Saturday, August 2, 2008

ZenTiger Winston Plays Bogey Golf - Front 9

Winston played a round at Hutt Golf Club on Thursday, the venue for his latest speech.

He was shooting for birdies, but dropped a few shots as he found the hazards driving hard from the Tee.

We interviewed caddy ZenTiger after the game to get a complete rundown of his speech to the club. Uppermost in our minds was how he played the game. Zen, can you take us through the first nine holes?

"Delighted to"

Hole 1 - Buglers - par 4
Well, the first hole was a short par four, dogging left. This has suited Winston's recent style of play, as he has been consistently dogging left for the last three years.

He decided to play short of the green on his second, but was badly affected by the slopes leading up to the bunker on the right. I heard him mutter "Bloody typical", but I advised him not to let racism affect his game and keep his head down. He changed it to

"those things that do not kill you will only make you stronger"

which got him nicely up onto the green for three, but he fluffed a putt and sent it past the hole with his follow through:

"We are still standing in New Zealand First and are stronger than ever".

He tapped in for a bogey five.

Hole 2 - Corridor - par 4
The second hole was interesting. Winston was playing off the white markers, "The Mens Markers" as he calls them, and just ahead of him, who should we see but Rodney Hide, playing off the Yellow Markers, or "the Lady markers" as Winston likes to say. Now some of the more experienced golfers will say that red markers are often the ladies markers. And looking at the Labour party, I'd have to agree. But Hutt Golf Club uses yellow. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

The second hole is tricky. From the tee, the narrow tree-lined corridor stops everything but the straightest shots. You need to aim slightly to the left of centre as your ball will roll towards the right hand rough. Again, a dogleg to the left, but with a bias to slope right. Winston waited until Rodney was in his back swing and called out:

"We heard today that the political dwarf in the yellow jacket has laid a complaint with the Serious Fraud Office over so-called allegations about New Zealand First."

It had no affect, Rodney's placement was perfect. That rattled Winston and he again bogeyed that hole.

Hole 3 - Riverside - par 4
The third hole is a par four, slight dogleg right. But you still have to play your tee-shot left. The large green is deceptive and slopes left to right. Winston started out with a 2 wood:

"Well as we were taught in school when it is better to stay silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt."

I was wondering if that was foreshadowing, but his second shot was good and he was on the green in two:

"It is no coincidence that the colour the dwarf chooses to wear is yellow – but his credibility is fading as fast as his hideous dress sense. Let me tell you why."

and then he completely blew the long putt with this:

"You see they have never let the facts get in the way of their salacious stories. But we are here tonight to talk about far more serious matters."

Completely avoided the hole. I've never seen a putter lift the ball off the green like that. It was no surprise he finally sunk it in 6. Double bogey.

Hole 4 - Belmont - Par 5
This is a long straight hole with a favourable left-of-centre lie. The hole is named "Belmont" but the locals call it "Into the Dunne-e". Some fairway bunkers are there to trap the big hitters. Winston's first two shots had him ready for a 9 iron onto the Green:

"While the media have been seduced by all manner of scandal and innuendo a real crisis has been unfolding – one which effects every single household in New Zealand. As you are well aware 2008 is election year. And nothing sharpens the mind like the prospect of a contest."

Although I had to wonder about that last tactic. He's been playing off the white markers, and professionals, as you know, play off the blue. I was wondering if Winston was feeling ready for the big time. But then he showed why he plays to a handicap:

"We are beginning to experience the unfettered impact of this so-called globalization, which we had foisted on us by unthinking ideologues since 1984."

Globalization? Is that the new term for accepting $100,000 in donations from ex-pat Owen Glenn? That left him in the bunker but he chipped out nicely:

"That is not to say that New Zealand should not be part of the global community – we should."

He sent the ball around the green for a while:

"But from 1984 onwards we tried to go further and faster in opening ourselves up than any other developed nation – and we did not put the necessary safeguards in place to protect our own self interest."

Well, aside from the Spencer Trust.

