July 19, 2017

Days until the 2017 Goodboys Invitational: 3
Location: Green Meadow Golf Club (Jungle Course)
Score: 58 / 56 = 114
Handicap: 24.0 / Change: +0.6

There’s a running joke my Goodboys pals have whenever I struggle playing golf back here in New England (which is, frankly, most of the time. Using their best Quint impression from that classic scene from “Jaws”, they’ll say something like:

“…not like playing some Scottsdale muni, is it Chief?”

And the fact is, they’re right. Playing golf in New England isn’t like playing golf in the Valley of the Sun – it’s not even close. Oh, you have the same clubs, you play by the same rules, and keep score the same way, but that’s where the similarities end. The courses are laid out differently, there are few elevation changes, the grasses used are different and employed in different fashion. The biggest difference is in the rough and where it is deployed. On the courses I cycle through there may be rough – even around the greens – but it’s not nearly as thick. And while there are trees, they’re not big trees with lots of them gathered together and lining the fairways like freakin’ sentinels guarding the Queen’s jewels. The biggest difference is the kind of trouble you can get into. I mean, you can smash balls OB into someone’s back yard or swimming pool, or into a desert area where you wouldn’t want to go into because of snakes and cactus and brush, but in either case you take your penalty, drop a ball, and move on.

And that’s the hardest thing I find getting re-accustomed to whenever I play golf in New England. The idea that the first rule of thumb is that when you get into trouble, get out of it. Swallow your pride, don’t cute, and get out of your predicament as quickly and efficiently as possible. Take your medicine, and along with it the likelihood of a big number.

I didn’t do that yesterday at Green Meadow playing alongside my Goodboys pals The Funny Guy and Doggy Duval, and as you can tell from my score, I paid dearly for it. Trying to advance the ball back on the fairway through narrow openings that would have gotten me closer to the hole than had I gone out sideways (or even backwards) I hit four – count ‘em, four big trees hard and square so that I lost six strokes in just four swings – four shots I had to play over and one that I had to take an unplayable on after I whiffed trying to get it back in play. And that doesn’t count an ill-advised 5-iron on #1 that ended up on gorse worthy of this week’s Open Championship that I should have just taken an unplayable on but tried to hack it out (it went six inches) and whiffed on the next one before giving up. I’m no math genius, but that’s nine strokes just thrown away as if they didn’t mean anything. All of a sudden that’s a respectable (at least for me) 105 that I could have been satisfied with, especially with the other issues I faced during the round.

Let’s go back to the rough for a moment. Maybe some folks think of Green Meadow as a wide-open course for hackers but I found the rough particularly thick if you weren’t playing fairways and greens as The Funny Guy does so well (he shot his usual 88) – especially around the greens. As a result I really struggled around the greens. My putting was typically lousy but not atrociously so (34), but I was pissing strokes away trying to judge how hard I should hit my pitching wedge and under what conditions I should have dropped down to something like an 8-iron. Found myself with a lot of putts short of the hole, and not by any small measure, either. Towards the very end I think I found something – chipping with a flatter takeaway than I would normally be accustomed to – but we’ll see tonight during my final (and traditional) nine-hole tune-up at Trull Brook.

Of course, a lot of the above wouldn’t have happened so much had I been getting off the tee OK, but I had brought to the course with me that ugly push/slice that not just looks awful, but drains loses yardage with every sick yard of trajectory. I kinda sorta figured out on #8 that I had been swaying backward in my take-away and, outside of a couple of holes, drove the ball better on the back nine. But whenever I didn’t, I added to my troubles with poor course management. How does one shoot a ghastly 114 at Green Meadow? By driving the ball poorly (I hit only three fairways), managed the course poorly (no pars, only seven bogeys), and brought with me an abysmal short game (the worst of the year). Sure, I feel like I struck the ball well with my irons all day, but that’s like the old joke, “So, other than that, how did you like the play, Mrs. Lincoln?”

