July 31, 2013

My three weeks in New England are over, and while it was great to be there at some point you have to go home, to sleep in one’s own bed, to be back around your familar surroundings and things. From the moment I walked outside the Sky Harbor terminal you could tell the heat was different – after three weeks in the humidity it’s amazing how different the heat here feels. It was great to spend so much of my New England time up and around the ocean, so consider this poem I found at the Surf Poetry website an ode to my New England visit:

Low tones of cobble stones echo off the seawall behind me
Tumbling over one another as the tide recedes,
Herding them with it.
The percussion of higher tempered shells mix in and trail off with the same rhythm.
Floating just beyond the breakers several pelicans beat their wings against the water
As if still too full from breakfast to reclaim flight.
A pod of dolphins pass near the beach to take their turn at center stage.
Their chorus of well timed spouts, following one another in succession.
A pronounced breeze picks up slightly, led in with perfection by the maestro,
Breathing through the palms above whose fronds play like a wire brush
Rasped gently over a symbol.
Plovers pipe up as well and other shore birds chime in
As waves continue to strum the sandbar.

I feel the glow of sun beginning to seep through the haze
As beautiful becomes a gross understatement.

Walking up the beach, hand in hand, a retired couple approach
With polite smiles, that tender a silent “Good morning”
So as not to disrupt the show.
In tune, my eyes speak back the same.
And it is.

July is over, but there’s still plenty of summer left here.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 02:32 | Comments (0)
July 30, 2013

Friday: The Ledges Golf Club in York, ME is arguably the toughest scoring course the Goodboys have played over our 23-year history. With the exception of a few holes the fairways are fairly generous and the course is not overly long, but the greens are fast and difficult to read (especially when the pin placements are as diabolical as they were this year!), and keeping it in the short grass off the tee is absolutely essential. This year, everything was made immeasurably tougher by it being the hottest day of the year (100 degrees, 105 heat index) with little or no breeze; like everyone else, I found it hard to maintain my focus as the day went on and everyone and everything became sweaty and saturated.

Taking everyone’s scores against their number the Goodboys shot a whopping 104 strokes over handicap – the low handicappers playing from the blues averaging seven strokes over their number, the high handicappers playing from the whites averaging 9.5 strokes over their number. Me? I not only played just one stroke over my number (shooting a 51 + 52 + 103), but played arguably my best Goodboys Invitational round ever. The scorecard shows only eight fairways hit and 39 putts, but there was a very low number out there if I had played the par 3s as I had been leading up to Goodboys weekend, shooting 8 over par courtesy of a chunked 7-iron on #5 and two ghastly mental mistakes – not playing away from the water on #8 and, incredibly, taking four strokes to get out of a green-side bunker on #14 when I thought I was hitting my sand wedge but realized I had taken my pitching wedge out of the bag by mistake.

It wouldn’t be the first time I made that kind of mistake over the weekend.

Still, as I would over the whole weekend, I stayed confident in my swing and doggedly determined in my focus and approach, playing for bogey one shot at a time so that these kinds of hiccups never piled up one bad shot after another, with stretches where I played at a level I could never have imagined before this year (for example, parring five holes, including three in a row on #s 11-13). I wouldn’t exactly call it a rocking-chair round, but you take a few strokes off those par 3s and two poor choices on the the #1 handicap par 5 18th that resulted in a whopping ten and a mid-90s round was there for the taking. The cold Sam Summer at the clubhouse grille tasted very sweet indeed.

Saturday: The heat and humidity were still there on Saturday, though not quite as intense as on Friday, and a breeze made conditions far better for playing. Wentworth By The Sea C.C. is a quirky layout, with tree-lined holes that criss-cross themselves and long, tight par 5s that give a sense of golf claustrophobia until the trees part and the 14th tee reveals the open peninsula holes that close out the course. By and large, the Goodboys found WWBTS a little more to their liking than The Ledges. While the field shot a combined 96 over their handicaps, that number was helped by four players (two low handicappers, including my partner “Killer” Kowalski, and two high handicappers) who combined for a bloated 62-over all by themselves.