"Those who promoted this economic and social experimentation were guilty of economic vandalism and we are dealing with the effects of that now."

I thought we were dealing with the effects of nine years of Labour as greens keeper, but it is credible to mention that a lot of the overseas players who have been visiting haven't always replaced their divots. Part of the blame must surely be the Greens keeper's attitude though? The Canadians tried to join the club, they had the membership fees and were prepared to play only on weekdays but the Greens keeper blocked them. It must have annoyed Winston more when a Chinese group got the nod to play through. Back to the game though, Winston finally sunk the putt for a bogey 6:

"We have the highest interest rates in the developed world and the most volatile dollar."

Hole 5 - Crossing - par 3
This is the only par 3 on the front 9. Like most Kiwi golf courses, go too far right and you are Out Of Bounds. The pin position can be tough, and the three pot bunkers affectionately known as "The Nandors" are best avoided. Some subtle breaks need to be allowed for. Winston was on the green in one:

"Finance companies are falling like dominoes with tens of thousands of people losing their savings, food and household prices are soaring and the list goes on."

Then he three putted. Don't ask me how.

Every time we face a crisis those promoting these extreme neo-liberal policies trot out the same tired mantra.

Hole 6 - Tararuas - par 4
This is probably the toughest hole on the course. Drive to left centre to set up a mid iron to this tricky green. A shot to the right may be blocked out by the trees. Missing the green to the left is much better than missing to the right where a deep bunker awaits. The green tends to slope to the right and back to front. If you can get policy out of that lie, you are a better player than me. Winston played a 3 iron off the tee, much like the previous hole. It didn't help:

"Every time we face a crisis those promoting these extreme neo-liberal policies trot out the same tired mantra.

They call it the TINA principle – There Is No Alternative.

They wait until there is a crisis then inflict even more extreme right wing ideology on an unsuspecting population desperate for any solution that sounds reasonable."

Yep, almost predictably, he steered clear of the bunker on the right and played left. It cost him a shot.

"Well we are here tonight to say there is an alternative – one which makes both economic sense and offers real hope for ordinary New Zealanders. And let me tell you why we need an alternative more than ever."

Hole 7 - Pineside - par 4
It pays to play your tee shot to left centre fairway as the trees on both the left and right can block your second shot. The green slopes towards you with subtle breaks left and right. Winston played right down the centre, perhaps slightly right but not in any real danger with a swipe at the Reserve Bank. Half way down the fairway, he pulled out a mashie and clubbed the ball well. Something about the shaft on that club that gets him going:

"In the June Monetary Policy Statement the Reserve Bank’s economic analysis on page 26 highlighted that 95,000 New Zealanders have to lose their jobs over the next three years if we are to meet inflation targets through using interest rates. You heard me right – 95,000 jobs must go so the Governor of the Reserve Bank can keep his job."

Well, I went and read the June 2008 Monetary Policy Statement, and page 26 in particular. The Reserve Bank are saying nothing of the sort. All I can see there is a prediction that unemployment will rise to 6% by March 2011. That's hardly a recommendation that "jobs must go". Either Winston was reading the wrong Green, or he had laid an off-track bet on the game I was unaware of. I wasn't surprised when he missed a short putt, but had an easy bogey:

"Many of those 95,000 people have families to support – which means the impact of this policy actually hits hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders – all because rigid ideology says there is no alternative. This is the economic vandalism we spoke about earlier."

Hole 8 - Kirks - par 4
Yet another hole with a slight dogleg to the left. This time, aim for the blue gum on the right hand side and you can then attack the pin. Winston spent more time here telling me about the previous times he has played this hole, and how he generally made par or even birdie. For some reason, he wanted to rename the hole from "Kirks" to "Vela". "Concentrate on today's game Winston", I said but he didn't listen:

"The sad thing is that we have been through this before and the results were the same then as they will be now.

Remember the early 1990s – when the queen of the far right was in full cry with her "mother of all budgets".

Do you remember what unemployment climbed to then because there was no alternative?

