August 17, 2017

A few random thoughts as I frantically try to catch up from that extended absence:

It’s amusing, sad, and all too predictable to watch the mainstream media and Beltway “UniParty” politicians go all loony and apoplectic over President Trump’s unwillingness to lay sole blame for the violence resulting from that “Unite The Right” protest over the planned removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville, Virginia that turned into a wild and violent melee, resulting in the death of a young women and injuries to a bunch of folks. Anyone who has watched the videos can clearly see that there were two camps that were spoiling for a fight: a bunch of white nationalists who joined up in support the original protest, and anti-fascist “Antifa” protesters who showed up ready to make sure heads were busted. There’s no virtue on either side – thus the President was right (as usual) in putting the media and weasely politicians on their heels.

…the point being, there is such a thing as the right to free speech and assembly, and it’s obvious Virginia law enforcement were instructed to stand down and allow the violence to escalate. Here’s hoping a few civil lawsuits make the city and state pay for not keeping the peace and the two parties separate from each other. There’s really no excuse for what was allowed to happen.

Mark me down as in favor of the PGA of America’s decision to move their major from August to May starting in 2019. It makes sense in so many ways: 1) it compresses the majors into a four-month period, 2) it allows the PGA TOUR to move up the Fed Ed Cup a couple of weeks and get the season over before the college and professional football seasons get underway in earnest, and 3) most importantly, it allows the professional golf season to actually have an off-season – something that every other professional sport has. It’s good for the game, and it gives the PGA Championship a chance to try some locations in the south and southwest that heretofore would never be considered for a major. Who knows, maybe Scottsdale, Arizona?

Samuel Adams Grapefruit IPA is a discovery, a better beer for summer than even their Summer Ale. I like them both, now I have some variety for summer quaffing!

…but it’s ridiculous to see Sam Octoberfest at the supermarket when the outside temperatures are still over 100. Can’t they wait until at least, say, Labor Day?

The Red Sox are a very dangerous team right now. Rafael Devers is working out at third base better than anyone had reason to hope, and so is starting pitcher Doug Fister. Depending on how David Price comes back, it’s not hard to see how formidable they could be in a short series.

13 Alfred Hitchcock movies you have to see before you die (in a shower or otherwise).

This sounds like good news to me. Funny how no one in the mainstream media is giving President Trump any credit whatsoever, If this were President Obama, OMG, they’d be nominating him for another Nobel Peace Prize!

Word around is that President Trump will issue a pardon for former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio during a rally next week. I certainly hope so. Did he have a monumental ego? Yes, Did he do everything to resist the Obama administration’s attempts to thwart his efforts against illegal immigration? Yes. But Sheriff Joe’s criminal contempt conviction was just retaliation from a liberal Obama judge appointee. It’s the right thing, and will be a popular thing, for the Prez to do on behalf of “America’s Sheriff”.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 21:24 | Comments (0)
August 14, 2017

Been a while since I’ve posted, there’s been a lot going on. The past two months have been a whirlwind: not just working my butt off getting ready for the Goodboys Invitational weekend, but having to get a whole lot of professional development training behind me so I can meet work requirements and easily keep my Project Management Professional (PMP) certification going past next year. It’s tough to even think about blogging when you’ve spent the better part of the day staring at videos made by a bunch of Ph.Ds who find ways to make 1-2 hour videos on such riveting topics as building high-performance teams, conflict management, and initiating change at work. B-O-R-I-N-G!

On top of that, a high-profile business conference for work and all kinds of running around as we try and wrap up my sister-in-law’s divorce and dentistry. As for the latter: hey, that’s what happens when you marry twins – you marry both of them!

But here it is, the middle of August. My local Fry’s supermarket already has Halloween stuff greeting you as you walk in, and today I saw the first six-packs of Sam Adams Octoberfest in the beer aisle. That’s freakin’ ridiculous – you’d think they could at least wait until Labor Day! But the sun angle has started changing so I no longer have to close one of the plantation shutters for my daily 7 AM calls to block out the sun. The shadows are already lengthening around the swimming pool to keep it less in the direct sun during the day; pretty soon it will start its slow but gradual drop out on the low 90s – too bad, during a heavy monsoon rain the other night I swam in luxurious warmth while the night air cooled to ten degrees less than the water. Out here the kids are already back to school, but it’s right around this time of year that I can still remember thinking that summer was just about over when discovering the school bus routes published in the Merrimack Valley Advertiser. You knew right then and there that the jig was just about up.