I started out red-hot, with rocking-chair bogeys on the first three holes. After playing #11 by mistake (another bogey following a Mickelson-esque approach shot over trees to a tiny green after a drive OB that my partner should have seen were he playing attention!), I hit one of the longest drives of the weekend over salt marsh on #4, then made a critical mistake by getting greedy with my approach hot that found jungle grass just a foot off the fairway. I could (should) have taken an unplayable lie, but three hacks and a couple of poor chips later I one-putted for a quad bogey eight and my round lost a little of its luster. I recovered enough to shoot 51 on the front, but struggled off the tee on the back – I played out of rough the entire nine – shooting 57 for a combined 108. As they’d be on Sunday at Black Swan, the greens weren’t as fast as at The Ledges, and I never quite made the adjustment needed with my pitching wedge and putter. The 38 putts on Saturday (36 on Sunday) weren’t horrendous, but I left a lot of chips much shorter than I wanted, leading to lots of two-putts when a few one-putts would have really aided the cause.

So how did The Great White Shank fare against the field? Taking into account the four players who uncharacteristically vomited against their number, I’m guessing I played about even with how the Goodboys would have normally shot, but I feel I could have played a lot better. Just as there were a basketful of strokes to be retrieved out there by better decisions off the tee or better chipping and putting, I also knew this was a course the “old” Great White Shank could have easily shot 120 at: the narrow fairways never stopped coming at you, and once the course opened up there were carries over water I would have blanched at just a year ago. Not my best round of the year for sure, but I was proud of the way I kept plugging away and kept my head above water. If my partner had shown up that day (how’s that for throwing someone under the bus!) we might have been right in the thick of things come Sunday. But he didn’t, so we weren’t.

Sunday: By the time Sunday came around, the race for the Spielberg Memorial Trophy was on and the Goodboys by and large settled into their respective games at Black Swan Country Club. I remember playing this track as Georgetown Country Club fifteen years ago, but it later went under and the new owners spent gazillions to transform the course into something completely unrecognizable, with lots of target golf and forced carries on the front side (the original back) before easing off on the difficulty and length to allow for better scoring on the back. I would barely hold it together on the front before putting the pedal to the metal on the back for a nine-hole performance that made all the work, time, and effort I’ve put in this year worthwhile.

The 56 I carded on the front was pure perseverance, as off the tee I was really spraying the ball and my short game was equally inconsistent. It was after my second shot on #8, however, that my round began turning around when I realized I hadn’t been setting up square just before I took the club back. I ended up triple bogeying #s 8 and 9, but by the time we reached the tenth tee my confidence had returned and I started hitting my shots – especially my driver – with authority. On #11 I hit the fairway flush, then challenged a carry over water to a small green with a 5-iron and missed the green long by just two yards. On #12, I parred a tight little par 3 before making my only mistake on the back – misreading the scorecard and thinking that the par 5 13th had a carry over water in front of the green when there wasn’t (where’s a caddy when you need one?) and butchering it for a triple-bogey 8. After that, I really went en fuego.

Fourteen was an uphill par 4 being used for our long-drive hole of the day. I pulverized a drive leaving me just under 100 yards, then hit my best wedge of the weekend to six feet before putting in for a birdie 3. Only sloppy putting prevented me from bogeying #15, then on #16 I crushed my third drive in a row on way to an easy bogey five. I parred the par 3 seventeenth with an approach just short of the green followed by a tidy chip and one-putt. Which left one final hole: the par 5 eighteenth.

#18 at Black Swan is a sharp dogleg right that in old times I would have been happy just to knock it out there, but to our right there was an opening through the trees that enabled you cut the dogleg if you so dared.

I dared.

I don’t know exactly where my ball landed (my partner wasn’t paying attention) but the drive I hit was pulverized, easily the longest, most perfect drive I’ve hit all year. Actually, it was too perfect because we never found it, figuring that after splitting the uprights it must have carried through both the eighteenth and the adjoining tenth fairway. Heck, for all I know it’s still testing Earth’s gravity – it was hit that good and that long. Another ballsy 5-iron left me just off the green right before I got aggressive with a chip (finally!) but caught it too good and it rolled past the pin down to a low collection area. Three putts later, I’ve tapped in for a double-bogey seven and a back nine of 46, my best nine-hole performance in a Goodboys Invitational event and the best of our foursome – something that had never happened before.

