May 17, 2019

Target Handicap: 20.0
Location: Kokopelli Golf Club
Score: 53 + 56 = 109 Handicap: 27.1 / Change: (-0.1)

Even though it’s just a quick 10-minute hop up the street from me I hadn’t played Kokopelli Golf Club in, like years. Primarily because (regardless of what the website makes it look like) there really isn’t anything scenic about Kokopelli, given that it winds its way through the El Dorado Lakes subdivision and is bounded on two sides by major roads – the east/west Guadalupe Road splitting the course in two. What I had never really realized about Kokopelli is its fairly ample 129 slope rating, putting it amongst the top five toughest (if you consider slope to be a weighing factor of a course’s difficulty) courses I’ve ever played since I began tracking my scores at almost seven years ago.

It makes me wonder, because after reacquainting myself with Kokopelli on an unusually cool (80 degrees in May??) day, I consider both Stonecreek Golf Course (128 from the gold tees) and Superstition Springs Golf Course (120 from the green tees) far greater tests – at least as far as The Great White Shank’s golf game is concerned. I’m sure Kokopelli’s tight fairways and typically dry conditions which create a ton of roll off the fairways on drives with any kind of sideways roll, and the number of greens which slope back to front (I can speak from personal experience that you don’t want to be above the holes at Kokopelli) contribute to the slope, but, again, I find both Stonecreek and “the Springs” far sterner tests.

Sure, it would be easy for someone to call Kokopelli’s slope contributory, but in all honesty I feel it wasn’t. Sure, there were a few tough holes out there (the par 4 #4, par 5 #14, and par 5 #18 are all pretty tight off the tee, but the holes themselves weren’t that bad (even though I played the three holes 10-over) – I just made poor decisions after getting off the tee OK and then screwed the pooch. Truth be told, I think this was my best round of the year at least as far as ball-striking is concerned – I counted only two fat hits all day. Unfortunately, as has been the case since I started my 2019 season a month ago, there was some very sloppy golf played out there, and sloppy golf equals double-bogey +1 golf.

My goal today was simply to play aggressively, hit the ball hard, and keep hitting it hard no matter where it ended up going. I had decided to jettison the whole idea of easy 3/4 swings with my irons and my upright takeaway a couple of weeks ago, and I’ve really worked hard at the range on flattening my take-away and making as full a turn as I’m comfortable with while still staying in control. The driver is still a work in progress, but I’ve found my irons going longer and straighter – most especially when I succeed in hitting the ball flush – something I did on numerous occasions today.

The problems today were myriad – on the front nine I had no distance control with my short irons and found myself long and off the green and above the pin on virtually every hole. And zero touch with my short game. Hey, when you make a one-putt for a double-bogey six as I did on the par 4 #4 you know that there were problems getting it to the green. And when I did get myself on the green and in decent shape, I’d three-putt the green as I did on the par 3 #6 and the par 4 #11.

The numbers don’t lie when your card is marked as no pars and only six bogeys all day. Three fairways hit, and a ghastly 35 putts. The numbers don’t lie when you make a triple bogey and two quad bogeys over the last five holes. But I’m not going to blame course difficulty on what happened on those holes because it was all just stupid golf. On the par 3 #14 my 6-iron dropped short of the tee. Thinking it was just on grass, I grabbed my pitching wedge and putter, only to find that my ball had rolled into a deep bunker that I hadn’t seen from the tee. Too lazy to walk all the way back to the cart for my 60-degree wedge, I tried hitting a very-open face pitching wedge, caught it too clean and hit it OB. Chip back on and two-putt for an ugly triple-bogey six after a decent hit off the tee.

I didn’t hit the fairway on the tight par 5 #15, but I was in a good spot just off it. I duffed a 5-wood off the hard pan to get to 200 yards out with a stiff wind in our faces. Were it not for the wind, I probably would have hit 5-iron just short of the green, chip on and at worst two-putt for a bogey six. Instead, I grabbed my 5-wood again and, from a perfect lie in the fairway hit a huge push way left of the green in no-man’s land. Tried to get cute with a pitching wedge from an impossible lie, duffed it into deep casual water, then flew the green with another pitching wedge, duffed my chip and two-putted for my quad.

Similarly ugly was the par 5 #18. I hit a decent drive off the tee that just missed the fairway left, but made the mental mistake of pulling a 5-wood off a bony lie when a 5-iron kicked out long and right would have been the better decision given all the water along the left side. I pushed the 5-wood OB left, then, with my drop, tried to play the hero shot with a 6-iron over the water. Instead I duffed the 6 (only my second truly poorly hit iron of the day) into the water, then, mistaking my 8-iron for my pitching wedge, went long and left into the water behind the green. A lovely chip to a foot, and I saved yet another quintuple bogey.

I guess you could call the day what has become typical Great White Shank golf. It’s a little infuriating to me that my short game is so poor right now, but I like the way I’m hitting the ball. I had a lot of fun out there taking my full swings and working on compressing the ball, which is what I was trying to do. My driver remains a bit of a work in progress (although I’m much further along than I was, say, my last time out at Trilogy Power Ranch). My iron play was much more solid today, but there’s room for improvement there as well. With a little more work and convinced that my short game is bound to come around, I’m looking forward to playing two very tough courses next weekend while the twins are in San Diego – Stonecreek, a true second-shot course, and Ocotillo, with water water everywhere. It will be a stern test for my game, but, today’s score aside, I like where I’m trying to take my game right now and believe it’s all going to come around, and soon.

If you build it, the scores will come. And the numbers won’t lie then, either.