It’s been a pretty boring monsoon season around our specific area, though there have been really bad storms in other parts of the Valley, and not that far away from us. The storm that brought the rain last Saturday night was a stunner, though…lots of non-stop thunder and lighting an hour before we got drenched with over an inch of rain. Wouldn’t mind seeing a little more of that before the season closes up shop a month from now.

I haven’t even looked at my golf clubs since they came back from Goodboys weekend nearly a month ago and I’m guessing it will stay that way for another month. The days of beating balls and playing rounds in the stifling, dusty heat of June and July seem almost like a dream to me. Watching this past weekend’s PGA Championship triggered just a bit of an urge, however, but that urge will stay on the shelf for a bit longer. I’ve got lots of cleaning to do around the house, and all kinds of cleaning out back around the patio and the Tiki bar with all the dust that’s blown in here during this monsoon season.

Just wanted y’all to know I haven’t gone anywhere and hope to be back to somewhat regular blogging starting this week. Lots to write and comment about – see y’all soon!

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 21:45 | Comments (0)
August 5, 2017

Immersed in employee certification training and getting ready for a big business conference. hence, this is kind of light.

Hey Dems and libs, this is what winning looks like. Get used to it.

This is such a great song. Honestly, I thought it was David Bowie. Then I thought it could have been Iggy Pop. Either way, it sure sounds like it would be a perfect fit for a James Bond flick.

Why did I think it sounds like David Bowie? Because of this. And this. No matter, it’s all good. And all great songs.

Some good news in an awful world.

Glad to see that personal fave Paula Creamer qualified for the Women’s British Open, but geez, to have to do it at a Monday qualifier shows just how much her game has been off this year. Too bad she didn’t make the cut.

Well this might explain how Hillary Clinton ended up winning the popular vote.

Isn’t the definition of insanity doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different result?

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 14:06 | Comments (0)
August 3, 2017

Watched CNN’s obnoxious and boorish White House correspondent Jim Acosta get taken to the woodshed today over the White House’s push for legal immigration reform, and it wasn’t a pretty sight to see. If you’re gonna play big-time journalist you oughta at least have a shred of an idea of what you’re talking about:

First of all, is it really un-American to expect immigrants to speak English? As Miller pointed out, some proficiency in English is already a requirement for those who want to be naturalized. Yet, Acosta asks: “Are we just going to bring in people from Great Britain and Australia?” I happen to live in an immigrant-heavy neighborhood, and most of the people around me speak English pretty well. Not one is from England or Australia.

…Is it un-American to give preference to immigrants who have already shown the propensity to assimilate? Is it un-American to prioritize immigrants who have skills in jobs we need filled? Is any reform of immigration — other than to legalize millions by executive fiat — un-American? I may disagree with a certain immigration policy, but changing the parameters of immigration policy is not an unpatriotic act.

This is exactly the kind of proposal that’s winner winner chicken dinner for the White House because it’s an issue that most of the electorate (not including, of course, blue states like California, Oregon, Massachusetts, and New York) both understand and support. Go to any blue-collar bar in the upper Midwest or talk to folks south of thee Mason-Dixon, they can see what’s going on. They know people who have lost technology jobs to H1B workers from India or China or assembly line jobs to lower-skilled immigrants from Central and South America who are willing to work for less. They know folks who have lost retirement, salary and healthcare benefits. They know first-hand what it’s like to have to compete against with H1Bs who never returned after their sponsorship was ended. They know the damage our out-of control legal immigration policies have done to their lives and their households, and the deflating effect it has on their neighborhoods and towns.

Fortunately, this is a White House that understands how a blue-collar worker in Indiana, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Alabama or Wisconsin feels when they’ve been displaced by a H1B worker. This White House understands the damage when an American citizen can’t get an entry-level job because an immigrant willing to work for less has taken the job. Some might call this capitalism in its purest form, but this White House believes in an “America First” policy in everything it is doing, both domestically and internationally. The mainstream media will continue to do all it can to try and blur the issue and confuse legal immigration with illegal immigration, but these issues are two different sides of the same coin. This country has every right to determine who comes here and who stays here.