My 56 + 46 = 102 (two over my 100 handicap) compared very favorably against the rest of the Goodboys field, which averaged 7.5 strokes over their respective numbers for Sunday’s final round. Over the weekend, I tied “The Funny Guy” Andrusaitis for lowest weekend total against one’s handicap, both of us shooting +11 against our numbers over three days and three tough courses. After so many years of being at or near the bottom of the field at the end of the weekend, this was especially gratifying for me. I’m not sure how it will all turn out when everyone’s scores are tallied I’m guessing I’ll be the only Goodboy whose handicap actually went down after Goodboys Invitational weekend. It didn’t go down by much, dropping a fraction from 27.0 to 26.7, but it went down.

Driving home following the awards ceremony and the farewell beers and festivities I felt I had accomplished what I had set out to do 4 1/2 months ago – put on a good showing at Goodboys Invitational weekend. While I didn’t break 100 during any of the rounds as I had hoped to do, 90s were out there each day, and I not just played well but better against the field and our respective numbers than any other Goodboy but one. While I struggled from time to time as anyone over three rounds of golf would do, I stuck to my plan, was able to identify the problem and make the necessary corrections fairly quickly, and by and large maintained my single-shot focus throughout the weekend.

Over the past 4 1/2 months there were times when I wondered if all the time and effort I was putting in would be worth it in the end, and I’d be lying if I occasionally doubted that it would. But it did, and it was.

Some final thoughts in a future post.

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 02:57 | Comments (0)
July 29, 2013

Don’t know whose idea this was, but it’s my brand of humor. Saw it tonight at a bar and almost spit my beer out all over the bartender.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:22 | Comment (1)
July 27, 2013

Once you’re past Goodboys Invitational weekend you make the transition from mid-summer to late summer. Just being here at my folks place in Massachusetts these past nearly three weeks you can see the days getting shorter and the sun angle getting a little lower. Don’t get me wrong – it’s not as if fall is around the corner, but the kids are heading back to shool in a couple of weeks back in Arizona, and the TV is full of back-to-school commercials. I guarantee that if I head to Petsmart for bunny supplies in the next two weeks they’ll already have their doggy Halloween stuff out, and I’m guessing that in the next couple of weeks the Sam Summer at the local Fry’s will have been replaced with Sam Octoberfest.

With all the golf-related travel and rounds of the past few weeks I haven’t really paid much attention to politics, so it’s reassuring to know that President Obama is once again – for like the seventh time – going to pivot his presidency around the economy. Heard him blathering on during a Friday speech in which he mentioned the word “inequality” a dozen times. The guy just doesn’t seem to get the fact that there is no way to level 100% the playing field in a capitalistic system like we have – even as much as the Obama presidency has tried its best to put his socialistic ideals into the mix wherever possible. There’s simply no way to eliminate inequality in even the most socialist or communist systems – heck, in the old USSR and East germany (about as communist as you could get) the rampant inequality that existed all came from cronyism – as long as you knew someone with influence you had a leg up.

I really think Obama says these things not because he plans on doing anything about it, but because he just says stuff he knows people want him to say. AS long as he spouts dream-weaver stuff and doesn’t get bogged down in the politics of it he takes the high road, goes and play golf and hang with his Hollywood celebrity friends, and enjoys the perks of the Presidency without having to do anything that comes close to work. He’s an empty suit who knows no one in the liberal mainstream media has the guts to call him on it.

I’ve avoided commenting about the George Zimmerman verdict because, frankly, I didn’t pay any attention to the case or the trial. The only thing I will say is that our legal system is supposed to operate under the philosophy that you’re innocent until proven guilty, and that anytime there is reasonable doubt the accused has to go free. Our system isn’t perfect by a long shot, but that’s how it operates. Which is why it’s sad that the typical race-baiters and Hollywood limousine liberals won’t let the hard work of the Zimmerman jury stand as they decided based on the evidence that was provided.

Anthony Wiener. That’s a joke, right?