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 21:35 | Comments (0)
May 15, 2019

With a big nod to Amazon Music and the freedom of virtually unlimited storage for playlists available on Tracey’s iPad, I finished creating for her a new “Flower Power” playlist that eliminates all the CDs I burned for her several years ago.

The problem with all this new technology is that there is literally no limit anymore to the number of songs you can build around a playlist – it’s literally thousands. As are the number of digital selections available for download on Amazon, so I wanted to be smart when building Tracey’s initial playlist, figuring we can always add more songs as she finds artists she wants to hear more from. So the rules I set up were as follows: (1) no songs earlier than 1965 and none later than 1972, and (2) they had to be songs that Tracey would actually want to listen to – for example, “In A Gadda Da Vida” by Iron Butterfly certainly qualifies as a song from the FP era, but there was no way Tracey would ever submit her ears to what is (to be perfectly frank), a crappy song that exemplifies only the worst self-indulgence of the era.

…if I didn’t like it, well, that’s a whole ‘nutha thing – it wasn’t my playlist, after all.

We ended up with more than 325 songs with a 16-hour listening period – perfect for her and Tammy to blast at eardrum-shattering levels while they’re road tripping to San Diego for their collective birthday celebration (there’s no point in telling you how old the twins are turning; let it just be said that everyone’s getting friggin’ old).

…which, BTW, is kind of interesting about the music on the FP playlist – the twins were way too young to even appreciate the social forces that molded and shaped the music of the era; heck, by the time they would have started listening to Top 40 radio, the “Flower Power” era had turned to dust, and disco, soul, early punk, and milquetoast one-hit wonders of the ’70s were standard fare.

But there’s no doubt that the music of the “Flower Power” era had more than just its moments – it was memorable music and a genre that truly reflected the era from which it came: an era of rejection of the status quo, Vietnam, Watergate, anti-war demonstrations, college unrest, and free love and free speech.

(Ed. note: ironic, then, isn’t it, that the same liberals who were all about free speech in the ’60s and ’70s are now, by and large, the leaders of our colleges and universities and doing whatever they can to stamp out speech and expression they disagree with. But that’s a topic for another day.)

More interestingly – at least to me – is all the psychedelic stuff that was, by and large, all crafted prior to the wide use of the Moog synthesizer, which forced studio engineers and producers to create sounds with all sorts of analog tape effects and studio tricks that you can now do with the flip of a switch on a keyboard. You listen to a couple of songs that didn’t make my Top Ten (for example, Norman Greenbaum’s “Spirit in the Sky” and the Lemon Pipers’ “Green Tambourine”) and realize that these very cool “period pieces” were all done with conventional instruments.

One final word: while there isn’t a whole lot of Beatles presence in this Top Ten, their influence on the spirit, culture, and sounds of the times cannot be overexaggerated. Think about it: four of, arguably, the greatest albums in pop music history – and I’m talking TRUE top ten / top fifteen) were produced in this era: Rubber Soul, Revolver (in my mind the greatest rock album ever produced), Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (not a great album in my view, but it had an incalculable impact on the era and beyond), and Abbey Road. Without The Beatles, there would simply be no “flower power” era as we know it today.

OK, enough of the prelims, let’s get on to the music. You may agree or disagree with my choices, but you won’t be able to deny that these are all pretty friggin’ great tunes.

10. Eve of Destruction – Barry McGuire. Sure, it came out in 1965, but there’s no way any music collection called “Flower Power” could be considered complete without this protest song whose sentiments still ring true today. There’s no Dylan in this top ten list, but the pissed off attitude towards racism, hypocrisy, and social injustice contained in “Eve” would not be misplaced on any of Dylan’s mid-60s output. Even Dylan would probably admit that lyrics (by P.F. Sloan) seldom got better (or more timely) than this:

Think of all the hate there is in Red China
Then take a look around to Selma, Alabama
Ah, you may leave here for four days in space
But when you return it’s the same old place
The poundin’ of the drums, the pride and disgrace
You can bury your dead but don’t leave a trace
Hate your next door neighbor but don’t forget to say grace
And you tell me over and over and over and over again my friend
Ah, you don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction

The interesting story about this particular song is that McGuire’s vocal (backed by members of LA’s legendary “Wrecking Crew”) was just a throw-away while attempting to get familiar with the tune, but the tape from the session was given to a local DJ who immediately put it on his playlist and the song took off.

9. White Rabbit – Jefferson Airplane. San Francisco. The “Summer of Love” Surrealistic Pillow. You think “The Sixties”, this song has gotta be on that playlist. It’s a short but very clean recording, breathtakingly powerful in the way it gradually builds to its inevitable climax. No one makes music like that today.

8. Hey Jude / Revolution. Sure, I could have gone with “Strawberry Fields Forever” / “Penny Lane”, because The Beatles sure knew how to create “Double A side” singles. I’m choosing “Hey Jude” and “Revolution” because it illustrates just how versatile, and just how damned good a band they were. I’ve always considered “Jude” to be the Sistine Chapel of rock and roll – musically, everything seemed black and white until the day I first heard it on the radio, and I still remember where I was and what I was doing when I heard it that very first time. “Revolution” is not just gritty and cynical, it also dares to ask the question to those who would want to tear down the establishment what exactly they would replace it with. So pure Lennon. The opening, with Lennon’s fuzz guitar and McCartney’s scream, is worth the price of admission alone.