It’s great to see a White House that can speak clearly and forcefully on this issue, and Democrats should be cautious about playing their typical obstructionist role when it goes to Congress for a vote. This initiative should be right up the Dems’ alley when it comes to protecting the livelihood of the blue-collar worker who at once time could be counted on as a reliable Democratic voter, but the Democratic Party’s identity politics have fractured that relationship in recent years. If they don’t get on board this time, the Trump Train will use this as a wedge issue in the 2018 midterms and blow them off the platform.

If CNN’s White House correspondent truly speaks for what Democrats have come to stand for in this day and age, the 2018 midterms will be bloody for a Party that already is up to its knees in trouble.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 02:33 | Comments (0)
August 2, 2017

The whole brouhaha over Red Sox star pitcher David Price’s abusive treatment of Red Sox Hall of Famer and NESN broadcaster Dennis Eckersley on the team plane sveral weeks ago was getting a lot of play in Beantown while I was in town for Goodboys Invitational week, and deservedly so. In my view, Price has always been a world-class a-hole, and why the Red Sox thought reeling him in for big bucks was a good idea is beyond me. Hard to say who looks worse in all this – Price, manager John Farrell (who has refused to apologize to Eckersley for the incident), or the team itself. I was just starting to get around to kinda liking and following this team, but hearing Farrell’s pathetic attempt to downplay the issue and then hearing seond baseman Dustin Pedroia defend Price’s actions has turned me off. I’m betting others feel the same way. Chalk this up as a true PR fiasco for the ball club. And just when the Patriots are starting training camp. Great timing, Red Sox.

One marvels at the way Farrell and the Red Sox have handled this incident and compare it with the way coach Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots organization not might, would have. I can guarantee you it would have: a) been handled in house, and b) resolved to everyone’s satisfaction. In Belichick’s mind, no one is bigger than the team and he allows nothing to distract the team from their one and only goal: getting to the Super Bowl. Obviously, the Red Sox don’t have the guts or willingness to hold Price accountable for his conduct. And it’s been that way from the very start with Price’s treatment of the media in general. Maybe he thinks he’s above it all, but as a member of the Red Sox organization it’s hard to see how this reflects positively on their brand. Perhaps if David Ortiz was on the team things would have turned out differently, but it’s clear the Red Sox clubhouse is sorely in need of a grown-up who can play the role of leader. David Price’s surly sourpuss act isn’t doing them any favors, and it will be interesting to see the reception he gets the next time he takes the mound once his DL stint is over with.

I’m guessing that the end result of this will be that Farrell gets fired at the end of the year. The Red Sox very well might make the playoffs, but it’s hard to see them going deep with the way the Yankees and Astros have positioned themselves. Actually, it’s hard to see how Farrell comes out of this as manager next year; he’s hardly an indispensable piece of the puzzle. He’s a lousy in-game manager, and any manager who loses control of the clubhouse (as he clearly has) is just laying the foundation for bigger problems down the line. I’m guessing the Sox know this, but there’s no way they’re going to let their manager go at this point of the season.

Just because you’re winning a lot of ball games doesn’t make you winners. In this media-conscious day and age it’s all about the brand, likeability, and the bottom line. The Patriots organization understands that better than anyone. I just wish the Red Sox did.

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 18:37 | Comments (2)
July 29, 2017

Lots to catch up on now that things have entered into post-Goodboys mode, but I’m going to start with politics:

Don Surber is absolutely right when he writes that the latest episode involving the GOP’s pathetic attempts to repeal and replace Obamacare and Arizona senator John McCain illustrates everything that is wrong with Washington these days. No one, from the White House on down, is covering themselves in glory, no one wants to play the role of grown-up in the room, and no one seems interested in rising above party politics.

The GOP had seven – count ‘em, seven years to work with healthcare practitioners, lawyers, drug manufacturers, insurance companies, average everyday citizens, and officials at every state and local level to craft a truly modern, creative, and practical approach to overhauling our approach to health care and how folks pay for it, and they did nothing. The Democrats, of course, either wouldn’t or couldn’t help even as they saw Obamacare start to implode because of party politics. And neither party seems interested in doing anything that would push forward President Trump’s agenda because he’s an existential threat to the “UniParty” in Washington that wants only to stay in power, maintain the status quo, and keep the spoils system going.