Fortunately, I can take the above as a learning experience ahead of Goodboys Invitational weekend. While time might be short there is still time. I truly feel as if I’m “almost there”. We’ll see…

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 07:00 | Comment (1)
July 16, 2017

Catching up on a bunch of stuff in order to clean the desk drawer out before I head back to Massachusetts for Goodboys Invitational week:

Honest to God, you can’t make this sh*t up. What on earth did this loser expect?

Moose on a golf course. You gotta watch the whole thing. It’s pretty funny.

…of course, I think moose, by and large, are pretty amusing creatures. I still can’t watch the opening credits of the TV show Northern Exposure without laughing. You can see the moose getting pushed out from off-camera.

What it’s like to be hit by lightning. That would scare the bejeezus out of me.

It’s been nine months and no one, and I mean no one, has yet to provide any concrete evidence of any kind of “collusion” between the Donald Trump campaign and Russia or any specific statute that might have been violated in any way by anyone affiliated with Trump’s presidential campaign or administration. As Matthew Walther writes in The Week:

Today we are supposed to mouth along because Don Jr., who is not as dumb as he looks (which is not, I realize, setting the bar very high), tweeted screenshots of his Nigerian-prince-like email exchanges with a poseur who pretended in the loosest possible sense to represent the interests of the Russian government. The emails led to a meeting that went nowhere. Knock me over with a feather.

Walther then compares what the media is telling us to believe about Trump and Russia compared to what has actually been proven when it comes to Hillary Clinton and Russia:

Here was a presidential candidate whose husband, a former president, runs an international pseudo-charity that keeps him on a never-ending series of private jet flights to an equally interminable number of luxury hotels in exotic locales — a gruesome neoliberal shakedown machine with metal tentacles sunk into the bank accounts of shady businessmen and tinpot dictators the whole world round. An infinite number of grasping conflict-of-interest stories could have been written about the Clinton Foundation, and many were. But they didn’t matter nearly as much as TRUMP AND RUSSIA.

The mainstream media continues to run with this Russia / collusion narrative, not because a crime of any kind has been committed – do you not think that if anything illegal had occurred it would have been leaked from a thousand Washington political and media insiders by now? – but because, frankly, they’ve got no alternative. They still haven’t come to grips with the reality that Donald Trump – Donald Trump – beat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election, and they honestly don’t know what to do with themselves. Frankly, the CNNs, MSNBCs, and NPRs of the world are reacting like juveniles – they didn’t get their way, and they’re taking their ball and going home. It’s pretty pathetic. The good thing is that most of America sees them for what they are: a bunch of sore losers.

…along those same lines there’s this bit of news from the New York Times. It corresponds exactly to what I heard from my GOP operative guy high in the party’s echelon. We hadn’t communicated since Election Day, but he plays golf (a 10 handicap, so he says) and he called to say how entertaining he’d found my posts involving my golf game to be. He agreed with the advice Matthew gave me and wished me luck at this year’s Goodboys Invitational, which was nice. More importantly, he also told me he’s been hearing similar things involving opposition polling that a blogger called FLEPOREBLOG reported over at The Conservative Treehouse blog:

Earlier this month, a congressional source told me, Democratic strategists looking at a Republican-held swing district that is expected to be in play in next year’s midterm elections were shocked when a private poll they conducted showed that Republican support for Mr. Trump in the district is even stronger now than it was on Election Day.

My GOP guy tells me the Democrats are in far more disarray than the GOP could ever be, and that the biggest mistake the Democrats are making is allowing the mainstream media to overplay their hand as far as the whole Russia collusion thing and unrelenting opposition to President Trump goes. It’s his view that, more than anything, the American people are fair-minded, and that, even if they may not personally like Donald Trump or even agree with everything his administration is doing, they have a sense that he’s being treated unfairly by both Democrats and the mainstream media, and it’s going to hurt them come the 2018 midterms.

