Anger Management

30 11 2013

When I first started playing golf it took me a while to realise that there were a lot more factors in making a good score than simply how far I hit the ball. If it was all about distance I’d still probably never break 90, but I feel I can usually save a bunch of strokes by making smart decisions about what club to use and where to aim the ball. As the old saying goes, it’s not where your good shots go, but where your bad ones end up, that determines what kind of a score you’re going to have. In all modesty, I would have to say that course management has gradually become a strength of my game.

But what happens when circumstances conspire against you and you make, say, a double bogey or worse on a hole? Well, this is where anger management comes in. The guys I play with all have their own unique style in dealing with adversity on the golf course: Glennie and Robinski use language so colourful that I could never consider inviting them to tea along with the vicar for fear that the subject of three putting came up; Smokin’ Joe, somewhat quaintly, has been known to call himself an “effin ninny” when displeased with his efforts; Roderick questions the very existential truth of whatever tragedy seems to have just befallen him (“you’ve got to be kidding me”); Richard says something in French that always ends “tabernacle”; and Lairdo who, to be fair, has more experience than most of us with golf-related disasters, just wanders off muttering to himself. But sometimes, very occasionally, bad language alone is not enough to exorcise our golfing demons. Sometimes not even throwing a club (punishable in our circle by having to buy our playing partners a jug of beer) is sufficient. On these rare occasions, in order to release all that pent up anger with the minimum of personal inconvenience, you might want to follow the advice of teaching pro Charlie King from Georgia:

Next week: “How to throw a club”.

All da best!

Dave B.


Well, this is embarrassing…

11 11 2013
nadia comaneci

Nadia Comaneci I am not.

We’ll come to my somewhat tenuous connection with the Olympic gold medal winning Rumanian gymnast later. Meanwhile, as you may recall, back in the summer the group of eleven guys that I golf with two or three times a week at Glacier Greens decided that we would have our own matchplay competition. Everybody played everyone else in a round robin format and, when the music stopped, yours truly had more points than anyone else and was duly declared the winner of the inaugural Sandbagger Trophy. The trophy itself, lovingly crafted by the Budmeister, has resided on my mantlepiece ever since. The winnings have long since been squandered on wine, women and song (in my dreams – you can’t get much for thirty bucks these days).

A few weeks ago we decided that we would play a second round of matches which was fine by me as, frankly, I was getting tired of being openly derided as ‘Chief Sandbagger’ and thought it was about time someone else took their turn. I won a few games early on, but was then comprehensively outplayed by Billy V and absolutely steamrollered by the Chief whose gross score of 76 translated into a net 62. I feigned disappointment at my crushing defeat, but inside I was secretly delighted – I mean, a net 62 is about as flagrant a piece of sandbaggery as you’re ever going to see, so the heat was now on the Chief and surely Bud’s masterpiece was going to find a new home for the winter. When, in my penultimate game, I found myself three down with three to play against Li’l Stevie, I felt able to relax in the knowledge that my race was run. At that point, of course, my opponent’s game went right off the rails and I finished up snatching an unlikely half when Steve’s approach shot on the last hole found the water.

So today I found myself playing my final match against my old nemesis, the Great Robinski. If Robin won he was still in with a chance of the trophy, although Glennie could still sneak through on the inside if he beat Smokin’ Joe and then, of course, there was still Adrian to consider, if he could just manage to win his last game against Lairdo…Suffice it to say, the permutations were endless, and – as usual – I was doing way too much thinking about all the various possibilities instead of concentrating on my own game. We’d arranged it so that Glen and Joe played their match in the same foursome as Robin and myself. After a titanic struggle, Glen finally edged out Joe on the 17th green, 2 and 1. Robin and I were still all square. We both hit good drives off the 18th tee box, middle of the fairway, 130 yards out, our balls within a couple of yards of each other. I went first and hit a decent shot across the water and – deep breath – over the bunker by a matter of inches. The ball settled on the fringe, about fifteen feet from the hole. Now it was Robin’s turn. A nice steady back swing, good shape at the top of the arc and then – as is so often the case for all of us mere golfing mortals – something went wrong on the down swing and the ball flew into the pond like an Exocet missile. Game over. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry: I’m now the two time Sandbagger Trophy winner and I have to live with the shame of it until next spring.