Enter the latest efforts by the GOP to pass an obviously-flawed bill that does nothing except make it appear to voters that they are moving the ball forward on health care so that they don’t have to do anything else to rock the boat going into the midterms. Recalcitrant senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine, and Dean Heller of Nevada feel the whole thing is bullshit and refuse to play along. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is clueless and unwilling to crack the whip over this, so it comes down to McCain, a vile and petty politician interested only in maintaining his political power and his reputation as a “maverick” when in reality all he cares about is getting attention and playing to the media whenever possible.

Originally, the word was he had minor surgery to remove a blood clot from above his left eye. Then it was revealed to be much more serious, and the whole media establishment suddenly comes down as if it’s the Lord Jesus Christ and the end of democracy that the life of such a “hero”, “statesman”, and “fighter for the common man” might be in grave danger. Statements of thoughts and prayers pour in from all over, giving McCain even more of the only thing in his life he thirsts for and lives for – more attention. The spotlight is firmly on him: what will he do? How will he vote? Surely, he’ll go along with the GOP’s plan, right? After all, he based practically his entire re-election campaign in 2016 on his promise to lead the effort to repeal and replace Obamacare, right?

And then the moment comes, and what does McCain do? Plays the same role as a mean and petty politician he always had. He blasts those who have the nerve to criticize Washington, then, when the defining moment arrives, where, in Tin Cup lingo, you define the moment or the moment defines you, he walks into the chamber, signals his vote with a simple thumbs down then walks back out to head back to Arizona for cancer treatment.

That is the real John McCain, and that’s the way something as important to the GOP’s fortunes in the 2018 midterms is viewed by the Republican senator from Arizona. It’s f**k you to Mitch McConnell, the GOP House, and, in a way, the American voters themselves. Because, in the end, it’s all about him, just as it always has been. And it’s emblematic of everything that’s wrong with Washington – a bunch of self-serving, pompous elitists who play the game solely for the game’s sake, praying that in 3 1/2 years the Trump nightmare will go away, another Washington insider will be elected, and everyone can go back to their bread and circuses as if nothing matters, nothing has happened, and nothing threatens them to be responsible or accountable to the voters who put them there.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 10:46 | Comments (0)
July 28, 2017

It was all the way back on May 25th that my formal prep for this year’s Goodboys Invitational began. My new bag, flush with new clubs still smarting from a month’s worth of range sessions designed to familiarize myself with my new gear and retool my swing from the bottom up (literally – I began with working on my footwork and weight shift without balls and worked my way up!), was strapped to the back of a golf cart at Superstition Springs Golf Club, and from that point all the work I had put in at the range started being applied in real golf settings. As I’ve mentioned before in this forum, there’s a vast difference between hitting balls at a driving range and playing golf. While you’re still hitting balls, it’s an entirely different thing altogether. One is about grooving a swing, the other is about scoring and putting that little white ball (in my case, orange) in that little round hole in as few swings as possible.

From the very start, my focus was on ball-striking: my irons first and my driver second. Everything else came after that, and I went into this year’s Goodboys weekend under no misconceptions that every facet of my game would be in place. As they say about the baseball season, what I’m attempting to do golf-wise is a marathon, not a sprint, and there was simply not enough time to work on everything. Which was OK – my goal really didn’t have anything to do with winning, or even competing, at the Goodboys Invitational. It was all about building a swing I could rely on that would enable me to enjoy my later years hitting balls and playing golf without worrying about shanking the ball and fighting my swing from day to day.

After the debacle in Vegas last March, where for two days straight all I did was hit shanks with my irons OB left and yank my driver OB right, I knew I had reached a defining moment. Golf had ceased to be fun, and I was more than willing to give the sport up if I couldn’t prevent that kind of thing from happening, not just on a regular basis, but ever. Having my clubs stolen shortly thereafter gave me a new reason to start from nothing and build a new swing from scratch. Not from my swing coach Alex Black, not from that February 2015 GOLF Magazine article by Hunter Mahan I had used, then tossed aside, then used again last year – this was going to be my swing built from scratch by me. Sure, I borrowed liberally from both of these sources (the ideas were too good!), but my main goal was to create a swing that I myself owned, not borrowed from someone or someplace else.

