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Fred Howe cakewalk on 22 July 2023

Nobody was catching me today.

The forecast said no wind or rain but expect it to be cold at tee off time. And it was! The only players not complaining about the cold were the smart ones who had planned ahead and had the hand warmers or ski gloves deployed in between shots over the early holes.

However by the time our first round leaders in the Fred Howe Winter Cup got to the 6th, things were well and truly hotting up. Brendan creamed his 3 wood second shot to within an inch or two of the hole for a tap in eagle and first claim for the day on the Eagles Nest balls prize (more later on the unlucky second eagle of the day). Having birdied the 5th, Brendan was well and truly on fire! 21 points on the front meant he was going to take some catching.

The pair who started the day in second place, Raj and Harry, were left lamenting a few lost opportunities. Raj had no less than four 3 pointers in his first six holes, but two wipes and then another at the 8th saw him turn with 16 points. Harry faired one better with 17 points, despite a few gettable putts sliding by the hole.

Meanwhile, the big dark horse looking most likely to knock Brendan off his perch was last week’s third place starter Prez Priems who matched Raj with four 3 pointers on the front 9. Without any wipes blemishing his card, Rob turned in 21 points and was looking poised to make a charge if Brendan stumbled.

But Brendan kept the 2 and 3 pointers ticking over on the back 9 and apart from a wipe at the 17th, his scorecard suggested calm consistency throughout for 19 points on the back, 40 for the day, 76 over the two weeks and what turned out to be an easy five shot win. Apparently the scorecard belied a few anxious moments during the journey for Brendan. Having been sledged for slow play by a group of women playing behind, Brendan was apparently fired up and hitting them miles off the tee. On the 14th, what looked like an excellent drive to about pin high just off the green turned into something else when it hit the path and ballooned way past the green into the rough besides the lower 15th tee. Thankfully, Matt was on hand to help Brendan find the ball and after pitching back over the green he eventually managed a good chip back and a one putt par.

Meanwhile the wheels had fallen off Rob’s challenge with a wipe and four one pointers to start the back 9. He regathered himself for a strong finish, including a four point birdie on the 17th, with 37 points for the day, 71 for the two rounds and solo second place.

Raj finished the day with the same score as last week, 35, for a total of 70 and third place on his own. Reports suggest that Raj’s stellar chipping was the main feature of his game today. His 6 points for third also see him charge to the lead in the championship race.

Harry, despite his unlucky putting, finished with 32 points for the day, 67 across the two rounds and solo fourth place, along with another first place in the Seniors. He is now the unbackable favourite for the Seniors Championship, with a lead of 14 points over Geoff in second place.

Screamer 3 Wood to 2 inches at the 6th
So close to an albatross!

Michael and Matt limped into 5th place with 66 points across the two rounds. The highlight of Matt’s round was an eagle on the 17th after a drive near the green and a chip that never looked like missing. Unfortunately, when announcing himself the winner of the Eagles Nest, Matt was unaware of Brendan’s earlier eagle on the 6th. Apparently the rule is first eagle of the day wins the balls, any subsequent eagles win nothing, except some sledging at the presentation.

Michael and Matt were joined in 5th place by Jonathan who followed up last week’s 28 points with 38 today. Along the way he hit some shots that suggest he will not be a 20+ something handicapper for long, including a 5 iron from way back in the left rough on 5th that negotiated the big trees and finished 3 metres from the pin. Unfortunately he missed the birdie putt but rectified that with a birdie on 6th after two shots got him close to the green. He then made one of the best up and downs you’ll ever see for par on the 8th from near the back fence after his unlucky second shot bounded through the green. The Punters Club could do worse with their money than to back Jonathan for a few wins in the near future.

Today’s nearest the pin saw Michael win the jackpot “double ball” on the 4th, SOS take out the ball on the 18th and CJ blitz the field with a shot to 2.33 metres to a tough back pin on the 12th.

Whitey was just out of the points in 6th place. He started on fire with a birdie on the first for 4 points, one of 11 birdies for the day across the field. There is a rumour he is soon to jet off to England to replace Pat Cummins as Captain for the 5th test of the Ashes series. Either that or Pat will give him a ring to get a few suggestions on bowling strategies and field placements.