Well at its worst in March of 1992 it was 11.1% - the type of unemployment we would expect to see in the third world.

What is even more disturbing about this is that there is no public outcry because the two old parties operate a conspiracy of silence over the Reserve Bank Act.

The media have been complicit in this.

It has gone over everybody’s head – and yet it is there in black and white in the Reserve Bank documents – 95,000 jobs must go."

Black and white - put them together and you get Winston's favourite colour. Grey. And its remembering the old times that gives Winston his Grey Power. I was still feeling dubious about this "95,000 must go" figure and we had a small disagreement on whether he had made a practice swing or an air shot. I gave him another chance and he promised to finally address the ball:

This is an outrage and we will be ensuring that every New Zealander knows the reason that hundreds of thousands of them face the prospect of losing their incomes is the blind commitment to a failed economic plan imported from offshore. You see the US economy exports around 8% of its GDP – we export close to 38%. So when our dollar widely fluctuates, as it does because of high interest rates, more than 33% of our economy suffers.

Such movements in the US affect less than 10% of that economy. This means we need a better mechanism to avoid a widely fluctuating dollar. We need a better mechanism to avoid a massive increase in unemployment. We need a better mechanism to ensure hundreds of thousands of families are not consigned to greater poverty.

Tonight we will outline the TAFANZ plan – The Alternative For All New Zealanders. This is the only true alternative to the two old parties."

"Strewth", I thought to myself. He's not going to be playing off the red, yellow or blue markers after this chip. When in a bunker, it's not just the back swing that matters, but the follow through. I recorded a bogey as we strode to the ninth.

Hole 9 - Boulcott - par 4
I like this hole. This is a hole for the brave hearted with fairway bunkers that cross from one side to the other. A percentage tee shot is down the left hand side, short of the fairway bunkers. This will leave you with an approach to the green with a sand bunker on the left and a deep grass bunker on the right. When the flag is right, take an extra club. The green is large and reasonably flat.

Winston played this text book:

New Zealand First is committed to a strong economy that reflects the wealth of our country and the enterprise of our people. We are not content to sit back and see our country slipping ever further down the slope towards Third World status. The economic challenges facing New Zealand are serious and need bold and purposeful action. But before we cover those steps a number of things need to be said in relation to tax cuts and putting tax cuts into perspective.

Both Labour and National are talking tax cuts as the centrepiece of their economic policy. They have made more hullaballoo about tax cuts than any other area of economic policy. This is a diversion.

I was wondering if he'd seen the sand on the left. I'd recommended playing this regulation, and it seemed he wanted to try something different. But at the last moment, common sense took over and he dropped a shot well onto the green, with his first decent chance at birdie:

"In reality, we think there is actually very widespread agreement among New Zealanders on three fundamental points:

· Tax is important
· Tax cuts are long overdue
· Tax cuts must be responsible

Based on these fundamentals New Zealand First has put forward a credible and straightforward package for tax cuts."

He missed the birdie by a foot, but sunk it in for par:

"New Zealand First wants to see a tax free threshold of $5,200 introduced."

And so he finished the first nine at nine over the card. Ending on a par pushed his spirits up, and he felt confident the back nine would see him make up lost ground. The problem was, he was surrounded by his fans who had come to see him play, but the press were still covering the game, and they could see he was off form. It didn't help that after the double bogey on the third, some-one in the gallery shouted "why don't you stick to racing". Ouch.


For those who haven't figured it out, I'm fisking Winston's speech made at the Hutt Golf Club Thursday 31 July, 2008. The quotes in italics are things he actually said.

This post is the front nine. I'll finish this in a second post: The back nine.

Other links:

Scoop News: Winston's Speech - There's always been an alternative. You just might not like it.

Black and White and Grey: Reserve Bank June Policy Statement

And this came up: Canadian Pension Fund Bid for Share of Auckland Airport Rejected by Government.

And Wellington's electricity network has been sold to a company controlled by Hong Kong's richest man.

My thanks to: The real links of Hutt Golf Club. Hope they are good sports about this post.

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