The whole issue as I saw it came down to ball-striking, and the need to hit down on my irons crisply and compress the ball. Reduce the fat hits, reduce the thin hits, and make the kind of contact that caused the ball to jump off the center of the club face. Of course, in order to do that I had to improve my footwork and weight shift, then work on eliminating bad habits I had accumulated over the years, like jumping at the ball and over-swinging. It took a lot of buckets of balls and a lot of trial and error, but two weeks before Goodboys Invitational week it all started to come together in the nick of time.

And the same was true with my driver off the tee. I played with all kinds of alignments and strategies for hitting the ball the way I wanted to, and it was only during the Wednesday of Goodboys week during a twilight nine-hole outing on the back side of Trull Brook that I felt it fall into place. And while I had my share of mis-hits during Goodboys invitational weekend (what 24-handicap wouldn’t?) I felt I drove the ball fairly consistently throughout the weekend, to the point where on numerous occasions where my short game would fail me and I’d three-putt for double or triple bogey I could forget about it and pound a decent drive off the next tee. So in both of those primary areas of concern, all the balls in all the buckets in all that sun and dust and heat and dripping sweat made all the difference, giving me a great foundation to build upon when I pick it all up again.

And it was that foundation that enabled me to persevere even when things seemed to go awry. I went into this year’s Goodboys Invitational weekend a 24-handicap and came out of it the same. But unlike other years, where I didn’t have a clue as to what I was doing right when I played well and likewise when I didn’t, this year I went in with a plan and executed it from the first ball I hit at the range on Friday until the last putt dropped on Sunday. It didn’t always work (that’s obvious!) but I never deviated from my swing nor my strategy – even when things got shaky like on holes 5-8 and 14-15 at Segregansett on Saturday and the first three holes at Triggs Memorial on Sunday. That’s the thing I’m most proud of.

So where do I go from here? Well, I’ll be taking a nice month off from the driving range and the course. The clubs will get a nice bath this coming weekend, and then they’ll have the month of August off (at the very least) before I head back out again in preparation for (hopefully) some fall golf in San Diego at The Crossings and again back home in New England (can someone say, Portsmouth Country Club?) that I have planned.

There’s still work to do, that’s for sure. It was embarrassing how badly I hit my 5-wood and my hybrids, and I’m not exactly sure how I’m going to go about trying to figure them out. If worse comes to worse I could schedule a session with Alex, or I could try to figure it out all out by myself, but either way I’ve got to learn how to hit those clubs consistently. Not that I needed much evidence to the contrary, but this past weekend’s play hammered home the fact that it’s difficult, if near impossible, to shoot the kind of scores I want to shoot (90-95) if I can’t hit those clubs. It’s also painfully obvious I need to work on my putting and chipping more – something I’ll be doing whenever I kick things back into gear. Whether you’re talking about golf in Arizona, or California, or New England, I need to do a better job on and around the greens, and that all starts with continuing to improve my iron play. Hitting more greens in regulation would take the pressure off of my short game and putter, so henceforth GIR will be added to the stats I keep whenever I play alongside fairways hit and putts attempted. It’ll be a challenge, but a fun one at that!

Being a 18-handicap sounds kinda nice, and it’s something I think is achievable, even at my age and with my abilities. We all need that carrot hanging from that stick, so that will be my goal for next year’s Goodboys Invitational weekend: going in as a 18-handicap. Whether I make it or not is not the point – everyone’s got to have a goal to shoot for, and that’s mine. Whether I achieve that goal or not isn’t the point, however – I’ve already achieved what I set out to do when I started this whole thing three months ago. It’s all about putting in the work, and it’s something I’ve enjoyed doing and look forward to doing more of.

Now back to your regular Goodboys Nation weblog programming.

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 09:19 | Comments (0)
July 24, 2017

And so another Goodboys Invitational is in the books.

First of all, the good news: by and large, all the hard work I’d put in over the past two months paid off “bigly” – I drove the ball fairly well and pretty consistently throughout the weekend. My ball-striking with my irons was also consistent throughout the weekend – the most important thing, in my humble opinion. For what seems like forever I would dread any long iron shot or par 3 over crap that came along, afraid that I would chunk it into the junk or shank it and and thereby send me off on a one-way ticket to Nowhereville for the rest of the day (if not the entire weekend). Not this year, daddy-o, not after all the hours I put in in the heat and the dust of a Phoenix summer. No, for the first time in my Goodboys Invitational career I attacked with my irons fearlessly. Sure, I got into trouble with some yanks and over-swings, but I pulled irons out of my bag with abandon throughout the weekend – something I was committed above anything else to do. In that regard the weekend was an unqualified success and something to build upon.

