July 15, 2019

You might recall this post from back in April regarding plans we were putting in place for a backyard pool deck makeover. As I mentioned then, the original deck over the years had become faded and chipped, in some places down to the original concrete:

We contracted with a company called Allied Outdoor Solutions, who produce a product called Carvestone, a layered synthetic material that, once the original surface is prepared and roughed up, is applied, hand-textured, and colored to whatever design you are looking for.

When the sales guy came over and had us look at their samples, all we knew is that we didn’t want something traditional and boring with a lot of browns and grays like so many others have around their patios and pool decks around here. Tracey wanted colorful – and I mean really colorful, whereas I was willing to pretty much go along with any design as long as it wasn’t boring. As it turns out, regardless of what the Allied Solutions folks claim (and to Tracey’s chagrin) you really don’t have any truly bold colors to choose from – just a lot of muted pastels – but I think that’s just the nature of the product involved. Still it would have been nice had they been right up-front about it at the beginning.

After looking at sample materials, we decided to go with a yellow base with a combination of rust, blue, and gray in the mix. After we reviewed samples they made on a board (rejecting one for being too bland) pink grout was chosen to kind of draw in our existing Caribbean/Key West-inspired back patio. We didn’t really know what to expect, but I think it ended up coming out pretty well, dontcha think?

When I first had a look at it I was surprised to see just how mid-century modern / art deco it looked in a kind of Palm Springs-kinda way. Add an occasional splash of robin’s egg blue, and, why, one could almost imagine the likes of Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, and Frank Sinatra tossing back martinis and manhattans around the pool, circa 1958.

The next step is to replace the existing tiled patio with the same material and pattern. The deck itself needs a couple of weeks to “cure” before we add back the patio furniture, so it’s just as well that I’m heading back to Massachusetts for ten days. After that, we’ll be putting in a small wood-burning fire pit in preparation for the fall. And after that the backyard should be complete once and for all!

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:52 | Comment (1)
July 13, 2019

Target Handicap: 20.0to
Location: Superstition Springs Golf Club
Score: 45 + 54 = 99
MyScorecard.com Handicap: 25.7 / Change: (-0.9)

The par 5 #17 at Superstition Springs. It’s near 1 PM on a sweltering Saturday, the temperature is already 106, and there’s a giddyup of humidity starting to blow up the monsoon activity to our east and southeast. After yet another solid drive – my fourth fairway on “The Springs'” difficult back nine, I’ve muffed a planned low 5-iron pitch designed stay left of the pond right and stop just short of the pond left, allowing me, say, a 110-yard iron over the land bridge that separates both ponds. Instead, I flunked it off to the left up on the hill amidst a thin stand of pine trees. One of my playing partners has done the same thing, our balls lying just a yard away from each other.

“What are you planning on doing?”, asks Jose. He’s a cheery twenty-something with arms covered in tattoos. He’s learning the game and is the epitome of a grinder out there.

“Well, the smart play is to avoid these trees and pitch it down the hill to the 100-yard marker.”

“Dude, that may be smart but that’s pussy golf.”

“Where are you planning on going?”

“I’m going between the second and third tree and run it up that land bridge to the green.”

He chokes down on his 3-iron and takes a vicious slap at the ball. It nearly carries the land bridge but runs out of steam just before the end of the pond right, coming to rest about a foot from the farthest reach of the pond. He takes a short bow after a round of golf claps from our foursome.

“See? it’s easy.”

I choke down on my 5-iron. I’m not totally committed to the shot (shame on me!), it’s a different angle than the simpler out I had planned. (You see, I have a history with trees – if they’re out there, it’s a lock my ball is going to hit it.) I take a swing and it caroms off the third pine and bounces backwards to the middle of the fairway, 150 yards from the pin. I have the whole land bridge in front of me, so while it sucks that I’m now lying three and farther back then I was when I was lying two, I still have a legit shot at bogey. I take a good practice swing, but make that stupid dopey move on my downswing I’m trying to cure myself of and skull it into the pond. I drop another ball, but this time I’m seeing absolutely red and don’t think about aiming a little left and away from the pond left. I catch it cleanly, but it’s fading on me. It hits the mound left of the green and bounces into the pond. A chip and a two-putt later, I put a “X” on the card for a crowd-pleasing quad-bogey ten.

Jose? He chips on and two-putts for his bogey. With a wry smile he says, “Course management, bro.”

Hence the 54 on a back nine that I otherwise played as well as I ever have at the Springs. Listen, the back is tough: with the exception of the notorious par 4 #14 (which I happened this time to bogey with a solid drive and a equally-solid 4-hybrid, chip on and two-putt) the fairways are generous but the holes are all well-protected with bunkering (sand and grass) that requires you to be precise in your yardages. And since we were playing the 6700-yard Champions tees, there weren’t (at least for me) going to be a lot of GIR (green in regulation) opportunities. Still, I was lying at 38 coming to the #17 tee and had every reason to feel good about where I sat, even if my game wasn’t as sharp as it had been last weekend at Lone Tree.

It’s a lesson to be learned: if you have a plan, stick to it.