7. Aquarius / Let The Sunshine In – The Fifth Dimension. I mean, how “Sixties” can you get, right? I don’t think it’s a particularly great song, but the instrumental backing (again provided by the “Wrecking Crew”) is pretty friggin’ awesome – most especially on “Let The Sunshine In”. Like Donovan’s “Atlantis”, The Youngbloods’ “Get Together”, and The Byrds’ “Eight Miles High” the song sure captures the spirit of the times, doesn’t it? Hence its inclusion.

6. Gimme Shelter – The Rolling Stones. You can’t recall the music of the FP era without forgetting what happened at Altamont just a few months after Woodstock. “Gimme Shelter” (the title song for the movie about the Stones’ tour that year), is a spooky, paranoid example of the dark side of the FP era and its growing excesses in a variety of forms. It’s aural equivalent is The Doors’ “End of the Night”.

5. Woodstock – Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. Another overly-idealistic anthem to the era, but it’s a great song, nonetheless. Musically it’s a very tight recording with the bass and drums doing some very intricate rhythm throughout. And the album it came from, “Deja Vu” is a must-have for Sixties music enthusiasts. It’s a classic.

4. Time Has Come Today – The Chambers Brothers. Quite simply (at least in my view), the most exquisite example of psychedelic rock and a Great White Shank “top 10” life song if there ever was one. Legend is that the song in its longest version was recorded in a single tape with no overdubs. Not sure I believe that, but it’s an awesome aural experience with headphones – give it a try but make sure you have the volume up so you can appreciate the sounds shifting back and forth between your ears. The song has everything but the kitchen sink – backward effects, the fuzziest fuzz guitar, a honkin’ harmonica buried deep in the mix, all dripped in echo like you wouldn’t believe. I still remember my mom telling me how much she hated the song – she said it reminded her of giving birth. Funny, that made me love the song that much more.

3. For What It’s Worth – Buffalo Springfield. Like “Gimme Shelter”, this song also has a spooky, paranoid vibe that permeates the grooves. Lots of folks immediately associate the song with Vietnam War protests, but it was actually inspired by the Sunset Strip curfew riots that took place way back in 1966.

2. San Francisco – Scott MacKenzie. The happy “peace and love” absolute idealism of the FP era distilled into its purest form. Of course it was all bullshit – none other than George Harrison would report back to his band mates about the horribly lost and drug-induced teens he found by the hundreds during his visit to San Francisco during the “Summer of Love”. But it’s still a rather nice, nostalgic tune – one that would have been my choice for #1 had things not taken a darker turn.

1. Ohio – Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. Consider this the flip side to Scott MacKenzie’s “flower power” opus. By 1970, the innocent peace and love of the San Francisco movement had turned dark and ominous. The Manson murders by a bunch of lost, disillusioned, and spaced-out hippies had shaken the country, and on college campuses it was “Student Demonstration Time” with Vietnam War protests seemingly everywhere. Needless to say, the Kent State shootings were the beginning of the end of the “flower power” movement. Within a couple of years, Jimi Hendrix, Duane Allman, Alan Wilson (Canned Heat), Jim Morrison, and Janis Joplin would all be dead. But few songs have ever communicated anger and rage against “the establishment” as effectively as “Ohio”. Nearly 40 years later, it remains the standard for protest songs, with anger and resentment oozing from the very first grungy guitar lick and Neil Young’s vocal. The fade-out alone with the call-and-answer make it the ultimate protest song from beginning to end.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 22:57 | Comments (3)
May 11, 2019

If you’re the kind of person who relies on the likes of CNN, MSNBC, the Washington Post, NPR, and The New York Times you’re probably either too absorbed in marking down the days on your calendar until Donald Trump’s impeachment, cheering the fact that surveillance on a political campaign isn’t really spying, or starving your loved one of sex to protest the increasing threat to women’s reproductive rights (whatever that is) to recognize that this week was the most important week of Donald Trump’s presidency.

And that it had nothing to do with Russian “collusion”, obstruction of justice, or the 2020 political campaign.

Oh, that’s not to say that it wasn’t an important week in that regard – the almost daily revelations of how and when the kind of surveillance Comey talked began remains a drip, drip, drip that will in due time turn into a true, full-blown political scandal of epic proportions (I’m guessing right around the same time as the 2020 primary season kicks into full gear), the Democrats’ increasing hysteria over the use of subpoenas as a political weapon – something that has both wings of the Party’s political apparatus rightly concerned, and (if you’re ignoring the polls which mean nothing this far out) a growing unease within Democratic Party circles that gaffe-prone Joe Biden’s already old and tired-looking campaign is looking increasingly like Hillary II (or is it III?) were interesting enough in their own right, but hardly the stuff of true, lasting impact on the global political and socio-economic front.

No, I’m talking about what went down with the China trade negotiations this week. And it’s not as much important as it is cataclysmic in terms of our economic and political relationship with the Panda. Because, for the first time in American history, an American president has refused to kow-tow to China’s negotiating games and head fakes and not just walked away from a trade agreement, but do so by slapping a 25% tariff on various goods and services imported from China not currently subject to tarriff. Of course, this has all the usual globalists that serve as talking heads on the cable networks and their “China First, America Second”, cheap-labor-above-all-else compadres on Wall Street, the Business Roundtable, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce talking economic Armageddon and wagging their fingers in disdain.

Me, I was in full agreement with Steve Bannon on this when he predicted the President and his savvy team of negotiators wouldn’t hesitate to walk away in the face of China back-tracking on positions that had been negotiated over the past year and a half:

“I happen to think that today [Monday] was the most important day of Donald Trump’s presidency,” Bannon told Dobbs. “He’s president of the United States because of the rejection of working-class people and middle-class people, about the managed decline of our country at the hands of people like Hillary Clinton. The Clinton global initiative, the whole Clinton apparatus. These globalists and elitists were very comfortable with the managed decline, particularly vis-a-vis the rise of China. And Donald Trump confronted that, particularly in the upper Midwest. This is the reason he won states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Ohio. People understand […] the factories went to China, the jobs went to China, and the opioids came in. So I think that Trump understands that tariffs are more than taxes. They’re more about self-empowerment of the working class.”