Chris J and Blighty were neck and neck at the tail of the field today, with Chris J eventually getting his nose in front with 2 four point birdies on the back 9.

The best birdie of the day belonged to Brent who was locked at all square in his Match Play semi final against James standing on the 18th tee. With the pin up the top he flew it all the way back there to an inch or two off the green and then made the putt to secure a win 1 up. Brent was the 2021 Match Play champion and runner up in 2022, so he is keen to go again in 2023. He awaits the winner of the other semi between Matt and Porks, with the final scheduled for late August.

Big thanks to SOS for organising the BBQ after the round and a few others stepping in to make sure we all got a decent feed while swapping stories of the day. The playing partners of Chris J, Jonathan and Rob all looked happy as they enjoyed a free drink to go with the hamburgers and snags on offer.

Results for Saturday, 22 Jul 2023
1st Brendon Mitchell (36, 40, 76) 2nd Robert Priems (24, 37, 71) 3rd Rajesh Mahto (35, 35, 70) 4th Harry Boughen (35, 32, 67) 5th Michael Gourlay (31, 35, 66) 5th Matt Hunt (32, 34, 66) 5th Jonathan Lau (28, 38, 66)

Seniors Results: 1st Harry Boughen (35,32,67) 2nd Michael Gourlay (31,35,66) 3rd Chris Priems (30,35,65) 3rd Rodney White (29,36,65)

Nearest the Pin Results: ProPin – 12th Chris Priems BallPin No 1 – 4th Michael Gourlay BallPin No 2 – 18th Stephen O’Sullivan

Eagle’s Nest Results: Eagle – 6th Brendon Mitchell

Howe to miss your fourth putt on 15 July 2023.

No pressure!
Nobody’s going to Bradbury me!

Leading up to tee time, there was a lot of talk about rain-free days and the effect of windy ones on the condition of the course. The sign was still out for preferred lies, but the carts were on the move, so that augured well for significantly improved conditions out on the course. And, that augury proved to be accurate, with only patches on the 13th and 14th still a bit on the ‘mucky’ side. The need for preferred lie was still obvious, with the wet clay sticking to the ball and buggy wheels like the proverbial baby cack to a blanket. The greens were soft enough to hold a well lofted approach, but fast enough to let anything skinny skip right on through. The weather was fine, and the forecast showers were nowhere in sight by the end of the round, despite some prognostications made by a few of the eleven members playing, in the face of thickening cloud and fading light late in the piece. All in all, there should have been no real reason not to shoot the lights out.

As it turned out, the best that we could manage was to play to handicap, although you could be forgiven for thinking that that performance could have been rather better than it turned out. Brendon started out trying his best to repeat last week’s start by chipping in for a birdie on the first. The margin of the miss was really quite small. For some reason, the honey-comb track way by the 8th green managed to spook him, and a series of ‘duffs’ resulted in a triple and a no score, leaving him with only 19 points at the turn. At the 14th, after a very purposeful preparation, the drive departed like a bullet, and the ball finished on the green with a straight, up-hill putt for a potential eagle. The putt ran fast and true, but just a little too fast for the section of the cup that it caught, but it finished not too far away to be considered a good birdie chance. Four putts later, Brendon was left with the option of cutting his own throat or carrying on with the game. This he did in fine style (carrying on, that is), and finished with a total of 36 points to lead the field.

Harry struggled with his short game over the course of the front nine, and the three putts cost him dearly, and so, he was somewhat down in the dumps at the turn. However, in a similar vein to last week, he was able to turn the form around to produce the best nine hole points total for the day of 21, to bring his total to a second place holding tally of 35 points. Raj started out just a bit on the ‘average’ side, but, on the 3rd, he fairly cracked his drive well down the fairway, and followed up with a pretty speccy shot to within a couple of metres of the pin. His putt was deadly accurate, but it came to a stop with part of the ball hanging over the edge of the hole. Instead of walking up to the ball, Raj tried kangaroo hopping in the hope that the vibration would make it drop. No such luck, and the Match Committee would have upheld a protest, so he, grudgingly, had to nudge the ball into the hole for the par. Finishing off the round with a couple of pars helped him to attain the second place total of 35 as well.