At any rate, #17 aside, it was another solid round, with another nine (in this case the front) in the mid-forties, and that without a real sharp game from 100 yards out. But the Springs will do that to you, forcing you to play defensive around its well-protected greens. My numbers were pretty good: while I had only three GIR opportunities (I can’t remember having to hit so many hybrids in my life, but that was good in a way – I needed the work!) and converted one. I played the four par 3s at two-over, something I’m quite proud of. The par 5s were a bit of a problem, but it wasn’t for the lack of my drives off the tee (I hit all four fairways) it was what happened after that that resulted in me playing them +12 after getting out of position with my send shot (5-woods all pushed a little left of where I wanted them to go). I had 30 putts on the atrociously-aerated greens, and, a couple of hiccups aside, my chipping game was good.

Without a doubt I’m trending in the right direction. I’ve worked really hard on my game this year and have gotten it into a place where, even if I’m not executing well I know exactly what it is I’m trying to do out there. I’m starting to accumulate nine-hole rounds in the mid-forties (my ultimate goal). For the second straight round, I hit my driver with renewed confidence: even on the notorious #14 my knees didn’t go to jello as they normally do. Instead, I made a good swing and feathered a soft fade to the center of a tight fairway. I’ll admit that my irons are still a work in progress, but I’m getting more comfortable with those as well.

I enter Goodboys Invitational week happy that I’m done with the Arizona heat (at least as far as golf goes), and I’m looking forward to a nice break after Goodboys Week is over. There’s lots to do to finish off the back yard and all kinds of housecleaning to do. But I’m ready for some New England golf and seeing how my game holds up under those conditions.

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 20:39 | Comment (1)
July 6, 2019

On this Fourth of July weekend, there remain some truths that are self-evident, like…

Anyone under the mistaken preconception that Joe Biden isn’t a moron needs only to look at this video. And folks, I’m not making this up. Say what you want about Donald Trump, but I’m guessing he knows who actually was President when the stock market crashed back in 1929, and knows damned well that television hadn’t even been invented yet. The fact that Biden is allowed to make statements like this so earnestly, and is then unchallenged by the media on it, shows either their complicity as Democratic operatives masquerading as journalists, or – just as likely – they’re just as stupidly and pathetically ignorant as he is.

…and get ready for more of this as we all get older, I’m afraid, because these are the kinds of folks running your public schools.

No, we didn’t feel the latest California earthquake, although there are news reports some folks here in the Valley saw their swimming pool waters suddenly start swashing around. California earthquakes make me think of that Warren Zevon song with it’s great line:

And if California falls into the ocean like the mystics and statistics say it will
I believe this hotel will be standing until I pay my bill.

They just don’t write lyrics like that anymore.

Speaking of music, and it being Fourth of July weekend, this somber, poignant Beach Boys tune lamenting the strife of the Vietnam War-era was in my mind as I watched all the vicious comments by Democrats and those on the liberal left towards President Trump’s “Salute to America” celebrating both our country and those who serve to protect our freedoms:

Born of the age
Flagged hopes
Censored rage
The black clad box
Bombs bursting in air
Bleed white red and blue
Cried dawn’s early light
For the hope

Oh where has it gone
Brothers sisters stand firmly and try
Reaching the spacious skies
Fourth of July

Lie by the sword
Black times
False reward
The greetings of doom
So proudly they hail
Lost fortune of free
The stripes and bright stars
Promise lost

Oh where has it gone
Brothers sisters stand firmly and try
Reaching the spacious skies
Fourth of July

Brothers sisters stand firmly and try
Reaching the spacious skies
Fourth of July

One would think we could have one day where everyone could just relax and agree that, while certainly not perfect, there’s no other place on this planet like the USA and the freedoms we both hold and cherish. Heck, you’d think even Democrats would agree and celebrate the fact that it’s those very freedoms and the promise of opportunity arising from those freedoms that is attracting so many of their oh-so-precious illegals trying to come here. But their – and the media’s – irrational, visceral hatred of Trump and this country burns so brightly they can’t even see just how out of touch they are with so many folks who happen to think this country is not just special but worth preserving.

After all, where else on earth could an ignorant moron like Colin Kaepernick succeed to a level where he could force a major footwear manufacturer to dump their Betsy Ross flag-themed sneakers?

But you gotta remember, you’re talking about a political party and a mainstream media that just had their worst week in 47 years. That’s an awful long time, but think about it: not only do they have a world-class moronic goofball at the top of the polls, this is what the Democratic agenda for 2020 looks like:

— Open borders and unrestricted illegal immigration
— Unrestricted abortion return to busing
— Tax hikes to roll back President Trump’s tax cuts
— Massive redistribution of wealth to combat climate change
— Medicare for All / Obamacare / Single-payor healthcare (including all illegal immigrants)
— Unfettered LGBTQ etc. etc. etc. activism

Is there anything out there who thinks this is a winning strategy against a Trump presidency and his booming economy?

Look, I know nearby Tempe is a college town with ASU and all that, but this kind of thing is outrageous and the shop owner and his/her employees need to find a new line of employment.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 17:20 | Comments (0)
July 5, 2019

Target Handicap: 20.0
Location: Lone Tree Golf Club
Score: 50 + 43 = 93
MyScorecard.com Handicap: 26.6 / Change: (-0.8)

As soon as I realized I was going to be able to play golf on the 4th of July, I booked me a tee time at Lone Tree and made a trip to the Kokopelli G.C driving range to work on both my driver and hitting irons (7, 6, 5) off a tee. My inability to play par 3 holes was getting into my head, and I knew that the only way I was going to fix it was to work on staying on top of the ball with my new strong grip and really focusing on my transition and weight shift. The same thing with my driver. I just knew somehow that I was (even if only a little) sliding backwards and not shifting my weight forward to strike the ball cleanly and with the clubface square. Even though it was brutally hot out there, sometimes a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do, so I swilled two G2s (grape flavor) and fought the anemia that was making me feel a little light-headed. Half a large bucket with the irons, half hitting driver.