My feeling is that there’s no question that a lot can happen between now and the 2018 midterms, but I can guarantee you that President Trump is going to use the 2018 midterms as a referendum on his presidency and will therefore be barnstorming the country on behalf of GOP candidates that support his agenda. And I can also guarantee you that those incumbents who don’t toe the President’s line will find himself (or herself) on the wrong side of things were another Republican to decide to primary them. This president is a heckuva lot more popular with Republicans than the mainstream media will admit to.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:24 | Comments (0)
July 15, 2017

Apologies are in order for the lack of posts in the last ten days. Whenever I haven’t been working or hitting the driving range or actually playing golf I’ve been spending all my hours in project management certification training my company has required me to do. I’ve had nearly a year to sit down and get it done, but I let it go right up until near deadline, figuring it was at best a couple of days worth of effort. Silly me: I’ve come to discover it’s more like 36 hours for the three certifications. It’s all computer-based training and the stuff is pretty dry. And there are no shortcuts since you have to take a test at the end of each module and it’s context based to the extreme. I’m getting a lot out of it, but it’s not just sucking the hours out of my days, but it’s mentally draining as well.

Still, a blogger’s gotta blog, doesn’t he?

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 23:04 | Comments (0)
July 14, 2017

Days until the 2017 Goodboys Invitational: 7
Location: Superstition Springs Golf Club
Score: 48 / 48 = 96
Handicap: 23.4 / Change: -0.6

The par 5 #8 hole at Superstition Springs is long – over 550 yards, starts out straight and wide (although you really can’t go left because of all the moguls and crap they have over there, and you can’t go right because of the bunkers strategically placed down the right side, so maybe it’s not as wide as it looks) then doglegs slightly right, shrinking to a narrow but long green. It has always been trouble for me, especially because of the narrow approach shot it demands. Today, I had split the fairway with my drive, and for the second-straight par 5 pulverized a 5-wood that left me only 123 yards to the pin.

I was in a great spot and brimming with confidence: not only had I birdied the previous par 5, but I had hit the previous green in regulation (the tight par 3 seventh) with a crushed 175-yard 5-iron before three-putting from 30 feet for a bogey. I felt like all the hard work and driving range visits I’d put in over the past month were finally – finally kicking in. And for once I had a healthy mindset as well: I wasn’t thinking “Don’t f**k this up, you moron!”, it was more like, “OK, you’re in the go-zone, let’s try and birdie this thing!” I pulled 8-iron out of the bag, visualized my target, took a couple of practice swings..

Oops, forgot to take a deep breath. Yanked it ten yards off target into the bunker right of the green, took two to get out, then three-putted again for an 8.

I’m dispensing with the negatives early, because my last round in the stifling heat and humidity (at least for these parts) is finally over. In the past 2+ weeks I’d played golf twice and hit the driving range five times, coming home each time as a walking talking human dish rag, peeling my clothes off as soon as I walked in the door and jumping into the relative refreshment of our 94-degree pool. Today would be no exception, except for one thing: it would be the last time I would have to do this. As I told my clubs as I changed out of my shoes in the blistering Superstition Springs parking lot, their next destination would be a nice bath in a bucket of water, then the driving range at the Golf & Ski in Hudson, New Hampshire where the air would be cooler, the grass thicker, and the breezes refreshing to the skin. It’s been a long, hot, and hard past three months, and I have never (and will probably never again) work as hard on my golf game ever again. But there were fundamentals I needed to get down and a swing change to introduce, and you don’t make that happen going out just once a week and hit a few dozen balls. Simply put, I’ve paid my dues.

While the 96 I shot today was my best round ever at “the Springs”, it wasn’t anywhere near the best I’ve ever played, not even for the couple of stretches where I made bogey or par on three out of four holes (holes 4-7 and 12-15). But what stood out today was the way I kept my mental focus virtually throughout the round. With the exception of a ten-minute stretch between that 8-iron on #8 and a nifty out from the sand on #9 to six inches that even I couldn’t miss for a nifty bogey 5, I kept my wits about me, didn’t over-swing, and struck my irons more consistently than I have all year.

