July 18, 2013

That’s what the Goodboys call Thursday nights before Goodboys Invitational weekend gets underway. Courtesy of “Vegas” Clark, here is what substitutes for sugarplum fairies dancing in every Goodboy’s head as he tries to sleep tonight:

I look good in the three-putt hat
Keep your head down
Look at the back of the golf ball
Check your V’s on your grip (align with shoulders)
Weight on the balls of your feet
Knees Bent and bend maintained throughout the swing
3:1 ratio of speed of backswing to downswing
Light grip pressure
Hands slightly forward at address
Align feet, hips and shoulders
Club head pointed to sky half way through backswing
Club head pointed at target at top of back swing
Right elbow tucked to body during downswing
Shoes tied
Fly zipped up
Release the club head through the ball by rotating the wrists
Head stays behind the ball throughout the swing
Left shoulder up to elevate the shot
Left shoulder down to de-loft the shot
Play the ball back in the stance to keep it low
Play the ball forward in the stance to hit it high
Check the wind direction and alter alignment accordingly
Swing easy when it is breezy
The sand gets the ball out of the bunker not the club
Align left of target for flop shots
Beer on ice at least one hour before the round begins
Tip cute cart girls more than ugly cart girls
Repair ball marks
I look good in the three putt hat
Rotate around your core.
The swing is an ellipse not a circle
Full body turn and shoulder rotation to build swing speed
Don’t walk in others line of putt
Don’t use an umbrella in a thunderstorm
Release hips during downswing along the target line
Belt buckle finishes pointing at target
Swing inside out for a hook
Swing outside in for a slice
Choke up on the longer club to reduce distance when in between clubs
Mark balls for competitive play
Replace your divots
Play less break when greens are fast
Wash balls frequently
Have balls kissed for luck
I look good in the three-putt hat

And for those who require their information more visually:

If you’re not able to catch the Goodboys Invitational on your local CBS Sports affiliate, don’t worry, I’ll be blogging recaps at the end of each day. Stay tuned for all the Goodboys Invitational 2013 coverage you’ll need.

Filed in: Goodboys by The Great White Shank at 03:44 | Comments (0)
July 17, 2013

It’s two days before the Goodboys Invitational, and I’m labeled with a number. The 27.0 is my “official” Goodboys handicap, which, translated to the courses we’re scheduled to play this weekend, means I have to shoot 102 or better at The Ledges in York, Maine on Friday (when it is supposed to be not only the hottest day of the year, but the most humid day in this incredible heat wave we’ve been having), and 100 or better when we play Wentworth By The Sea in Rye, New Hampshire on Saturday and Black Swan Country Club in Georgetown, Mass. on Sunday (when, following predicted severe weather on Saturday, we should be playing in sunny and dry 80s).

Tonight a few of us Goodboys played a final tune-up round at Trull Brook and neither my game nor my focus was there. I’m tired from the heat and humidity, my elbow aches from all the accumulated balls I’ve hit over the past 4 1/2 months (I’m downing two Naproxens plus four sets of two Anatablocs every day just to be able to swing a club and sleep at night). It seems hard to believe that all the work, effort, lessons, equipment changes and money spent over four months have all come down to the equivalent of a eighty-yard drive down the football field with the hard “red zone” work of getting the ball in the end zone (talk about mixing your sports metaphors!!) left to go. I’m mentally tired and feeling pretty banged up, but I still take comfort in the fact that I’ve worked damned hard to get where I am and that all my prep work is done – now it’s time to execute.

While Alex Black remains my go-to swing coach and Dr. Bob Winters is my de facto sports psychologist (via Tom Coyne’s book, Paper Tiger), there’s another member of my “team” who’s opinion is just as important when it comes to Goodboys golf. Fellow Goodboy and long-time friend “The Funny Guy” Andrusaitis has a way of cutting through all the bullsh*t and seeing my game for what it is, right here in New England. Case in point: at Trull Brook’s 14th hole tonight, a 343-yard par four requiring a carry of 220 yards over a brook, I took driver out of the bag even though I knew the shot demanded a precision drive and there was a slight wind into our faces. I carried the water (barely!) but lost it in the woods left, pulled a six-iron into the opposite woods against a tree, had to use the back of a seven-iron to move it ten feet, then, totally infuriated with myself, duffed two chips before two putting for a quad-bogey 8. I was pi**ed when, on our way to the next tee, TFG starts going on about how the 14th hole at Trull Brook tells you exactly where your game is for Goodboys weekend – in effect, telling me that my game, my focus, and my decision-making process was nowhere near where it needed to be.

I didn’t want to hear what he had to say and told him so, but he was right.