The runner up positions have yet to be decided – it could be any two out of Adrian, Glennie and Robin, but with 2nd and 3rd place prize money netting $15 and $10 respectively I don’t think the guys will be getting too excited about it. First place, of course, brings in a massive $30, but with a $10 engraving fee for the plaque and ten coffees to pay for on Wednesday for the guys, I’m expecting to make a net loss.

Which is just as it should be.

All da best!

Bagger Dave

P.S. I think that Glennie’s abiding memory of today’s round will have nothing to do with golf at all. On the short fourth hole my tee shot ricocheted off a tree and onto the rocks above the pond alongside the green. As I tried to retrieve my ball, ready to take a drop, I slipped. Joe and Robin were busy looking for their own balls, but Glennie looked up just as I made a desperate leap for safety. It was only partially successful. I managed to miss the rocks, but made a perfect dismount in two feet of freezing, muddy water. Fourteen holes and three hours of squelching lay ahead of me until we would be back at the clubhouse. Ironically, I’d just been telling Rod Cobham how great my new waterproof Footjoy golf shoes were – yep, they kept the water in perfectly for the rest of the round. Oh, and I think it’s safe to say that there are no Olympic gymnastic gold medals in my future. Nadia Comaneci I am not.


17 08 2013
Who, me?

Who, me?

If you’ve read many of my posts you’ll know by now that I usually hang out with the same group of guys at Glacier Greens: Glennie, Lairdo, Budmeister, the Chief, Li’l Stevie, Smokin’ Joe, Rod, Richard (aka Frenchie) and the Great Robinski. The group has been joined of late by another ne’er-do-well, er gentleman, named Billy V. We book two tee times every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning. Sometimes there’s exactly eight of us – Li’l Stevie might have to work, for example; for some reason Frenchie’s wife actually wants him around the house on Wednesdays, and ‘Poppy’ Laird doesn’t really do Fridays. Sometimes one or two of us take a turn to sit out for a day but quite often the three great kids in the pro shop (take a bow, Peter, Michelle and Taylor) let us sneak three groups into two tee times as long as we’re all there early and promise faithfully to tee off promptly and then keep up the pace.

We play a variety of games, but there are two constants: we always use net scores and we always play for a coffee. We think net scores are a good idea because our handicaps range from 6 to 29 and by always mixing up the teams (the ball toss on the practice green is a staple part of proceedings) we get to see a wide range of golf swings, not to mention golfing etiquette. Oh, and now I think of it, there’s a third constant: whenever you lose, it’s customary – mandatory, really – to accuse the winners of being sandbaggers. Just over a month ago the topic was raised once again over a post-game coffee: out of the 11 of us, who really is the biggest sandbagger? Pretty much everybody is a decent candidate, at least on their day, but then there are all those other days when we’re just hackers. Anyway, how can you really tell, when we nearly always play as teams? Just because Bud and Joe nearly always have their hands out for a toonie after a round doesn’t necessarily prove that they’re sandbaggers – just incurable optimists.

The obvious solution was to hold a singles matchplay competition. After some discussion we decided to have a round robin event, so that we would all play each other once. This is the email I sent out to everybody on July 5th:

At our meeting after today’s round the details of the Sandbaggers Trophy were finalised. I believe we agreed the following, but would appreciate input if I have misremembered anything:
1. The beautiful trophy, lovingly created by Sandbagger Bud, shall be named the Sandbagger Match Play Trophy. Sandbagger Bill will see to the engraving of the trophy title.
2. As suggested by Sandbagger Rod, the tournament will be competed for on a round robin basis, each player therefore playing 10 separate matches to decide a winner; two points for the winner of each match, one point each in the event of a tie. ( Should two or more players be tied for first place at the end of the round robin, I suggest one more match be played to decide an overall winner).
3. Matches initially to be decided by lot (ball toss) and usually played on a Monday, Wednesday or Friday. (Sandbagger Robin will keep a record of results).
4. I suggest current handicaps be used for each match.
5. Sandbagger Glen will look after the prize money (Sandbaggers Joe and Richard have still to pay the $5 entry fee).
6. With 11 entries, I suggest the prize money is split as follows: 1st place – $30; 2nd place – $15; 3rd place – $10.
7. Obviously it will take a while to complete all the matches – Sandbagger Steve has already announced he’ll be taking a vacation in August – so I suggest that players who know they will be away try to get their matches played as early as possible.
8. Sandbagger Glen will extract an additional $1 levy from each player to go towards the winner’s plaque. Month, year and name of player should cost around $12.
9. Sandbagger Dave B. claims to know all the rules and may be used as a match referee in case of disputes.
10. Sandbagger Dave L. claims to know none of the rules and may also be used as a match referee in case of disputes.
11. Sandbagger Richard, being bigger and tougher than all the other sandbaggers, will enforce the match referee’s decision.
Let’s start on Friday!
So here we are, just under six weeks later. The matches have all been played, everybody has won some and lost some and there have been a number of ties thrown into the mix. As promised, Glen collected all the entry fees, Robin kept a record of all the results, Bud made an eye catching trophy (filled with genuine Glacier Greens sand from the bunker on #6) and Billy V had the trophy engraved. Joe and Bud both had complaints, and both were ignored. Rod got a hole in one, but sadly not in actual competition. He still bought everyone a beer, though.
And the results? Well, based on the evidence, it’s fair to say that Lairdo, the Chief, Glennie and Billy V are definitely not sandbagging material; Rod, Joe and Li’l Stevie are also cleared of all charges, each having 10 points from their 10 games; Robin, Bud and Richard all had 13 points but based on a countback system we sort of made up on the spot, Bud and Richard shared the prize money for second place. The clear winner with 16 points was er, me. The good news is that, along with the trophy, I won the $30 first prize. Sadly, most of that disappeared when I bought coffee for everyone today. The bad news is that I get to exhibit the trophy and also have to publish the definition of a sandbagger, as given by the Urban Dictionary:
A sandbagger is “any golfer who misleads others about his ability at golf, claiming to be worse than he actually is and claiming extra shots as a result. Considered by many to be the lowest form of life on the golf course, he is at base a cheater and a hustler, a nasty species of golf vermin.”
Well that’s me told, then…
All da best (and many thanks to Bud for a truly lovely trophy),
(Sand)bagger Dave
For stats geeks, here are the final (slightly wobbly) standings:
Position     Player       Won      Tied      Lost      Points
1                 Dave B      8            0             2             16
2=               Richard    6             1             3            13
2=               Bud           5             3             2            13
4                 Robin        6             1             3            13
5=               Steve        4             2             4            10
5=                Joe            4             2             4            10
5=                Rod          3             4             3            10
8                  Bill             4             1             5             9
9                  Glen          2             3             5             7
10                Adrian      3             0             7             6
11                Dave L      1             1              8            3
Chief Sandbagger, August 2013

Chief Sandbagger, August 2013. But who’s next?

Robin the rich (and feeding the poor)

3 09 2011

Robin the rich?

Playing golf with Robin Houlgrave is a bit like tackling that box of chocolates in Forrest Gump – you just never know what you’re going to get. The other guys in my usual foursome are fairly predictable. Ringer is going to shoot 75 on a bad day, including a couple of birdies, but wail in anguish about shots that the rest of us would be delighted with. Glennie’s going to shoot about 90, but drive John nuts by saying “Five… net four” throughout the round and mentioning how much he loves golf as John is forced to buy him yet another coffee after yet another match play defeat. Lairdo will probably narrowly fail to break 100 but won’t miss anything inside five feet. But Robin is consistent only in his utter inconsistency.

Today, however, Robin took his unpredictability on the golf course to a whole new level. It started on the first hole. Glen and I were in our usual bad spot, between the cart path and the woods on the left. Tim Hautzinger had belied his 21 handicap by drilling one right down the middle. Robin had smashed one down the right somewhere. By the time we all met up on the green he was muttering and mumbling to himself and when he finally tapped in he announced that he wasn’t sure but he thought he’d got a seven. Tim filled us in on the details: Robin’s tee shot had in fact gone into the ditch. While he was retrieving his ball, his cart had rolled in after him and spilled all his clubs into the water along with his balls, tees and packed lunch. I was impressed with Tim’s suggestion that there should be a 28 shot penalty – two for each of his clubs – but we decided that a total of seven shots and 14 wet grips was punishment enough.

