“The greatest ice-related disaster since the Titanic”

2 03 2019

One good thing about my friend Peter Dobbs (and, to be honest, the list of good things about Peter is fairly short) is that you’re never in doubt about where he stands on any topic. I tend to have fairly strongly-held opinions myself and this can lead to some lively discussions whenever we meet up. The arguments we have on the golf course have to be heard to be believed. For example, a lady we played with earlier this year asked if we were married. I told her we were, but just not to each other. “Well, your wives must be absolute saints,” she said. So step forward Saint Julie and Saint Diana…

We’ve continued to air our differences of opinion on the ice. As a new curler, I’ve been really impressed by the great sportsmanship and generosity of all the teams we’ve played against in the Friday Fun League at the Comox Valley Curling Club. I always thought golfers were pretty decent about etiquette and praising good shots, whoever makes them, but so far I think curlers are even better. (I admit I’ve only been playing for a few months, so please don’t disabuse me of my notions just yet.)

Luckily other teams seem to understand that when the Numbnuts – the team name was chosen by Peter, of course – continually insult each other end after end, whatever the score, we are doing so purely in fun. Poor shots by our team are greeted just as enthusiastically as good ones – more so actually, because they lead to fines which are put into the beer kitty. A couple of weeks ago, for example, I was playing lead and inadvertently threw the wrong coloured rock. In my defence, I’d been distracted by a really friendly lady playing on the adjoining sheet and my concentration may have wavered a little. Our opponents were very good about it (“Could happen to anyone, we’ll replace the rock and there’s no penalty”) but my guys were positively gleeful: “Never mind the rules, it’s still a $2 fine for being such an eejit!”

And then last week, when I was playing as skip (we rotate positions every week), I played worse than I thought it was possible to play. I literally missed every shot – not a good thing whatever position you’re playing, but really bad when you’re skip. In fact the only point we scored was when my last rock caromed off one I definitely wasn’t aiming for and finished bang on the button. “Shot!” said the other skip, somehow managing to keep a straight face. “Well that was a total flippin’ disaster” said Peter, and Martin and Darrel nodded in agreement. “Let’s add up all your fines and go get a beer” he continued, and my team mates nodded in agreement again.

Last night I got to play in my very first bonspiel. It’s actually called the ‘Gladspiel’ as Gladstones Brewery sponsors the Fun League (yay Gladstones). Disaster struck when we found out on the way to the rink that our lead had cracked a couple of ribs. Obviously we decided immediately that he should be fined for being so thoughtless. Fortunately a lovely lady by the name of Sandy stepped in (at literally 20 minutes’ notice). It turned out that she was a way better curler than the rest of us and we managed to win four straight mini (i.e. two end) games before losing to our arch rivals Slipslidinaway. Don, Mike, JB and Brian were (reasonably) gracious in victory and we were secretly pleased to be able to go home after five rounds of curling and four rounds of Gladstone’s finest. We old guys are not used to being up and about after midnight.

Anyway, that’s me done for curling this year. It’s been an absolute blast. I’d like to thank Keith Parry, manager extraordinaire, for ratcheting up the fun level to 10 out of 10. I’d also like to apologize to my team mates for all the lousy shots I’ve delivered this year – and to promise them more of the same next year.

All da best!

Dave B.

Put Martin, Darrel, yours truly and Peter together and you’ve got…the Numbnuts!


Flagstick in or out?

14 02 2019

A couple of weeks ago I posted a video my friend Peter had sent me which showed that it was definitely a good idea to leave the flagstick in when putting (see my most recent blog ‘As Shakespeare might have said’, below). Then my other friend Keith sent me this video which shows the exact opposite:

The plot thickens…

So I’m not exactly sure where that leaves us, except to say that a lot of golfers are going to be trying out both methods in the next wee while. Not here in the beautiful Comox Valley though, where there’s six inches of snow on the ground and sub zero temperatures are forecast for another week at least. Beautiful it may be, but it’s not much use for putting (see what I did there?) all the new rules of golf into practice…

All da best!

Dave B.

Is there life after golf?

14 12 2018
I used to run marathons, but those days are far behind me now.

I still ref soccer, but I prefer to meander round the centre circle these days and wave cards at players as they go by.
I’ve tried pickleball but, to be honest, it’s not really my cup of tea.
So I’ve decided to have a bash at curling. What could be more Canadian, eh?

My good friend Peter Dobbs recently decided to start up a curling team to play in the Comox Valley Friday Night Fun League. He’d already recruited Dazza, who’s from Winnipeg and so presumably has spent hours on the ice in those endless Manitoban winters, and Martin – aka the Welsh Wizard – known for his rugby skills, which might just possibly transfer to hurling rocks down the ice.