Warming up at Lone Tree the very next day – not more than 18 hours later – I’m hitting the ball all over the damned place. Oh, I’m staying on top of the ball all right, but the balls are flying every which way. And so it was as the round got underway, me playing alone between two foursomes, surf music on the iPhone. Even though I started bogey, double bogey, bogey, bogey I was doing it with mirrors. Somehow I’d make one great shot or sink a long putt, but I had no clue where the ball was going. On the par 5 #5, I actually put together my first really good shots of the day and was on the green in four, sixteen feet away, but four-putted for a triple bogey snowman. Then, on the next whole, a short 328-yard par 4, I hit my first straight drive of the day and something clicked. A 9-iron to ten feet and a two-putt for my first par of the day. A little bit of sloppy golf ensured on the next three holes (most especially on the par 5 #9, where a fairway-splitting longest drive of the day coupled with a perfectly-executed 3-hybrid left me only 122 yards to the pin), but a yanked 8-iron way right left me in Nowheresville and I had to settle for an unstaisfying double-bogey seven. Still, I knew I was starting to strike the ball rather crisply.

It was another sloppy hole on #10: instead of waiting for the foursome in front of me to clear the green, I attempted an “easy” 6-iron out of a fairway bunker and yanked it OB right, leading to a double-bogey 6 saved only by a 20-foot one putt. But after that The Great White Shank was off to the races. I had easy birdie opportunities on the par 4 #11 (eight feet, par), the island green par 3 #12 (a dying quail 5-iron that caught the bank and rolled to five feet, par), the par 4 #13 (twenty feet, par), and then a near hole-in-one on the par 3 #14 (1 1/2 feet, birdie) before getting sloppy on the par 4 #15 after a so-so drive and a crushed 5-wood left me only fifteen yards from the green and a forward-placed pin. Not only did I chunk my first chip, but I skulled my second attempt across the green, resulting in a triple-bogey seven.

I didn’t let that bother me, however, and I finished the final three holes with three very workman-like bogeys for a crowd-pleasing 43. While it’s true that Lone Tree’s back nine features generous fairways, I don’t care if you’re playing Pebble Beach or the local mini-golf with the flying saucers and Bluebeard’s Castle – you shoot a 43, you’re playing bona fide real golf. Not only did I hit seven consecutive fairways on the back nine (twelve total), but I was solid middle on all of them. I converted three of five GIR (green in regulation) opportunities on the back (three of eight total), and was tidy enough with only seventeen putts (36 total). What made me most satisfied was the way I hit my irons – even though I pulled a couple, they were hit square, and I know that was just the result of getting a little too upright with my takeaway, a fairly easy fix. It was a good enough performance after a rocky start.

All I really care about right now is ball contact and staying on top of the ball. I’m still a little bit in-between, hence some holes playing like Ray Charles and others like Ray Floyd (hence the title of this post), but that’s just the way it is right now. I truly believe that if I continue to do that and work on my transition and weight shift, the scores will come. Could be in time for Goodboys Invitational weekend (two weeks hence!), perhaps not. But again, it doesn’t really matter. My target of being a 20-handicap is a long-term goal, not a short one.

All I know is that yesterday felt pretty damned good, and we’ll just have to see what happens when I play my traditional send-off round at Superstition Springs G.C. one week hence. It’s hard to believe Goodboys Invitational week is almost here, but I’m back to feeling like I’m trending in the right direction. Of course, I thought that a month ago, so we’ll just have to see!

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 18:18 | Comments (0)
July 3, 2019

…so my cool dude Hawaiian primary care MD tells me I’m anemic and that all my red blood cell counts are way lower than they should be. He refers me to a hematologist, and it just so happens the closest hematologist to me is at the Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center just twenty minutes away on the 60, two exits short of Superstition Springs G.C.

Right from the start there’s a big interest in getting all of my medical charts from my primary care, and my appointment is booked. I start getting e-mails with all kinds of forms to fill out with careful instructions as to where I should go and what I should expect when I get there. I keep reassuring myself that I don’t have cancer, and that hematology and oncology departments are always linked together for some strange reason, but the night before my appointment I can’t sleep and find my brain turning over and over what would happen if things end up for the worst.

Tracey and I arrive at MD Anderson and are met by some friendly elderly folks dressed alike, charged with making folks feel comfortable upon their arrival. Ironically, it’s their innocent desire to make me feel comfortable that makes me feel decidedly uncomfortable, the discomfort only growing by walking by a cancer tree with colorful tags for all the patients being treated there, and a registration desk featuring a jar with little tags one can wear in support of brain cancer patients. A guy ten feet away from us is on the phone to a friend, telling him that there’s a blockage in his pancreas that the doctors are suspicious about, so they’re going to expedite a procedure to try and figure out what the heck the blockage is. All I’m thinking is if that dude has pancreatic cancer I’m looking at a dead man walking. He seems to be upbeat; all I can do is silently wish him the best.