The 8th hole seems to have had a bit of a jinx upon it today, with no less than four members scoring triples on it for no points. One of those was none other than Prez, aka Rob, who might have done better than his 17 points for the front nine if it were not for that. The back nine did not produce any no score holes, but it could only produce the exact same total, to make the 34 points for the round, which was enough to snag the third podium spot without having to share it. Matt was another who fell victim to the jinx on the 8th. However, his score was helped immeasurably by the three birdies that he managed to score elsewhere, and he became by far the most prolific feather duster for the day, as we only managed four between the lot of us. The fifth spot on the Leaderboard is shared by Michael and SOS with their tally of 31 points. However, with Tail-end-Charlie only three points further back, nobody is really out of the running to do a Bradbury, and to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

The options offered for the first BallPin today were the 4th or the 7th. The 7th was ‘eliminated’ as being too hard, and so the 4th it was. And, what do you know, the 4th was too hard, and there will be a jackpot for next week. As an aside, at least one member did get onto the 7th. The ProPin was a jackpot on the 15th, and Harry cracked a mighty fine drive that looked to be right in there with a chance. Brendon did his little wiggle on the tee and spoke nicely to the ball – ‘just finish inside Harry’. And, it did, stopping 2.9m out pin high. Harry needn’t have worried because his was just over the 5m limit. The second BallPin on the 18th fell to Raj with his shot to 5m, which could easily be enough to win the ProShop ProPin as well.

The last of the Matchplay Quarter-finals was played today between Matt and Michael. With only three strokes difference, on paper it looked to be a good match. A good match it turned out to be. Michael, never did manage to get his nose in front, but the margin was never more than two holes. After the 16th, the match was square, with a good chance that it could go either way. Matt won the 17th by scoring one of his birdies to Michael’s par, making the match Dormie 1, and turning the 18th hole into a pivotal contest. On the green, Matt had about a 3m putt, while Michael was faced with about 1.5m. According to all reports, Matt’s putt had well and truly ‘missed’ when it hit a pebble, deflected and ran back into the hole. Completely gob-smacked, Michael then missed his putt, and handed the hole to Matt, making the score-line 2 up to Matt.

Geoff was ‘bragging’ about the number of pars on his card, despite the final score total. It seems that on the 10th, the ball was heading for one, maybe two fairways across, when it hit a tree dead centre, and dropped onto the green from where he made the par. When playing his second on the 2nd from beside the 1st green, Geoff hooked it, with little time for a ‘fore’, and nearly took the pom-pom off Whitey’s beanie. Then again, maybe Whitey (and SOS) shouldn’t have been positioned so far forward. While on the subject of Whitey, he reckons today is the first time he has ever played a round without scoring at least one par (fact check required!). Jonathan was back with us today after a bit of a break, and, just maybe, the match fitness was a little wanting. However, it seems that he could be challenging for the ‘Priems’ title after a couple of ‘sprayed’ shots, on the 3rd and 4th holes, were eventually found comfortably in the middle of the correct fairway. And, on the 10th, the group in front, on the 11th tee, were in serious danger if it were not for the garbage bin that intervened and deposited the ball comfortable back in play on the fairway. The shot of the day was reported to belong to Matt on the 13th, where his drive on the 13th finished in the tree line along the 10th. A sneaky little 2 iron avoided the greenery and finished on the green, leaving just the putt to make yet another birdie. Speaking of Birdies, the Birthday variety missed out on sending a wish to SteveG last week. Maybe that is why he didn’t make it this week.

Results for Saturday, 15 Jul 2023
Leaderboard Round 1: 1st Brendon Mitchell (36) 2nd Harry Boughen (35) 2nd Rajesh Mahto (35) 3rd Robert Priems (34) 4th Matt Hunt (32) 5th Michael Gourlay (31) 5th Stephen O’Sullivan (31)

Seniors Leaderboard: 1st Harry Boughen (35) 2nd Michael Gourlay (31) 3rd Chris Priems (30)

Nearest the Pin Results: ProPin – 15th Brendon Mitchell BallPin No 1 – 4th Jackpot BallPin No 2 – 18th Rajesh Mahto

All Hail King James

Loving Royal Ivanhoe!
I have Raj and Geoff in my sights!

The weather forecast suggested wind was going to be the big factor at Royal Ivanhoe this week, plus the usual mid-winter slush. As it turns out, the slush was far more dangerous than the wind, but more on that later.