Two examples of my mental toughness: on the par 3 #15 I tried a 3-hybrid from 195 yards and pushed it far left. Downhill lie to an uphill green thirty yards away, overhanging tree in front. Choked down on a 5-iron and smacked it into the bank, where it eased to ten feet away. A gutsy play that earned kudos from my playing partners. Then, on the par 5 #16, the second-highest handicapped hole, big pond and water down the right and water both left and right of the hole, I hit exactly the drive I planned (left side of fairway), hit a perfectly controlled 7-iron to 110 yards, then dropped a 9-iron twenty feet from the hole. Smart plays, good focus, great course management.

Because I was keeping track, I had six opportunities from 120 yards or less to hit the green in regulation and made only two. But that’s OK – these are the kinds of things I still need to work on. But the trend is definitely in my favor: I made a birdie for the second straight round, and, after tracking my scores and handicap on MyScorecard.com for the past five years, this is the first time I’ve broken 100 in three of my last four outings. I can’t – and won’t – say that I’m peaking in time for Goodboys Invitational week, but I now believe all the work in the sun and the heat over thee past three months is starting to pay dividends. Whether it’s swing thoughts or swings, I feel as if I’m getting more consistent with what I’m trying to do. That doesn’t mean it will always translate into good scores and consistent play, but I’m trying to change habits out there on the golf course, and those are the kinds of things that always take more time.

So, while I’m going into Goodboys Invitational week with a bit of confidence there are still things I know I need to work on: those short irons and getting more consistent with my driver. I’ve given up trying to hit my hybrids for now and would only drag them out if I were in the wide-open spaces. And then there’s the damned 5-wood: I had two really great hits today, then on the first par 5 on the back what did I do? Scull it into a fairway bunker. For right now I’ll just have to accept it’s going to be hit-or-miss. But if that’s all I have to worry about that would be a good thing! For Goodboys Invitational week the only swing thoughts I will have in mind is “keeping my Vs” and “compress the ball”. Then whatever happens, happens.

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 21:02 | Comments (0)
July 7, 2017

Days until the 2017 Goodboys Invitational: 35
Location: Lone Tree Golf Club
Score: 49 / 48 = 97
Handicap: 23.9 / Trend: 24.0 (no change)

It’s two weeks out from the 2017 Goodboys Invitational weekend and I’m about to tee it up at Lone Tree Golf Club. It’s already damned hot at 9 AM – the temperature on the pro shop thermometer read 102 – heading for a record high of 117. We’re under another Excessive Heat Warning, and the place looked like a ghost town when I walked into the cool, dark pro shop. Oh, there were golfers out there (I saw them as I drove through the main entrance) but they were on the back nine, working their way feverishly to get out of the sun and into a cold pitcher of suds before the real heat started to rise. Alone at the driving range, taking my practice swings with a small bag of balls at my feet, I could feel the heat already rising through the damp ground as if I was playing in Texas or Louisiana. Six balls in, I said screw it and headed straight to the first tee. If I were lucky, I’d motor my way around the course in three hours and get outta Dodge no later than 12:30.

I beat that time by twenty minutes. And a damned good thing, too, because it was really starting to broil out there. As lubed up and hydrated as I was, it was getting hard to stay focused out there. Sure, I wanted to play well, but it was all about survival, and the kind of heat we’re having is nothing to take lightly. Just the day before, while hitting a large bucket at the Kokopelli Golf Club driving range, I heard a fire truck and paramedics drive up to attend to a gentleman who appeared to have been overcome by the heat at the other end of the range. Smacking my opening drive down the left side of the fairway, I looked at my phone, noted the time, drank some water, and kicked into my round into gear.

