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)





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.





The Idiots of March

15 03 2013

03.12.13_Golfer_Laid_OUT470

The picture above was clearly not taken at Glacier Greens any time this month. One (rather large) clue would be that the clouds are the wrong colour (at Glacier they’re fifty shades of grey and we don’t have any blue bits in between). In fact, if one of our group were to lie face down on or near one of the fairways right now he’d likely drown. Given the way most of us have been playing recently that wouldn’t actually be the worst case scenario…

Take Bud, for instance (yes, please take Bud): a few weeks ago he voyaged south of the border in a vain attempt to meet up with the Chief, who’s wintering in Arizona. Somewhere en route the Budmeister felt an agonising pain which turned out to be kidney stones on the march. Not being a complete idiot, he decided to head for home rather than risk his life savings being treated in an American hospital. Now he can’t swing a club for love nor money and he’s dribbling his savings away $2 at a time – we’re all sympathetic, obviously, but nobody’s daft enough to give him extra shots above his usual handicap just because of a kidney stone or two.

Joe also spent some time in the USA and actually played some shirtsleeve golf down in Palm Springs, which left him utterly unprepared for what must have felt like sub zero temperatures back here in the swamp that is Glacier Greens at this time of year. He too has been throwing toonies around like manhole covers as he comes to terms with taking three shots to reach all the Par 4’s (and maybe the odd Par 3 as well).

The rest of us are keen on blaming various ailments on our woeful play: Robin (hip, back and knee – if he was a horse he’d have been put down by now), Rod (putting issues so serious that he makes me look quite good) and Li’l Stevie (concentration and humming issues – Stevie concentrates so hard on humming he sometimes forgets that he’s actually supposed to hit the ball at some stage in the process) and yours truly (anything I can think of as an excuse on any given day). None of us can be said to be at the peak of form right now. In fact, Rod bluntly but accurately observed after today’s round that every one of us was capable of shooting in the low 70’s around Glacier Greens – but only if we remembered to stop playing after the right number of holes.

So it’s appropriate, I think, to remember the fate of Julius Caesar on March 15th – the Ides of March – all those years ago, but also to spare a thought for those of us for whom the suffering continues. Bud, Joe, Stevo, Rod, Robin and myself – the Idiots of March. Not on the list, however, having been smart enough to fly off to the Caribbean for a couple of weeks, is this guy:

Glennie does the Caribbean. Fails to make the Idiots of March list.

Glennie does St. Lucia; fails to make the Idiots of March list. Result: his glass is clearly more than half full. Points should, however, be deducted for smugness…

All da best!

Dave B.





Golfing tantrums

23 12 2012

As most of us know, golf can be a very frustrating game. If you have not already seen this short YouTube video from Golfing World I think that you might get a certain sadistic satisfaction from watching some well-known professional golfers on the European Tour letting their emotions get the better of them. Sadly, Smokin’ Joe Dunham’s infamous meltdown earlier this year on the 5th green at Glacier Greens following a missed two foot putt was not captured on video, but for those of us fortunate enough to witness Joe hitting himself repeatedly on the forehead and muttering “You absolute f**king ninny!” the scene will live long in the memory. For the rest of us (yes Bud, Adrian, Glen, Steve, Robin, Dave and Glen – I’m looking at you) I guess it’s a question of “There but for the grace of the golfing gods go I.” We all have our particular crosses to bear from 2012 and, despite our best intentions, I doubt things will change much in 2013.

The video in this post has been borrowed with the permission of my friend Barry Rhodes from Dublin, Ireland, to whom I send my thanks and best wishes for the year to come. The same goes to all of you who take the trouble to read my own posts.

To see how the pro’s do meltdowns, please click on this link.

Barry covered the Rules relating to anger on the golf course last year in this blog. I highly recommend you subscribe to Barry’s blog – he’s a man who really knows his stuff and passes on his knowledge every week in entertaining and informative fashion.

Barry will be setting a New Year Rules teaser next week, which I’m sure you’ll enjoy. In the meantime, he – and I – hope that you enjoy a wonderful Christmas break with your families and friends. As I write this, the snow is falling and Glacier Greens lies under a thick carpet of the white stuff and the course closure means I am unlikely to make any more three putts or double bogies in 2012. As usual, I shall be asking Santa for another twenty yards on my drives and a new, improved putting stroke for the year to come. Like most of my fellow golfers, I live in (false) hope.

