Me and Clement Attlee

13 05 2017

churchill

If you mention Sir Winston Churchill, most people will think of his bloody-minded leadership of Britain in World War Two and his determination not to give an inch to the Germans. I, on the other hand, tend to think of his withering put-downs of political opponents. Perhaps Churchill’s most famous insult was his reply to the Labour MP Bessie Braddock, who accused him one evening of being drunk in the House of Commons. “I may be drunk, Madam, but you’re ugly – and I shall be sober in the morning.” He also had a particular dislike for the Labour leader Clement Attlee, whom he described as “a sheep in sheep’s clothing” and “a modest man with much to be modest about”.

It’s this last quote that I think about when I try to describe my ability at golf. I have a lot to be modest about. I’m not a terrible golfer – I nearly always break 90; a few times a year even 80 – but there’s nothing about my game that would lead the casual observer to think that I have learnt much from the 100+ games that I’ve played every year for the last decade or so. Normally, it doesn’t matter so much – the group of guys I play with range from a 7 handicap to a 19, so my handicap of 13 puts me pretty much in the middle of the pack.

But it’s when I play with other – much better – golfers that the trouble begins. For a start they all hit it further – and I mean much further – than I do. For example, today in the last round of the Glacier Greens Pairs Shoot Out I hit a perfectly decent tee shot on the first hole – right down the middle, maybe 180 yards. My opponent then also hit it centre cut, but 85 yards – 85 flippin’ yards – further than my effort. The format being alternate shot this week, my partner Doug McArthur, then had to hit a hybrid from 170 yards while our oppos hit a sand wedge from half that distance. A few minutes later – just after missing a three foot putt as a matter of fact – I found myself muttering the dreaded words “Sorry, partner!”

And so it went on. Doug and I would discuss where he’d like me to hit the ball. I’d then hit it somewhere entirely different, Doug would conjure up a miracle recovery shot and I’d tap in for par from a couple of feet. I wasn’t quite as bad as I’d been in the pouring rain two weeks previously – when I’d not contributed on a single hole (other than, as Len Doyle somewhat unkindly pointed out, holding the umbrella over Doug’s head as he selected clubs) – but I wasn’t a whole lot better. Somehow we (i.e. Doug) cobbled together a decent score (always difficult in an alternate shot competition)  and were definitely still in contention when we reached the last hole. Doug hit a great drive, leaving me with a straight forward shot of 100 yards over the – gulp – pond and a greenside bunker. Well, I cleared the pond…but not the bunker. But wait! In this competition each player gets a mulligan and somehow I hadn’t used mine yet. I dug into my bag and produced another ball. “What are you doing, Dave?” asked Doug. “We’re not in the water, are we? Are you sure you’d clear the pond with your mulligan?” Put like that, the honest answer was no. “I’ll play it out of the bunker and you make the putt.” It sounded like a pretty good plan, although I wasn’t looking forward to the ‘me making the crucial putt’ bit.

As it turned out, Doug made things easy for me. His beautiful sand shot rolled to within three inches and even I couldn’t mess up that tiddler. An hour or so later, the score cards were all tallied and the team of Brooker and McArthur had won the 44 team gross competition by a single shot. OK, let me express my contribution by rephrasing a well known saying:

“There’s no ‘I’ in ‘team’ – but there was an awful lot of Doug!”

Thanks, partner!

Dave B.

shoot-out-may-2017

Glacier Greens Shoot Out winners, May 2017: on the left, gross winners Doug McArthur and Tonto; on the right, net winners Gabe Tremblay and Al Cabilan. (courtesy: L Doyle)





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!

 

 

 





Mother said (there’d be days like this)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All da best!

Dave B.

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

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

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





There’s hope for us hackers yet!

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

Stevie and his Magic Wand: call 10 – 3333

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

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

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

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

Dave B.

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

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

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

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





Lightning never strikes twi.. Oh.

24 08 2014
On the left, Mr. Len Doyle. On the right, Mr Wayne Wood. In the middle, the man who knows this is the only way he's going to get to pose with the Canadian Pairs trophy.

On the left, Mr Len Doyle. On the right, Mr Wayne Wood. In the middle, the man who knows this is the only way he’s going to get to pose with the Canadian Pairs trophy.

Long, long ago, when dinosaurs roamed the earth, Len Doyle won a golf tournament.  The Canadian Pairs qualifier at Glacier Greens. This was in the days when young Leonard  was less of a hacker than he is now and also happened to have a talented partner by the name of Jim Livingstone. Len never tires of telling the story of how he and Jim went to Ontario and had a great time. The details of the actual golf they played there remain shrouded in mystery – I can only assume they didn’t do too well – but the fact that they won the qualifier means that before every competition Len enters at Glacier Greens he’s keen to describe himself and his partner as ‘pre-tournament favourites’.

Somewhat more recently – in 2011, in fact – Wayne Wood (along with partner Dave Sheppard) – also won the Canadian Pairs qualifier. By that time, the finals had moved a little closer to home – Crown Isle, in fact. I happened to be officiating at that tournament and I remember two things about it: firstly, that Dave Sheppard was still recovering from a serious illness and could hardly swing a club, and secondly, that it poured with rain the entire weekend. At one point, they stopped play for three hours and Wayne and Dave went home to dry off before coming back to finish their round and get soaked all over again.

So yesterday we held the 2014 edition of the Canadian Pairs qualifier at Glacier Greens and you would be right in guessing that Len and Wayne brought home the bacon. With a barely credible (certainly if you’ve ever seen either of them in action) best ball net score of 57 points, they beat Nick Mykitiuk and Rudge Wilson by a couple of shots, with the Phil Ball/Wayne Mabee and Liz Stirrett/Dave Wacowich partnerships a further shot behind. These guys were all in the ‘close but no cigar’ category’, although they did all win sleeves of Titleists or Callaways for their efforts. Beaten into 5th place (the ‘no cigar, no golf balls, thanks for coming out’ category) were Rob Borland and Warren Brandson, who left the course thinking they might have placed higher but were undone by a slight scorecard malfunction by their playing partner whose name it would be a little unkind to mention. Right, Karl?

If you’re wondering how I fared in my own competition, well wonder no more. As is now traditional, I picked a new partner this year (‘Spread the Blame’ is my motto) and Billy V and myself finished comfortably off the pace. I only have to mention the words ‘Canadian Pairs’ and ‘partner’ in the same sentence and people start looking at their feet and searching for the nearest exit. I mean, come on guys! If Lennie and Wayne can win this thing twice, surely my turn will come?

Many thanks to Bill Kelly and his staff in the pro shop for doing all the background stuff that enables a tournament to run smoothly and to the Men’s Club for providing the runners up prizes. And, last but not least, to the 44 ladies and gentlemen who vied for the trophy this year. If we get enough entries in 2015 we’ll give it another go and I’ll be looking for a partner. Any volunteers?

All da best.

Dave B.

P.S. Meanwhile, Len and Wayne are looking forward to 36 holes of golf at Crown Isle at the end of September (along with a banquet and a bucket of prizes) and should they – God forbid – win there they’ll be off to Pebble Beach in December. That has to be worth the $15 entry fee, doesn’t it?