The announcement of results was delayed by Andrew and Connor breaking all world records for faffing about finalising their cards. It was no surprise that one of those cards was marked incorrectly, changing the results announced on the day and relegating previous fourth place getters to fifth, with previous fifth sliding out of the points on a day of big slides.

James and his mates have added some youthful energy to the club this year, although a few of the old guard have been heard to murmur that perhaps the handicapper has been a bit generous to James over the journey. Come to think of it, a few of the old guard have said similar things about Geoff and Raj too.

Indeed after today we have Geoff, Raj and James filling the top three places in the championship race, with Harry the Handicapper the closest challenger. James galloped home to win the day easily by three shots and grab the 8 points for first place with another stellar round. Solid pars for pluses on the 8th and 9th saw James turn 2 up. After a bit of a stumble at the 12th and 15th, he then finished birdie-par on the 17th and 18th for two finishing pluses and a +3 total.

Along the way, James managed to dispatch Peps in their Matchplay quarter final. Playing off 5, Peps had to spot James 10 shots and it was always going to be a tough ask if James played well. Peps got his nose in front with a spectacular birdie on the 2nd, but thereafter it all headed in the other direction, with James winning 4 and 3.

After the round, Brendan passed by the clubhouse contingent heading for the car park looking cross and uninterested in conversation. Stories started circulating about his multiple shanks and there was speculation we might not see Brendan again, or his card. He duly arrived smiling and plonked down a square card, good enough to share second place with Michael. Brendan confirmed at least 4 shanks, including shockers on the 8th, 14th and 16th that cost him losses. He had started the round with 3 pluses, including a long range chip in birdie at the 1st, one of 11 birdies from the field for the day.

The new Old Reliable Harry stormed home with 4 pluses in his last 7 holes to post Minus 1 and share third place with Prez Priems and Connor. Apart from knocking off Gordo for the nearest the pin on the 12th, Harry’s highlights included a long range curling putt from 10 metres on the 14th for a birdie. For reasons only he knows, SOS was heckling from an adjoining fairway, but unperturbed Harry sank the putt and raised his arms in triumph. Harry’s round was good enough for his 9th second placing of the year in the senior’s championship. Together with his 5 seniors wins, Harry is now the man to beat in that race.

Rob was struggling with his putting range early on and no less than four times sent putts a good 3 to 4 metres past the hole only to step up and make the putts on the way back. Two other long putts rounded out a great day on the greens for Rob.

Connor’s card included 5 pluses and suggests when he puts it all together we will see him higher up the leaderboard very soon. His first three outings after gaining his handicap have all resulted in third place points. Like Royal Ivanhoe’s favourite horse Mr Brightside early in his career, those in the know are predicting higher honours for Connor.

Andrew played his first game for a while and hopes to be back playing more regularly soon. The headline on his card said Minus 4 but the fine print revealed it was Minus 2 and good enough for 4th place points on his own.

Whitey managed to drag himself away from Mr Brightside’s stable and make it to the course today for 5th place points on Minus 4, along with Raj and Chris J.

Raj’s second fifth over the past two weeks has seen him sneak up to be just one point behind Geoff in the championship race. Raj’s highlights included “doing a Harry” from well outside the 5 metre mark on the 15th, sinking a big curling putt for a 2. Chris J’s highlights were birdies on the 16th and 18th, the latter a shot to about a metre or so from the hole and a clear win for nearest the pin. In between the two birdies Chris managed to hit a “for safety” 7 iron off the 17th tee into the river. Funny game golf!

Loving the Ivanhoe slush!
Gordo’s day of slides

Gordo, unlucky to miss 5th place points on Minus 5, was the story of the day. Ignoring the designated path at the front of the 15th tee, Gordo decided the slushy conditions were of no concern and stepped off down the side of the tee, immediately fell on his back and slid all the way down to the path next to the 14th green with his head, according to eyewitness reports “bumping and thumping” on the way down. With Gordo lying there looking dazed and not moving, Chris J was concerned enough to get out his phone ready to check the club’s concussion protocols and/or call an ambulance. Luckily Gordo managed to get himself up and about soon enough. Apparently more worried about the mud on his jacket than anything else, Gordo was next seen rolling about on some clean grass behind the 14th green trying to get the jacket clean. While his playing partners were clearly worried about his mental and physical health by this stage, Gordo promptly chipped his next shot to 30cm from the hole for an easy par and picked up two more pars on the 17th and 18th to finish strongly and live to tell the tale.