I’m taken back to the first moment I heard that I had prostate cancer. You hear the word “cancer” and all of a sudden you’re transported to a different place, a different world where there are only two kinds of people: the folks who have cancer, and the folks who don’t. Whether or not you’re going to get it at some point in time is meaningless – as long as you don’t have it, you don’t have it. And if you have it, you have it, and there’s no hiding from it. I suppose I can call myself a cancer survivor, but I think that’s overstating it a bit. I never felt any pain with my prostate cancer, never had to be treated for it other than the relatively simple procedure to have it removed one day, then go home the next day minus one prostate gland. Sure, there are certain things I miss about not having one (no need to go into the obvious), but all in all it wasn’t that big a deal.

…certainly not like the folks you see at MD Anderson who you know are undergoing cancer treatment: the unsteady gaits, the wheelchairs, the knit hats, the gray, sallow complexions. They can try and make your initial visit as cheery and stress-free as possible, but in the end you know that one way or the other it will inevitably end up being you and a doctor in a room and the doctor describing for you what the blood tests found, good or bad. And there’s no way to hide from that. It’s spooky, it’s unnerving, and it’s uncomfortable to have to deal with the what ifs of your own mortality.

In my case, the suspicion is that it’s either something genetic, or the result of acid reflux, or perhaps a polyp in my colon causing the anemia. The fact is they don’t know, but the nice Indian doctor seemed pretty certain when she told me she didn’t think it was cancer. But until the lab results come back one way or the other you just don’t know.

And now I’m also dealing with what they are calling “several bi-lateral polyps in my lungs measuring no more than 4 mm in size”. And so I’m going to have to see a pulmonary expert to see how to treat that. I’ve long suspected that the unrelieved cough I’ve had since February and the anemia is why I can’t work out at the gym – I get winded way too easily. I can play golf, for sure, and it wouldn’t be fair to my ineptness as a golfer to blame my inconsistent scores on either my red blood cell count or my lung polyps, so I’ll just have to see where that goes. The problem is, much like my mom was, I’m a worrier by nature. And as I get older, I can’t help but think what the big breakdown in my health will end up being. There’s no point in living in denial and thinking nothing bad is ever going to happen to you; likewise, you can’t live your life in fear of what tomorrow will bring, either.

I guess all you can do is live your life to the fullest as best you can for as long as you can and keep in your thoughts and prayers all those who find themselves on the other side of the cancer equation. You’d like to ask them what it’s like – are they fighting it bravely, or are they resigned to some ultimate fate. Are they battling it with the help and support of loved ones, or virtually alone and left to their own fears and thoughts. It’s hard for me to think this way, but I guess that’s what visiting a hematologist at a cancer facility will do to you.

In the end, it’s all about your own mortality. Unlike some folks, I guess, I don’t worry about how I will be remembered when my time comes. I don’t think I will have left the world in any better or worse shape than it was when I got here nearly sixty-four years ago, and perhaps that’s the best anyone can ask. And maybe that makes it easier in the long run – no regrets, no unfulfilled dreams. Run the race to its inevitable conclusion, and listen to as much surf music and Bob Marley as you can while doing so.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:24 | Comments (2)
July 1, 2019

It’s another hot and oppressive week in store for the Valley of the Sun. As one would expect for this time of year. A few thoughts and comments to kick off the week:

To start off, I’m going to say it right out loud, front and center. Pride Month is bullshit. The fact of the matter is that if you’re gay or lesbian, be who you are and just live your life. But don’t try to shove your lifestyle or sexual or personal preferences down my throat. I don’t do that to you, don’t do that to me. Live and let live, as they say.

…but for every other so-called classification in the LGBTQ etc. et. etc. rainbow movement, you really ought to recognize that you’re mentally ill and need to get help; for whatever lifestyle you think you are choosing, or sexual preference you are pursuing, there is nothing but a long, dark road to self-destruction and moral and spiritual death. Don’t believe anything the mainstream media is telling you about how “brave” and what a champion your are. You’re not a victim, and it’s damned well certain you’re leaving victims behind in your misplaced narcissism and perversions. People will call me a hater, but believe me when I say I write this out of love. There is a better way.

With all due respect to DNC Chair Tom Perez, yes it is.

The Red Sox 2020 season ended this weekend in London. What an embarrassment.

Looks like it’s Home Depot, not Lowe’s, for me from now on.

As hard to believe as it sounds, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Mass. Senator Elizabeth “Fauxcahauntus” Warren against Donald Trump in 2020. And the Democrats will get slaughtered. Me? I say bring it on. Would love to have that debate.

Oh man, this is awesome, especially if you like turtles.

Came upon this video on YouTube last night, and it didn’t disappoint. I’ve always considered Kate Bush as one of my favorite musical artists. There’s really no one out there that even comes close to the unique ability to combine fantasy, whimsy, and mystery as Bush does. She can be outrageous and spooky at the same time, but her music is truly one of a kind. For my money the video for “Running Up That Hill” is worth the price of admission. And the lyrics are just soooo intense. As Bush later recounted:

“[The] song is about making a deal with God to swap lives with another person. Bush explained in a 1985 interview: “It’s about a relationship between a man and a woman. They love each other very much, and the power of the relationship is something that gets in the way. It creates insecurities. It’s saying if the man could be the woman and the woman the man, if they could make a deal with God, to change places, that they’d understand what it’s like to be the other person and perhaps it would clear up misunderstandings. You know, all the little problems; there would be no problem.”

