Dave Laird

13 07 2014
Dave Laird (1946-2014)

Dave Laird (1946-2014)

In all honesty I have to say that Dave Laird, who passed away earlier this week, was a pretty awful golfer. In all fairness, however, I should add that he was also awfully good fun to play with. Dave’s handicap, which hovered around the 30 mark throughout the decade that I played with him, was a pretty accurate reflection of his inability to “get the little round white thing into the slightly larger round holey thing”, as he once described the purpose of his twice weekly outings at Glacier Greens. (Dave only did Mondays and Wednesdays; the rest of the week was dedicated either to the gym or to being Poppy and devoting himself to grandchild sitting). It also gave him a sense of perspective which the rest of us Sandbaggers sometimes lacked: while Joe and Bud would be bemoaning their ill luck in narrowly failing to break 90, Glen and Robin would be dissecting their 85’s, Richard and I would be cursing an outbreak of three putts and Ringer was railing at the injustice of the putt he missed for a 72, Lairdo would sit reflectively at the patio table over a post-round coffee. “106 today, was it?” he’d enquire. “A bit better than Monday then…” Talking of John Ringstead, Ringer partnered Lairdo once in the annual Glacier Greens Shoot Out. After the third round – the dreaded alternate shot format – John tried to describe his experience: “Dave put me in places on the course that I’d honestly never even seen before. I have to say I have a whole new respect for Lairdo and what he has to deal with just to complete 18 holes of golf.”

Twice I saw Dave hole out from the middle of the fairway, both times from 80 yards or so, once on #13 and once on #16. Both times it was for par. More often, however, Dave’s progress on the Par 4’s and 5’s was measured by a half decent drive followed by a series of chunks until he finally reached the green. Occasionally he would hit an approach shot way over – I mean WAY over – the back of the green. Lairdo would always be pretty pleased with himself. “Right club, but I hit it well” was his explanation. He actually birdied #17 twice in the space of a couple of weeks. The second time he had a picture taken of himself on his i-phone for posterity. I suggested that we rename #17 ‘The Dave Laird Memorial Hole’. It seemed quite funny at the time. It doesn’t now.

The Sandbaggers are going to play our round of golf in Dave’s honour tomorrow. At Rod’s suggestion we’ll play Stableford points “because the highest score wins” and Joe has suggested we use ‘experienced’ Top Flites because, well, that’s what Dave always used. We’ll try to be a bit more organised than usual as we sort out our groups on the practise green before the round, but I guarantee that someone (probably Robin) will do their best Lairdo impression and mutter: “Come on, you guys – it’s like herding cats out here!”

There’s one other impression that the rest of the Sandbaggers already do on a regular basis. Dave probably hit more provisional balls off the first tee at Glacier Greens than anyone but on one occasion, just as his provisional was disappearing into the same tree as his first one, he announced to the rest of the group “The first ball was a Top Flite 3 and er, the second ball was a Top Flite 3 as well.”

All da best, Poppy. Awful golfer, really good man. You’ll be missed.

Dave B.





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.





Fizzum and the Great Robinski* – RWB 2012

3 09 2012

Robin poses with the Big Club while in the background Adrian delves into his gift wrapped $15 prize. What horror has Vic Crisp come up with this year? Surely not the infamous gold lamé underpants again? Only Moira will know for sure…

The 12th annual Red, White and Blue tournament is in the books and we have another first time winner. Step forward Mr Robin Houlgrave, aka the Great Robinski, who destroyed the field on Saturday with a ridiculously low net 62 in the first round to lead by seven shots and then clung on during a sphincter-tightening stretch over the last few holes in round 3. “And how did Robin fare in round 2?”, I hear you ask. Well, thereby hangs a tale: the asterisk after Robin’s name in the title – check now, if you weren’t paying attention earlier – is to signify the fact that the RWB has, for the first time, a winner who only played two of the three designated rounds. “But how could this be allowed to happen?”, I hear you ask again. All but one of the 16 competitors were gathered around the first tee on Sunday morning, psyching themselves up to do battle with the daunting Blue/White tee combo at Glacier Greens, when the news came in from the pro shop that Robin would not be playing Round 2 due to “a family problem”, but he’d try to make it for round 3. Obviously everybody was sympathetic, until someone pointed out that if he was going to be there in the afternoon it couldn’t exactly be an emergency. At this point there was a bit of muttering concerning Robin’s motives: could it be that he was deliberately trying to throw the tournament and thus avoid having the Big Club on display in the family room for the next 12 months? Some were shocked at the very idea, a couple of past winners wished they’d thought of the same strategy but absolutely no-one thought that such a scheme was that far fetched. Bruce felt Robin should be named the winner there and then, no questions asked, but an unusual spirit of generosity prevailed and it was decided that Robin should be given the average score of the rest of the field for round 2. A net 75 was the result – thus retaining the overall lead – and the rest, despite a pretty blatant attempt by Robinski to get himself DQ’d in round 3 by playing the wrong ball on the 13th fairway, is history.