Best 3 wood of my life finishes here!
“I’m a good golfer out of luck”

SOS brought up the tail of the field and proved he is a better photographer than golfer on the 16th. After duffing his drive, he hit what he claimed was the best 3 wood of his career, which bounced unluckily on the left edge of the green and finished up nestled next to a tree. A left-handed shot, later followed by a duffed chip or two, and Michael had the pleasure of recording SOS’s 10th loss of the day to go with one solitary plus. SOS later claimed he played better than Brendan because he only had one shank.

Next week is the first round of one of the prestigious club majors, the Fred Howe Winter Cup. Incentives to attend include Gordo promising to do a re-enactment of his trick on the 15th (to be filmed this time) and a ProPin jackpot on the same hole. There will be a committee meeting after Round 1 and a club BBQ after Round 2. If James makes it to the first tee for the Fred Howe he will find this week’s Assistant Handicapper has taken great delight in lopping 2 strokes off his handicap.

Results for Saturday, 08 Jul 2023
1st James Hale (+3) 2nd Michael Gourlay (□) 2nd Brendon Mitchell (□) 3rd Harry Boughen (-1) 3rd Connor McIntosh (-1) 3rd Robert Priems (-1) 4th Andrew Noble (-2) 5th Chris James (-4) 5th Rajesh Mahto (-4) 5th Rodney White (-4)

Seniors Results: 1st Michael Gourlay (□) 2nd Harry Boughen (-1) 3rd Rodney White (-4)

Nearest the Pin Results: ProPin – 15th Jackpot BallPin No 1 – 12th Harry Boughen BallPin No 2 – 18th Chris James

‘Hoe, ‘Hoe, ‘Hoe your boat on 01 July 2023

Pepsi wins a medal
Maybe I can get a new putter for my birthday.

Birrarung isn’t quite in danger of breaking the banks, but parts of the course were pretty soggy with the regular doses of rain recently, with not much in the way of drying weather in between. Today, the showers threatened a couple of times, but it only looked to be a bit serious just as the barbecue was being packed away. Even then, it only lasted for a few minutes before the sun was trying to break through again. It is Melbourne, after all. In the end, after a couple of late withdrawals, we had twelve members turn out for our day to mark the anniversary of Trev’s untimely departure. Bob turned up to help demolish the snags and burgers with the news that his back is still a bit crook and under investigation, but he is hopeful that he will be fit enough to rejoin the fray in the near future. President Rob said a few words about Trev and his role in the Club, and SOS also shared a memory of his sense of humour. Harry marked the occasion by passing around a packet of Mars Bars as another memento of Trev’s time with us, and they were appreciated by all.

Of course, the main reason for the day was to contest the July Monthly Medal, and it is probably not often that the first group is asked by the course management to ‘put out’ the white markers. It seems the staff member detailed to do the job left them beside the tee box, but didn’t put them out to mark the teeing area. As far as can be determined, the members of the first group did not take advantage of the situation, nor did they correct situations where the white markers were in front of the blue. Then again, they didn’t rush in to get the barbecue started either. Despite all the shenanigans and the wet patches on the course, Pepsi was the man of the day, putting together a round of 73 off the stick for a net score of 67, which was exactly the right number to win the Monthly Medal for July. His situation was helped just a little by a magnificent chip in for an eagle on the 6th hole. So, the poor old Eagle is back to square one, and has threatened to put a hex on the 6th to avenge the three raids on her nest from that quarter this year. Of course, this was just after Peps was heard having a Pups about his putting on the 5th green.

Brent turned out today all fired up to take on Stef in their third round match, only to get a message that Stef couldn’t make it either today or before the deadline, and so was forfeiting the round. But, it was also Brent’s 100th game with the Club, and he was a game behind in his ‘challenge’ with CJ, so he was here to play. However, he wasn’t here to break his handicap, so he very carefully arranged to finish with a net 68 to come in second and to collect the five points. His second placing and with no sign of CJ in front, it seems that the family grudge is now all square.