…What’s more, Bannon said, these moves by Trump aren’t aimed at the Chinese people, but at their authoritarian rulers, who use their power and influence to enrich themselves, their family and their friends, while the average Chinese citizen continues to struggle (and is forced to keep his mouth shut about political issues — or else).

In other words, American lobbyists and Wall Street investors — who are putting pressure on Trump — are actually helping an enemy of the American and of the Chinese people, namely the Chinese Communist Party.

It’s pretty obvious (at least to me) that, as Michael Pillsbury states in this Fox Business interview with Lou Dobbs, that China seriously underestimated both the President’s long-held and widely known, and his negotiating team’s grim determination, to once and for all recalibrate the economic relationship between China and the U.S. As Sundance writes at The Conservative Treehouse:

President Trump has begun a process for less dependence on foreign companies for cheap goods, (the cornerstone of a service economy) and a return to a more balanced U.S. larger economic model where the manufacturing and production base can be re-established and competitive based on American entrepreneurship and innovation.

No other economy in the world innovates like the U.S.A, President Trump sees this as a key advantage across all industry – including manufacturing.

The benefit of cheap overseas labor, which is considered a global market disadvantage for the U.S., is offset by utilizing innovation and energy independence.

The third highest variable cost of goods beyond raw materials first, labor second, is energy. President Trump unleashed the U.S. energy sector and slashed regulations; as a consequence the U.S. manufacturing price of any given product now allows for global trade competition even with higher U.S. wage prices.

In addition the U.S. has a key strategic advantage with raw manufacturing materials such as: iron ore, coal, steel, precious metals and vast mineral assets which are needed in most new modern era manufacturing. Trump proposed we stop selling these valuable national assets to countries we compete against – they belong to the American people, they should be used for the benefit of American citizens. Period.

…As the wage rate increases (it is), and as the economy expands (it is), the governmental dependency model is reshaped and simultaneously receipts to the U.S. treasury improve. More money into the U.S Treasury and less dependence on welfare programs have a combined exponential impact. You gain a dollar, and have no need to spend a dollar. That is how the SSI and safety net programs are saved under President Trump.

When you elevate your economic thinking you begin to see that all of the “entitlements” or expenditures become more affordable with an economy that is fully functional.

As the GDP of the U.S. expands, so too does our ability to meet the growing need of the retiring U.S. worker. We stop thinking about how to best divide a limited economic pie, and begin thinking about how many more economic pies we can create.

It will be interesting to see how all this plays out, but it’s obviously clear that President Trump’s commitment to the American worker and confidence in American ingenuity and being the charters of our own destiny is light years from Barack Obama’s self-defeating and self-depressing concept of America’s economic future. The same holds true with the Democrats’ embrace of European socialism as a way to level the playing field for all concerned. By walking away from China and letting them stew for a few weeks until they inevitably return to the negotiating table, Donald Trump is placing all his chips on unbridled American capitalism as a way to expand economic opportunity to everyone through jobs, increased wages, and an expanding economy that will inevitably fill the federal government’s coffers with increased revenues that can ultimately be used to pay down our national debt and save programs like Medicare and Social Security. It’s not going to happen overnight, obviously, but, compared to the direction we’ve been headed since Ronald Reagan was president, it’s well worth trying.

Donald Trump is placing his bets on the American people, American know-how, and capitalism as a force for lifting all boats on a rising tide of unbridled economic opportunity. Those who seek to get in his way for purely partisan political purposes (the four “Ps”!) do so at their own peril.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 10:30 | Comments (0)
May 7, 2019

This is a long article, but well worth reading, even if you’re not a supporter of President Trump. If there’s one thing to be taken from the article it’s long past time for Congress to investigate just how and why our nation’s intelligence organizations – the FBI and the CIA were weaponized by the Obama administration and their activities sanctioned by the Obama Justice Department under Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

Regardless of what the major news networks and the so-called talking head “experts” at the cable news networks have told you, what culminated in an all-out intelligence-gathering (i.e., spying) against the Trump campaign actually started with a foundational change in new limitations placed upon any inspectors general to see how intelligence was allowed to be gathered towards the end of Barack Obama’s first administration. This change created a “backdrop of minimal oversight” that allowed highly-placed players in the FBI and CIA to allow their own political leanings to cloud their judgment as to how these intelligence-gathering organizations could wield their power.

It’s an interesting and must-read.

It’s a sad thing that the major cable networks have allowed their irrational and all-consuming hatred of Donald Trump cloud their own judgment, because in the end it will be a watershed moment in American political history – one that will make Watergate look like a candy store theft. The fact is, this country’s intelligence community became a weapon, not just to be employed against Donald Trump, but to not be employed against Hillary Clinton and her obvious obstruction of justice involving potentially criminal “pay for play” activities as Secretary of State and the Clinton Foundation. It doesn’t really matter, in the end, which will be deemed to be worse; the fact is, there are, and have been, two different kinds of justice being served: one for the non-elected Washington elites wielding immense power to spy and employ illegal actions out of political consideration, the other for the rest of us.