Lone Tree is a pretty wide open track, but I went into the round in full Goodboys preparation mode. Sure, you can miss the fairways and play the ball off the wide waste areas that line both sides of the course as it winds its way through the walled-in golf community, but I committed myself to considering any drive that ended up in those areas as OB, as if it were New England woods. My Goodboys pal “The Funny Guy” likes to chide me whenever I would hit a ball into the woods back home, saying, “Not like playing a Scottsdale muni, is it chief?”, so for this round and my final Arizona round at Superstition Springs next Friday that’s the way I would play it.

One other thing I did differently today was to try and imagine myself in Goodboys competition. Before I teed off on each hole, I would look at it and imagine a hole I’d played from Goodboys Invitational past. It was both challenging and fun. I might have been out at Lone Tree, but in my mind I was playing at The Ledges, or Breakfast Hill, or The Captains, or Waverly Oaks. It was an interesting exercise, and it made me feel in some ways connected to my buds who are going about their own Goodboys weekend preparations in their own ways.

The 49 on the front nine wasn’t bad, but I threw away a lot of strokes. I had a few opportunities thanks to some decent enough driving, but I couldn’t get the ball on the green in regulation when I had the chance, and to compound the problem my chipping and putting were lousy. Still, I was striking the ball solidly enough, I just couldn’t make anything happen. Taking five shots to get in from 60 yards on the par 4 fifth was embarrassingly sloppy, and the eight I made on the par 5 ninth resulted from taking the same number of shots to get in from 122 yards. Two opportunities to make good scores frittered away as if strokes don’t mean a thing.

The back nine could – could have been magical. I somehow lost my ability to hit my driver straight at the turn and didn’t get it back until the seventeenth, but I was scrambling like crazy. The elderly gentleman who joined me at the turn took to calling me “Seve” for the way I kept escaping out of trouble with my sand wedge and pitching wedge, neither of which I could hit on the front nine. I birdied the par 3 twelfth – an island green, no less! – by flaring a 6-iron from 153 yards to seven feet. I bogeyed the par 4 #13 after hitting my drive into a fairway bunker, then hitting my approach shot into a sand trap and a nearly-impossible downhill lie. On the par 4 #14, I had a sharply-downhill chip to an elevated green and left myself only twelve feet for par.

The reason I say the back nine could have been magical is that it all started to go to shit from there. I four-putted from twelve feet for a triple-bogey seven. On the par 4 #15 I drove the ball into a fairway bunker, then hit a 5-iron to 40 yards left of the green into a gnarly mess of junk. I got applause from my playing partner when I hacked it out to eight inches from the cup. Bill gave it to me, but because at Goodboys you have to putt it all the way in I told him I still had to putt it. I missed. On the long par 5 #18 I wasted a perfect drive with two sculled attempts at a 5-wood, then tried to get cute by going for the pin with a 5-iron from 162 yards protected by a pond. Lying three as I was, the smart play would have been to hit an easy 6-iron right of the pond and try and fade it in, but I was frying both mentally and physically and went for it. I missed carrying the pond by a yard. Instead of playing for double-bogey I made snowman.

I can take a lot from today’s round. Clearly, the work I’ve been putting in at the range is starting to pay off. If I make that 8-inch putt, two-putt instead of that four-putt, and play #18 a little smarter I’d be penciling in a 44 for a 93 – exactly the kind of golf I want to be playing. I’ve still got some work to do at the range: my iron-play from 120 yards in, tightening up my driver a little bit more, learn to hit that damned 5-wood, but I really feel as if I’m close. Superstition Springs – my usual pre-Goodboys week send-off – will be it’s usual challenge and gauge as to where my game really is before I head back to Massachusetts. After today, I’m really looking forward to getting out of this heat and playing golf with my friends.

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 20:34 | Comment (1)
July 4, 2017

Hat tip: pbs.twing.com

Freedom is never free. Happy birthday, America!

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 02:36 | Comments (0)
July 2, 2017

Just in time for Goodboys Invitational weekend. One of my favorite Goodboys preparations is to watch the special features disc on the Jaws whatever anniversary release it was. Not only is it interesting, but Richard Dreyfuss reveals himself to be quite the storyteller.