The bad news, and the honest-to-God truth was, I give away the Goodboys Invitational championship, and did it in the worst way possible, as my short game (especially my putting) completely left me on Sunday and in turn let my team down. Was it akin to the infamous “cheap bridge table collapse” of the “Killer” Kowalski and “Gaylord” Perry team at Killington in 1993, where, with the Spielberg Memorial Trophy seemingly in the bag with seven holes to play, allowed yours truly and “The Funny Guy” Andrusaitis to win in improbable fashion? No, but it was pretty bad.

I know what you’re thinking: that’s like saying, “So, apart from that, how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?” But that’s getting ahead of things. Let’s first walk through the entire weekend just so y’all’s clear on just how much of a success it was for The Great White Shank, regardless of how events played out.

On Friday the Goodboys gathered at Agawam Hunt Club in Providence. A nice course, perfect for a Goodboys Invitational opening round. Wide fairways, generous landing areas, fast but consistent greens – similar to what I’m used to here in the Valley of the Sun. I had told my Goodboys pal The Funny Guy after my dismal Tuesday outing at Green Meadow that I was this close to putting my game together, and put it together I did. Just two days prior, on Wednesday night, playing nine holes in the twilight with my Goodboys pal Killer at Trull Brook, I made par on four of the last five holes on the back nine for a crowd-pleasing 46. In doing so, I found a little something on the twelfth hole that would keep me in fairly good stead off the tee throughout Goodboys Invitational weekend. So on Friday at Agawam, I drove the ball exceptionally well, as well as I’d done in many a day. We were playing a four-man bramble off the tee, and I’m pleased to say my foursome used several of my drives for their second shots in. Overall, I hit seven fairways and had 34 putts – a damned good performance. My shot of the day was on #3, a par 4 where after a duffed second shot I was left with 124 yards to the pin, then stuck an 8-iron to 1 foot for par, which I happily converted. By the end of the day, with all our Goodboys handicaps taken into consideration, I had shot a second-best 82 (conservatively, had I played my own ball in I’m guessing I would have shot somewhere around a 96), and my partner “Skeeta” Clark and I had a two-stroke lead going into Saturday.

Segregansett Country Club in Taunton was, by and large, a tough sled for most, if not all, of the Goodboys. A little local knowledge on this tight, shot-makers course would have gone a long way; unfortunately, none of us had ever played it before. It was here that the first cracks started to show in my game, and, not surprisingly, it was courtesy of my 5-wood and hybrids, clubs I have struggled with since I brought them home two months ago. At Segregansett, there was no hiding the need to use those particular clubs: there were tee shots on several holes that one simply couldn’t pull driver on, and I paid the price dearly for it. Looking back at the card, I can see those clubs costing me a good four strokes. Given the quirkiness of the layout, I felt happy with a 53 / 55 = 108 on a course I had only hit three fairways on. And while the greens were quick and a little tougher to read than at Agawam, the 33 putts I hit didn’t cause me any grief. What I was most proud of was the fact that I lost my tempo for a good portion of the front nine but clawed my way back. My 108 wasn’t especially great, but pretty much all the Goodboys had a tough time of it that day. Knowing what I now know, Segregansett was a course I wouldn’t mind playing again. Going into Sunday, Skeeta and I were five strokes up on our nearest competitor. With the way I had played and how I was striking the ball, there was every reason to believe we had a better than even shot of taking home the Goodboys Invitational trophy.

Things didn’t get off to a good start on Sunday at Triggs Memorial Golf Course in Providence. The fairways weren’t unusually narrow, but the rough just off was so thick that if you strayed even slightly the best you could hope for was to get it back in play; there would be no going for the green out of the rough at Triggs. I found that out on the very first hole – a sculled drive that took two tries to get it onto the fairway. Unfortunately, I pushed a 5-iron waaaay left, then it took me two shots to get it on the green before two-putting for a double par.