Some undoubtedly will say something to the effect that, “well, they all do it to one extent or another”, but in this case I doubt it – not to this extent and level. My sense is that Barack Obama and his administration, whether actively, passively, or (I’m guessing, both) sought to use the power of the Executive branch to further Obama’s radical progressive agenda to remake this country through the weaponization of departments like the IRS, the EPA, and Justice and ensure that the Obama agenda would be continued by way of a Hillary Clinton presidency. What Obama and his progressive stormtroopers didn’t realize was just how much Hillary Clinton was disliked by the American electorate and just how inept a campaigner she would be.

The story is just now slowly but surely coming out, and when this country learns the extent to which an opponent’s political campaign was spied on throughout an election campaign and, following his inauguration, continued for the sole purpose of sabotaging his duly-elected administration, people are going to be shocked. The Democrats know this and will try anything to keep the focus on the Mueller investigation fallout. And the mainstream media who will be revealed as complicit in this effort will attempt to do the same. But the Mueller investigation will, in the end, look like a drop in the bucket compared to breadth and width of the illegal, and, in some cases, criminal activities that actually took place starting with, and with the full knowledge of, the Clinton campaign, the Democratic National Committee, and the highest levels of the Obama administration. And when all is revealed in the end, I can guarantee you it won’t be pretty.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 01:53 | Comments (0)
May 5, 2019

As you might imagine, Cinco de Mayo is YUUUUGE here in the Valley of the Sun. You won’t be able to get near a Mexican restaurant, and you can bet Scottsdale will be full of drunk rich dehydrated millennials and hipsters puking their guts out after being served their eighth Silver Patron margarita under a blazing sun.

Me, I think I’ll just make margaritas here for Tracey while I finish putting up the rest of my palm tree and flamingo patio lights. I don’t do margaritas much anymore, but we’ll probably order some Mexican takeout and simply enjoy a quiet day at the Richard hacienda.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:01 | Comments (0)
May 4, 2019

Target Handicap: 20.0 Handicap: 27.2 / Change: (+0.2)
Location: Trilogy Golf at Power Ranch
Score: 53 + 50 = 103

Another enjoyable round of golf played with complete strangers (including, BTW, my first interaction with a true PXG devotee, a Marine who came wearing black-and-silver clothes to match his black-and-silver golf clubs and black-and-silver golf bag – these guys are truly the Oakland Raiders / rebels /pirates of the golf world!), another disappointing round that will be looked back on as “one that got away”, and in a big way.

I’d like to think that I’m not that much of a would/coulda/shoulda guy when it comes to my play, but Lawdy Miss Clawdy, there were opportunities galore out there that I just frittered away. I actually went into the round feeling pretty confident about where my game was headed: I was really enjoying the new devil-may-care attitude with my driver (I knew it was still a work in progress and there would be some shaky holes out there – which there were), but I had been hitting my irons really well of late with my 3/4 take-away. I hadn’t been doing a whole lot of work on my short game, but I figure that’s always the last thing that comes around because you just can’t simulate game conditions around some dopey practice green. Besides, while I hadn’t exactly lit up Superstition Springs with my short game two weeks ago, it wasn’t that bad, especially considering how the Springs uses lots of faux mogels and around its greens.

Boy, what a stupid I turned out to be! On the front nine I can’t recall the last time (and I’m talking years here) that I’ve hit my irons so poorly. And it didn’t matter where it was – off the fairway, around the green, or off the tees. I can’t explain it, except to say that I was so out of sync I just couldn’t function. Johnny Miller would be saying that I was choking every time I would try and hit an iron, and I’d have a hard time arguing with him there – it was that bad. How bad was it? Try being +7 on the three par 3s on the front. +7! I don’t normally count strokes as lost because, by and large, things usually even out with good bounces and shots that one might normally make, but, reviewing the first nine holes I counted thirteen shots that were completely tossed away. I’m not counting, say, putts I think I should have made (although that 8-inch miss for bogey on the par 5 #7 hurt), and I’m not talking about chips that, say, ended up above the hole when they should have been left below the hole. I’m talking about true wasted shots: taking two or sometimes three chips just to put it on the green. I’m talking about sand wedges from, say 20-30 yards that I couldn’t get near the green in one try. Take away half of those and you’re looking at a fairly respectable mid-40s nine and I’m a most happy fella.

It was on the par 4 #12 that I finally hit a decent iron, nailing a 9-iron from 114 yards out to twelve feet left of the pin to raucous applause from my playing partners. And while I three-putted for the double bogey, I then went par (5-iron from 166 yards), bogey (6-iron from 151), bogey (8-iron from 132) that steadied the nerves a bit before I duffed yet another sand wedge (shit!) leading to a double-bogey on the par 5 #17 and chunking a pitching wedge into the pond on #18 that was followed by yet another duffed sand wedge (the fifth of the day) leading to a triple-bogey seven.

To say that I’m perplexed by this would be an understatement. I can’t remember such a poor performance (and I’ve got an elephant’s memory when it comes to these kinds of things). While there were a couple of years somewhere like 6-7 years ago that my short game rocked (when most every other aspect of my game sucked), I’ll admit my short game has always its ebbs and flows, but nothing even close to today.

…which is too bad, because I hit my driver with abandon all day and enjoyed doing so. I only “officially” hit four fairways, but there were plenty of times I wasn’t off by much. As the round went on I became less enchanted with an increasingly-high fade traj that began costing me precious yardage, but I couldn’t fix it. So there’s clearly work to do there, but it was sure fun not being afraid of where my drives would go.

Hopefully today was just an aberration. I’m not sure what else to do except get out there and try and play as much as I reasonably can. Keep working on my driver, keep working on those 3/4 takeaways with my irons, and let the damned chips fall where they may. But that doesn’t mean what happened on the front nine today isn’t going to haunt my psyche for at least a little while.

