All quiet on the western front

4 03 2016

I’d have to say that the past month has been a pretty quiet time for golf here on the wet coast of British Columbia. It’s not that the Sandbaggers and I haven’t been out on the course at Glacier Greens; it’s just that when we have been playing it’s either raining or, even if dry overhead, conditions are – shall we say – a tad soggy underfoot. Every tee shot we hit that lands in the fairway disappears into a hole of its own making, looking a bit like a mini mortar shell crater in no-man’s-land between the trenches in World War One. We’re actually pleased when a tee shot hits the cart path now, because at least we can see the ball bounce.

Li’l Stevie, the Great Robinski and I won a coffee each on Wednesday, but only because the other team, the Axis of Evil (Richard, Billy V and the Budmeister), quit after nine holes, tired of slogging through the mud. After 18 holes I was pretty tuckered out myself, having hit my driver no fewer than 23 times – when you don’t hit it very far anyway and then you get absolutely zero roll, even a 350 yard hole is a long way. I’m getting pretty skilled at finding a nice blob of mud within six inches of my tee shot so that I can perch the ball up in order to hit driver again.

In the mean time, here’s a reminder of what can happen when you’re young and skillful and the ball rolls a bit. I’m not a huge fan of Tiger Woods, but I did enjoy his reaction to this:

Roll on the spring! (Yeah – please let it roll.)

All da best.

Bagger Dave

(P.S. Message to Bud: the kid’s 11, you’re in your 70’s. Isn’t it time you got a hole in one? Just sayin’…)





Quadratic equations

19 05 2014

 

Smiling Rock, the good luck charm next to the first tee at Quadra Island golf course. It worked very well on the first hole and then obviously forgot all about me for the next seventeen!

Smiling Rock, the good luck charm next to the first tee at Quadra Island golf course. It worked very well on the first hole and then obviously forgot all about me for the next seventeen!

 

There’s quite a lengthy list of things I wasn’t very good at during my time at school, but the subject that stands out as being a particular nightmare was high school mathematics. I was okay at sums you could work out in your head – my dad made sure that I had all the times tables up to 12 memorised by the time I was ten – but as soon as formulae were involved I was dead in the water. It didn’t help that I wasn’t that kid who sat quietly at the back of the classroom hoping to avoid attention. I was that other kid who, when bored, found forms of amusement such as nicking classmates’ pens and paper or flicking gobs of paper at the blackboard above the teacher’s head. Sometimes I got away with it, sometimes not. They were quite keen on corporal punishment in those days and a smack across the back of the head was often my ‘reward’ for minor indiscretions. Obviously I wasn’t going to complain to my parents – chances are that would only have led to another clip round the lughole  – so I would just accept whatever punishment was meted out as being a fair cop. On one occasion, though, my maths teacher, ‘Slim’ Folland (height 5 foot 2; weight 220 pounds), got his own back with a few succinct words on my end of term report card: “Prefers to muddle, apparently”. I still have that report card today and laugh at the memory of trying to explain to my parents that “It was just Mr Folland’s weird sense of humour” and “I was pretty sure I was going to pass the course anyway”. Somehow I did scrape through, but that was the end of me and maths and to this day I have no idea what a quadratic equation is or what you would do with it if you found one. It did, however, inspire me to my choice of future career. I mean, what could be more brilliant than saying or writing whatever you wanted about a kid and them having virtually no right of reply? And so the seeds of a lifetime in teaching were sown.

