April 13, 2013

Welcome to this edition of On The Range, I’m Gary Williams, your host. We’re here with Doug “The Great White Shank” on the driving range at Superstition Springs Golf Club here in Mesa, Arizona. It’s a beautiful day here – high ’80s, a light cloud cover to help lessen the usual hot mid-April sun – and the range is filled with golfers of all ages and the happy sounds of golf balls being hit. First of all, Great White Shank, thank you for making yourself available to On The Range. There’s been a big change in your bag since the last time we spoke, correct?

That’s right, Gary, I’ve diteched the Cobra woods, irons, and wacky fairway woods and playing Callaway RAZR X HLs from pitching wedge up to driver. The irons are new, the 3 and 5 metals and driver are second-hand. The sand wedge is the runt of the litter, a RAZR I found separately, but I love it nonetheless. The putter is a Dynacraft Design II that was given me by old Grant Carrow, who furnished me my first set of clubs at the behest of the late Mike “Doc” Frechette, a good friend of mine and one of the founders of Goodboys Nation.

So I’m watching you hit various graphite woods, everything from 3-hybrids to driver. What are you working on here?

Well, basically, Gary, I’m trying to integrate some instruction provided me by Alex Black, the PGA pro here, and my de facto swing coach, fellow Goodboy Ben “The Funny Guy” Andrusaitis. What I’m working on most is emphasizing my large leg muscles coming through the ball and de-emphasizing the rolling of my wrists through impact. I find that, too often, what is happening is that a combination of coming through over the top early and rolling my wrists over has been creating too many misses to the right. And, whenever I’ve tried to avoid that from happening, I’m doing nothing with my wrists, lagging too much on the downswing, and pushing badly left.

So that’s two misses, one to the left, one to the right. What’s the fix?

The fix, Gary, and for all you high-handicappers out there, similar to what The Funny Guy is trying to do with his own swing in following Steve Stricker, is to try and take the wrists out of the swing as much as possible. For me, that means, rather than rolling my wrists over and finishing off low, I’m now attempting to create a wider circle with my swing in take-back and follow-through so I’m finishing up with my chin actually fast against my left shoulder at finish.

That’s quite interesting. OK, for the benefit of our viewers what club have you got in your hand?

This is my 5-wood which, at least to date, has not been very cooperative as far as the plan is concerned.

Very good. Well, take a swing and let’s see what happens.

(The Great White Shank pulverizes a 5-wood straight down the middle of the faux fairway in front of him.)

Why, that’s marvelous!

Thanks, Gary. The key, of course, is to do this consistently – something I’m still working hard on.

The Goodboys Invitational is a little more than three months away. How and when does your preparation begin?

Actually, Gary, the preparation never stops. I’m very disappointed with the way I played the last two years at Goodboys. For whatever reason, I never enjoyed the experience or the Cobras I was playing – I just never played them according to my capabilities. It wasn’t until last fall after last Goodboys that I discovered these Callaways. They’ve changed my golf game. They’ve changed my life.

Your preparations from here?

Well, I’m going to play a couple of courses around here in preparation for a Las Vegas trip in late May when I hope to once again play Las Vegas National again. After that, it’ll be pretty much range work until heading back to Massachusetts the week before Goodboys to try and play Portsmouth Country Club, my all-time favorite course, and Trull Brook, a course I’ve always found will tell you where your game stands in terms of Goodboys. In fact, every 3-wood I’m hitting here, I’m imagining standing on the third tee at Trull Brook, a very tight, uphill par 4 that will always test how well you’re hitting the ball. If you can find the fairway at Trull Brook #3 you’re playing stick.

Great White Shank, your love of Portsmouth Country Club is legendary – what is it about Portsmouth you love so much?

Well Gary, from the moment you make the turn onto the road that leads to the clubhouse it’s almost like Magnolia Lane at Augusta National. The big oaks lining both sides of the road, the practice areas beyond the trees on both sides – it’s a just a feeling unlike any other place I’ve ever played. I’ve never played the course that well – it’s long and you have to keep it in the fairways – but the moment I step on Portsmouth’s grounds I feel as if I’ve come home. On nights I can’t sleep I’ll think about Portsmouth and it always puts me at ease. Beautiful. Gorgeous. Challenging. Memorable.

Thank you, Great White Shank, for your time. We truly appreciate it.

(winking) Be sure to say hello to Kelly for me.

Will do.

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 02:52 | Comments (3)
  1. I think you missed the “1” in front of your “3” on seeing which fairway determines whether you’re striking your tee shot straight at Trull Brook, Doug.

    Always found that hole to be the toughest to keep my ball out of trouble, especially late in a round.

    Comment by Dave Richard — April 13, 2013 @ 8:12 am

  2. I don’t think 13 is nearly as tough as 3, Dave. Uphill and deceptively narrow – go right and your in the trees or the 2d fairway, go left and there’s nothing good that can be had from over there as far as I’m concerned. Now let’s talk about 14….

    Comment by The Great White Shank — April 13, 2013 @ 10:08 pm

  3. See, I don’t see 3 as that narrow. Now, you’re correct that left is death on 3 (I suspect you’ve spent a LOT of time over there), but you can survive going right if you don’t go way right. Just don’t get into any sand around that green or you’d better have a real good sand wedge in your bag.

    13? Appropriately numbered. Ridiculously narrow and only gives you relief if you can ease the ball with a draw or fade at the end of flight (depending on which side of the ball you stand ;)), but a shank, hook or even a bad slice on 13 guarantees you a snowman or worse with Trull Brook on the left and a steep, wooded hill on the right.

    14 is horrible only if you haven’t got a good feel for distance with your tee shot. With Trull Brook cutting across it at just the wrong yardage for duffers who rely on roll for distance (like me), you have to lay up your drive to guarantee you won’t take a penalty stroke, but it’s a mental error in thinking you can make it (when you really can’t) that gets you in trouble on 14. It’s a bogey hole for sure, especially given the distance and the elevation, but not a killer in my mind.

    Comment by Dave Richard — April 14, 2013 @ 3:16 am

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