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 20:00 | Comments (0)
April 30, 2019

Surprise, surprise! The following day after our first thunderstorm (a few flashes of lightning, a couple peals of thunder, and a couple of two-minute downpours was about all she wrote), there I was at my local Fry’s and what do I behold, but the first Sam Adams Summer Ale of the year! The Summers always arrive here in the Valley of the Sun earlier than they do up in the still-Springy Northeast, where they’re still having to tolerate that lousy Cold Snap, which is most definitely not to my liking.

I also enjoy the Sam Octoberfest and the Winter Lager greatly, and the Boston Lager is my go-to beer when all else fails, but there’s something special about the first Summer Ale of the year. For one thing, it arrives just as we’re getting into the 90s pretty much every day with the triple digits not-too-far over the distant horizon. But more than that, it’s the expectation of all the places I’ll be enjoying Summer Ales between now and when the fall arrives: golfing both here in the Valley of the Sun and with my Goodboys pals back in Massachusetts. Refreshing nite-caps at the Casa Blanca just down the street from where my dad is living (where the Summer Ale drafts are always wicked fresh)! During Goodboys Invitational weekend, of course, and, after that, in Newport, Rhode Island where I plan on spending a couple of nights before heading back into the July monsoon. It’s just exciting to think of all the restaurants, bars, and golf courses that I’ll be able to enjoy a cold, refreshing Summer Ale with good friends while recalling so many cold and frosty Summers from the past, in both good times and not-so-good.

…Not to mention the nite-caps on our redesigned patio and soon-to-be redesigned pool deck under happy pineapple and flamingo lights. But more on that to come!

Even with its slightly-altered recipe (I couldn’t tell the difference) my first bottle tasted great with freshly-grilled teriyaki vegetables and chicken from the soon-to-be redesigned “Sun Deck”. But more on that to come!

Prior to heading over for grocery shopping I bought a medium bucket and worked very hard on my driver at the Kokopelli G,C. driving range. After my fairly-pathetic performance off the tee at Superstition Springs a couple of weekends ago, I’ve decided that I absolutely despise taking back my driver only 3/4 and in the fairly upright plane I’ve been using for, like, years. So today I’ve decided to go the almost-full Paula Creamer and take more aggressive swings while flattening out my takeaway just a tad. Y’see, the primary miss of my 3/4, steep takeaway has been a big banana slice, which I absolutely despise. I don’t know why that is (and I don’t really care) – all I know is that I hate that damned trajectory.

…I realize, of course, that lengthening my swing and flattening it out can lead to pulls when I jump at the ball, but I think I can learn to live with that as long as I don’t start my transition too soon and get too active with my upper body. I’m willing to give in to my natural fade and accept the fact that drawing the ball and/or hitting it dead straight will never be my calling card, but I’ll accept the longer and straighter drives, which I absolutely crave right now. After all, isn’t the driver is supposed to be the most fun club in the bag? So I’m committing myself to having some fun with it. And if I’m going to go down, my attitude is that I’m going to go down swinging. Hey, Tiger Woods isn’t – and never has been – known as a great driver of the ball, so why can’t The Great White Shank be a little more like Tiger Woods?

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 20:44 | Comments (0)
April 27, 2019

The decline and fall of the White House Correspondents Dinner. Frankly, I always thought this event (and the coverage associated with it) indicative of a much larger problem. The mainstream media and cable news networks have obviously (and increasingly) seen themselves as the elites, thinking they are the East Coast/Beltway equivalents of Hollywood celebrities and due the same level of adoration and adulation. They aren’t. While fully aware they don’t make policy, they actually feel their responsibility is not to report the news, but steer public opinion to their pet agendas and causes. That’s the fundamental problem with so-called journalism today. We’ve come a long way from “His Girl Friday” and “The Front Page”.

Forget about your absurd Pulitzer Prize winners when it comes to the Mueller investigation and everything involving the so-called “Deep State” and the silent coup against Donald Trump’s presidency. Sundance’s work over at The Conservative Treehouse is doing the kind of investigative work that ought to make the likes of Woodward and Bernstein drool with envy.

An absolute must-read on the Democrats’ march to socialism by Victor Davis Hanson.

There’s no other way to put it: Mitt Romney, you are a sleazy, slimy, disgusting, weasely, puss-filled piece of sh*t. I can’t believe I actually voted for you at one time. Now I understand why you picked Paul Ryan to be your running mate – both of you are swamp creatures of the highest merit. And I’ll add the late, not-so-great John McCain to that club. I can’t call you two-faced because that means you’d have a face to begin with – which you don’t, you snake. You are an absolute vile, disgraceful, small-minded, and pathetic excuse for a human being. Slimeball.

…did I get my point across?

..and his pal, former conservative fire-brand, now Trump-hater Ann Coulter is just a tired old screed. She was a Romney booster back in 2012 and only hopped on the Trump train when it benefitted her to sell more books. But I always suspected her of being a Never Trumper who would show her true colors when it became politically expedient to do so. Methinks she’s been downing a few too many chardonnays at cozy Beltway cocktail parties lately.

As I mentioned a couple of times in this space, Joe Biden doesn’t have a clue as to what’s about to hit him. He’s a swamp creature of epic proportions who has never come out with a position that wasn’t wrong, and someone who is as ethically challenged as anyone outside of the Clintons. He’s another Hillary Clinton in that he thinks his time in Washington makes him sufficiently qualified to say it’s “his time”, not realizing that the political ground has shifted under his feet significantly.