Over a cold Sam Summer and away from my Goodboys friends I gave myself a good talking to tonight. I’ve played four times since coming back to New England and in each case I’ve let the courses play me. I’ve played defensive and unfocused golf, trying not to make mistakes instead of just playing the game I played back in Arizona and trusting all the hard work I’ve put into my swing and game. I’m jumping at too many irons and aiming defensively. I’m tentative when chipping and putting. Instead of just focusing on where I want to hit the ball and making a good swing, I’ve psyched myself out worrying about how thick the grass is, how thick the trees are, and how big the bunkers are. Well, no more. I’m re-committed myself to playing my own game the way I want to play it this upcoming weekend. I’ve got a great partner in “Killer” Kowalski who is extremely talented, but I’ve got have the discipline, focus, and trust in my own swing to let him play his game while I play mine.

There’s a place in Paper Tiger where Tom Coyne is expressing his self-doubts about being able to play at the same level of the golfers he will be competing against at the PGA Tour’s Q School. Dr. Winters tells him that it all comes down to believeing in yourself, being able to, at any given point in time having the self-confidence and full commitment to say:

This is my ball. This is my time. This is my swing.

In other words, nothing else matters – not the course, not the competition, not the score you’re shooting. It’s totally about focus and execution. As Winters goes on to tell Coyne, you may not be able to control the results of every shot you hit, but you can control the effort you put into each and every swing. You focus, do your best, then move on regardless of the results. This is something I haven’t been doing and need to get back to for Goodboys Invitational weekend. I know my swing is there, I know all the work I’ve put in over the past 4 1/2 months has made a huge difference in my swing, now I just have to trust it and focus solely on each and every shot regardless of the outcome and what everyone else around me is doing.

I do that, and the 27.0 handicap is nothing more than a number.

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 21:38 | Comments (0)
July 16, 2013

[Dramatic music swells]

[Kelly] There is one test in golf that stands above all others, and at its core it all comes down to numbers. Three days, three courses, three states, one opportunity for immortality. Thirteen players. Six teams. Two sets of tees. Fifty-four holes. After which only one team will have the right to be called the top dogs, the big Kahunas, the kings of the hill. And, most importantly, crowned the new EXEC-COMM. Welcome to Golf Channel’s special presentation of the 2013 Goodboys Invitational Preview at Goodboys Nation weblog.

[Dramatic music swells to a close]

I’m Kelly Tilghman here with six-time major winner Sir Nick Faldo for our annual Goodboys Invitational preview show. There’s lots to talk about over the next two hours, so sit back, relax, open up a brewskie or two, and enjoy all the in-depth analysis and nonsensical golf-related banter you’ll need to get ready for this year’s Goodboys Invitational weekend. We’re here in Golf Channel’s tower overlooking the sixteenth fairway at Wentworth By The Sea Country Club in beautiful Rye, New Hampshire, site of day two of this weekend’s event, soon to be joined by Golf Channel analysts Brandel Chamblee and Frank Nobilo, as well as our Golf Channel Insider Tim Rosaforte – all of whom will be coming to you live from the Sheraton Harborside on the Portsmouth, New Hampshire waterfront, where the Goodboys will be headquartering just three days from now.

[Nick] Some would call it a headquarters for hind quarters.

[Riotous laughter]

[Kelly] That’s a pretty funny line, Sir Nick.

[Nick] Thanks, I got it from Gary McCord.

[Kelly] Brandel, Frank and Tim will be here to provide their own unique insights into what promises to be one of the most exciting and intriguing Goodboys Invitationals in years, and we might even hear from a Goodboy or two as well. Like the past few years, it is back to the beautiful New Hampshire seacoast where, for the first time in Goodboys history, they will play three different courses in three different states over a three-day period. Lots of threes being tossed around there, Sir Nick.

[Nick] Well, you’re right there, Kelly – this truly is something unprecedented for the Goodboys. They’ve played three-day events before, but never in three different states during that time, have they? Unless, of course, you include inebriation as a state…

[Laughter]

[Kelly] So true, Sir Nick. The Goodboys will be working their way from north to south this weekend, playing The Ledges in York, Maine on Friday and then here at Wentworth By The Sea on Saturday before finishing up at Black Swan Country Club in Georgetown, Massachusetts on Sunday. It’s pretty exciting stuff – you’ll almost need a road atlas to track their progress…

[Nick] …or a GPS system at least. I just hope the NSA won’t be recording all their conversations.

[Kelly] Or ours!