On the right – Adrian (2nd place in the tournament and big winner in the skins game); on the left – Bud (Not even close. In either).

Bagger Dave (who placed 3rd) and Li’l Stevie Ellis (also 3rd. Unfortunately, 3rd from last).

4th place finisher Wayne Mabee alongside Al Pasanen. Wayne shot a net 60 off the red tees. Sandbagging? It’s what the RWB is all about. Al shot over 100 (gross) in each of the first two rounds. That’s also what the RWB is all about.

Rod Cobham, who finished 5th, deep in conversation with Mike Worley. Or should that be ‘shallow in conversation’? Mike finished outside the top ten yet again. Smart man, that Mike. Never any chance of the Big Club ending up on HIS mantel.

On the right, 2010 winner Sir Stanley Mills. On the left, many time loser Dave Buckley-Jones. (Ouch). Also featured, in an unsuccessful attempt to at least win the hide and go seek competition, Bruce Coulter.

Bill O’Neill and Vic Crisp. Neither were really in the running for the trophy (which was exactly as they planned it), but they did win dinner off Bud and Bruce in a 3rd round side bet.

Liz Stirrett and Dave Wacowich, who played all three rounds together and were STILL on speaking terms at the end of the weekend. Probably a tournament record.

It is fitting that the final word should go to Liz. After all, some misgivings were expressed about having a woman play in the Red, White and Blue (yes, Bud – don’t even attempt to deny it), but in the year that women were finally accepted as members of Augusta National it seemed only right and proper for the RWB to do the same. Liz may not be a multi millionairess like the two ladies down in Georgia, but she certainly enriched the competition. She declared Bill O’Neill ‘a perfect gentleman’ (Billy’s still blushing) and also enriched my vocabulary: in round 2, her hubby Dave, Rod and myself were all lying two on the 7th green, with shortish putts for par, when Liz blasted her first putt some way past the hole. She muttered something I didn’t quite catch, but which sounded like ‘fizzum’. After she’d putted out, I asked her what she’d said, thinking it was some Canadianism that I hadn’t learnt yet. ‘Oh. Don’t you know that one, Dave? It’s actually FISM – and it stands for “Fuck. It’s Still Me”.

Welcome to the Red, White and Blue, Liz, and thanks for the language lesson!

All da best.

Dave B.





B.C. Bud

22 02 2012

Dear Chief,

Just a few quick lines to let you know how things are going in sunny Comox. First off, it actually is sunny in Comox today. True we had a bit of a frost delay this morning, and granted Dave Laird  is still firmly of the opinion that the day would have been better spent working as an (unpaid) labourer on his son’s house rather than spend 4 hours shooting 105 yet again and having to buy Steve Ellis another coffee. Glen Parsons, who cheerfully admits to ‘not being much of a mudder’, is still in a state of shock at being expected to play in temperatures hovering around 6 degrees C. (Serves him right for floating around the Caribbean in his cousin’s gin palace if you ask me). As you know, muddy fairways don’t bother me so much, me being British and all, and it definitely helps being able to tee my ball up on the nearest glob of mud: I’ve been hitting some great 3 woods off the fairway (well, great if you consider 170 yard 3 woods to be great. I do). On the other hand, I actually pulled my groin hitting out of the mud on #6 fairway the other day, so it’s not all wine and roses. Robin’s playing very steadily and doesn’t complain much – he never does, does he? – and is quietly becoming the star performer in the group. But the main focus of attention over the past few days has been the Budmeister:

Is it ‘Honest Bud’ or ‘Not Quite As Honest As He Appears’ Bud?

Last Friday we played our normal three v three, best aggregate net score wins game, as we often do when six of us show up to play. As you know, honesty is key to this game, as each group is responsible for keeping its total net scores and then comparing them at the end. Following the time-honoured ball toss on the first tee, Robin, Lairdo and I finished up playing against Bud, Elmo and Steve. Our group played steady if unspectacular golf and finished with an aggregate net score of 217, or 4 over par. It would have been a couple of strokes better, but for Robin and me somehow switching balls half way down the last hole and thus having to take automatic doubles. Bah! We were hoping it wouldn’t affect the outcome of the match but, sure enough, Bud’s group came in at 216 to win by a single stroke. Double bah!! Somewhat glumly our group paid for the post round coffees in the clubhouse and generally bemoaned our misfortune (or stupidity – call it what you will), while Bud’s group exulted in their victory. “And boy, you sure hit my driver well on those last couple of holes, Bud!”, said Steve. “Pardon?”, I said, “YOUR driver?”. “Shut up, Steve”, said Bud. Too late, the cat was out of the bag. Clear infringement of the rules, two stroke penalty for using someone else’s club. Only trouble was, we’d already bought the coffee and Bud was claiming it wasn’t a ‘proper’ rule anyway. All appeals to his sense of justice and fair play fell on deaf ears. The fact that Robin and I had fessed up to our own faux pas made no difference either. Even my plea to Bud as a fellow Hampshire Hog (motto: ‘Ampshire born and ‘Ampshire bred – strong in the arm and thick in the ‘ead) had absolutely no effect. Calling him a cheating b*st*rd made me feel a bit better, but still didn’t get me my money back.