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 19:50 | Comments (0)
July 25, 2013

Greetings from Newport, Rhode Island, where I’m blogging from the Yankee Peddler Inn‘s quaint parlor on a cloudy, breezy morning that smacks of an early late-summer day. There’s something about this town and its history that always touches me deeply whenever I’m privileged to visit here. A couple of months ago I was in San Diego; some call it the west coast version of Newport, but besides the money, the boats, and the beautiful people who flock to them like moths to a porch light, there’s nothing really these towns have in common.

San Diego is a pretty cool place but it has (at least to me) a very modern feel to it. Of course, it’s just as old as Newport is, but as a New Englander and an American its history seems unaccessible to me. Newport, on the other hand, speaks to me in a way I can relate to: tiny streets, old houses, and leafy trees, the romantic, quaint feel of a place where generations of people little known or long-forgotten have passed through on their way from nothing to nothing. People, houses, places, and things that floated in, flourished, declined, and then passed on into history.

From my location I look out the window and see lovely houses along a street that, were the metal light post just outside the window not there, would be just as recognizeable to someone sitting in this very spot in, say, the 1890s, 1920s, or 1950s. Or maybe not, but one can easily imagine sitting in this parlor and listening to a Scott Joplin rag, or big-band music, or Elvis on the turntable. I sit here and the surroundings make my New England bones and blood feel at home, as if the ghosts of times past and I are united at this place and time in a quiet and timeless way.

Just as any other place, Newport has gone through its ups and downs, through Colonial times, through its rough-and-tumble Navy years, through the Gilded Age where its “cottages” served as a six-week playground for the rich seeking respite from oppressive Manhattan summers, to the nouveau riche playground it has become for lots of pretty people. And maybe that’s why I like it and why it attracts me so – it embraces its past but isn’t held back by it, it’s been up and down and keeps moving on, a testament to the passage of time and place. I come here and can recall past visits when I was younger, I remember places I’ve visited that are no more, I see in it the passage of time both here and in me.

Away from the quaint shops and noisy bars and restaurants along its waterfront, a walk along Newport’s quiet, narrow streets with big colonial houses surrounding you on both sides or a tour through Rosecliff mansion makes you feel smaller, a mere player in history, whether it be yours or others. Many of the houses are well-preserved and painted in gay multi-colors, some are in sore need of upkeep. Big houses that used to belong to large families full of life and the prospect of years together are now apartments above first-floor shops, or quaint inns, or condominiums; some have been neglected, or empty, or up for sale. You walk past them and can’t help seeing in their passage of time a part of your own. It’s not good or bad, or happy or sad, it’s just the way it is.

I sense it’s important for me to feel this way – sentimental about times that were never quite as good as I remember them being, hopeful about a future that could turn dark or uncertain by a doctor’s visit or a lab result, or my name appearing on a company’s layoff list, grateful for a life surrounded by loving parents and family, good friends, and the opportunity to travel to places that as a kid I could only imagine seeing. In that way, my life isn’t so much different from that of others – or perhaps it is – but I also know that in the grand scheme of things I’ve been beyond fortunate.

I know not when I will – or even if I will – return to Newport, but if I do have the privilege of visiting again I know things will be different for both of us. Perhaps in small ways, perhaps in ways not so small. But there’s comfort in knowing that, whichever way it is or might be, we have in common the fact that neither of us are immune to the passage of time and that we’re both just bit players in the larger drama of history that will continue to unfold around us.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 09:53 | Comments (0)
July 24, 2013

If you needed another reason to know why Phil Mickelson is so loved by fans and respected by his peers you only have to check this link out. I thought him stopping by the Krispy Kreme in his Masters jacket after his 2010 win at Augusta was cool, but this is right up there as well. Even after all these years and a myriad of examples – the open and honest post-round interviews and press conferences, the love he shows for his family, the goofy smile and the thumbs-up to fans whenever they cheer him, the occasional ball dropped in the hands of a youngster on his way from one tee to another – it’s amazing to me just how much Phil “gets it” and how much Tiger Woods doesn’t.

Phil is, in every way, the anti-Tiger.

The sad truth is, Tiger Woods could have this same level of adoration if he really wanted it. He’s got a million-dollar smile and golf game, and has shown on occasion the ability to poke fun at himself with some wry self-deprecation, but there seems to be something there, a wall designed to keep the public at length. You can chalk it up to different personalities (which they obviously are) but the whole business of golf just seems to be so much work for Tiger, where to Phil it’s all about the passion he has for the game and the prospect of just being in the mix on Sunday. He loves golf and treats it both as the sport he plays and the game it is.