[Laughter]

[Nick] And of course there’s the new two-tiered system of play Goodboys EXEC-COMM has introduced this year where half the field will play from a different set of tees than the other: the low handicappers playing from the blues and the high handicappers from the whites. Unlike previous years, the best Goodboys golfers will really have their hands full and be challenged throughout the weekend to play their best. Should make for really exciting stuff.

[Kelly] There’s certainly lots to talk about on this special Golf Channel presentation of the 2013 Goodboys Invitational Preview. Stay tuned, we’ll be back for more after the break.

[Commercial break]
[Commercial break]

[Kelly] Welcome back to Golf Channel’s 2013 Goodboys Invitational Preview at Goodboys Nation weblog. Sir Nick Faldo, as a veteran observer of the Goodboys Invitational over the years, what’s the first thing that comes to mind as we frame this year’s tournament for our viewers?

[Nick] I would have to say the sheer uncertainty of how the low handicap players will be able to handle the pressure of playing from the blue tees all weekend long. For six guys – “Killer” Kowalski, “The Funny Guy” Andrusaitis, “Vegas” Clark, “Deuce” Doucette, “2 Times” Proctor, and “Hulkigan” Tripp – it will be one hard grind from beginning to end. The high handicappers in the group – “Skipper” Bornemann, “Doggy Duval” McLaughlin, “Goose” Dwyer, “Possum” Shepter, “The Great White Shank” Richard, and “Cubby” Myerow will still have to play their game as always, but unlike past years they won’t be able to hide behind the skirts of their “A” game partners because those guys will have all they can handle all by themselves.

[Kelly] “Hide behind the skirts”? That’s a rather sexist comment, isn’t it Sir Nick?

[Nick] That’s nothing. Want to hear some others? I can tell you The Funny Guy’s leprechaun joke. [Laughs]

[Kelly] Er, I think it’s time we go to Portsmouth and talk with our team over there. Brandel, Frank, help me – and Nick – out here! What in your minds is the one thing we need to be on the lookout for this weekend?

[Brandel] Thanks, Kelly. To me the big question is not how the real low handicappers like Killer and Vegas do playing from the blues – they should do just fine, it’ll be the #5 and #6 guys (2 Times and Hulkigan) who, if you look at the present Goodboys handicap index, are a good nine to fifteen points behind them but will still be playing from the same tees. To me it’s not a question of whether or not 2 Times and Hulkigan will get strokes off of Killer and Vegas – they will, but their margin for error is going to be a whole lot less because of their relative talent level. I think 2 Times and Hulkigan will have their work cut out for them.

[Nick] And let’s not forget that Goodboy-for-a-day Shep Davidson will be taking the place of “Hulkigan” Tripp on Friday while the latter jets his way from South Africa to New England especially for this event. I’m guessing Hulkigan’s nickname for the weekend ought to be “Jet Lag” because that’s what he’ll be.

[Frank] Exactly. It’s different from the higher-handicapped players who will be playing from the white tees. Even though from seven to twelve their handicap indexes cover the same relative point range, their margin for error is a lot less because they’re playing to lesser yardages and the relative difference in their games is a lot less. The focus, then, will be on the #6 and #7 golfers – Shep/Hulkigan and Skipper – because their handicap indexes and relative position within their tiers tell us they have a greater chance than the others to make an impact by playing better (in the case of Skipper) or worse (in the case of Hulkigan).

[Nick] Shep sounds like a dog’s name, doesn’t it? I can hear the missus now calling out the back door. “Here Shep!” I guess we now have two dogs in the Goodboys, Doggy Duval and Shep. Perhaps they can be called “Team K9”.

[Riotous laughter]

[Kelly] Let’s go to our Golf Channel Insider Tim Rosaforte for an inside look at how and why the 2013 EXEC-COMM of “2 Times” Proctor and “Possum” Shepter chose to implement this exciting, yet controversial system of play. Rosey?

[Tim] I spoke with Gaylord Pellrine, long-time Goodboys observer who also serves as council and the head of communications for EXEC-COMM, and he tells me this system of play had been under consideration for quite some time. I’m told 2 Times was the primary motivating force behind this decision because most times his partner Possum was off doing daddy chores and fishing, something he likes to do even more than golf. Possum recently caught a 11″ redfin pickerel at Ponkapoag Pond in nearby Canton, Mass. using a small white rooster tail about 1-2″ below the surface. So if there are any issues with the two-tier system this weekend you can bet the spotlight will fall squarely on 2 Times. Kelly?

[Kelly] Thanks for that, um, interesting report, Tim. Coming up next, our team will discuss the teams chosen for this year’s Goodboys Invitational and what they will have to do in order to win.