It’s probably pretty obvious by now that this week’s post has nothing whatsoever to do with quadratic equations. It’s just that six of us Sandbaggers played at Quadra Island golf course for the first time last week and the name of the course and the difficulty I had with it brought the obvious connection to mind. The nine hole course is in just its second full year of operation and is an absolute beauty – under 5900 yards off the white tees and with pretty generous fairways, but changes in elevation and some cunningly placed hazards meant that no one in our group found it a pushover. For those whose knowledge of the geography of Vancouver Island is a bit shaky, Quadra Island lies a ten minute ferry ride from the dock in Campbell River which, in turn, lies 45 minutes north of the Comox Valley. A couple of club members picked us up from the ferry and drove us to the course, which was less than ten minutes away and overlooks the Sutil Channel and the coastal mountains of BC. There we were warmly greeted by Carol Ann, the operations manager of the course, who pointed us in the right direction for the practice putting green and driving range. A couple of members (there are, I believe, around a hundred playing members in total, of whom maybe half are what you’d call frequent players) asked if they could play through, having completed their first nine, but by the time we took to the first tee we had the course pretty much to ourselves even though it was a lovely sunny spring day.

I won’t go into details about my round, other than to say I birdied the first hole and then didn’t hit another green in regulation for the next three hours – and even then it was only after my approach shot bounced off a huge rock in the middle of the 16th fairway and ricocheted to within twenty feet of the pin. To use Glennie’s time worn phrase: “I LOVE golf!” Of course I then doubled the last two holes, losing two balls in the process, and the love/hate dial on my relationship with this game switched back to ‘hate’. My black mood soon passed, however, as I watched the group behind us try and fail to reach the 18th green with their tee shots. Two flew straight into the hazard to the right of the green, while Rod’s low trajectory meant that at least his ball skipped right across the pond (three bounces!) before hitting a rock on the far side, rising twenty feet or so into the air before achieving splashdown. Rod re-teed and hit a beauty on his next attempt to within six feet. It goes without saying that he missed the putt.

Not even time for a post round beer on this occasion, as our ride back to the ferry was ready and waiting (we made it by the skin of our teeth), but I for one am really keen to come back and try it all over again.Thanks again to Peter, Carol Ann, and all those Quadra members who helped make our day so enjoyable. I highly recommend you to try it for yourselves – it’s a great day out!

The course designer obviously liked his inukshuks - they were all over the place! These two were at the back of the fifth green.

The course designer obviously liked his inukshuks – they were all over the place! These two were at the back of the fifth green.

 

 

 

Despite appearances, this tree takes up only a very small part of the eighth fairway. Li'l Stevie hit it with unerring aim!

Despite appearances, this tree takes up only a very small part of the eighth fairway. Li’l Stevie hit it with unerring aim.

 

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.





Who wants it? RWB 2013

3 09 2013
Who wouldn't want this splendid trophy on their mantle for a year?

Who wouldn’t want this splendid trophy on their mantle for a year?

The Red, White and Blue tournament was first played in 2001 and has been chugging along nicely ever since. It has slipped into a regular slot on the world golfing calendar – the Labour Day weekend – and each year a dozen or so very enthusiastic but largely untalented golfers from Glacier Greens have vied for the right to take home the Big Club, as the trophy is called.

OK. The first paragraph is mostly accurate, except for the ‘vying for the right to take the trophy home’ bit. Somehow in recent years it has become fashionable to claim not to want to win the Big Club. Last year’s winner, for example, the Great Robinski, ensured there would be no repeat this year by contriving to shoot 88 in Saturday’s round. That’s a net 88, not gross, although clearly Robin’s play was. No sense of shame, some people. Bud Bryan was keen to play, but made it clear that under no circumstances was he allowed to win – his better half Alice had threatened to kill him if he showed up at home with the Big Club. As it turned out, he didn’t need to worry. Actually, the Chief is the only one person I can think of as having said he’d quite like to win the trophy, but with his dry sense of humour it’s hard to know if he really meant it. Anyway, given the way he’s been hitting the ball of late, it was never likely to happen.

