Putting names to faces

15 05 2019

I’ve been playing MISGA (Mid Island Senior Golfers’ Association) tournaments for a good few years now. Success has been elusive and prizes (usually in the form of a Pinnacle golf ball or two) few and far between. There are, however, two constants: the post-game lunch is always good and you get to meet some really nice people.

Today at Eaglecrest was no exception. As we milled around on the 14th tee box (our starting hole), waiting for the fairway sprinklers to turn themselves off (it having rained all day yesterday) I commented to my playing partners that this long course – I consider anything over 6,000 yards excessive – was going to play even longer. We set about introducing ourselves: I already knew John from Arbutus Ridge, in his eighties but a prodigious striker of the ball; I’d never met Brian from Arrowsmith, but he told me that he also found Eaglecrest a bit intimidating. The fourth member of our group was an Eaglecrest member, Trevor, who seemed vaguely familiar. When I told him that I was a member at Glacier Greens he remembered that he’d played with someone from our club last year. “Nice guy,” he said. “Not a very good golfer though. Extraordinary thing was that he kept hitting his driver. Not just off nearly every tee box, but off the fairway too. 29 times in all, I seem to remember. Dave something, I think his name was. Perhaps you know him?”

At this point he must have caught sight of the look on my face, because he stopped in his tracks. “Oh God, it was you…”

Yep. It was me. Although I remember it as being only 26 times with the driver. (I mean, 29 would be a bit excessive, wouldn’t it?)

I only hit my driver 15 times today, and not once from the fairway. The good news was that I hit 13 out of 14 fairways. The bad news was that I never hit a single green in regulation. Not one. Under the circumstances, shooting 90 was quite an achievement. Just outside the prizes, as usual…

It was a great lunch though.

All da best, fellow Misgans (as the Rt Hon William Crowther might say)!

Dave Brooker


The sad golfer

21 08 2015
I have a friend called Dave Stevens who golfs at Sunnydale. I’ve known him for years. When we played soccer together he was famed for the power of his lethal (if sometimes inaccurate) right foot. Same story in golf – he hits the ball a mile, just not always in the right direction. Yesterday I played in the MISGA competition at Sunnydale, a couple of groups behind Dave and his partners. On #7, a lengthy par 5, two of our guys absolutely flushed their drives – they must have both been around 240 yards. When we got to their balls we were amazed to see the LD (Long Drive) marker another 25 yards down the fairway. “What a beast!” we said. “Who on earth could hit a ball that far?” When we reached the marker we read out the name on it: Dave Stevens. “Blimey,” I said. “Stevens just outdrove me by 90 yards.”
A few hours later, after a beer or two and the usual splendid MISGA lunch, the prizes were given out – best low gross scores, best net, KP’s (closest to the pin) etc. The folks at Dave’s table were nudging him, getting ready for his moment of glory, perhaps encouraging him to make a brief, modest acceptance speech. Instead of that, Jim McCaffery (the Sunnydale rep) wrapped things up by saying “Thanks for coming out folks. Have a safe drive home.”
“Hang on a minute!” said one of Dave’s table companions. “What about the prize for LD on #7?” “What do you mean?” said Jim. “There was no LD prize on #7.” “But there was,” said Dave. “I wrote my name on the marker and everything.” There was a bit of a pause while Jim conferred with his fellow announcer. “Er, sorry to have to tell you this, Dave, but that marker was for Men’s Night on Wednesday. I guess they forgot to bring it in.”
Dave’s face was a picture of sadness. True, the prize would only have been a golf ball, but when he caught my eye I think he realised that this wouldn’t be the last he’d hear about the LD that never was…
All da best,
Dave (Short Drive) Brooker
P.S. Soon after I’d published this post I received an email from MISGA legend (and Glacier Greens member) Glen Sweetman to tell me that he’d in fact later outdriven Dave and arm wrestled Jim into giving him a golf ball as a prize. Now that’s REAL power!

In praise of…MISGA

11 07 2013

For those not in the know, MISGA stands for Mid Island Senior Golfers Association. It’s an organisation that promotes friendly competition between male golfers aged 55 and over who are members of  some twenty clubs located in the central part of Vancouver Island. For some reason, even though I became eligible to join four years ago and love playing different courses, I rarely played MISGA events prior to this year. Partly, perhaps, because there always seemed to be other things I was supposed to be doing on those days, and partly because my lack of organisational skills meant I was constantly missing the cut-off dates for entries. Mostly, however, I suspect that it was because of fear of being outed as a hacker.  After all, it’s one thing for my usual group of buddies at Glacier Greens to know that I’m not exactly Rory McIlroy (actually, on his present form, maybe I am), but quite another to have my shortcomings revealed to an entirely new audience of golfers, stretching the 200 kilometers from Duncan in the south of the MISGA region to Campbell River and Gold River in the north.

Well, needless to say, I shouldn’t have worried. I should have realised when I was told that the prizes for low gross and low net scores were a sleeve of Noodles that the stakes were not so high that I needed to get myself into a tizzy over the odd duffed shot. My experience so far has been that while MISGA guys are, by and large, playing by the rules of golf, once it’s obvious that a player is not going to be at the prize table, the gimmes become a little longer and the exact scores on particularly unkind holes become a little more inexact, shall we say. I have yet to enter the prize winners’ circle, by the way, but live in constant hope of the random draw prize. And then there’s always lunch – uniformly excellent in my opinion, with Fairwinds perhaps shading the rest of the field at this stage of the season.