I suspect at this point Peter ran out of options as to a fourth player, because he asked me if I’d care to join the team.

“Because I’m a natural athlete and a really good team player and I’m great at listening to instructions?”

“Er no. It’s because we’ve asked everyone else and anyway you’ll make the rest of us look really good.”

So this is how things have gone so far:

Week 1 (practice)

We had a brief practice session on Thursday, during which I learnt all about things like grippers, sliders, brooms, crutches and the importance of falling forwards rather than backwards onto the ice. Peter then let me roll the big heavy round thing down the ice. He then explained that if it didn’t reach a certain point (a pig line, I think he called it) I’d have to pay a $1 fine. And if I threw it way past all the circles I’d also have to pay a $1 fine.

This could get expensive.

Week 1 (game)

We played a team called ‘Sweeping with the Enemy’ (apparently it’s a rule to have a really bad pun in your name in curling). I played lead because Martin, who is something of a biblical scholar and clearly a great judge of character, said “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” I think our opponents were probably ex-professionals, although as I couldn’t figure out how the scoreboard worked I’m not sure exactly how many we lost by. Let’s just say ‘lots’. Anyway, they bought us all a beer afterwards as I think they felt sorry for us.

Week 2 (practice)

Dazza announced the fines from last week. I didn’t feel qualified to argue, but I made a mental note to bring extra cash on Friday. Peter announced that we had to arrive early for the game so we could have a beer to calm our nerves. Oh, and we are going to rotate positions from now on, so we all get a chance to skip.

Week 2 (game)

We played a team called Holy Sheet. Martin skipped and miraculously we won. Martin scored a six pointer in one end (it looked like a car crash to me but he claims he did it deliberately) and after that both teams were as inept as each other.

Week 3 (practice)

Dazza lent me a book called ‘Curling for Kids’. Just perfect for my level of expertise and just in time for my debut as skip. I think I understand how the scoreboard works now too. I didn’t realise the yellow and blue colours meant anything.

Week 3 (game)

We played an all-women’s team called Plaidstones. I spent a lot of time talking to their team because a) they didn’t go on about how terrible my shots were and how my fines were mounting up and b) they were a lot nicer, not to mention an awful lot better looking, than our team. I wonder if there’s trades in the Fun League? We won, mainly because my team completely ignored any suggestions I made about what they should do with their rocks. I have a 100% winning record as skip. Perhaps I’m a naturally gifted leader of men.

Week 4 (practice)

Things went really well in practice. I’m definitely getting the hang of this game. I love curling!

Week 4 (game)

We played the Sliding Stones and I was absolutely terrible. Missed every shot. I hate curling.

Hang on a minute – this starting to sound a lot like my post golf game analysis. So if there is life after golf, it’s not likely to be any different if it involves curling…

Hurry hard (whatever that means)!

Dave B.

Old school golf

22 11 2018

                   (It’s not just Peter’s golfing attire that’s old school.)

     I think it would be fair to say that my friend Peter Dobbs and I have a love/hate relationship on the golf course. We love to make fun of each other’s bad shots (and, believe me, there are plenty of opportunities)  and we absolutely hate to lose. So on Tuesday this week we travelled down to Arrowsmith Golf Club near Qualicum to continue our long-running feud. As usual, we spent most of the journey deciding how many shots I was going to give him. Peter is a skilled negotiator and normally squeezes anything between 6 and 8 shots out of me. This time, however, I outmanoeuvred him: “How about you getting a shot on all the Par 4’s and Par 5’s and we play even up on just the Par 3’s?” “Done!” said Peter without hesitation.

Tee hee! Peter had forgotten Arrowsmith is an executive course with 13 Par 3’s, so I’d only be giving him 5 shots. Sadly, I was so full of myself that I completely butchered the first hole and made a double bogey to go one down. “Serves you right,” said Peter, with some justice. We then settled down to some fairly decent golf and I actually hit a few greens in succession. On #6, a steep uphill 123 yard Par 3, I hit what seemed like a good shot – a six iron – although the flag was on the top tier and the hole itself wasn’t visible. Then Peter hit – a driver, for goodness sake! It landed short of the green but otherwise looked pretty good, although from the tee box it was impossible to tell if either ball was even on the green. So we walked all the way up to the green and…

Yep, my ball’s the yellow one – about 15 feet from the hole – and Peter’s is the white one, not even 15 inches. 123 yards and a driver! Now that’s old school golf…

golfing Arrowsmith 071

I finished up winning the game, but we both know who made shot of the day. Well done, Peter my friend (Grr). Thank goodness the ball didn’t actually go in though – I’d never hear the end of it!

