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’…)

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The evils of gambling (part 1)

25 11 2011

I can hardly imagine playing golf without a wager of some kind being involved. It’d be like playing darts or pool without a beer close at hand or not chirping at the batter if you’re playing as an infielder in baseball (or, if you’re of British stock, silly mid-off in cricket) or not booing those darn Europeans for diving in hockey or soccer. It’s just part of the game, right?

Not that the guys I play with at Glacier Greens are exactly high rollers. We’ve all heard of Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan playing for $10,000 a hole or whatever it is, but we’re happy to play for quarters. I guarantee you that MJ and Eldrick don’t get more enjoyment from their winnings than we do from seeing one of our buddies reluctantly handing over the $4.50 maximum as we’re swapping our exaggerations and flat out lies in the clubhouse after the round. We vary the game – foursomes, sixes, skins, even Wolf or Bingo Bango Bongo on occasion – but there always has to be a winner and an unlucky (and much-derided) loser.

Six of us met up at the course today for a late morning coffee, in the hope that the frost would clear and we could hit the little white ball around instead of tackling our respective honey do lists. Luck was with us, and at a little after 11.00 we were all on the first tee, having decided that we would play as two threesomes and add our collective net scores together to decide which group would pay which group a nominal $2 each. This is obviously a game that can only be played when you completely trust everyone involved, but as my five playing partners were Ringer, the Chief, Budmeister, Smokin’ Joe and the Great Robinski there was no fear of chicanery. My group (Bud, the Chief and I) were a little concerned about Ringer being in charge of the Black Hats’ scorecard (only because John is a lot better at hitting golf shots than he is adding up scores), but we knew that Joe and Robin would keep things straight.

The good guys got off to a promising start, with a fair sprinkling of pars and even a couple of birdies thrown in for good measure, but things started to go awry on the back nine as double bogey followed double bogey. A not-so-grand net total of 224 was the result, 11 over par, and obviously unlikely to be good enough for a win. There are various techniques that can be used for handing over money at the end of the round: I’ve seen coins literally thrown at the winner’s feet in disgust, for example. Bud’s personal favourite is to gather together all the small change he can muster and then push the pile of nickels, dimes and pennies across the table with great ceremony. On this occasion, we decided to take the moral high road and each put a bright, shiny toonie into the centre of the table in the hope that there wouldn’t be too much crowing from the victors. This technique has worked in the past, although there are no sure-fire guarantees of handing over money AND saving face at the same time. You just have to show some class and hope the exchange of money goes over without incident.

Sure enough, when the scorecards were exchanged the bad guys had a total of 220 – not great, but enough for a four shot win. The toonies were duly pocketed, and Bud, Adrian and I  were offering a few feeble excuses for our collective pitifulness (if there’s no such word, I’m claiming copyright), when Robin mentioned that he and John had accidentally played each other’s balls on the fifth hole. “What?” I roared, in my official capacity as Level Three Rules Official (or Level 10 Know-It-All according to my so-called friends). “Hold on a minute! Put those toonies back! Did you guys take penalty strokes? If not, your entire team is DQ’d for entering an incorrect score.” The look on Robin’s face told me that no such penalty strokes had been added. The look on the faces of Bud and Adrian told me that I’d just forfeited all our moral high ground for a lousy two bucks. The grin on Joe’s face as John pushed his $2 back across the table towards me told me that this was not the last that I’d be hearing about my lack of class. Bah! My dad – who couldn’t tell a mashie niblick from a potato masher – told me years ago that gambling was a mug’s game, but if you lose the rule was to ‘pay up and look big’. Sorry, Dad – I messed that one up once again!

All da best!

Dave B.





Golf etiquette

16 02 2011

Before

After

There won’t be many golfers around who are not aware that Tiger Woods was fined for spitting last week at the European Tour event in Dubai. Woods himself, despite claiming that he didn’t realise that he had spat on the 12th green, just five or six feet from the hole, accepted his fine with good grace. I should think so too! Ewen Murray, the commentator who said at the time that Woods’ behaviour was ‘the lowest of the low’ was, of course, absolutely right in condemning an act that showed total disregard for his fellow professionals, some of whom would later have to putt through Mr Woods’ phlegm.