Some players, like Mike Worleybird (who finished 3rd), Billy V (4th) and Roderick (5th) played well enough to maintain a certain level of self esteem while never actually contending for the title. Others, like Bruce (6th) and the aforementioned Bud and Adrian (7th and 8th), preferred to spend the weekend hurling insults at those around them, which in fact made it a pretty normal weekend for the rest of us. Smokin’ Joe kept under the radar in 9th place and Elmo, deciding he’d had enough of the abuse he got last year for coming last, improved in each round to finish in the top ten, just ahead of Dave Buckley-Jones, who was shockingly well behaved this year. Perhaps he had a headache. To save our blushes, I won’t give the exact placings of the last four. As already mentioned, Robin had his reasons for keeping his head under the parapet. I was just flippin’ inept from start to finish. And let’s be kind to newcomers Michelle M and Mike P and trot out the old clichés: the occasion got to them, they played well but the putts didn’t drop etc etc. Nah! Let’s face it – they were as bad as Robin and me.

So who did want it? For the first two rounds, the answer was clearly Stan Mills, who amassed a six shot lead with a couple of sub par rounds. Over lunch on Sunday, however, I suspect Stan had an epiphany. The man who spent the the first eight months of 2011 looking at the trophy he’d won in 2010 must have decided that he didn’t want the Big Club cluttering up the living room for another whole year. Tee shots started to go awry in the final round, putts started to come up a tad short. News from the course was that someone was coming up on the rails. Who else, but Li’l Stevie Ellis, who barnstormed his way to an amazing net 61. At the last, almost despite himself, Stan the Man made a couple of birdies to force a tie. What now? A tension filled sudden death playoff? Stan bought me a coffee and a muffin – an unsubtle attempt at bribery – and whispered ” I think the trophy should go to the high handicapper, Dave. I’ve already won it once. Let Stevie have his moment of glory.” Nice try, Stanley, but there’s a precedent. In 2006, el Bandito Juan tied with Lou ‘Picasso’ Smith. There was no playoff – everyone liked the idea of both guys having to put the trophy  on display for six months each.

And so that’s how it is this year: your Red, White and Blue joint winners for 2013 – Stan Mills and Steve Ellis. Many congratulations, guys!

All da best.

Dave B.

Yeah, I know, Beauty and the beasts. Michelle wonders what she's let herself in for as Mike W admires Bruce's ball juggling skills...

Yeah, I know, Beauty and the Beasts. Michelle wonders what she’s let herself in for as Mike W admires Bruce’s ball juggling skills. Many thanks to Bruce, by the way, for the prizes he presented to each competitor on the first tee. Thanks to Lordco, too.

Bud chortles at the very idea of Stan winning the trophy for a second time. "Like that's gonna happen!"

Bud chortles at the very idea of Stan winning the trophy for a second time. “Like that’s gonna happen!”

"You shot HOW many yesterday?" Dave BJ asks Robin if it's contagious.

“You shot HOW many yesterday?” Dave BJ asks Robin. ” Is it contagious?”

Bagger D and Mike P enjoy a moment before the final round. There was little to enjoy for the next four hours...

Bagger D and Mike P enjoy a moment before the second round. Sadly, the last 36 holes brought precious few other moments to enjoy.

A respectable first showing for RWB rookie Billy V. Yet more disappointment for the Chief. The coffee was good though...

A respectable first showing for RWB rookie Billy V. Another disappointment for the Chief. The coffee was good though.

Elmo moved all the way up from dead last in 2012 to a top ten finish this year. Rod moved from 5th to er, 5th

Elmo moved all the way up from dead last in 2012 to a top ten finish this year. Rod moved from 5th to er, 5th

Stan Mills and Steve Ellis, the 2013 RWB champions. The vertically challenged dynamic duo pose proudly behind the Big Club.

Stan Mills and Steve Ellis, the 2013 RWB champions. The vertically challenged dynamic duo pose proudly behind the Big Club.

Editor’s note: sadly, no picture was available of Smokin’ Joe Dunham, who was practising on the driving range at the time the pictures were taken.

Why, Joseph, why?





Sandbaggers

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?





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.