Things quickly improved for Robin, as he parred the next two holes and then birdied #4, the pot of gold hole. Back on track, his clubs now dry, Robin played the next several holes like the decent player he is. Solid pars on 10, 11 and 12 were followed by a birdie on #13 and then, improbably, another one on #14 after bouncing his second shot off the bridge. Could H. make three birdies in a row? Not quite. He totally shanked his tee shot on #15 and made triple. Were his nerves gone? Not at all. He made a heroic approach shot through the trees on #16 and made a lengthy putt for his fourth birdie of the day. Back on track, then. Not exactly. A poor tee shot on #17 and a bit of tree trouble led to yet another triple. A disappointingly uneventful par on #18 meant that Robin’s round had consisted of four birdies, four triples and endless fun for the rest of us. I’ve scored plenty of 82’s in my time – but never quite like that!

I phoned Len Doyle – Saturday morning men’s club supremo – a couple of hours later to ask if by any chance he’d tallied up the snips for the day, as I wanted to know if any of Robin’s birdies had held up. “Dunno yet,” came Lord Leonard’s reply. ” But I know Ron Morrison’s a happy camper”. “Why’s that then, Len?” I asked.  “Robin didn’t enter the pot of gold, so Ron’s scooped the hundred bucks!”

So maybe I’ve got the title of the post wrong – Len won’t post the snip winners until tomorrow and it may not be a case of Robin the rich after all. But he did feed us a four hour diet of thrills and spills and non stop entertainment today. Cheers, H!

All da best.

Dave B.


20 04 2010

No bad jokes, please, about your handicap being your hook, slice or tendency to brooker putts under pressure. This week, as promised, the blog is going to be slightly more serious – testing your knowledge of the handicap system and how to use it properly.

First off, if you’re playing for fun with your buddies and not entering scores in the computer, you can do whatever you want with handicaps (or the rules of golf, for that matter) as long as you accept that you’re no longer playing ‘proper’ golf. In our group, for example, we insist during the week that el bandito Juan plays off a lower handicap than his Saturday morning cap says he should and that Lairdo gets extra shots because we know it makes for a closer game. Negotiating handicaps on the first tee is, after all, a time honoured custom, skill and source of enjoyment. My mate Peter, for instance, has a talent for handicap negotiation that is rarely equalled by anything he does with his clubs over the next 18 holes. He nearly always manages to chisel me out of a couple of extra strokes per round because of some sob story or another and more fool me for falling for it time after time.

However, once you’ve decided that you’re going to play proper golf and enter your score in the computer, you’ll want to adhere to the handicap system. So here are a few questions to help you on your way:

1. You probably know that scores are posted only during the ‘active season’. Who decides when this is?

a) The handicap committee

b) The club manager

c) The BCGA

2. Should you post scores from rounds played on an away course during its active season when your home course is inactive?

a) Yes

b) No

3. You probably know that there is a maximum score you can post on any hole relative to par depending on your course handicap. It’s known as ESC (Equitable Stroke Control). What is the maximum score you can post if you:

 a) are a  scratch golfer?

b) have a handicap between 1 and 18?

c) have a handicap between 19 and 32?

4. What is the maximum number of holes for which ESC can be used in any given round?

a) 9 holes

b) 13 holes

c) There is no limit

5. When you enter any score (including tournaments) in the computer, should you adjust your score for ESC?

a) Yes

b) No

6. Should you enter Saturday Morning Men’s Club scores as tournament scores?

a) Yes

b) No

7. In match play, you probably know that that the higher handicap golfer (for example the Chief, hcp 16) receives the entire difference between his handicap and that of the lower handicap golfer (let’s say John, hcp 4). But where does he get these strokes?

a) Stroke holes 1 to 12 (i.e. the 12 hardest stroke holes)

b) Stroke holes 4 to 16 (i.e. the 12 holes where they would both get shots from a scratch golfer)

8. Should you post scores from match play as well as stroke play?

a) Yes

b) No

9. To enter an 18 hole score on the computer how many holes do you have to complete and what do you do about the hole or holes you didn’t play?

a) 9 holes

b) 13 holes

c) 17 holes

10. When should you post a score?

a) As soon as possible after the round

b) Anytime prior to your next round

c) When you see Rick Verbeek coming towards you with an angry look on his face.