A couple of nights later I happened to be watching the Vancouver Canucks’ hockey game in Minnesota. At one point, late in the game, a player on the bench spat over the boards and onto the ice. Noticing his action, a commentator chuckled and, in an obvious reference to the Woods incident,  said ‘You’d get fined for that in golf!’, as if  golf was odd in not condoning such anti social behaviour. I like hockey. I like its traditions. I even like the fights, especially the beautifully choreographed goalie fights. But I don’t want golf ever to follow hockey and other sports in dropping its insistence on fair play and politeness. You may not have heard of  Elliot Saltman, a young Scottish golfer who has just qualified for the European Tour. Two weeks ago he received a three month ban for marking his ball incorrectly on several occasions during a Challenge Tour event in Russia last season. Even when his ban is over, it will be quite a while before his name is mentioned without the word ‘cheat’ popping into people’s minds. Harsh? Maybe so. But golf prides itself on having the highest standards of fair play, and that is one of the reasons I love this infuriatingly difficult sport.

Golf is unusual in having severe penalties for poor sportsmanship. Offensive language or deliberately trying to put off a fellow competitor can result in disqualification or even suspension. One of our past Presidents at Glacier Greens even banned himself once for club throwing! Imagine  suspensions being handed out in Premier League soccer for bad language and poor sportsmanship! They’d have to start playing three a side!

Admittedly, there are occasions when the group with whom I usually play doesn’t manage to live up to the highest of standards. Even now, el bandito Juan has only the vaguest idea of what it means to ‘have the honour’, assuming – usually correctly – that it will always be his turn to tee off first. “Nice shot…arsehole” is a commonly heard phrase when you’re around Robinski, and some of the things Glennie calls his golf ball while in flight would result in either fisticuffs or a law suit if said to another human being. Even Ringer and Lairdo have been known to utter the odd oath, but my favourite expression is one I heard years ago when playing in a match play event against a friend of mine in England. I’d just hit a long approach shot to an elevated green, guarded by a huge bunker. “Is my friend in the sand trap?” enquired my mate solicitously, “or is the bastard on the green?” Now that’s golf etiquette at its finest…

Finally, this just in from the ‘you couldn’t make it up department’: on the same weekend that Tiger Woods laid his slime trail on that unsuspecting green in Dubai, a journeyman Canadian golfer achieved his best performance yet on the Champions Tour by finishing in a tie for second place behind Tom Lehman at the Allianz Championship in Boca Raton, Florida. His name? Rod Spittle!

All da best,

Dave B.





And a happy bl**dy New Year to you too…

7 01 2011

To say that I like golf is probably something of an understatement. A bit like pointing out that John Daly is partial to the odd tipple or that Tiger Woods has trouble with the concept of monogamy. Not that I’m obsessed with the game, of course. After all I only played 167 rounds of golf in 2010 and caddied for another 25 or so, which means there were lots of days when I was nowhere near a golf course. And I’m pretty sure I didn’t watch the Golf Channel on all of those days. If you look at it that way, I probably barely got my money’s worth out of my membership at Glacier Greens last year.

That being said, this last month has been extremely trying. Just when I was coming into a rich vein of form (i.e. I managed to shoot 80 on my last round at Glacier in early December) the big freeze started and with it five whole weeks of no golf. I know there was Christmas and all, but 35 days of golflessness was really much more than I could handle. Day after day of  ‘course closed due to frost and/or snow’  was finally followed yesterday by ‘course closed due to heavy rain’. So imagine my surprise and delight this morning when I glanced at the Glacier Greens website  to see that the course was open and had been for nearly an hour! A quick phone call to the pro shop, a spot found on the 12:08 tee time, apologies made to Scottish Wife that I wouldn’t after all be able to join her on the grocery shopping expedition and the 2011 golf season was under way!

There was no time to hit the driving range or putting green (that’d be two of my New Year’s resolutions already broken then), as Norm and Al were waiting on the first tee. A quick waggle, a smooth practice swing and my first shot of  the year soared 200 yards right down the middle of the fairway, admittedly with a bit of a splash from where it landed in a puddle. 2011 was clearly going to be a great year! A sliced approach shot, a duffed chip and three putts later I was walking off the first green with my first double of the year. Golf, eh? Happy bl**dy New Year!

All da best,

Dave B.