Brendon was copping heaps today as a member of the first group, and he claimed that he had no experience at cooking barbecue because he has never been in the first group on barbecue days before. That is what you call subtle bragging! Despite his best efforts at segregating the ‘hot sausage’ from the regular sausage, there were some tastes that didn’t exactly agree with his classification. The cooking can’t have been too bad, as there were relatively few snags left at the end of the day. As far as the golf went, that ended up reasonably satisfactory as well, and a net 70 was good enough to score the points for third place. The big B was not alone on that score, though, because Prez Rob put in a great burst on the back nine to card just 39 strokes to finish the round with 70 net as well. The front nine did not play quite so well, although he went close to getting a par on the 8th through playing his ball from the centre of the fairway each time. The first time thanks to a tree. The second time thanks to a post in the OOB fence. As the old saying goes – you don’t have to post pictures on Instagram!

Michael might have been a little distracted today after receiving news that his Mum was in hospital, but his net 73 was enough for 4th place, together with top spot in the Seniors. Porks might also have been a little distracted, as he was deeply involved in his match with Gordon. Despite that, he was also able to card a net 73 to share the fourth podium spot with Michael. Raj was hovering around at the barbecue as the cards were being sorted, desperate to find out whether he had won himself a point or not. As it turned out, his net 74 was exactly the amount he needed to get just the one point for the fifth place for the day.

The match between Porks and Gordo was described as one of attrition. For a while there, it looked as if it could end up being a close run thing. Although Gordo couldn’t quite get on the right side of the ledger, he was just one hole down after the 12th. A couple of ‘disasters’ on the 13th and 14th turned the tide in Porks favour, and after a square on the 15th, the match went dormie 3. Squaring the 16th was not an option for Gordo, but he did, and the match went to Porks, 3 and 2.

The Tee Marshal (emeritus) took pity today and put the ProPin on the 12th. When it became obvious that there was already a name on it, Harry (in the second group) opined that we should stop sending the markers out with the first group if they keep ‘winning’. However, he need not have worried because Prez was able to measure his shot at 1.65m, to beat out Raj at 2.4m. And the rest of the field as well. There was an even bigger smile on his face when he rattled the putt in to bring our total for the day to six. The first ProPin was on the 15th, and, once more, Raj put out the marker, but, having a premonition, he did not put his name on it. His premonition proved to be accurate because Harry was able to get his shot closer in to take the ball. And, no – he did not use a hand span relief to get the ball onto the green! The BallPin on the 18th was looking to be heading for Jackpot territory until along came Porks who was able to lay claim to the ball as a result.

Pepsi turned up today with a box of balls from his Dad’s garage that were estimated to be about 20 years old. They were all CROSS_OUTS and included B51s, Pinnacles and assorted other brands. In a fit of nostalgia, CJ grabbed one of the B51s, and managed to get away a pretty good drive on the 1st hole. Then he decided that maybe it was a bit ‘dead’. When he sank the putt for his par, it felt good off the club, and he thought maybe it was worth another hole. The double bogie on the second saw the unfortunate ball despatched to the wilderness. However, on the 3rd, with his second shot heading through the tree towards the green until an insignificant twig stopped it in its tracks, CJ wondered why the tree gods were not on his side today. Maybe it had something to do with his flirting with the coconut trees in Fiji! Not at all sure why Pepsi features so much today, but according to SOS, he must have super sensitive hearing after he blamed a duck quacking for a missed putt. Everybody knows that a duck quack does not echo (allegedly) and SOS reckons the offending duck was ‘miles’ away in any case.

Results for Saturday, 01 Jul 2023
1st Andrew Petricola (67) 2nd Brent Rowley (68) 3rd Brendon Mitchell (70) 3rd Robert Priems (70) 4th Michael Gourlay (73) 4th Ryan Porker (73) 5th Rajesh Mahto (74)

Seniors Results: 1st Michael Gourlay (73) 2nd Harry Boughen (75) 3rd Chris Priems (79)

Nearest the Pin Results: ProPin – 12th Robert Priems BallPin No 1 – 15th Harry Boughen BallPin No 2 – 18th Ryan Porker

Eagle’s Nest Results: Eagle – 6th Andrew Petricola