This is why I can’t bring myself to go to St. Mary Magdalene regularly anymore. The Roman Catholics might have the best theology around, but they’re the biggest hypocrites in the world. Being a pedophile is bad enough, to hand a big cross around your neck as if you’re a servant of Christ is beyond sacrilegious. Both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict – two great Popes, BTW – had a chance to clean house and for whatever reason either didn’t or couldn’t. This new Pope is a social justice warrior moron, I got nothing to do or say to him.

I think the Golden Bear is about right on this. The longer Tiger is away, the tougher it will be for him to come back and compete at the level he is used to. But I figure he figures he’s got enough problems as it is.

Kudos to these pro-Trump activists. That’s the way to do it – convert them with kindness. If this were the liberal left protesting, they would have broken windows and trashed the place.

If this is indeed true, then there’s really nothing left as far as the mainstream media’s obsession with President Trump and Russia goes. It all started with General Flynn, remember? I’m going to go out on a limb here and predict that the whole Russia Special Counsel investigation is not about Trump, but about the Democrats, Hillary Clinton, and the Obama administration’s unmasking of American citizens solely for political gain. The Democrats will rue the day they pushed this TRump / Russia narrative. Now he’s going to each them for lunch.

This is (truly) CNN.

Regarding the hoopla over President’s Trump’s supposedly outlandish tweets about the MSNBC “Morning Joe” team of sleazeball Joe Scarborough and shallow, bitchy Mika Brezninski. The GOP elites in Washington simply can’t comprehend the idea of liberals bashing them on a daily basis and actually having the balls to call them out on it. My view? The only response GOP members should have is “We’ll get Trump to stop tweeting when you start treating him with the respect the office deserves, otherwise go **** yourselves.”

Meanwhile, while the media is focused on Trump and Morning Joe, good things are happening.

This is what a real President stands for.

LPGA golfer Natalie Gulbis as a Republican congressman? Could happen

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:46 | Comments (0)
July 1, 2017

Days until the 2017 Goodboys Invitational: 20
Location: Stonecreek Golf Club
Score: 53 / 55 = 108
Handicap: 23.9 / Trend: 24.2 (+.03)

Going into today’s round I really felt good about my game and the direction it was heading. Standing on the first tee at Stonecreek Golf Club, not only had I’d had three solid range sessions since last Saturday’s round at Trilogy Power Ranch, but I’d had absolutely the best warm-up I can remember having. Stonecreek has always been a tough course for me, but I felt like I was prepared for a good round, and everything was clicking.

Everything, that is, until I yanked my first drive of the day so far right I didn’t even bother looking for it.

And yanked my second drive of the day into a pond.

And yanked a 5-iron far right off the tee on the par 3 third.

Mind you, I hadn’t hit yanks like that since my two rounds in Vegas back in January when I was sick. Starting off bogey / triple / double was clearly not what I had in mind. I’d worked so damned hard on my driver this week, and this is what I get for all that hard work? Still, the situation hadn’t gone totally condition red: I’d made some nice swings to minimize the damage on those holes, and I’d actually settle into a nice groove by the time I found myself smack-dab in the middle of the ninth fairway, 132 yards from the pin. Over the past four holes I’d righted the ship, bogeying two of the last four holes, (including the #1 handicap hole), and would have at least bogeyed the eighth if a crushed 5-wood destined for the center of the green hadn’t hit a bunker rake (of all things) and careened waaay far right. My short game was, of course, MIA, and my putting back to its typical atrocious state (clearly, that hadn’t carried over from last week), but still, I was sitting at 46 with a good chance at a 50 or, at worst, a 51. I could still shoot a low number on the back and turn it into a decent round.

I still don’t know what happened. My playing partner Greg gave me the distance – 132 yards. There was sand both left and right of the green, but the pin was set in front. I mentioned to Greg that I was between clubs – I was thinking about jumping on an 8, but we finally agreed that an easy 7 was the smarter choice. I thought my set-up was good, even took a good practice swing. I visualized the shot, was ready for the kill.

