I hope Al and Wayne’s friendship survives the weekend.

16. Dave Buckley-Jones (23 hcp) : The man with the poshest name in the field as well as the highest handicap. On the surface Dave looks like a genuine contender, but then consider all the extra money we’d have to pay to get his full name inscribed on the plaque. Not gonna happen.

So what a field! One of these fine gentlemen is going to prove me wrong and walk off with the Big Club on Sunday evening, as long as Stan has a) got it engraved and b) can bear to part with it. And don’t even get me started on the prizes! I can hardly wait to see what Bud Bryan brings to the table this year!

So all da best, gents. May the best man win, (taking full handicap into consideration, of course).

Dave B.