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’…)





Anger Management

30 11 2013

When I first started playing golf it took me a while to realise that there were a lot more factors in making a good score than simply how far I hit the ball. If it was all about distance I’d still probably never break 90, but I feel I can usually save a bunch of strokes by making smart decisions about what club to use and where to aim the ball. As the old saying goes, it’s not where your good shots go, but where your bad ones end up, that determines what kind of a score you’re going to have. In all modesty, I would have to say that course management has gradually become a strength of my game.

But what happens when circumstances conspire against you and you make, say, a double bogey or worse on a hole? Well, this is where anger management comes in. The guys I play with all have their own unique style in dealing with adversity on the golf course: Glennie and Robinski use language so colourful that I could never consider inviting them to tea along with the vicar for fear that the subject of three putting came up; Smokin’ Joe, somewhat quaintly, has been known to call himself an “effin ninny” when displeased with his efforts; Roderick questions the very existential truth of whatever tragedy seems to have just befallen him (“you’ve got to be kidding me”); Richard says something in French that always ends “tabernacle”; and Lairdo who, to be fair, has more experience than most of us with golf-related disasters, just wanders off muttering to himself. But sometimes, very occasionally, bad language alone is not enough to exorcise our golfing demons. Sometimes not even throwing a club (punishable in our circle by having to buy our playing partners a jug of beer) is sufficient. On these rare occasions, in order to release all that pent up anger with the minimum of personal inconvenience, you might want to follow the advice of teaching pro Charlie King from Georgia:

Next week: “How to throw a club”.

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?