Today, however, fortune dictated that Bud and I were on opposing sides once again and this time my threesome scored a pretty comprehensive victory. I tried not to be too gleeful as Bud paid for my coffee, not even throwing in the old line about how it was the best coffee I’d ever tasted. Then, unasked, Bud slid a toonie across the table in my direction. ” Now, Brooker,” he said, fixing me with a pretty evil glare, “We’re quits.” “Er, thanks Bud,” I gulped. I guess now’s not the time to mention a certain person in our threesome hitting the flagstick with a putt on #8 today. Probably best left to a future occasion. Anyway, the good news is that Bud has been officially upgraded back to “Honest Bud” again. “Honest Dave?” Not so much. I guess I’d better buy him a coffee on Friday…

In the meantime, Chief,  I hope all is well with you in Arizona. Yes, I am glad that it’s so sunny and warm there and no, I don’t want to see your  knobbly knees when you get back, however brown they are.

All da best!

‘Somewhat Honest’ Dave





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.





2010 Red, White and Blue – results

5 09 2010

Well, the 10th edition of the RWB is in the books and once again we have a first time winner. Stan ‘the Man’ Mills , with a three round net score of 207, walked off with the trophy and all of $12 in cash (almost enough to pay for the engraving) after a titanic battle with Bruce ‘Almighty’ Coulter, who came up just one shot short. The fact that these were the only two players in a field of thirteen to break the net par of 213 only goes to show that the overall level of sandbagging was disappointingly low this year. Third place went to newcomer Jack Jackson (whose parents were apparently so poor that they couldn’t afford any different names) who finished with a total of 215. Rounding out the top five were Vic Crisp (216) and Smokin’ Joe Dunham on 217. Many thanks to Vic for his insistence once again that all prizes be wrapped and bear no sign of original ownership – it ensured that that the prizes were as varied as usual. I’m not sure who won the Indonesian fertility statuette – or for that matter who donated it – but I’m sure it will be a nice talking point next time the vicar comes round for tea. Joe, by the way, is on record as saying how much he enjoyed playing off tees from which he was unlikely to leave his drive short of the ladies’ tee box and suffer the traditional embarrassing consequences.

In sixth place was Bud Bryan (220), who pipped Mike Worley on a fiendishly cunning countback system that I thought up while reading out the placings at the awards ceremony on the patio. Sadly, I have already forgotten how this system works, so no precedent has been set for next year. One shot behind, in 8th place, was Robin Houlgrave who was a major winner in Bruce’s skins game, played concurrently with the main event. I myself placed 9th, with a score of 224. I never really recovered from Scottish Wife’s last words as I left the house at the crack of dawn this morning: “If you win that bloody Big Club again, either you or it is spending the next twelve months in the crawl space. And seeing as how the club doesn’t snore, things are not looking too good for you right now…”. No surprise, then, that my game never really got going today.

Dan Fitzgerald, whose day was interrupted by dog sitting duties, took 10th place with a score of 226 and his oppo, Dave Buckley-Jones, finished one stroke behind him on 227. Dave did, however, produce the performance of the afternoon by birdieing #5 – the hardest hole on the course – for a net score of one and thereby allowing the rest of us to accuse him of sandbaggery of the highest order. Twelth place, with a score of 229, was occupied by the Chief himself, Adrian Haut, thus proving his pre-tournament prediction of victory to be quite spectacularly off the mark. Finally, last – and as numbers don’t lie – decisively least came Mr ’59’ Guinan. Elmo must have been less than tickled to finish at the bottom of such an unskilled bunch of hackers as were on show this weekend, but has the consolation of knowing that things can only improve next year.

So it only remains to invite this year’s participants (and anyone else reading this who doesn’t take him/herself or their game too seriously) to the 2011 edition at Glacier Greens on the Labour day weekend, when Stan will seek to defend his title and also explain how the Big Club took pride of place in the Mills household for twelve months. I can only imagine  Stan’s excitement at the prospect of this wonderful memento taking up space in the living room for a whole year…

In the mean time, thanks again to all of you who made this year’s event so much fun!

All da very best,

Dave B.

P.S. I am recovering nicely from the injury I sustained on the 14th fairway, after being struck by a tee shot played by a competitor who must for legal reasons remain nameless but whose first name is Mike and last name Worley. Mike’s profuse apology, earnest explanation (I was in the middle of the fairway and thus he couldn’t have been expected to hit the ball anywhere near me) and cash compensation package (25 cents) are sufficient for us to have reached an out of court settlement.