Shank alert! A shank far left beyond the waste area that lined the length of the fairway. I then shanked a pitching wedge even further left. I chunked another sand wedge into the green-side bunker, took two to get out, then two-putted for an 8.

The tenth was a re-run of the ninth: solid drive, but this time it was the 5-iron that was shanked. Then a chunked 6-iron into the junk, then another chunk and another two putt for another quad bogey.

Rinse and repeat on #11: solid drive, a chunked 3-hybrid that went all of four yards, then a yanked 5-iron OB. I chunked my penalty, then bladed a pitching wedge completely off the green, then a putt for my third 8 in a row.

And just to show I didn’t discriminate on par 4s alone, I shanked my 5-iron off the tee. An incredible recovery shot out of the crap (my best in four holes) left me sixteen feet for a par but I four-putted for a triple-bogey six.

All that hard work over the past week gone to crapola. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. The round was gone.

And then, suddenly, from seemingly out of nowhere, I righted the ship. A yanked 9-iron nearly OB was my only poor swing on the par 5 #13 but I continued to drive the ball well and even blasted another good 5-wood along the way. Then I really settled in, going par / bogey / par (a long par 5 and another big 5-wood) / bogey before once again yanking an iron OB on #18 leading to a triple. But in that stretch I had really overcome adversity and played well. It didn’t matter, of course – the round was long gone, but I had my pride to play for and I impressed my playing partners with some great strikes on those holes.

So here I am, less than three weeks out from Goodboys, and I’m not feeling a whole lotta love in return for all the work I’ve put in. Sure, I could argue – and rightly – that after those initial yanks I stuck to my plan of aiming slightly right of center and ended up driving the ball better than I have all year (eight fairways hit). I can also say that after that stretch of three quads I did figure out a way to right the ship. Still, those shanks and yanks – all due to over-swinging or a poor set-up, or probably both – is just mind-numbing, especially after all that hard work. Where’s the fix for that?

The other area of concern is that my short game is terrible. Another round with more than forty putts, and it would take more than one hand to count the number of bladed chips I hit today. I suppose I could hit the range tomorrow and work on my short game, but my inability to take what I’m doing at the range and apply it on the course is what’s killing me right now. And it doesn’t make me feel better to think that I’ve gotten to the point where I can have forty-one putts, lose six balls, chip like crap, and make three quad bogeys in a row, and still shoot double-bogey golf. I’d rather clean the house and do chores.

I’ve got two more rounds to figure it all out before I head back to Massachusetts. I know it doesn’t sound it, but I feel as if I’m this close to putting it all together. Tomorrow I’ll be back out at the Papago Park range, working on everything – including my short game. Everything that transpired today is correctable, just tweaks. I have the basics down, I just have to figure out how to take it to the course and keep it there.

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 19:39 | Comments (0)
June 30, 2017

No, that rabbit isn’t dead, it’s Peach taking a well-deserved bunny nap after a morning of rearranging his area – something he does constantly – and finishing his breakfast of romaine lettuce, Italian parsley and slice of banana. That after his snack of dried pineapple chunks and Nibble Rings.

The first time we saw Peach taking a nap we kind of freaked out because he has this habit of his eyes kind of staying open and rolling back in his head as if he were dead. Of all the rabbits we’ve had over the years he’s the only one who sleeps like that. The other cool thing about Peach is seeing all that white fur under his belly and under his feet and bunny tail. If you see him during the normal course of his day you’d swear he’s a brown rabbit, but he’s got a whole lot of white just under his top fur.