Maybe it’s because I’m thinking Phil has his priorities straight: he’s more than willing to share the credit and his success with others, he makes no excuses when things go wrong, he’s got a beautiful family, and, even when tragedies have struck – i.e., his wife Amy’s cancer – he knows what side of life his bread needs to be buttered on. When Tiger had his fall from grace back in 2008, it was the perfect opportunity for him to remake himself both as person and as a golfer – instead, he throws clubs, tosses expletives in the range of cameras and microphones, and – in this person’s view – cheats by taking improper drops when he knows the rules better than anyone else. You can respect his game and his accomplishments, but classy he’s not, and he’s not the kind of guy you’d want to sit down and have a beer with. It’s too bad.

It’s great to see Phil enjoying his game as much as he does. He’s riding the wave right now, and you just want the ride to continue. Nice going, Phil.

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 17:29 | Comments (0)
July 23, 2013

Hydrangea is my favorite summer flower here in New England. You see them a lot around seacoast towns and down around the Cape, so I’m guessing they prefer sandy soil. Mix some day-lillies and black-eyed susans in and you’ve got a love cornucopia of color you’ll only see in New England. It’s really beautiful.

Here in Massachusetts they’ve got the pathetic duo of Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey as senators, but if New York elects the likes of the sex scandal-plagued Eliot Spitzer as Governor and Anthony Weiner as NYC mayor that’s truly a laughing-stock and an indication of just how far this country has fallen. Back in the old days before social and mass media lots of folks never really knew who they were voting for, but these days anyone who votes for these two clowns deserve what they get.

You want to feel humbled? Check this out. We’re really just temporary occupiers of a miniscule ball of rock floating in an infinitesimal universe. Our little tawdry lives have little or no meaning in the grand scheme of things, so treat your fellow earthlings as you would like to be treated and enjoy the precious gift of life as long as you can.

This couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. If there is anyone in Major League Baseball as loathsome an individual as A-Rod I can’t recall. From the very beginning he’s been nothing but a whiny, cheating prima dona and he deserves everything he gets.

I could have told you this was coming. Once the toothpaste is out of the tube you can’t get it back in. I’m expecting polygamy activists to start their own push for legalization any time soon.

Off to one of my all-time favorite places, Newport, Rhode Island tomorrow. Can’t wait to enjoy a mansion or two and some wonderful seafood. Will be reporting from there.

R.I.P. Dennis Farina. He was one of my favorite actors, great in Miami Vice, Get Shorty, and Midnight Run. A great actor and a class act who will be missed. He left us too young.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 20:57 | Comment (1)
July 22, 2013

A few notes to cap off the 2013 Goodboys Invitational weekend:

For the first time ever, there was a repeat champion as “2 Times” Proctor and “Possum” Shepter squeaked out a two-stroke win over the team of “Vegas” Clark and “Skipper” Bornemann and the team of “Deuce” Doucette and “Goose” Dwyer. Not only is it good news for the 2014 Goodboys Invitational (since 2 Times and Possum did such a fine job planning this year’s weekend), it’s good for me since I don’t have to relearn for the umpteenth time how to change the .JPG picture on the main page. :-)

The team of “The Funny Guy” Andrusaitis and “Cubby” Myerow finished a close fourth, me and partner “Killer” Kowalski finished a fairly distant fifth (although I do have to say I did my part, but that’s for another time!), and “Hulkigan” Tripp and “Doggy Duval” McLaughlin finished light years behind everyone to finish dead last.