…old, haggard Joe is about to find out what happens when all the supposed hoopla doesn’t translate into anything worth seriously considering. His brand of touchy-feely (in his case literally), slap-the-back, glad-handed politics is gone, replaced by a polarized electorate that (most especially in the Democratic Party) doesn’t want to get along or compromise. The knives are already out to get him – here, here, and here are just three examples. The guy has always been a clueless mouthpiece, and he’s about to find out that this time around the joke is going to be on him.

Couldn’t have written this better myself. It’s only the most snow-flakey, Marxist ideology-brainwashed college dope who would think otherwise. The evidence is all around you if you’re just willing to open your eyes and see.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 10:39 | Comments (0)
April 23, 2019

I’ve been thinking about writing this post for a long time but somehow was never able to get my arms around it. Thankfully, Tim Ziegler’s column in The American Thinker has taken care of that for me, and I implore anyone and everyone who hates Donald Trump, despises Donald Trump, or wakes up each day immersed in Trump Derangement Syndrome to read his column. Believe me when I tell you: it will do you a world of good. Why? Because all the anger, angst, and depression you have been feeling has been misplaced. No wonder you feel the way you do: you’ve been betrayed and are left with only the likes of Donald Trump to express your anger towards. And don’t expect the mainstream media to help you with this, because they’re fully invested in the hate Trump / Trump Derangement Syndrome industry. And an industry is what it is.

I’ve thought for a long time why the hatred towards Donald Trump? Sure, the guy is egomaniacal, abrasive, impatient, and rich, but anyone who ever watched “The Apprentice” on TV could tell you that. Sure, these qualities can be entertaining when it comes to network TV and may not play as well when you’re the President of the United States with a Twitter feed; in my view, there had to be something more at work here. Which is why Ziegler’s column is so important, because I now get it.

The sense of betrayal and open-woundedness, courtesy of none other than Hillary Rodham Clinton.

When you think about it, it all makes sense. Everyone wonders how we got to this place – a country so divided and so at odds with one another, and a mainstream media so committed to the destruction of Donald Trump as if Trump himself is the reason for their misery. Which begs the question, is what’s going on really Trump’s fault? Doesn’t Hillary Clinton bear at least some of the responsibility for where we are as a nation at this point? Remember Hillary’s concern ahead of the election that Trump wouldn’t accept the will of the people were he to lose the 2016 election? My question is, where has Hillary been since she lost the election? What has she done to help heal the country and bring it together following her loss?

In one word? Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Bupkis.

Ziegler’s column, therefore, should be a must-read for everyone. I encourage y’all to read it in full, but would like to pick a few notable passages that warrants attention:

For the last two years we have all been forced to endure the temper tantrum thrown by Hillary Clinton over her second Presidential campaign loss just as the spectators in a grocery store aisle watch the young mother attempt to discipline her out-of-control toddler as it thrashes itself screaming across the floor.

The American people defeated Hillary in the Democrat Primary season of 2008. The popular version of that loss is that Obama overwhelmed the party with his charm. The reality is that Democratic Party voters chose his inexperience, melanin level, and vacuous campaign of “Hope and Change” over the known petulance and criminality that they had witnessed during the 1990s by the Clinton administration and didn’t want to give the keys of the republic to the Clintons again.

Hillary and Patti Solis-Doyle ran a disastrous campaign in 2008 that was only superseded in its ineptitude by Hillary’s and John Podesta’s campaign of 2016. Barack Obama became the candidate and then president for two terms because of the second worst presidential campaign in American history.

Hillary’s overarching personal ambition was that she was destined to be President of the United States. It wasn’t that she was a popular candidate. It was merely her turn.

…It isn’t just the campaigns that were utter disasters, but also her tenure as secretary of state. Her testimony in front of a House committee where she displayed her contempt for Congress, the American military, her own ambassador to Libya, and the three other Americans whose lives were wasted in her foolish attempt to politicallyo reshape North Africa, the Middle East, and imperil our biggest ally in the region — the State of Israel — was the height of arrogance.

Hillary never understood that she was her own worst enemy. The more people got to know her, the more they disliked her. Her campaign crowds in Iowa were paltry compared to Sander’s enthusiastic and youthful attendees. The same would be true eight years later when Trump was holding rallies for the tens of thousands of supporters who supported him not because of his Republican Party credentials but because he was running against Hillary, while she could only garner hundreds to occasionally thousands in her campaign events.

It was those disenfranchised voters who failed to show up that kept Hillary from winning the election against Trump.

The entire Russian collusion fiasco has been an attempted coup de etat against a legitimately elected President of the United States.

For over two years we have listened to the harping of her flying monkeys of the press, Democratic-voting bureaucrats, and potential crony-consultants seeking employment in Washington undermine and denigrate Donald Trump who really was elected to “drain the swamp” and “fix Washington D.C.” because he wasn’t a politician. The American electorate had tried fixing the corrupt conundrum in the nation’s capital by switching parties every two terms so that the corruption wouldn’t become too deeply embedded. That didn’t work. The corruption and spending continued apace. Donald Trump was elected to fix that, and, to not let Hillary Clinton embed the corruption any deeper than it already was.

Think about what might have happened if, rather than falling into a booze-fueled, physically-violent tantrum on Election Night, she had handled it like an adult (and, I might add, like most other candidates), and come out on stage, offer her congratulations to her opponent after a hard-fought political campaign and her support to the new administration, and – most importantly – encourage those who supported her campaign to work towards bringing the country together. Think of what a strong woman portrayal that might have been.