[Commercial break]
[Commercial break]

[Kelly] We’re back with Golf Channel’s special presentation of the 2013 Goodboys Invitational Preview at Goodboys Nation weblog. Let’s get to the team pairings, Sir Nick. They are as follows:

1. 2012 champions “2 Times” and “Possum”
2. “Killer” and “The Great White Shank”
3. “The Funny Guy” and “Cubby”
4. “Deuce” and “Goose”
5. “Vegas” and “Skipper”
6. “Doggy Duval” and Shep/”Hulkigan”

Are there any pairings that stand out one way or the other?

[Nick] To me the Vegas/Skipper team is one that really bears watching because, as I mentioned earlier, Skipper is the lowest-handicapped player in the lower tier, meaning he’s got a lot of potential upside playing from the white tees, and with Vegas rated right at the top with Killer you’ve got to think he’ll be just fine from the blue tees. Their games and personalities compliment each other, I like this team a lot.

[Kelly] Brandel, there are three players in the field tied with five Goodboys championships apiece: The Funny Guy, Doggy Duval, and The Great White Shank. Which of these three has, in your mind, of being the first to get that coveted sixth championship?

[Brandel] One can argue which of these players has a better chance than the others, but to me the one uncertainty is how each of these players will stand up to the sweltering conditions predicted for both Friday and Saturday. The Funny Guy’s chances, in all honesty, depend on the play of his partner, “Cubby” Myerow. As for The Great White Shank and “Doggy Duval” McLaughlin, both players have spent months integrating new swing changes into their game – The Great White Shank with his team of technical advisors, Doggy Duval with the Ben Hogan Five-Step System; the question is, when the heat is on – both literally and figuratively – how will their swings hold up.

[Kelly] Frank, you’ve got an interesting perspective on the Deuce/Goose team.

[Frank] That’s right, Kelly. As anyone who has paid any kind of attention to all things Goodboys knows, this will be the 17th year Goose has competed at the Goodboys Invitational without having won once. Which is really astounding when you think of some of the other Goodboys who have won. You’ve got to think that sooner or later, even if it happens by accident, the odds and the golf gods have to work in Goose’s favor, and with Deuce as his partner – someone who, by the way, has played very consistently over the years – you’ve got think he’s got as good a chance this year to get that monkey off his back as he ever has.

[Kelly] I like that, Frank – the odds and the golf gods. Sounds like a song The Great White Shank would pen for Stephanie Corby, his partner Killer’s talented wife. Speaking of that team, Rosey, you’ve got some thoughts on their chances this year.

[Tim] There’s no one in the Goodboys field who has worked harder or changed his game more than The Great White Shank. Earlier this year, he dumped Cobra Golf for Callaway, and then engaged Alex Black, the noted PGA instructor who works out of Superstition Springs Golf Club in Mesa, Arizona to completely revamp his swing. I spoke to Alex the other day and he tells me TGWS replaced the standard flex shafts on his woods with senior flex, dumped his long-time Dynacraft putter for a Ping Scottsdale, dropped his traditional orange Wilson 50 compression ball for Callaway Hex Diablos, and weakened his grip to encourage a fade rather than the draw he had been fighting. Alex says he’s playing with a lot of confidence right now and is looking forward to Goodboys weekend where he’ll have the benefit of playing alongside one of the best putters of all the Goodboys to help him read tough putts. This team won together in 2007, I think they have a great chance of doing it again.

[Kelly] Does anyone have any thoughts on “Team HaHa”, The Funny Guy and Cubby?

[Crickets chirping]

[Nick] You see, the problem here is that one doesn’t really know just how much or how hard Cubby has been working on his game. You’d like to think he has, but you just never know. The Funny Guy has really been playing well, and you’ve got to think he’ll hold his own playing from the blue tees, but will Cubby, and more importantly, his short game show up and hold up over an entire weekend? I think the jury is still out on that.

[Kelly] When we return, Golf Channel’s Steve Sands will catch up with a couple of the Goodboys and we’ll have everyone’s picks to win this year’s Goodboys Invitational. Stay tuned.

[Commercial break]
[Commercial break]

[Kelly] We’re back with more of our 2013 Goodboys Invitational Preview. What would be a Goodboys preview be without talking with a Goodboy or two. Our Steve Sands caught up with two Goodboys, “Cubby” Myerow and “Hulkigan” Tripp, who just happened to be partners at last year’s Goodboys Invitational. Steve?

[Steve] I’m here at Sagamore Hampton Golf Club with “Cubby” Myerow and “Hulkigan” Tripp, who just finished playing a practice round together. You two are not partners this year but I’m guessing the experience of playing together last year created a comfort zone where both of you could get your games tuned for this year’s event.