1. c) The BCGA. ( At Glacier Greens it’s the responsibility of the handicap committee, in conjunction with the club captain and the greens director, to pass this information on).

2. a) Yes. Always.

3. a) One over par on any given hole  b) Two over par   c) Three over par

4. c) You use Equitable Stroke Control on every hole.

5. Yes.

6. No, unless it’s a special event designated in advance as a tournament by the handicap committee (e.g. the Club Championship).

7. a) You always receive your shots on the hardest stroke holes – it’s where you need them most. ( And no, you can’t save up shots you didn’t need early on in the round for later use…).

8. a) Yes. And if there are holes you didn’t complete you should enter your most likely score for those holes.

9. b) 13 holes. For any unplayed holes you should post par plus any handicap strokes you would receive on that hole. 

10. a) As soon as possible after each round, in order to keep your handicap factor as current as possible. ( Answer c is obviously wrong, as the Beaker never has an angry expression on his face).

So how did you do? There is no pass mark – the idea is just to help members at Glacier Greens to be more knowledgeable about the handicap system, which has one basic purpose: to make golf as fair as possible. And – apart from when Robin, Glennie and I are trying to screw an extra shot or two out of  Bandito Juan on the first tee – we all want that, don’t we?

P.S. If you have any questions about the handicap system, please feel free to ask Rick Verbeek, Glenda Kinney or myself. If we don’t know the answer we should be able to find it out. I understand there’s a rules/handicap info evening planned for the near future. We’ll keep you posted.

P.P.S. Talking of rules – wasn’t that a cool gesture by Brian Davis on the weekend to call a penalty on himself  in the playoff at the Verizon Heritage PGA Tour event and thus concede the tournament? It cost him a few bucks ($400,000 apparently) but it did his reputation – and golf’s – no end of good. I’ll try to remember that next Saturday when I’m stuck in a hazard and I don’t think anyone else is watching…

All da best.

Dave B.

Quiz time

10 04 2010

Winter golf will soon be over and ‘ lift, clean and cheat ‘ as practised by the members at Glacier Greens will be replaced by the proper rules of golf for the next six months or so. To welcome the new season I have prepared a mini quiz on golf handicaps which I hope you will enjoy. That’s for next week. This week’s quiz, however, focuses on some of the people I play with on a regular basis. If you score well in this section you’ve clearly spent too much time in the company of  Glennie, Robin, Ringer, Lairdo and the Chief.

Q 1: Who is often heard to complain ” I used the right club, but I hit it well “?

Q 2: What is a Brooker bounce, a Houlgrave hop and a Ringstead ricochet and why isn’t Glen Parsons’ name included in this list?

Q 3: Which city was hilariously named European City of Culture in 2008?

Q 4: Whose catchphrase is ” That’s the cock for dolly ” and is it as rude as it sounds?

Q 5: According to Glen Parsons, what kind of mistress is golf?

Q 6: Why is Adrian known as ” The Chief “?

Q 7: Is it a compliment to be told ” You brookered it “?


1. Dave Laird, usually when his approach shot has sailed twenty yards over the green.

2. A fortuitous rebound off a tree and back onto the fairway. Glen’s name is not on the list because he never gets any lucky bounces.

3. Liverpool. Only John Ringstead fails to find this fact amusing. Nor does John see the humour in the following:

Question: What do you call a Liverpudlian in a suit?

Answer: The defendant.

4. Robin, and yes.

5. Harsh.

6. I’m not at liberty to reveal the truth ( but Reg Meeres might ).

7. Only if you think it’s a good thing to consistently leave eight foot putts short of the hole.

That’s all for this week, folks, but get studying for next week’s quiz because Rick ‘ The Beaker ‘ Verbeek and I would like the members at Glacier Greens to become known as the savviest on the Island when it comes to handicaps.

All da best.

Dave B.