It’s long about due time that A.G. William Barr and the Department of Justice designate Antifa as the domestic terror organization it is and start identifying the money and social media organizations that allow these assholes to coordinate activities against those whom they disagree with. What happened to photo-journalist Andy Ngo is inexcusable in a modern-day Republic such as ours. You simply can’t let the bastards get away with intimidation and violence. In my view, Portland’s weasely mayor Ted Wheeler ought to be arrested and charged with aiding and abetting assault on an American for mandating the Portland police stand aside and allow the assault to take place. I don’t care what side you are on – there is no place for this kind of thing in today’s America.

…waiting for a single Democratic candidate for President condemn this kind of behavior in 5…4..3..2..1

There is a sickness in the modern-day American Left that the election of Donald Trump has helped to uncover. Make no mistake about it: Trump didn’t cause this – as I have mentioned previously, Hillary Clinton is more than at fault for allowing this kind of thing to occur when she didn’t show up once the 2016 election results were in to congratulate her opponent gracefully and facilitate a peaceful transfer of power. Being the absolute, narcissistic bitch that she is and always has been, she put herself ahead of the country and fostered the kind of insanity that has erupted as a result.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 02:41 | Comments (0)
June 29, 2019

Target Handicap: 20.0
Location: Stonecreek Golf Club
Score: 49 + 54 = 103
MyScorecard.com Handicap: 27.4 / Change: (+0.6)

“Awww…f**k it.” So there I was, back at the Stonecreek G.C. driving range just one week after last week’s meltdown. The day was going to be hot and oppressive – 110 with some humidity (not a great combination) – but after last week I just felt the urge to return to the scene of the crime. I started warming up doing all the things I had decided to do from my “Mr. Fix-it” post from last Sunday, and, guess what, none of them were working. My group had an 8-minute call to thee first tee, so just for yucks I grabbed my 5-iron and went back to the same swing I’ve been using for the past two months. A couple of decent swings later, out the door went Mr. Fix-it and I was back to what I was doing before.

(Y’see, the problem really is that I don’t trust my swing enough to stay on top of the ball and make that one-piece turn (shoulders, chest, hips) possible that will deliver the clubface square to the ball. Instead, I know I am getting out of sync and swaying back, which brings the bottom of my swing somewhere between 1-3 inches behind the ball which can lead to thin hits and skulls. But when I do it right, I’m making great contact and see great results. I also know I’m just a couple of months into this and it’s going to take time to break bad habits. I probably won’t have it down for Goodboys Invitational weekend, but we shall see!)

Just like last week, I got off to a h-o-t start. Found the fairway at #1 and converted a nice 152-yard GIR opportunity with a solid 6-iron over the pond to twelve feet that just missed going in for birdie. And just like last week, I hit a crappy second shot on #2 after a serviceable drive, skulling a 3-hybrid just short of the creek. But I made a nice swing with a 7-iron to six feet, then missed what would have been a great par for bogey five. I made a lousy swing with a 5-iron off the tee on #3 (I wouldn’t replicate those nice last few 5-irons on the driving range once during the round, which still pisses me off) and triple-bogeyed that par 3 before bogeying #4 and double-bogeying the par 3 #5 (par 3s are really causing me trouble right now!) before heading to the par 4 #6.

The par 4 #6 is the #1 handicap hole on the course – waste area right with a pond protecting the green behind it, pond on left, and a creek running across the fairway linking the two ponds. Like last week, I pushed my drive left. Unlike last week, however, I didn’t flub the lay-up shot although I still had 156 yards to the pin. What to do, what to do? I knew I wasn’t hitting my 5-iron that well, so I made the decision to grab 4-hybrid and leave things all to chance. Caught it good (really good, actually) and flew the pond five yards off the green. I had a tricky downhill lie in a swaley area but was able to get enough clubhead on a sand wedge and put it on the green to two-putt and walk away with a very satisfying double-bogey. (Anytime I can finish #6 with the same ball I started is a very good thing, indeed!)

Things got sloppy on #s 7-9. On the par 5 #7 I had a great drive and could have gotten a little more on a 7-iron lay-up that left me 205 yards from the pin. Unfortunately, I yanked my 5-wood into the woods before chipping on and two-putting for another double-bogey. On the short par 4 #8 I pushed my drive left leaving me a yardage to the pin I couldn’t figure out, and my Bushnell range finder was giving me what I knew a wrong number (it wouldn’t be the first time today!). I guessed 137 yards and left myself a chip of 20 yards which I caught too flush, leading to a 3-putt and another double-bogey. On the par 4 #9, I pushed another drive left, then butchered a 5-iron punch to get out of trouble that left me in a waste area 120 yards from the pin. I decided to go for it (why not?) and sliced it into a sand trap that I got out and two-putted for another double bogey – three straight holes, three unforced errors. I was happy enough with the 49 (after last week, who wouldn’t?) but I knew I left a good six shots out there.

I started the back nine OK with a great drive that left me only 146 yards from the pin and converted my second GIR opportunity with a nice 6-iron to sixteen feet which I proceeded to three-putt for bogey. Another sloppy attempt at a 5-iron punch out of trouble on #11 resulted in a triple-bogey seven. On the par 3 #12 I pushed a 4-hybrid way left and should have taken my mulligan, but I figured I’d find it (I didn’t) then butchered the rest of the hole for a triple-bogey 6. (That par 3 Friday event at Goodboys weekend ought to be a blast!). I was really pissed at this point and it took me a few moments to compose myself.

