Form is temporary, class is permanent

4 06 2011

So Brian’s adventures at the 2011 Times Colonist Open have come to a premature end once again. Certainly as far as the first round was concerned, ‘adventures’ would be the right word. There are an awful lot of trees at Uplands golf course and Brian’s ball finished directly behind a large percentage of them. The fact that he was only four over par at the end of the round was down to recovery shots and putting of which Seve Ballesteros himself would have been proud. In the span of four holes mid round Brian made successive putts of twenty, fifteen, thirty and sixty feet – all for par! Needless to say, all these putts were made with absolutely no input from yours truly. My job was simply to carry the bag, confirm yardages and maintain a professional, poker faced demeanour at all times. Sadly, when the sixty footer dropped, I burst out laughing and dropped the flag. Once again, my intentions of “showing up, keeping up and shutting up” had failed at the final hurdle.

Brian has been working hard on the Swinkey project all winter and would be the first to admit that practice time has suffered as a result. No surprise, then, that his first competitive round of the season should show distinct signs of rust. I actually had Brian down for a 73, but he’d moved his marker on the 11th green while taking a practice putt and called a penalty on himself. I hadn’t noticed, neither of his playing partners had seen it, and there were no rules officials around, but Brian had immediately called one of the other players over, confirmed what had happened and added a shot to his score. That’s how a true pro acts.

Brian hit the ball much better in Round 2 but, as is so often the way, the putts wouldn’t drop and the result was another 74, T110, and five strokes the wrong side of the cut line. Brian’s off to Kamloops next week and after that he’s going to try to prequalify for the Canadian PGA event in Vancouver, but my caddying season is coming to a premature end, with family visiting and then a canal trip to Ireland coming up in the next few weeks. Brian and I part on good terms, I think. His most memorable line about caddies, said in my hearing to a fellow competitor at Edmonton last year, was “If your caddie’s not actually annoying you, he’s doing  a decent job”. For the most part I think I just about measured up, but here are some stats from the last two days at Uplands that might suggest otherwise:

# of times towel dropped in fairway: 1 (but I’m not sure it counts because a spectator picked it up and Brian didn’t notice).

# of times Brian told me I nagged him more than his mother about keeping hydrated: at least once per round (but I take that as a compliment).

# of times I gave the wrong yardage: 1 (no defence, and luckily Brian had it right).

# of times caught talking to a marshall with Brian’s four iron in my hand when he was ready to play his shot: 1 (v.embarrassing).

# of times guilty of unprofessional conduct by bursting out laughing when Brian rolled in the sixty foot putt: 1 (but honestly, it was a ridiculous putt).

# of times Brian said “Good job, Dave” at the end of the round and sounded like he meant it: every time.

So it’s been a pleasure, Brian. Not just taking the unseen penalty – all golfers should do that – but your general demeanour with spectators, marshalls, fellow competitors and even caddies, especially when things are not going so well on the course,  prove the old adage that “form is temporary but class is permanent”. You’re a classy guy, B – and man, can you putt!

All da best!

Dave B.

Brian makes his par putt at #18 in Round 2.


TCO: the epilogue

4 06 2010

Well, it was a tough couple of days at the office for Team Benedictson and, to keep it short, Brian didn’t make the cut at the Times Colonist Open. Yesterday his putter was not so much cold as deep frozen and if you throw in some horrible lies and some downright evil luck (hitting the flag stick with his approach shot on the penultimate hole of the day and the ball ricocheting forty feet away would be a good example), his score of 76 was about as good as he could have got. Pretty much the only bright light was finishing with a birdie 2 on the 203 yard 9th hole, his 18th.

My own performance couldn’t have done much to help Brian either. This was definitely more nerve wracking than anything I’d experienced on the Golden State Tour or in the practice round on Wednesday. Players’ names being announced on the first tee and a gallery following our group was just the start. I had to learn the etiquette of caddying through on the job training. I’m sure it looks easy on TV, but those caddies on the PGA Tour are really working hard. Divots to replace, bunkers to rake, balls to clean, bags to move out of player’s line of sight, yardages to work out and confirm, wind direction to verify – phew, I feel tired just thinking about it. Thank goodness Brian (wisely) left me out of green reading operations. I felt as if I was running around like a one-armed paper hanger and would be surprised if my anxiety didn’t transmit itself to Brian. He never once complained, though – even when I discovered half way down the 12th fairway that I’d lost the club quietener (towel). Luckily, one of the other caddies had a spare which he lent me for the remainder of the round. (Even more luckily, last night I found a replacement white towel – they have to be white, apparently – on the back of the bathroom door at my son’s apartment. Sorry, Joe – I’ll get you a new one for your birthday). What with dropping Brian’s favourite Chico State headcover about four times as well, I’m surprised I wasn’t given the pink slip at the end of the round – if not before.