Best quotes of the weekend:
1. “Who do you think you are, Jerry Lewis?” – Cubby to The Great White Shank when the latter tried to drive a wedge between Cubby and partner TFG by noting he (TGWS) would never abandon allow Cubby and allow him to walk the closing holes at Wentworth By The Sea virtually by himself.
2. “Are you a million years old?” – Cute girl to Deuce after he tried to engage her in conversation at a late-night Portsmouth bar.
3. “Screw Ben Hogan” – Doggy Duval on the tenth tee at The Ledges following a ghastly 59 on the front side that virtually eliminated his team from competition with 2 1/2 rounds still left to play. DD had been inspired by my golf immersion posts and had decided to adopt Ben Hogan’s 5 Lessons and change his swing and ball. What he forgot to do was bang countless numbers of balls at the range every week like I did. With only a couple of range sessions and a round or two of golf to go on, DD found himself in the deep end of the pool, so to speak, and forced to find his old swing under the most adverse of conditions – real time at a Goodboys Invitational weekend.

Restaurant hits and misses: RiRa was a big disappointment. This Irish pub, long a Goodboys favorite, recently changed their menu, leaving very little in the way to interest a hungry Goodboy after a long, sweltering day on the golf course. Used to be great, now we’ll be looking for a 2014 alternative. Surf, however, was fabulous – the seafood very fresh and the environment noisy and festive. I had clams three different ways and it was all good. And the gazpacho at Wentworth By The Sea’s clubhouse grill was to die for. I’d go back there just for the gazpacho, and this weekend I might very well do just that.

Weather report: Friday was pretty close to, if not the, hottest day we’ve ever played golf. The heat index was 105, but I’ve played in 105 weather before and this was a hell of a lot more uncomfortable with the humdity. You simply couldn’t hydrate yourself enough. Saturday we had a large thunderstorm cell pass just to our south – and I mean just to our south. It was a magical experience just taking in the green surroundings and listening to the thunder in the distance grow nearer. My playing partners had to keep telling me to pay attention to my golf, but me and thunderstorms have a long and mystical relationship. We never got any rain, but the storm helped to drop the temps about ten degrees, which, after Friday, was very much appreciated. As was the cloud cover we played under most of the day on Sunday before they departed and left a very hot sun to finish the last several holes under. Once again, the Goodboys lucked out, weather-wise.

The courses: The Ledges once again lived up to its reputation as a Goodboy-eater, with greens that were fast, swaley, and nearly impossible to read. Wentworth By The Sea was an odd layout with very tight par 5s, but the location was great – especially the last four holes where you’re right by the ocean. The whole day was a study in contrasts, with the Goodboys surrounded by lots of people and houses just reeking of wealth, a lot of it old money. A little local knowledge there goes a long way, and the boys are eager to get another crack at it again next year. Black Swan in Georgetown was a good parkland-style course with lots of target golf on the front and pretty wide open on the back. There are better courses around for sure, but you can’t beat the location on a get-away Sunday when you want to avoid all the traffic coming down from Maine.

Non-golf highlight of the weekend: The Funny Guy chatting it up with Julie, one of the bar servers at Black Swan’s clubhouse grille. Turns out Julie used to be a New England Patriots cheerleader several years back and was so taken with TFG’s schtick and all the Goodboys that she autographed a picture of her with the other cheerleaders:

“All my love to the Goodboys XO Cheers, Julie”.

Even after all these years, TFG remains our official liaison to cute chicks no matter where we go, and he never fails to bring home the bacon when it counts.

Golf highlights of the weekend; let it simply be said that The Great White Shank played pretty damned well – not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but better than I ever have at a Goodboys weekend, for sure. But I’ll leave that for another post.

Non-Goodboys highlight of the weekend: hearing that Phil Mickelson won The Open Championship. Couldn’t have happened to a classier guy, especially after that heartbreaking loss at the U.S. Open at Merion. Congratulations to Phil – shooting a 66 on the last day when everyone else is sliding backwards is playing some serious golf, indeed.

Filed in: Goodboys by The Great White Shank at 20:33 | Comment (1)
July 20, 2013

Today was a later start than usual because our tee times didn’t start until noon. The Goodboys gathered at breakfast down in the hotel’s restaurant and I had a Belgian waffle with some strips of bacon. Yumm. When we walked outside you could tell it wasn’t as hot as yesterday was – a good thing because Friday’s heat was the most oppressive anyone can remember playing in, and I doubt that if today was going to be the same I doubt the majority of us could have handled it.

On the driving range at Wentworth By The Sea Country Club I found a fix for the poor iron play of yesterday – I realized my grip was too strong and that if I weakened it like Alex Black has had me do with my woods I make better contact and have a more reliable tracking of the ball.