…which I did on the par 5, 518 yard next hole by splitting the fairway with my drive, then crushing a 5-wood to 10 yards in front of the green. Made a lovely chip to 3 feet then sunk it for a birdie four (Yessss!). My Bushnell failed me again on #14, telling me I had 150 yards to the pin when I was at least ten yards in front of the 150-yard stake. My indecision led to a pushed 7-iron left and my first failed GIR opp of the day. On the par 3 #15 I thinned a 5-iron (sonofabitch!), then skulled a sand wedge to the back of the green before two-putting for a double-bogey 5. More sloppy golf.

And that’s how the rest of the round would go. I butchered the par 5 #6 with a series of poor swings (driver, 5-wood, a 5-iron dunked in the pond for a triple-bogey 8), then did the same on the par 4 #17 (driver, 5-iron OB off a tree, then another 5-iron) before two poor chips led to my only quad-bogey of the day. I finished up on #18 with a so-so drive but a decent lay-up before spoiling a decent 7-iron with a 3-putt for a double-bogey six. It was a grinding back nine with only two really bad holes, but by then the heat was really getting oppressive and everyone was just happy to get off the damned course.

I’m not pleased about my handicap index going up like it did after today’s round, but I really need to figure out a way to tighten up my game on a number of fronts: I only hit five fairways today (quite poor), but I’m killing myself on the par 3s and any iron play off the tee. Sure, there were some sloppy holes out there, but that’s a norm I’ve learned to live with. The 36 putts I made could have been a little better, but until I start hitting my irons more consistently I can’t really expect to shoot better scores. Fortunately, I’ll have one more range session before I play my traditional Goodboys send-off round at Superstition Springs in two weeks’ time. I’m happy I improved my score at Stonecreek by a whopping fourteen strokes over last week’s round (who but The Great White Shank can do such a thing?) but there remains more work to do.

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 20:12 | Comments (0)

Back from a week of hard and stressful corporate meetings, hence the lack of posts. The only bright spot of it all was meeting my sister-in-law Tam’s son for dinner and drinks – the last time we saw each other was 25 years ago, so that was great. It is truly amazing how time has flown. Being in meetings and all the necessary follow-ups and e-mail chasing, I haven’t really had much of a chance to follow any news but there is still time for a few items worth mentioning.

Given that Bob Newhart was always one of my favorite comics, it was great to read this review of a recent performance he did in Minneapolis. Hard to believe he’s still going strong at 89. If you haven’t watched his classic “Stop It!” routine, it’s embedded in Scott Johnson’s post and is a must-watch if you want to see a master of comedy and timing at work.

Another of my favorites is Richard Dreyfuss. The guy never gives a bad performance, and in interviews he has always come off as both thoughtful and sincere.

…which reminds me it’s almost July and Goodboys Invitational season, a time when I always watch the special feature “The Making of Jaws” from the 30th anniversary special release. If you love “Jaws” and love to hear a good story told, it’s a must-watch. It’s pretty damned funny, not to mention a truly amazing thing that the movie ever got made.

Both Newhart and Dreyfuss are a dying breed – entertainers who not just entertain, but are not vulgar and have a deep respect for a country that has allowed them to be as successful as they are. I never get the hatred so many Hollywood celebrities express towards this country and folks who happen to disagree with their political views. For one thing, why would you want to alienate half your audience? You watch Hollywood these days and all you see are political activists disguised as entertainers who really don’t entertain much.

I didn’t watch either of the Democratic debates, wouldn’t anyways because I knew exactly what they would be spewing over the two nights. But the fact that there is no candidate – not one, not even Slow Joe Biden – who wouldn’t extend free health care to illegal aliens tells me all I need to know. There is not a Democratic candidate in the world who will get elected in 2020 pushing a platform that only attract more illegals to migrate here.

…which is, of course, exactly what the Democrats want. they are out of their friggin’ minds.

Speaking of “Slow Joe” Biden, I, too, like Cory Booker (who, BTW, is as much of a fraud as Kamala Harris), was astonished at Biden’s latest comments yesterday while attempting to defend himself against Harris’s accusations of supporting policies in the past that were racist in nature. Here’s what Biden said:

“We’ve got to recognize that kid wearing a hoodie may very well be the next poet laureate and not a gangbanger.”

Can you imagine the outcry had Donald Trump said such a thing? Talk about your stereotypical views of the African-American community! I’m guessing Biden’s comment is going to get a lot more play in the coming days. The guy is a walking, talking joke – ignorant and stupid on his feet – and he’s doing the slow Jeb Bush dance into political death.

It’s time for the Red Sox to start playing up to their capabilities. OK, I get the World Series hangover, but there’s something wrong with this team. For one thing, it’s become fairly clear that, as erratic as Craig Kimbrel could be last year, he at least was a bona fide closer and had his role. The Sox need a closer badly, and now they’re probably going to have to pay big $s – either at the trading deadline or during the off-season – in order to get one.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 07:55 | Comments (0)
June 23, 2019

9:30 AM on a Sunday morning at the Kokopelli G.C. driving range. It’s a sleepy time of day – the first foursomes of the day are winding their way through the back nine, and a handful of hackers are out there working on their swings. I should be working on a presentation for senior management illustrating the initiatives I’ve recently put in place to foster collaboration between our India-based and North America-based teams to improve the quality of product delivered to our clients, but, dammike me it, I had a crappy day out on a golf course yesterday, and The Great White Shank is not one to let sleeping dogs lie.