[Cubby] Once the Bruins season was over it was time to start thinking about playing golf with the Goodboys. Although it’s been hard to concentrate after that stupid Tyler Seguin trade. I also wonder how the Pats’ season is going to go now that Brady has lost both of his best receivers in Gronkowski and Hernandez. It ought to be cool seeing Tim Tebow in a Patriots jersey.

[Cubby shows off his Tebow]

[Hulkigan] Steve, this game and this event is all about tradition, honor, and integrity. I’m just glad to be here and be a part of this special group of guys. Cubby and I had a great time last year, and I’m sure he’ll do well with his 2013 partner The Funny Guy, as will I with my partner Doggy Duval, assuming that friggin’ Shep Davidson doesn’t f**k everything up. Oops, are we on 7-seceond delay?

[Kelly] No.

[Steve] What do both feel you have to do to help your team win this year’s event?

[Cubby] Stay out of my partner’s way and help keep him loose. Did you know the Red Sox are playing the Yankees this coming weekend? I can’t wait to see how the Sox do against them. It ought to be fun watching the games on TV.

[Hulkigan] Steve, for me it’s all about hitting fairways and greens. I know my partner is one of the more consistent players out there so I’m not going to worry about whether he does his job or not. I’m just gonna go out there and play my game, and, Lord willing, we’ll avoid the crooked numbers and be right there come Sunday. That’s all anyone can ask. Well, except whether or not that friggin’ Shep Davidon is gonna f….

[Cubby] Go Sox!

[Steve] That’s all from here, Kelly, back to you.

[Kelly] When we come back, the group’s predictions and final thoughts from Sir Nick Faldo.

[Commercial break]
[Commercial break]

[Kelly] Welcome back to Golf Channel’s special presentation of the Goodboys Invitational 2013 Preview at Goodboys Nation weblog. Time for our esteemed panel to make their choices. Guys, who wins, who loses at this year’s Goodboys? Brandel.

[Brandel] I’m picking Killer and The Great White Shank. Great White Shank becomes the first six-time winner in Goodboys history. I think Vegas and Skipper, and 2 Times and Possum come close, but Goose remains “Best Goodboy Never To Have Won A Goodboys Championship” and still no team will have ever repeated as Goodboys champs.

[Kelly] Frank?

[Frank] I like the Vegas / Skipper team but you can’t count out EXEC-COMM to repeat, I think they have a great chance as well. I think everyone’s sentimental favorite would be the Deuce / Goose team win but I just don’t see them winning. No one gets to six Goodboys championships, and still no repeat champions.

[Kelly] Tim Rosaforte, what do your Goodboys insiders tell you?

[Tim] Kelly, “Vegas” Clark grew up as an infant amidst the scrub pines and sandy beaches of southeastern Massachusetts and Cape Cod. He learned to play golf at an early age and played it well, but it wasn’t until he became a Goodboy that he started making a name for himself as the purveyor of the pigeon sheet bet. With “Killer” Kowalski manning the pigeon sheet this year it’s been a little quiet, but I can tell you Vegas loves the idea of the new two-tiered system of play and it’s really going to whet his appetite for making some fun bets and playing well. I think the new format plays to his and his partner Skipper’s strengths, and I look to them to be odds-on (no pun intended) favorites to win the 2013 Goodboys Invitational. Kelly?

[Kelly] And finally, my partner here in the booth. Final thoughts from Sir Nick Faldo.

[Nick] It’s hard to pick a favorite. I too can see Vegas and Skipper winning, but I can also see just about everyone else in the field having a great chance as well. The playing field has been leveled by making the low handicap players have to work harder for their scores, and you can bet the sweltering weather is going to have an effect on the field as well. If there’s a real winner to pick, it would be the Goodboys Invitational in general because, between the courses EXEC-COMM has chosen this year, the handicap system they have introduced, and the two-tiered system of play they’ve introduced based on that handicap, EXEC-COMM has made changes that will re-energize Goodboys for years to come. I give EXEC-COMM a polite golf clap for what they’ve done – I think it’ll make for great entertainment and a real challenging event for all.

[Kelly] Well that completes Golf Channel’s “2013 Goodboys Invitational Preview” here at Goodboys Nation weblog. A big ‘thank you’ to Sir Nick Faldo, Brandel Chamblee, Frank Nobilo, Steve Sands, and our Golf Channel Insider Tim Rosaforte for joining me. Have a great night, and as the Goodboys saying goes, if you can’t keep it long at least keep it straight.