As for our match my partner “Killer” Kowalski and I were playing “The Funny Guy” Andrusaitis and “Cubby” Myerow. I went bogey / bogey / par on the first three holes for a really good start, then made a pro-like recovery shot on what we thought was the fourth hole for a miraculous double-bogey before we realized we were actually playing the tenth hole and had somehow gotten mis-directed. My partner wasn’t playing well and seemed distracted to that point so I had to have words with him to make sure we were backing up each other.

Once we got straightened out I had my best drive of the day on the fourth hole, only to lose a 7-iron into deep rough after I talked myself out of the 6-iron I should have hit. It took me three tries to get my ball out that thick rough and had to take a quad-bogie eight – a bad mental error on my part. While I didn’t play great the rest of the nine I still put up a decent 51 on a very tough track. I felt pretty good about that.

It was on seven that we first heard thunder in the distance, so my partner called up the weather radar on his phone app to discover the heat wave of the past week was breaking with a very large thunderstorm cell passing just to our south. Distant thunder is the most beautiful sound for me, so I found it hard to concentrate on golf with the sounds and sights of a big thunderstorm were so near. I was putting on eight when I saw a flash of lightning against my shirt and it wasn’t a minute afterwards before the horns blew.

We all went inside to the clubhouse grill to wait out the storm but nothing really happened. I had a cup of one of the best gazpachos I’ve ever tasted along with a Sam Summer – what a treat! The problem was that sitting around caused my elbow to really stiffen up so that by the time we were all called back out on the course I really had a hard time getting through the ball the next few holes. I’ve been able to handle my elbow pain with Aleves and Anatablocs thus far, but today was the first time that the pain really impacted my ability to swing the club the way I wanted to. Such is life.

I shot a 57 on the back nine, but feel as if I did really well just getting around a tough course and keeping my wits about me. Even my fellow Goodboys were very complimentary about how I kept working my way around the course when I (obviously) didn’t have my best stuff. The heat broke around 4 PM and we enjoyed a delightful six or seven holes with low humidity and a lovely breeze from the west. My partner awoke from his stupor to really slay the course on the back nine, but I struggled to a 57 to leave us a good sixteen strokes behind three teams jammed at the top of the leaderboard:

1. “The Funny Guy” / “Cubby”
2. “Vegas” Clark / “Skipper” Bornemann
3. “2 Times” Proctor / “Possum” Shepter

At dinner tonight at Surf I had littlenecks on the half shell, a wonderful bowl of clam chowder, and some clams chargrilled on the half shell with andouille sausage and paprika-spiced bread crumbs. With a couple of glasses of Pinot Grigio it was all excellent and a fun time was had by all.

Tomorrow we’re playing at Black Swan Country Club and I’ll admit to feeling a little sad about the whole thing. I’ve spent the last 4 1/2 months immersed in golf and it all ends less than 24 hours from now. I’ve received a lot of compliments from my Goodboys friends about the changes I’ve made in my swing, and there’s no doubt that all the hard work I’ve done has paid off and given me a lot more confidence in my game. Yesterday’s 103 at The Ledges was about as good a round of golf as I’ve ever played given the difficulty of the course and the conditions we all had to play under. Today’s round at Wentworth was really hard, especially since like all te other Goodboys I had no legs after all the heat from yesterday. Still, I sorta kinda held it all together to avoid putting up a really big number.

Tomorrow my partner and I will try and post a low number to see just how far it gets us. The weather is supposed to be perfect, I just hope I can swing a club because tonight my elbow is throbbing as badly as it ever has. I’m guessing that both it and me are in need of a nice long sabbatical after working so intensely these past several months. It’s been a great experience and I wouldn’t change it for the world. To have achieved the respect of my fellow Goodboys and play with a level of confidence I could never have imagined, say, six months ago means a great deal to me. I’ll work my hardest to put up a good number tomorrow and then call it a year.

My elbow will thank me for it, that’s for sure.