The first thing I did after purchasing my medium bucket is to find a place on the far right side of the Kokopelli driving range to make for myself the tightest friggin’ fairway possible: a twenty-yard strip of dirt between the net shielding hackers like me from those finishing up on #18 and the more grassy area preferred by the majority of those who were whacking balls to my left. What I wanted to do is test what, if any, residual there was leftover from yesterday’s meltdown at Stonecreek G.C. That would tell me if I could truly chalk it up as just a bad day or if additional troubleshooting and intervention might be needed.

It didn’t take more than a few balls to tell me there was a fundamental problem here. Sure, the ground I was hitting off of was a bony as an 85-year old Katherine Hepburn, but the first six balls – three 3-hybrids and three 6-irons – between them couldn’t have achieved more than two feet of height. Understand, I hate skulling balls – it goes back to ancient days when I was first learning to play the game. Not being able to hit a hybrid or an iron in the air technically means your swing has bottomed out behind the ball and is just starting its ascent at contact (something I learned from this month’s edition of Golf Digest), but in practical terms it means you suck at golf and ought to be considering gardening, porn, or taking a theater company on a musical version of The Silence of the Lambs nationwide as an alternate form of recreation.

It was starting to get a little warm out there, so I slurped a grape-flavored Gatorade G2 and took stock of what was going on, and I mentally noted four main deficiencies in my swing:

1. I’m not squared up at stance at address (I’m too open).
2. Rather than staying on top of the ball and coiling, I’m swaying backwards. Meaning that…
3. …I’m not posting up on my right side, thereby hindering the down-strike to square the clubface and compress the ball.
4. My feet are too wide at address, also limiting my ability to square the clubface through impact.

The Gatorade was refreshing. I looked up and the four people who were hitting balls with me had disappeared. It was just me and the guy driving the ball machine. The idiot ran over the rope that marked the hitting area and all of a sudden it was like a serpent unleashed in Loch Ness – I actually had to leap to avoid being slapped by its recoil.

The first remediation – and this was hard – was deciding to abandon the flatter take-away and bigger coil I had been using since that Easter Sunday session at the Superstition Springs driving range. While it was a great idea at the time (and, truth be told, it got me at least ten yards more on my irons when I caught it flush), I just couldn’t square the club face consistently, and, more often than not, resulted in either a push or (gasp!) the dreaded shank. So I decided to go back to my former, more upright,take-away where I kept the clubface square instead of opening at take-away and closing at impact. Immediately, I started seeing: a) better contact with the ball, and b) a higher trajectory in my ball flight.

The second remediation was to reduce my (somewhat) wider stance at address and bring my feel into alignment with the width of my shoulders. Just taking a few practice swings I could feel a bit more flexibility coming in and – because of my more upright take-away – an easier means for posting up on my right side.

Finally (and this applies to both the driver and any irons I might be hitting off a tee) I went back to my swing instructor Alex Black’s suggestion that I use the alignment arrows on my golf ball to point where I want to hit the ball and then align my stance at address accordingly. Maybe others can just drop a ball on the ground or place it on a tee and just hit away, but I have a fundamental problem with my stance at address being too open all the time. It could be because of my eyes and the fact that, because of the Lasik I had done twenty years ago, I really only play golf with one eye (my right). I found using the ball to help me align my stance almost immediately got rid of that big fluffy push to the left that was killing my distance and causing me to miss fairways.

By the time I had finished my bucket, I felt like I was in a much better place than when I started (which, come to think of it, is what the driving range is all about). I still have a few adjustments to consider – most especially with my irons. As in, do I hold the club leaning somewhat forward at address or try to keep my club perpendicular with the ground? And, recognizing why I went to the flatter swing plane to begin with, how do I handle the tendency to pull my irons right of the green when there are GIR (green in egulation) opportunities. What I’ve decided in my own way is, given the choice between an open clubface pushing the ball short and right or pulling it long and left, I’ll go with the latter and drop down a club if need be.

I’m not sure who it was who said that everyone is born with a swing that you feel most comfortable with, but I’ve decided that I’ll work with the swing that feels most natural to me – which is a more upright take-away with the clubface kept square for a longer period of time (i.e., “outside the plane”) with my irons and try and accommodate the pull tendencies with less club and focusing on keeping my upper body as quiet as possible. As for my driver and hybrids, I’m not going to screw around with them so much: rather, I’ll focus on squaring up at address and shortening my stance to accommodate a better coil and post-up on my right side and let ‘er rip for better or worse.

Sure, it would have been nice to have self-corrected what was happening during yesterday’s round at Stonecreek, but that’s just something I’m not capable of doing. I admit that. I’ve always been more of a “feel” golfer than a technical golfer, and as long as it feels good I’m jes’ gonna keep on doing it, even if it leads to a 117 on the scorecard. But what I’m most proud of is that, even if it took a good sixteen hours, I have deliberately and technically worked my way out of the abyss and once again am feeling good about the changes I’ve made to my golf swing. Will it last? Time will tell.

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 20:43 | Comments (2)
June 22, 2019

Target Handicap: 20.0
Location: Stonecreek Golf Club
Score: 53 + 64 = 117
MyScorecard.com Handicap: 26.8 / Change: (none)

Sometimes you’re just going to have one of those days on the golf course where things just aren’t meant to be. Today was one of those days – one in which I played worse than I can remember playing. 117 is the highest score I’ve ever recorded since using MyScorecard to track my scores and handicap over the past seven years. Unfortunately, it’s not like I’ve never shot a 117 before – in fact, going through my MyScorecard.com records, this is actually the fourth time I’ve shot 117: at the same Stonecreek course four years back in May 2015, then a year later at Superstition Springs in June 2016, then last December with my Goodboys pals at Royal Links in Las Vegas. I find that strange, frankly.