Filed in: Goodboys by The Great White Shank at 03:51 | Comment (1)
July 15, 2013

“Golf is hard” — Dr. Jim Suttie

I don’t mind the occasional shot that strays off target. I don’t mind the drive that makes a beeline into the woods. (Well, I do, but I know those kinds of things can happen over a round of golf.) As much as they are exasperating, I don’t even mind the occasional (or not so) three-putt on a hard, bumpy green. What I do mind is stupid mental errors – the kind that, in the turn of a moment, takes a bona fide par or bogey opportunity and turns it into a scrambling mess where all of a sudden double or triple or worse bogey is staring you in the face.

Allow me to explain. I’m playing a fairly care-free nine holes of golf with a couple of Goodboy friends at the rustic, yet challenging Maynard Golf Club. On the par 4 7th, I duck-hooked a drive to the right on a dogleg left to give me a good look at the green. I dutifully grab a five-iron and leave myself just twenty yards in front of the green just short and left of a bunker protecting the right side of the green that sloped back to front. The pin was placed about a half-dozen paces from the front of the green, so I’ve got a pretty clear shot at putting it on or near the front of the green, then two-putting for my bogey five.

But what do I do? Without even thinking about the consequences about what I’m attempting, I get too cute and chip the ball towards the pin. It takes an odd bounce, jerks right, then finds the left side of the bunker. I’m seeing red at my stupidity, but all is not lost – all I have to do is drop it on the green and at worst two-putt for a double-bogey six. Not great for sure, but acceptable given the mental mistake I just made. Instead, I catch too much of the ball and it flies over the green, just barely missing from going out-of-bounds. I chip on, then two-putt for a triple-bogey seven, and two or three shots are lost forever.

On nine my inner voice is telling me to eschew driver for the relative safety of a 3-wood but “Doggy Duval” McLaughlin hits driver and tells me there’s plenty of room out there between a pond on the right and thick woods on the left. I pull driver and smash one straight into the woods. Not satisfied at the choice I just made, I proceed to repeat the same shot, this time another eighty yards further. By this time, I can’t see straight at my stupidity, so I drop a ball, chunk an approach shot, chunk another chip, and three-putt for a crowd-pleasing eight. In just two holes, I turned a possible 43-44 into a embarrassing 50.

I guess what bothers me the most at this point is the mental mistakes that will balloon a score from good to “should” in the span of just a few minutes. It happened at Trull Brook on Friday when, lying three just ten yards from the green on a par 5, I dumped an easy pitch shot into a bunker, then mangled a sand wedge and a couple of pitching wedges before turning an easy bogey six into a three-putt crowd-pleasing nine.

My Uncle Don mentioned yesterday that you can hit all the driving range balls you want but it doesn’t relate to getting around a golf course. And it’s true – driving ranges don’t know anything about hard or soft fairways, strategically-placed bunkers, woods, ponds, lakes, and greens that tilt back to front or left to right or vice-versa. And that’s where good decision-making comes in. You can’t teach it – it’s nothing more than, as Inspector Harry Callahan would say – a man knowing what his limitations are.

A week from today, my four-month immersion into golf and the Goodboys Invitational weekend will be over. As I look back on the countless hours of banging balls and chipping and putting at Superstition Springs Golf Club on hot Arizona afternoons I see the end coming as if it were an encroaching evening from the east on a late summwer afternoon. It’s all coming to a close, and there is precious time to put everything I’ve done and learned into practice. Now is not the time to start getting sloppy and making mental mistakes on and around golf course greens – when I do I’m just wasting all the time and effort I’ve put into this to date.

I’m learning just how hard it is for someone of my relative golf talent to shoot bogey golf. I can play bogey or less golf as I did today on five of nine holes, but if the other four holes are triple or quadruple bogied what’s the point? I’ve got five days to learn how to make better decisions on a golf course before the Goodboys Invitational starts.

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 00:33 | Comments (0)
July 14, 2013

One week to go before Goodboys Invitational weekend. Me, I’ll be out hitting balls or playing somewhere both days, gazing longingly at the Atlantic Ocean the other. In that spirit, I got this in a recent e-mail from my uncle, thought you’d find this as funny as I did.

NEWLY PUBLISHED BOOK ON GOLF

(written by an old golfer from a course in PA.)

Table of Contents

Chapter 1
– How to properly line up your fourth putt.

Chapter 2
– How to hit a Nike from the rough when you hit a Titleist from the tee.

Chapter 3
– How to avoid the water when you lie eight in a bunker.

Chapter 4
– How to get more distance off the shank.

Chapter 5
– When to give the Ranger the finger.

Chapter 6
– Using your shadow on the greens to confuse your opponent.

Chapter 7
– When to implement Handicap Management.