Filed in: Goodboys by The Great White Shank at 21:23 | Comments (0)
July 19, 2013

YORK, Maine (AP) — They say you can’t win a Goodboys Invitational on day one, you can only lose it. Well, there was a winner in the first round of the 23th Goodboys Invitational played here in this picturesque and quintessential New England track, and it wore long, green hair and with a lot of rocks (and I’m not talking the ladies’ finger types). The Ledges Golf Club, as it has done every year the Goodboys have played here, won. And had a willing co-conspirator in the sweltering heat wave that enveloped the players like a big soggy wet blanket. With the temperatures in the high ’90s and the heat index hovering around 105, there was little escaping a tough golf course played under the toughest of conditions.

This was the day Goodboys EXEC-COMM had been waiting for: to show off the advantages and challenges of their new two-tiered system of play, where the six lowest handicaps played from the blue tees and the six highest from the white tees, and it succeeded beyond everyone’s wildest dreams. With the course conditions (“the fastest, most diabolical greens I’ve ever putted” one veteran Goodboy was heard to quote) and heat being what they were every Goodboy had their hands full. Whether this makes a big difference at Wentworth By The Sea Country Club on Saturday or Black Swan Country Club on Sunday remains to be seen, but at The Ledges the blue tees really showed some teeth – in many cases, creating an entirely different hole than when played from the whites.

“Well, EXEC-COMM certainly created a challenge for everyone,” “The Funny Guy” Andrusaitis said after carding a 1-over handicap to tie him with “The Great White Shank” Richard for best individual total and the “Killer” Kowalski / Great White Shank team for the clubhouse lead after day one. “This course is tough enough playing from the whites – just ask Cubby [partner "Cubby" Myerow], but from the blues and with the heat the way it was, heck, it was survival golf out there, nothing more, nothing less.”

The standings after day one (team totals against assigned handicap):

1. “Killer” Kowalski / “The Great White Shank” Richard – +10
1. “The Funny Guy” Andrusaitis / “Cubby” Myerow – +10
2. “Deuce” Doucette / “Goose” Dwyer – +12
3. “Vegas” Clark / “Skipper” Bornemann – +18
4. “2 Times” Proctor / “Possum” Shepter – +25
5. “Hulkigan” Tripp / “Doggy Duval” McLaughlin – +36

“Friday is really the eye-opener at Goodboys, folks,” says Golf Channel’s Sir Nick Faldos, no stranger to the pressures and challenges of difficult golf courses, being a winner of six majors. “You not only have the most difficult of the three courses played under some of the most adverse conditions the Goodboys will see, you’re also dealing with the unfamiliarity of the new system employed by EXEC-COMM. In the past, the “A” players could encourage their “B” player partners by how they play off the same tees. This year, they can’t worry about what their partners are doing, they’ve got all they can handle by themselves.”

“Goose” Dwyer echoed Faldo’s comments. “Whew, it was a tough one out there, I’ll tell you. The course was playing tough, the greens were as treacherous as we’ve ever played, and bogey golf was a damned good score out there. We fought hard throughoyut, tried to play away from trouble, and feel very fortunate to sit where we are. We’re in a good position, and we can’t wait for tomorrow. Hopefully the storms come in late and it will be a great day.”

“Disappointed, that’s all I can say, said “Possum” Shepter of the defending champion EXEC-COMM team, who finished the day in fifth place, 15 shots behind the leaders. “The course is hard, the rocks are hard, the fairways are hard, the trees left and right all have hard trunks. The water isn’t hard, but then again, water isn’t supposed to be hard, is it? What can I say, the course is hard.”

“Personally, I didn’t think anyone was going to shoot that low,” said “Vegas” Clark, who shot a five over handicap along with partner “Skipper” Bornemann’s 13 over to leave them only eight strokes behind the leaders. He said The Ledges’ fast, swaley greens combined with difficult pin positions led to “really tough putting.”

As the Goodboys spend their Friday night pub-crawling the Portsmouth waterfront they’ll look back on a very successful first day. While easy or not easy is a relative term, they’ll ponder the prospects of “moving day” at Wentworth By The Sea knowing that they’ll be playing an entirely different course than they did at The Ledges. With a competitive leaderboard as it stands after Friday’s play, easy or not, it promises to be an exciting day.

Filed in: Goodboys by The Great White Shank at 20:00 | Comments (0)

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