All da best!

Dave B.

The new golf rules 2019 (20 biggest changes)

2 11 2018

We’re less than two months away from the plethora of rule changes that take place in the new year, so here’s (another) short video explaining them. Maybe you can be the guy in your group who actually knows the new rules as opposed to making them up as you go along.

The active season in BC ends on November 15th, after which scores do not count towards your RCGA handicap. My own cunning plan is to play by the new rules so I’m good and ready for the new year.

I know there are some of you out there (and nice people too in many respects) who didn’t bother much about the old rules. Well, the new ones are simpler and there are fewer of them, so how about a New Year’s resolution in 2019? Watch this video, learn the new rules and play by them!


Oh, and thanks to my good friend Peter Dobbs for sending me this video. Oh the irony! Peter’s infamous for driving a cart and horses through the rules of golf – could he be a poacher turned gamekeeper? (Answer: highly unlikely.)


All da best!

Dave B.



Peter the Impossible

21 09 2017

storm clouds are gathering

Storm clouds are gathering over Alberni…

When it comes to controversy, about the only thing my friend Peter Dobbs and I agree on is how to pronounce it. We’re both proud Canadians now, but our British origins are obvious when we say ‘contróversy’ rather than ‘cóntroversy’ as seems to be favoured in our adopted land. (Well, that and the accent, I suppose.)

So when Peter and I play our annual challenge match every September one thing that is guaranteed is that we’ll find something to argue about. Actually it’s not so much ‘something’ as ‘a bunch of things’. It kicks off long before we get to the course:

Me: ‘My handicap factor is 14.5. What’s yours?’

Peter: ‘Dunno. Give me 8 strokes.’

Me: ‘But we tied last year and I’m playing way worse now.’

Peter: ‘You’re always whining.’

So we arrive at the course (Arrowsmith) and Peter says ‘O.K. How about we just play even up for practice today and then play our proper match at Alberni tomorrow.’ Three hours later, Peter wins the last two holes to halve the match and celebrates as only he can. (Picture Brazil winning the World Cup of soccer).

Me (through gritted teeth): ‘Well played, Mr Dobbs. That was a great game. So we’ll play even up again tomorrow, right?’

Peter: ‘No. Give me 8 strokes’.

……………………(24 hours later, on the first tee at Alberni Golf Club)……………………:

Peter: ‘OK. 4 strokes then, but I’m quitting if it starts to rain.’

Me: ‘Why didn’t you bring your…? Oh, never mind. Just hit the ball.’ (I like to play golf at a fairly brisk pace. Peter plays as if he’s following a funeral cortege.)

At the turn, over 2 hours later (we’re a twosome, mind) Peter is 3 up in the match and I’m sulking.

Peter proceeds to sit on the bench by the #10 tee box and slowly consumes a sandwich. ‘I’m tired’, he says.

Me: ‘Get on with it. It looks like it’s going to rain.’

Three holes later and I’ve made a semi-miraculous comeback, having won three holes in a row. We’re now all square. It starts to rain – in torrents. I put on my wet weather gear. Peter rummages through his bag and finds a flimsy jacket and an umbrella with broken spokes. We play #13, a tricky downhill 200 yard par 3 and halve it in 4. Peter’s now completely soaked. I persuade him to play #14 (back towards the clubhouse) and he chips in from off the green to go one up in the match. Ba$tard.

Peter: ‘That’s it. I said I wouldn’t play if it rained. Game over. I win.’

Me: ‘No, wait. You can’t. There’s still four holes…’

Peter is already disappearing in the direction of the clubhouse: ‘You play on if you want. I’m going in for coffee.’

So I did play on. I raced round the last four holes in under 30 minutes and the sun was beating down before I’d even finished the first of them. Peter was still drinking his coffee when I joined him in the clubhouse.

Me: ‘You’re not seriously claiming you won the match, are you? You quit! And anyway it’s sunny now!’

Peter: ‘I clearly explained that the match was over if it started raining. It rained. I won. Simple.’

Me: ‘Bah. You’re impossible!’

ugly-trophy-2        Peter the Impossible, self proclaimed winner of the 2017 Brooker-Dobbs Trophy.

Not sulking

Me (in no way sulking).

Grrr! You deserved it, Peter. But just wait till next year!

Dave B.