Chapter 8
– Proper excuses for drinking beer before 9 AM

Chapter 9
– How to urinate behind a 4’ x 4″ post … Undetected.

Chapter 10
– How to rationalize a 6 1/2 hour round.

Chapter 11
– How to find that ball that everyone else saw go in the water.

Chapter 12
– Why your spouse doesn’t care that you birdied the 5th, 6th and 7th holes.

Chapter 13
– How to let a Foursome play through your Twosome.

Chapter 14
– How to relax when you are hitting three off the tee.

Chapter 15
– When to suggest major swing corrections to your opponent.

Chapter 16
– God and the meaning of the Birdie-To-Bogey Putt.

Chapter 17
– When to regrip your Ball Retriever.

Chapter 18
– Use a strong grip on the Hand Wedge and Weak Slip on the Foot Wedge.

Chapter 19
– Why male golfers will pay $5.00 a beer from the Cart Girl and give her a $3 tip, but will balk at a $3.50 Beer at the 19th Hole and stiff the Bartender.

Hopefully you will find my book intriguing and purchase a copy. Please send on and hopefully more people will buy copies!!!
Thank You!

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 05:35 | Comments (0)
July 13, 2013

Trees. Lots of trees.

I had forgotten just how trees enter into the equation playing golf in New England – I’d gotten so used to Arizona courses where course boundaries are dictated by subdivision walls, or canals, or scrub areas, or bona fide desert. Sure, you have to keep your ball on the short grass, but the penalty for straying off target doesn’t seem so severe as when you’ve got these big green deciduous trees lining fairways – maybe they’ve always been that way, but I don’t remember them seeming so imposing.

Such was life at Trull Brook Golf Club today where I took my Arizona game back east to play with fellow Goodboy “The Funny Guy” Andrusaitis under far more Goodboys Invitational-like conditions than I would ever find in the heat and dust of the courses I’ve played this year in the Valley of the Sun. Driving over to meet TFG today I couldn’t help but wonder how my game would hold up under New England conditions with all the trees, elevations, and grasses so different than what I’ve played thus far. Would I be able to adjust to the greens? How would I handle chipping off of thick grasses? How would my game hold up playing with friends as opposed to strangers and/or playing alone?

As I say, the scorecard doesn’t lie, so after a 50 + 48 = 98 round I can honestly say the answers to the above questions are a crazy combination of “yeses” to “sometimes”. On the positive side, my short game was putting was pretty solid: 34 putts total, including five one-putts and three three-putts. Nine holes at bogey or better, including my second straight round with a birdie (the par 3 sixth, where I let the wind take a softly-faded 6-iron to ten feet before sinking the putt), plus two other fairly easy birdie opportunities that were barely missed. I may have only hit nine fairways but I still drove the ball pretty well all day, including a 230-yard blast on the tough, uphill par 4 third that left even me wondering what alien being had entered my body.

On the negative side, by and large I struggled with my aim all day and not trusting my swing. Not sure why it was – perhaps it was the familiarity with Trull Brook and the memories of so many trainwrecks in previous years, but too many times I found it difficult to concentrate and fully commit to the shot or the club I was hitting, and it cost me somewhere between 4-6 strokes out there. This is something I need to work hard on over the next week before Goodboys Invitational weekend begins: you get that sloppy in a round with friends and you might be able to get away with it; you do that at a Goodboys Invitational and you’ll get slaughtered out there. So there’s still much work to do.

Nevertheless, for the first time in my golf life I’ve shot below 100 two rounds in a row. That, at least in my view, is quite an accomplishment. It’s gratifying to see all the hard work I put in back in Arizona starting to pay off in a big way. On Monday TFG and I will be playing my absolute favorite course in the world – Portsmouth Country Club. It’s long and wide open but you need to keep the ball in the fairway and you need to bring your short game. It’ll be a good test to see if I can keep up the progress I’ve been making to this point.

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 02:12 | Comments (0)
July 12, 2013

“The only expectation that you can bring into a golf shot – the only expectation that works – is expecting yourself to pick a target with complete focus and clarity, and commit to that one, single golf shot. This is a Yes Mind-set, a Proclaiming Mind-set, not a hoping or questioning way of looking at your golf swing. You are going to have to accept your results and your scores for what they are. You have to start thinking about your success on the golf course as whether or not you gave your best effort on each and every shot, one at a time.” – Dr. Bob Winters to Tom Coyne, Paper Tiger.

My clubs arrived from UPS a day late but fortunately not a dollar short. As soon as I cleared out work for the day I was chooglin’ towards the World Cup Driving Range in Hudson, NH, eager to see if my golf clubs and my swing remembered each other after 2,000 miles of travel via diverse means and different directions.