What was different about today is that I actually felt great warming up on the Stonecreek range. Not every ball was perfect, of course, but I felt relaxed and felt I had a great transition and tempo working for me. Things didn’t go bad immediately: the feeling from the range carried over to the first hole where I found fairway at #1 and blistered a 4-hybrid ten yards left of the green, rolling to a stop just above a sand bunker. It was a tricky downhill lie, but a nifty flick of a sand wedge left me with an uphill 12-footer for par, which I two-putted for bogey.

On #2 with its pond in front (always a nemesis), my drive carried the pond with a yard or two to spare, leaving me dead middle of the fairway 152 yards from the pin. I don’t know what happened on the next shot. I thought I took the 6-iron back correctly, but it barely nicked the ball and squibbed it two feet to the left. I was more astonished than angry at that happening, but when I skulled the next shot into a dry creek running across the fairway forty yards ahead and had to take an unplayable lie, I’ll admit to being pissed. I then caught an angry pitching wedge too good, leaving me forty feet from the pin and then 3-putted for a quad bogey eight. That after what should have been an easy green in regulation off the tee.

All of a sudden, I found myself fighting for my life on every shot. I got away with a thinly-hit 5-iron to sixteen feet on the par 3 #3, which I two-putted for par. On the par 4 #4, my drive was a balloon shot way left, but a decent-enough 5-iron recovery shot left me in the middle of the fairway only 130 yards from the pin. I badly pushed my 8-iron way left, leaving me short-sided from forty feet. Fortunately, I hit a beautiful chip to three feet (outstanding, really) and one-putted for bogey. On the par 3 #5, I shanked a 7-iron off the tee then yanked my mulligan into some thin woods on the left pin high. Not only was I lucky enough to find my ball, but was able to chip it on the green and two-putt from thirty feet to save my bogey. But I knew I wasn’t fooling anyone.

The par 4 #6 is the #1 handicap hole on the course, with a tight fairway that runs between two ponds. It’s always been a difficult hole for me. Today, I ballooned another drive short and left, then shanked what was supposed to be just a little recovery 5-iron. I was 200 yards from the pin at this point, so I grabbed my 3-hybrid and caught it good enough to just get it over the pond on the left. Talk about living dangerously! I had 30 yards over a sand trap to the green, but unfortunately hit my sand wedge forty yards, and it rolled into the pond on the right. Chipped on and two-putted for a quad bogey eight. On the par 5 #7, I actually hit a solid drive just off the fairway right. A flawlessly executed 5-iron left me 180 yards to the pin. Unfortunately, I skulled the 3-hybrid into a dry creek and had to take an unplayable lie. I over-clubbed with an angry 7-iron that flew the back of the green, leaving me with an impossible downhill lie to a severely uphill green. Two tries, two putts, another quad bogey.

And from there it just got worse. I couldn’t hit my driver to save my life – this only two days after having my best driving day of the year on fairways a heckuva lot narrower than Stonecreek’s on my way to shooting a 46 at Papago Park. The 53 on the front nine was accomplished purely by smoke and mirrors; on the back I just lost my swing completely. I had no clue – zero – where any ball was going to go. Nothing was hit flush, and then the skulls came in spades. Starting on the par 3 #12 I couldn’t get an iron or a hybrid off the ground. The worst would come on the long par 5 #16 where I proceeded to skull three straight 5-woods – a club I’ve been absolutely crushing all year – before skulling four straight balls into the pond protecting the green. It was embarrassing, and I’ll admit I lost my composure out there for the first time in a very long time. The back nine was as ugly as anything I can remember: four 8s, a ten, and nine lost balls. Hard to believe it all added up to only a 64; it felt like a 74.

Hours later, and a chilled Pinot Grigio beside me, I don’t know what to make of today. I don’t know how one can go shooting an 89 and a 117 in the course of a few weeks’ time. Back in the days when I really cared, the prospect of having to play Goodboys Invitational weekend in one month’s time would have scared the bejeezus out of me and send me scurrying for a lesson from Alex Black. But (and I know this sounds ridiculous after today) I still believe in my swing and plan on keeping it no matter what happens going forward. For whatever reason, I just got way out of kilter and never found my way back. I have a feeling those TaylorMades feel quite abused after today, and frankly, I’m not in any rush to pick them up again any time soon.

Fortunately, work and a business trip this week will prevent me from touching my clubs, and I think that’s a good thing. But with Goodboys week rapidly approaching, I know I’m going to have to make the trek over to the Kokopelli driving range a week from Monday and just start over again. I really don’t know what happened today, but it’s clear that even with all the swing changes I’ve ben making, the consistency I’ve been trying to achieve by going with a swing and committing to it no matter what is only as good as the person swinging the club. And after today, it’s clear that the demons I thought I had eradicated a long time ago are still there. It’s enough to make me want to give the game up, because if it can happen out of the blue as it did today, what’s to stop it from happening again at any other time? All I’ve ever wanted was a swing that allows me to go out and enjoy an occasional, perhaps weekly, round of golf whenever I retire.

Perhaps that’s just asking too much.

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 21:14 | Comments (0)

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