So today at 9.00 a.m. sharp, to show my appreciation for the great efforts made by volunteers at other MISGA clubs, I found myself  standing in the light rough on the right hand side of #14 fairway at Glacier Greens, ready for my first action as a ball spotter. I didn’t have long to wait: the very first tee shot started down the right edge of the fairway and then, ever so gently, faded into a stand of trees about 180 yards out, right near where I was positioned. I hustled to where I saw it land, saw a ball and signalled the safe sign, as demonstrated to me  by our MISGA rep just before the start of play (me being a Brit, I’m more acquainted with cricket signals than baseball ones, but I had it down pat). When the player arrived (he happened to be from Port Alberni) I was pleased to be able to point out the ball, which had a pretty good lie. He took one look at it and said “That’s not my ball”. Luckily, not ten yards away, but behind a tree and in not quite such a favourable lie, I spotted another ball. Phew! The gentleman from Port Alberni thanked me and played out sideways onto the fairway, while I went back to my spot. Ten seconds later I heard a strangled cry: ” And that’s not my bl**dy ball either!” Oops! So, having confessed to being no great shakes as a golfer, I now have to own up to being the world’s worst ball spotter. To be fair, the gentleman from P.A. did say afterwards that he should have checked the ball more carefully, and I didn’t make any obvious blunders over the next four hours or so and received a lot of thanks from folk who probably do the same job when their club hosts a competition. Even so, it wasn’t the greatest of starts to my new career…

Anyway, this is in praise of MISGA, all the hard working MISGA reps, and all the ball spotters out there who know what they’re doing!

All da best.

Dave B.

P.S. For some reason, when I replayed the wrong ball incident in my mind afterwards I thought of this:

Bits n bobs

6 05 2010

It occurred to me this morning that for a blog that is supposed to be about my embryonic career as a caddie, caddying stories have been a bit thin on the ground recently. There is, of course, a good reason for that: I haven’t actually done any caddying since my visit to California back in early March. Things nearly changed this week when Brian Benedictson got a late entry into a Vancouver Golf Tour event on Monday at Royalwood golf course, Chilliwack. It seemed a good idea for me to get some practice in on the bag (to be honest, I wanted to be sure I could lift the bloody thing up – it looks like it weighs a ton), so it was decided that I would catch the 6:30 ferry to Horseshoe Bay and then hoof  it to the course. Then we learned that BB had been drawn in the first group to tee off and that by the time I reached Royalwood he was likely to be half way down the second fairway. Not worth it, we decided. As things transpired, I caught a break – Chilliwack was hit by a hailstorm on Monday morning and the tournament was cancelled. All part of the rich tapestry of life for Brian, though – think of the expenses he incurred getting there and then didn’t even get the chance to play. Just goes to show that the life of a pro athlete in the Minors is not always as glamorous as it might seem to be. My Canadian debut is therefore delayed until the first week in June when Brian plays in the Times Colonist Open at Uplands, Victoria. His first practice round starts less than 36 hours after I return from my pilgrimage to Ireland and Scotland. Anybody got any sure fire cures for jetlag?

In other news, you will no doubt be pleased to learn that Mr. Dobbs and I have managed to resolve our differences without having to hire lawyers. Matters have been resolved as they should be – on the golf course. Peter and I played an amicable round at Comox last Friday (neutral ground, you see). Things were a little tense on the first tee when the tricky issue of handicaps came up, but it was eventually decided that Peter would receive 10 shots. My negotiating skills were looking pretty pitiful when I went three down after three holes, but I managed to stage a comeback and we were all square after nine. As usual, however, Peter had the last word: I mentioned that he looked a little green around the gills and he revealed that he’d only come out of hospital a few days earlier following minor surgery. We decided that the match would be declared halved and that honour was satisfied on both sides. No doubt the Dobbs/Brooker rivalry is a saga that is destined to continue for some time, but I have to confess that Peter’s behaviour on this occasion was exemplary (probably because he felt too ill to misbehave).

In the past week I’ve also had the pleasure of playing in my first MISGA event (at Fairwinds) and an Interclub at Crown Isle. My play on each occasion was decidedly sketchy, but the company was great and the events really well run. As an ex teacher, it also gladdened my heart that they were also great value for money (no comments necessary, Len Doyle). There are definitely one or two plusses to being retired, and being able to play midweek tournaments – slap up meal included –  is certainly one of them.

Only fourteen sleeps until Glenny, Robin, the Chief and I set off on our odyssey to the home of golf. The info package arrived in the mail yesterday, so I’ve been perusing that pretty carefully. Flight tickets are ready for pick up and new golfing attire has been purchased (courtesy of Scottish wife, it has to be admitted). The only thing I’m missing right now is a decent golf swing, but realistically that may have to wait. As I may have mentioned before, Bandito Juan has pointed out more than once that if they ever introduce style points in golf my handicap is going to go from a 10 to a 28. Much as it hurts to admit it, on recent evidence he may have a valid point…

All da best.

Dave B.