Peach is a cool rabbit, but very timid. His cage area is open to the rest of the room (and, by default, the rest of the house), but he won’t venture beyond the rugs that define his area of the room from my office.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 02:57 | Comments (0)
June 28, 2017

I’ve finally gotten to the point in my range work where I can start working on achieving a Vulcan mind meld with my King Cobra F6 driver. It’s been two months since I got my new clubs and I’ve worked harder than I ever have on understanding my swing and focusing on the things I needed to in order to be a better ball-striker. I’m now at a point I’ve never been, like, ever in my golfing life: being able to go to the range and see the same results from one session to another. It’s not only made my range work more enjoyable, it’s allowed me to be able to work on the kinds of little things I’ve never been able to work on before – little things like playing around with opening up the club face a little more, or trying to hit cuts or draws just for the hell of it. Knowing that if I follow the same axioms like set-up, keeping my Vs, and not jumping at the ball and over-swinging I’ll get the same results.

It doesn’t mean I won’t hit the occasional shank or get out of sorts for a few balls, but unlike in the past when doing so would freak me out and send me into a downward spiral of more shanks and greater over-swings, now it’s an adjustment I can make. Just go back to focusing on what I’d been doing right before and it’s almost like it never happened.

I’m not going to lie to you: Matthew’s Five-Minute Fix from ten days ago might sound moronic – it certainly did to the guy I was playing with last Saturday when I told him about it – but maybe it takes a moron like myself to find a swing key in something moronic. It has made a difference in the results I’ve been getting at the range ever since. And that front-nine 44 at Trilogy Power Ranch was no fluke: I followed the same axioms during that nine that I’d been doing at the range the four – count ‘em, four! – days I hit balls last week in 110+ degree temperatures. Sure, the back nine wasn’t great, but looking back on that round I could see where and how it started to get away from me, and I took something away from it.

Which brings me to today’s post: hitting my driver. Because I’ve spent so much time working on my irons, my driver and my putter have gotten the short end of the stick, but at least as far as the driver goes that ended this week. So on Sunday, yesterday, and this coming Friday I’ll get a large bucket of balls, hit six sand wedges, six pitching wedges, six 5- or 6-irons, a few hybrids and six 5-woods, then settle down with the driver for the rest of the bucket.

It’s something I’ve never done before, but looking at Saturday’s round I’ve come to view my driver as the canary in The Great White Shank’s coal mine, at least as far as over-swinging goes. It usually manifests itself around the third or fourth hole where drives that had started out pretty controlled and straight start to get pushed left, and increasingly so as the round goes on until it reaches a point where I feel I have to start steering the club to just find a fairway. You can kinda-sorta get away with that kind of thing out here in Arizona where one can hit bank-shots off the subdivision walls and fences, but in New England those balls are in the woods and long gone.

Right now I’m just trying to figure out much I can get away with as far as shoulder turn and length of swing go. I know if I jump at the ball and over-swing there’s gonna be a big push to the right. Not a slice, a push. Less frequently do I seem to come over the top and yank or pull the ball to the right (the dreaded two-way miss), and if I do that’s a clear indication I’m over-swinging. So I’ve decided on a strategy that takes the left side out of play: square up aimed slightly right of center and allow the Cobra F6′s natural fade to bring the ball left into (hopefully) the middle of the fairway. At worst, the left side of the fairway or the left rough. I’m also deliberately hitting a lot of balls so that I do start to over-swing and have to force myself to cut down on my swing so that I learn how to adjust when (not if) I start doing it on the course. Not baby the swing, not try to steer the ball, just cut down the length of my swing and swing normally.

It’s been a fun challenge to work on something so esoteric as my trajectory and ball flight, but I see it as an indication as to how far I’ve come in the past two months. Having the basic fundamentals down I feel as if I have the time and luxury of truly learning how to hit my driver. Whether this works or not, well, ask me after Goodboys Invitational weekend: like I say, playing golf in the Valley of the Sun is different from playing in New England. But, agreeing with Greg “The Great White Shark” Norman, who says the ball off the tee is the most important shot you hit on any hole, I feel I’m at a point now where if I can keep my drives in the fairway I stand a damned good chance of making bogey or better.

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 01:40 | Comments (2)


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