It wouldn’t get a whole lot better from there.

Triggs is an old Donald Ross-designed course – meaning, lots of elevated and undulating greens protected by bunkers and thick rough off the fringes. If you weren’t pin-point in your accuracy with your approach shots it was too bad for you: if you were off a little, you were off a lot. Which I was. I stopped counting the number of times my approach shots would roll off the green into the thickest of roughs with downhill putts. Maybe others have that kind of game, but we just don’t see that kind of crap here in the Valley of the Sun. And how do you practice for it? The greens themselves were inconsistent and just slower than what I was used to, and it caused me fits. After a while they just wore you down, and I was worn down, tired, and frustrated by my short game from start to finish. While I hit only four fairways all day I don’t feel as if I drove the ball all that badly, but when I didn’t hit the fairway bad things just sort of happened. And I don’t feel as if I hit my irons that bad either, although I was clearly a hair off.

Once again, my 5-wood and hybrids treated me harshly. There are some very long par 4s on the front nine at Triggs, and three increasingly long par 5s on the back – holes requiring precision with hybrids and fairway woods. And with the rough waiting to gobble your ball like a Great White Shark, dumping a 5-iron down the hole wasn’t an option – not when you’re 3-putting greens and missing every two-foot putt, which I was. And in each case, I simply couldn’t hit the damned things – duff after duff after duff. It became such a hopeless task. But what ended up truly killing me was my putting – a total of 41 putts (even with a chip-in on #6), including seven – count ‘em, seven! – three-putts. I know I’ve had days with more putts than that, but not on a Goodboys Sunday with everything on the line. And it cost our team dearly. I managed only two holes at bogey or better all day and a Goodboys high score of 115. And that on a day when my partner Skeeta blistered the course with a rockin’ 78.

Sitting on the Triggs patio afterwards, I was still hoping against hope that our scores would hold up, but, like Hillary Clinton’s campaign staff last November when the numbers started coming in, I was starting to get a little nervous. The other scores were better than I expected, and my partner was hoping against hope that one of the teams would catch us from behind so that he (i.e., we) wouldn’t be stuck with having to run next year’s event as tradition dictates. When it was announced that the team of “Possum” Shepter and “Mothra” Nolan had beat us by five strokes, all I could do was look at my card and see all those three-putt holes and the long par 4s and par 5s where even a halfway decently-hit 5-iron or hybrid might have made the difference. Skeeta wasn’t unhappy with the results, but I was pissed. I hadn’t just thrown the potential for a decent round away, I had given away the 2017 Goodboys Invitational!

This one’s gonna smart for awhile.

Still, it wasn’t all for naught. For the first time in my Goodboys career since we started paying a monetary reward for first- and second-place finishes, I actually took home some dough-re-mi. Second place wasn’t first place, but knowing that it was my play on Friday that gave us the head start heading into the weekend helped ease the sting of Sunday’s fiasco. And looking back, I feel confident that with another go at Triggs Memorial I could go out and put up a decent number, and the same goes for Segregansett. I’m not just close, I’m very close to where I want to be.

All in all, I have no complaints with how things went down this Goodboys Invitational weekend. Would it have been nice to win? Absolutely. But we came close and that’s good enough for me. It would have been nice to have figured out my 5-wood and hybrids, but that wasn’t my primary area of focus these past two months. It would have been nice to chip and putt better on Sunday at Triggs, but I just don’t have the opportunity to play those kinds of greens and learn the kinds of shots those kinds of greens demand out in Arizona. What I wanted to do this Goodboys weekend was strike my irons with authority and drive the ball reasonably well, and in both cases it was “mission accomplished”.

Now it’s time for a nice, long break until the fall.

Congratulations to the new Exec-Comm, Possum and Mothra. You’ll have the privilege of seeing their happy mugs at the upper-right of the Goodboys Nation weblog main page until someone takes it away from them.

And, finally, a “YUUUGE” muchas gracias to the former Exec-Comm, “Goose” Dwyer and “Deuce” Doucette for two great years of Goodboys Invitational weekend planning. I’m sure they’re grateful for the chance to not have to play with each other for a third straight year, but, more especially, at not having to worry about planning yet another Goodboys Invitational.

Filed in: Golf Quest,Goodboys by The Great White Shank at 00:12 | Comments (0)
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)

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