Happy Christmas!

Dave B.

P.S. Here’s my (new) favourite quote, from the movie ‘Contagion’:

“Blogging is not writing – it’s graffiti with punctuation.”





Old golfers never die…

1 04 2012
...they only lose their balls.

…they only lose their balls.

I know you’ll find this hard to believe, but I found myself actually whining when my tee shot finished right in the middle of the 16th fairway at Glacier Greens the other day. (And no, I wasn’t playing # 14 at the time, if that’s what you’re thinking). “I BELTED that,” I said to my playing partner, Joe Dunham, “and it’s STILL twenty yards short of the fairway bunker.” Smokin’ Joe – who’s used to my occasional outbursts of self pity by now – had two points to make in response: firstly, and fairly reasonably I must admit, why on earth would I WANT to be in the fairway bunker? And secondly – and this was the one that hurt – I wasn’t exactly getting any younger, so what else did I expect? Losing a few yards off the tee was an inevitable part of becoming a senior golfer.

This was the second time that my advancing years had been brought up in conversation recently. On the other occasion, one of my younger siblings – they’re all younger, now I come to think of it – had pointed out that I turn 60 next year. Technically, this is true (December 8th, if you want to start saving up for a gift), but I hadn’t really thought of becoming old any time soon. I’m not really ready for it. In fact I berated some poor guy on the phone last week for the green fees he wanted to charge for a golf trip that I’m helping to plan on the Kitsap Peninsula in Washington State next month. He told me that the five of members of the group who were over sixty would get the discount senior rate at a couple of the courses, while Steve Ellis and I would have to pay full whack. I pointed out that he’d make more money if he gave me and Steve the junior rate and charged all the old guys full price, but he didn’t seem to grasp the economical advantages of my suggestion.

So there are obviously pros and cons about getting older. And then this morning  I received an email which definitely tipped the scales in favour of embracing the concept of joining the senior ranks. I’d like to share the email with you:

RULE CHANGES FOR SENIORS, 2012 SEASON

Please note the following modifications to the rules of golf, as pertaining to Senior Golfers, to take effect forthwith:

1. Any ball sliced or hooked into the rough shall be placed at an equidistant point on the fairway without penalty. Seniors should not be penalised for hitting into tall grass that the greenskeepers failed to mow.

2. A ball hitting a tree shall be deemed not to have hit the tree unless it rebounds onto the fairway. Bad bounces should play no part in senior golf. The player shall estimate the distance the ball would have travelled had it not hit the tree and play from there.

3. There is no such thing in senior golf as a ‘lost ball’. A missing ball is clearly on or near the course and will at some point be pocketed by someone else, making it a ‘stolen ball’. Obviously it would be unfair for the senior golfer to compound the felony by calling a penalty upon him/herself.

4. Any putt passing over the hole without dropping shall be deemed to have dropped. The law of gravity supersedes the rules of golf.

5. Putts that stop close enough to the cup to be blown in, may indeed be blown into the hole without penalty. (This does not apply to a ball stopping more than six inches from the hole. No one wants to make a travesty of the game).

6. It is not necessary to record three putts. Having spent decades suffering on the golf course, senior golfers have endured enough hardship already.

7. There is no penalty for so-called ‘out of bounds’. If penny pinching golf course owners bought enough land to begin with, ‘out of bounds’ would not be an issue. Senior golfers deserve an apology, not a penalty.

8. There is no penalty for a ball entering a water hazard. Golf balls should float and senior golfers should not be penalised for manufacturers’ shortcomings.

9. All golfers will have seen advertisements claiming that scores can be improved by purchasing new golf equipment. As most senior golfers are on a fixed income, they are unable to buy new equipment. In equity, seniors may subtract from their net score not more than one stroke for each club in their bag that is more than five years old.

10. Bunkers. You’re kidding, right? What would a senior golfer be doing in a bunker? Free throw, obviously.

As stated above, these rule changes for seniors come into effect as of April 1st 2012.

Yours in golf,

Olaf Rilpo (Senior Golfers’ Rules Committee)





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.