I can only imagine how a gracious, selfless, and magnanimous act for the good of the country would have changed the way things are. It would have elevated her reputation to a place few would have thought possible. It would have helped temper what can only be described as the madness exhibited by the liberal left and promoted by mainstream media via its non-stop negative coverage of Donald Trump since virtually day one. If Hillary Clinton had played the role of statesman instead of the vile and petty harping of “the woman wronged” we’d all be in a better place. But that’s not what Hillary Clinton ever was nor ever will be.

What this country should do is get done on its collective knees and thank God such a ruthless, unstable, and dangerous person was never, and will never, be elected to the office of President of the United States. Unfortunately, because of her, and because of the Clinton influence that still permeates so many cable news and network news newsrooms, nothing is ever going to change. Why the Clintons – as blatantly corrupt and morally and ethically bankrupt a political family as any this country has ever known – holds that kind of sway is beyond me. But the fact that they have allowed the kind of character and political assassination of Donald Trump to continue as it has tells you everything you need to know about their own personal interests and how they value the interests of this country.

And you can’t blame or hate Donald Trump and his family for that.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 01:35 | Comments (0)
April 22, 2019

Target Handicap: 20.0 Handicap: 27.0 / Change: (0.0)
Location: Superstition Springs Golf Club
Score: 46 + 59 = 105

It has been 4 1/2 months since I last played a round of golf with my Goodboys pals last December in Las Vegas. Between having to wait for my right hand to feel strong enough where I felt I could make it through a whole round (which it did, although it’s a bit sore and stiff as to be expected) and the lack of practice I’ve been able to put in, it felt great just to be out there on a warm and breezy Saturday morning amongst golfers and to feel the excitement of being able to tee it up once again.

It’s funny the things you miss by not playing: I love hearing all the golf chatter, the sounds of club and ball making contact, the feeling of getting your golf self together before heading to the practice range – glove: check; tees and ball markers in left-hand pocket: check; prescription sunglasses exchange places with your sunglasses: check. And the smell of green grass, and, yes, even the occasional whiff of a cigar being smoked. The folks gathered ’round the putting green and chipping area. I had missed it all. And for a moment, when I heard my name mentioned with the twosome I was playing with calling us over the loudspeaker to the first tee, it wasn’t nervousness I felt, just excitement at being alive, free, and able to recreate in this way. And as I strode to the first tee to shake the hands of my playing partners that day I filed the feeling away for future reverie when circumstances might be a little (or perhaps not so little) different.

It’s only been in the last week and over two small buckets at the range that I’ve implemented what I plan to be the very last tweaks I’m ever planning on making in my golf swing – which is, everything at 3/4 – both my takeaway and my follow-through. It’s been something my Goodboys pal “The Funny Guy” has been preaching for, like, years, but it’s taken me this long to realize this is way I want to play it from now on. Would it have been nice to have a few more sessions working on this (for me) major change? Sure, but I was really looking at getting out there and see just how much rust I had to shake off.

I started out h-o-t hot, only three over after five holes. I immediate put my brandy-new 3 hybrid into use after a wayward drive on #1, sticking it to ten feet where I then two-putt for par. Not a bad way to start a new golf year! And truth be told, I had no business double-bogeying the par 5 #6 – my best drive (as it turned out) of the day and a crushed 5-wood left me only 145 yards from the pin, but my first poor iron swing of the day followed by two chunked chips (a common sight on the back nine), and a three-putt (the last from less than a foot) resulted in the first crack in the dam. I followed that up with decent-enough bogeys on the par 3 seventh and par 5 8th (helped by a 24-foot one-putt) before a lousy drive on nine (OB left) and yet another chunked chip resulted in a double-bogey six and a lovely 46. Still, not bad for my first nine of the year!

The back nine started OK enough but a chunked chip and a missed two-footer resulted in a double-bogey six. On the par 5 #11, a decent drive and a decent 5-wood left me only 100 yards from the pin, albeit in a somewhat tricky position due to a palm tree partially obscuring my view of the green. I still don’t know what happened to that pitching wedge shot – I caught it flush (probably too flush) but we never found it. A drop, two chunked chips, and a four-putt (the last from a foot out) resulted in a crowd-pleasing quad bogey nine. And, like the horse that gets spooked by some unexpected sound, it was all downhill from there.

No question my swing started getting too long and my ball position too far forward – you’d think by now I would be able to rein in these tendencies, but the game started moving a little fast on me. The Springs’ back nine requires concise drives off the tee, and after wayward drives right I found myself out of position on every hole the rest of the way. I held it together enough with bogeys on the par 3 #12 and the par 4 #13, but an admittedly poorly-conceived approach shot on #14 (I tried for the green from an awkward downhill lie over water when I should have kicked it out to a safer place) cost me dearly and led to a double-bogey. After that the wheels came off, resulting in a double, quad, double, and another quad bogey to finish things up.

The numbers don’t lie: six fairways hit, two greens in regulation, 32 putts (not that bad!), only eight holes at bogey or better. The sad truth is, given my hot start I should never have ended up with a score in triple digits. To be thirteen strokes worse on the back than on the front is really unconscionable, my playing partners and I enjoyed a good time and the margarita and Mexican food afterwards tasted pretty damned good. Sure, there’s stuff I need to work on (the fact I hadn’t even touched my short game since December is something I can fix easily enough), and I’m confident that the 3/4 swing strategy is a good one since it served me so well on the front nine.

Maybe I’d be feeling a little more distressed were it, say, May or June, but for now, just getting out there and kicking the year off feels good enough. I did some good things but not nearly enough, and I’m looking forward to improving on those aspects of my game before my next time out.

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 01:05 | Comments (0)


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