Wednesday 07 Dec 2016

Golf Inspires New System
David Simmonds

Let me say right off the top, I am not a golf person.

From the outside, though, there seem to be some likable things about the game.

For instance, where else could grown men get away with wearing lavender/watermelon/peach coloured sweaters, plus-four trousers, knee high argyle socks and black and white studded shoes?

And what other activity would allow a discreetly yelled "fore" to substitute for a cry of "there's a hard object travelling towards your head at considerable speed that will probably hit you before you have a chance to digest this message and take evasive action: but at least you were warned, so I've discharged my ethical obligation to you"?

There's also the human courtesy of the 'Mulligan' rule.With the consent of playing partners, a golfer is apparently allowed to retake a flubbed shot - a principle that could usefully be applied to many of our actions in life.

And then there's the 'handicap' system - a way of letting players of differing abilities play each other on equal terms based on an assessment of their past performance. A handicap, according to the Royal Canadian Golf Association, "is calculated using the best 10 of the player's last 20 rounds and updated with each new round played." So it's something you can determine arithmetically.

In practical terms, as I understand it, a player with a nine handicap could beat a player with a six handicap if he or she had a score for the day that was only two strokes higher.

Which got me thinking.

There's been an awful lot of hot air and friction over the past few months about 'County-ness' - about who is the most entitled to speak as an authentic County resident, or who's views are entitled to more inherent weight. Why not establish a handicap system that eliminates the doubt and lets people know where they stand? Letters to the editors of our prestigious local weeklies would no longer be signed "Angus Griswold - Fifth Generation County": they would simply bear the correspondent's name, followed by his or her numerical handicap in brackets.This should quickly serve to elevate the tone of debate about issues that touch raw nerves.

County Council could establish a committee (assuming it could agree on the representation formula and no one appealed it to the Ontario Municipal Board as being undemocratic) to settle on some objective Countyness Handicap rating criteria.

A 'scratch' CH rating, for example, would be awarded to a resident who had lived continuously in The County his or her entire adult life, never left the County except to go to the Royal Winter Fair or for a medical procedure that was not available locally, and could trace ancestors resident in the County for six or more generations.

A person who could point to a family name relationship between a road or public facility (not that there is a Miss Emmeline Swampcollege in the County) would be awarded a CH rating of two. And a person who, though a recent resident of the County, operates a heritage bed and breakfast and owns a facility pictured in The Settlers' Dream, or owns a copy of the first edition of the book, would be entitled to a CH rating of no more than five.

Anyone who moved to the County 'when land was really cheap' would be given a CH rating of no higher than six.And a person who can follow 'used to be' directions would receive a high CH rating: "just go a few miles down the road, turn right where the Blodgins place used to be, and keep on until you hit the driveway where old Fritzenstrudel used to farm."

The highest CH rating - a 10 handicap - would go to people who "heard about the wonderful wineries and restaurants from an article in Toronto Life and simply had to get a place here - and Picton is so cute - so we're going to tear down and rebuild".

This system, once implemented, should eliminate a lot of posturing and pay for itself in no time as a consequence of the efficiencies it will create - but for one slight problem.

When do the CH ratings kick in, and which way do they kick in? If a resident with a CH of nine debates to a draw with a resident whose CH is four, is it still a draw; does the four CH debater win by virtue of the lower and more highly coveted CH; or does the nine CH debater win for achieving a tie despite having the higher CH?

Maybe the new CH committee will have more work on its hands than I imagined. Maybe I've landed in a bunker here. After all, the whole idea is to avoid people getting teed off. And to prevent the proliferation of lavender/watermelon/peach coloured sweaters.

Some readers seem intent on nullifying the authority of David Simmonds. The critics are so intense; Simmonds is cast as more scoundrel than scamp. He is, in fact, a Canadian writer of much wit and wisdom. Simmonds writes strong prose. He dissects, in a cheeky way, what some think sacrosanct. His wit refuses to allow the absurdities of life to move along, nicely, without comment. What Simmonds writes frightens some readers. He doesn't court the ineffectual. Those he scares off are the same ones that will not understand his writing. Satire is not for sissies. The wit of David Simmonds skewers societal vanities, the self-important and their follies as well as the madness of tyrants. He never targets the outcasts or the marginalised; when he goes for a jugular, its blood is blue. David Simmonds, by nurture, is a lawyer. By nature, he is a perceptive writer, with a gimlet eye, a superb folk singer, lyricist and composer. He believes quirkiness is universal; this is his focus and the base of his creativity. "If my humour hurts," says Simmonds,"it's after the stiletto comes out." He's an urban satirist on par with Mike Barnacle, Jimmy Breslin, the late Mike Rokyo and, increasingly, Dorothy Parker. He writes from and often about the village of Wellington Ontario. Simmonds also writes for the Wellington "Times," in Wellington, Ontario.

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