Anyway, today went much better. I still had trouble with the Chico head cover (I finished up stuffing the bloody thing in the bottom of Brian’s bag) but otherwise I was much more employable. Brian obviously knew that his chances of making the cut were remote and perhaps as a result he was able to relax and play some decent golf. The putter still didn’t co-operate fully, but he hit some delightful chips and monster drives (including just about driving the par 4 10th). A one over par 71 left him T109 (out of a full field of 156) but he’d certainly salvaged some pride as well as confidence. We went to the clubhouse for lunch and a drink with his family after the round, and it was obvious his mum and dad were proud of him. To show composure and generosity to other players when you’ve had a tough two days shows real class, in my opinion, so hats off to Mr and Mrs B – you’ve raised a fine son!

It only remained for Brian to tell me that I’d (somehow) passed the audition and that my services would indeed be required in Edmonton at the end of this month and Saskatoon the following week (yippee!). In the meantime he’s heading down to the States to try to prequalify for a Nationwide event in Fort Smith, Arkansas. He’s also signed a contract to sell his Swinkey training aid through a large chain of golf stores in Canada and the U.S. and, judging by the number of players using it on the range at Uplands this week, it’s a pretty handy device.

I did have one more embarrassing caddie mishap to recount but I realise that I can’t, just can’t, commit it to paper just yet. It was that bad…

Maybe all will be revealed in a future post but, until then, this is Bagger Dave saying “keep it out of the love grass!”

Dave B.

Practice makes perfect…or not

2 04 2010

I’m supposed to be camping this weekend on Malcolm Island which, as far as I can tell from my map of Canada, is located somewhere just south of the Arctic Circle. But when Scottish Wife said on Monday that we were going, even though it meant no golf for me this weekend, I didn’t put up much of a fight. That’s what happens when your golf game is really really bad – you sort of lose the will to live.

Even so, when I got a phone call from Brian Benedictson on Wednesday inviting me to join him for a practice round at Sunnydale the following afternoon, I jumped at the chance.  Maybe it was just Glacier Greens that I am hopeless at playing – after all, the greens are way too fast there right now – and I would find newfound form at Sunny D? Maybe Brian’s skill would rub off on me, or he’d spot some tiny flaw in my set up that would magically turn me into a decent golfer? Maybe Anne Newman, Brian’s coach and legendary pro at Sunnydale, wouldn’t laugh at me? “OK, I’m clutching at straws here”, I thought to myself as I drove towards Sunnydale in the wind, rain and sub zero temperatures, ” but maybe I’ll play just fine”.

Well those particular straws quickly disappeared in the wind, along with a succession of slices from yours truly. Brian and his buddy Josh (who claimed to be a 10 handicap but hit the ball alarmingly long and straight and was also a wizard with the short stick) quickly went five up even though my partner Anne played just fine and despite the fact that I was in charge of the scorecard – there’s only so much manicuring of scores you can get away with on any given hole. After nine holes, in the midst of yet another downpour, Anne disappeared into the pro shop, citing paperwork that suddenly needed doing, although to be fair nobody had mentioned the state of the match after the first four holes – a sure sign that things were a bit one sided.

The conversation had been great throughout. Nobody paid much attention to my miserable efforts, thank goodness, and Anne talked instead about technical stuff concerning Brian’s swing – all Greek to me, obviously –  as well as his mental approach. I’d sum it up as follows: “Expect to succeed or expect to fail – you’ll be right either way.” Josh and Brian chatted about the good old days of junior golf and what mutual acquaintances were doing these days, and Brian and I discussed his schedule for the season. Things are going really well with the Swinkey project right now and he’s decided – wisely, I think – to opt out of the Mexican swing of the Canadian Tour and concentrate on getting his fledgling business off the ground. He’s playing some events on the Vancouver Golf Tour to stay sharp and I plan to go over and caddie for him at least once before we meet up at Uplands in Victoria at the start of June, when the Canadian Tour reaches home soil.

Brian’s game looked pretty solid to me – he shot around even par in foul conditions – and I think the success of the Swinkey will only add to the sense of confidence that is so vital for success on tour. Anne is a great person to be around – as long as you can cope with a constant barrage of good natured abuse, that is – and is obviously doing a good job with the mental as well as the technical side of things. As long as Brian’s caddie does his stuff on the bag – and by the way, B B, that thing’s massive, a guy could get a hernia just lifting it off the ground – this could be a good season!

Birdiewatch – Brian: 3 or 4. Nothing to it apparently.

Birdiewatch – me:  0. In fact, since my birdie barrage at members’ morning two weeks ago I’ve played seven rounds of golf without a single birdie (that’s 126 holes, folks, but who’s counting? Well me, obviously).  Can someone please tell the golf gods that I’ve suffered enough now? Oh, don’t bother. I’ve just seen the forecast for Malcolm Island this weekend: rain, possibly turning to snow. The suffering continues…

All da best.

Dave B.