The Cat

7 10 2016

I was 12 years old when England won the World Cup on home soil in 1966. Four years later, defending the trophy in Mexico, they made it through the group stages without difficulty and in the quarter final match led West Germany 2-0 with 20 minutes to go. England’s legendary goalkeeper Gordon Banks had had to pull out of the game with food poisoning but they had a great replacement in Peter Bonetti, nicknamed ‘the Cat’ because of his amazing agility and reflexes. Unfortunately, Bonetti fumbled a shot to give the Germans hope. Sure enough, Germany went on to win 3-2 after extra time and Bonetti never played for England again. I’m now 62 and still waiting in vain for a second England victory.

When I immigrated to Canada in 1992 I joined a local soccer team called the Collingwood Innvaders. Our goalie was also English, also named Peter and also known to his team mates as the Cat – not because of his great skills, however, but because of his tendency to have a nap if play was concentrated in our opponents’ half of the field. Peter Dobbs only played for that first season, but we’ve become great friends over the past two decades – and fierce rivals on the golf course.

For the last few years, always in late September, we’ve played a series of matches – always match play – at Gold River. Peter plays fewer than a dozen rounds a year (and I play 150), he doesn’t have a proper handicap (and I know my factor down to the last decimal point) and his knowledge of the rules is selective at best (and I’m a rules official). Despite all this our games are nearly always close (thanks to some pretty tough negotiating on the first tee re exactly how many shots I’m to give him). And at close of play, one of us always looks pretty smug:

Just how smug can a man look?

This is Peter after the first round at Gold River last year.

So last week I phoned Gold River to make our usual booking for two rounds of golf, overnight camping and our standing order for lots of beer and fish and chips. To my dismay I was told that the course was closing the very next day! Oops – lucky I phoned. Plan B was quickly put into operation. A quick look at the weather forecast, an equally quick look at Peter’s 2 for 1 Lung Book, and phone calls were made to Cowichan Golf and Country club and Mount Brenton in nearby Chemainus.

The weather worked out perfectly. It was lashing down when we left Comox on Wednesday morning, but sunny and warm when we arrived in Cowichan. I played pretty well, shooting 81, but I was giving Peter a shot on all but the Par 3’s and it proved too much. He made a great up and down at the 18th to win the match one up. “Well played, Mr Dobbs”, I muttered through gritted teeth. I was about to mention my bad luck in mysteriously losing a ball on the 17th fairway, but then remembered my tee shot on #16 which landed in the bunker, hit a rake and ricocheted onto the green. Better to maintain a dignified silence and hold on to the moral high ground…

Right next to Mount Brenton golf course is a large parking lot ‘for the use of golf patrons only’ and that’s where we camped in Peter’s RV that night. Peter had provided supper, so I bought the beers at the somewhat dubious-looking pub a couple of hundred yards down the road. Peter was pretty quiet (he’s not usually quiet after a victory) and when I asked him why he explained that he’d just remembered that he’d had a heart attack last time he’d played Mount Brenton. Not only that, but the guys he’d been playing with (not knowing how serious it was) had insisted that he paid up his $6 bet before he left the course! Now Peter is quite capable of playing mind games if he thinks he can gain an advantage, but I knew that even he wouldn’t stoop so low as to make up a story of this magnitude. Actually, it reminded me of another reason why he’s called the Cat – with all his heart attacks and other medical issues over the years, he must have nine lives!

The morning got off to a rocky start when the pro shop pointed out that our 2 for 1 coupons were not valid until noon. Even Peter couldn’t talk his way out of that one and I think that may have affected his play. I wasn’t at my best, but Peter struggled too – except on the greens where he irritated me no end by making every single short putt he looked at. After 14 holes we were all square, but suddenly his putter deserted him and he three putted the next two holes to leave me dormie two. When he hooked his tee shot into the trees on #17 we knew Peter needed a miracle. We found his ball, but all he could do was chip out sideways while I – for once – hit my second shot pretty close to the flag. As we walked to the green, Peter mentioned he’d felt pretty nervous about his tee shot. I agreed that #17 was indeed a narrow fairway to aim at. “It’s not hitting the fairway I was worried about,” Peter replied. “This is where I had my heart attack.”

We were pretty sombre for all of thirty seconds and then it was back to the usual insults, with Peter insisting I putt out from 18 inches when I had three putts for the match. When I queried the need to putt out, he simply said “Well, you never know.” And of course he’s right – you never do.

Over coffee on the patio afterwards, Peter brought out a trophy he’d made for the event. To say it was ugly would be putting it kindly. Thinking of Scottish Wife’s probable reaction if I showed up with the trophy in tow, I protested: “But we won one match each, Peter, so surely we should share it.” “Indeed we do, my son – but you get it for the first six months!”



Don’t tell anyone, but the way I’m playing these days I’m actually pretty happy to be part winner of a trophy, however ugly it may be:

All da best (and cheers, Peter!)

Dave B.