I needn’t worry.

From the first swing with my sand wedge I was painting the 85-yard flag stick, one after another, so much so that the stick hitting balls in the area next to me (I found out he was preparing for a Nationwide Tour qualifier) challenged me to a gundown from various distances.

“Don’t let these shots fool you, I’m a 27.1 handicap”, I tell him.

“That’s OK”, he replies, I need the challenge. If you don’t want to that’s OK, I didn’t mean to interrupt your session.”

“That’s OK”, I reply, “Tee it up. I’m in preparation too, and I can use the challenge.”

So there we are, a 1-handicap stick and me, picking out various flags and distances to see who can get it closer. Of course, I’m nowhere close to where he can put the ball – he’s got a swing and a finish you just want to drool over – but the most important fact is that I wasn’t intimidated – I gave it my best shot and, in fact, on one 7-iron from 134, I bested his pitching wedge by maybe a foot or two. We had a good laugh over that.

Today was an important session for me, because it not only showed my swing found its way eastward along with my clubs, it also showed just how much work I need to do on my chipping on New England greens that are nowhere near as fast as the greens I’ve been playing in Arizona. Still, it was magical – the green driving range, all the big green trees, the humidity and the thunderclouds that hung over us threatening a rain that didn’t some until I had stowed my clubs back in the trunk of my rented Ford Focus.

Tomorrow I’ll be playing one of my favorite courses, Trull Brook, a course I’ve played dozens of times before but never with the swing and game that I’m bringing to it this year. As I continue preparations for Goodboys Invitational weekend the lessons I’ve learned from Dr. Bob Winters in Tom Coyne’s wonderful book will be both an inspiration and a strategy to employ going forward.

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 03:18 | Comments (0)
July 10, 2013

A few thoughts while enjoying the humidity of mid-summer New England and this delectable regional delicacy:

My golf clubs are exactly 3.7 miles away from my folks’ apartment at the UPS distribution center and I can’t get to them. So, going through withdrawal symptoms, I went up to the Golf & Ski Warehouse in Hudson, NH and asked for a small bucket of balls to hit a bunch of TaylorMade RocketBallz irons. Just to swing a club after nine days of inactivity felt like a tonic to the soul and senses. In my head I know I’m still working hard on my game – hard to believe that in just 11 days my golf quest for 2012 will be over.

It’s so summer here. You can’t imagine how enjoyable heat is without the dust.

What a cool story this is. You do what you gotta do to survive.

Two “Tradewinds” videos, here and here. Which one do you like best?

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 18:57 | Comments (0)
July 9, 2013

Today I’m heading back home to Massachusetts for the next three weeks. Good chance to work on my game in preparation for Goodboys Invitational weekend, spend some quality time with family and friends, eat some fried clams and froed scallops, look longingly at the Atlantic Ocean, enjoy the shade of some big green trees, and – best of all – get out of the Arizona heat and dust. While I’m enroute, enjoy this lovely little poem:

“A break in the heat
away from the front
no thunder, no lightning,
just rain, warm rain
falling near dusk
falling on eager ground
steaming blacktop
hungry plants
thirsty
turning toward the clouds
cooling, soothing rain
splashing in sudden puddles
catching in open screens
that certain smell
of summer rain.”
– Raymond A. Foss, Summer Rain

Hat tip: egreenway.com

See y’all in the EDT!

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 02:54 | Comments (0)
July 8, 2013

Which is the bigger decision that a married couple makes – replacing your bed pillows or replacing your windows? Both are big decisions. I remember legendary Boston talk host Eddie Andelman once spending a whole three-hour show talking about pillows (he pronounced them “peelows”) because it was a subject so near and dear to his heart. See, the problem with replacing pillows is that you get used to the ones you’ve had for so long, and by replacing them you’re allowing virtual strangers into your house and bed. Buying pillows is not easy to do. How do you test them out? Do you lay on the floor of the store and try one after another? Do you risk buying them online without so much as a trial test? And to make matters worse, pillows come in all sizes, shapes, and materials, not to mention price. And now they have pillows for back sleepers, side sleepers, and stomach sleepers. But what if you’re a combination of the two? And how would you know what you are? Or whether that $30 pillow is gonna feel better under your head than that $100 one?

Because we had two beds to buy pillows for Tracey and I originally went with the shotgun approach, buying three different kinds hoping that one would fit the bill. The side sleeper one we bought seemed to fit Tracey’s needs, but the other two kinds were thicker than the ones we’d been using by a long shot – I kept having dreams about heights all night long, and Tracey didn’t sleep a wink! So I went back to Kohl’s and picked out the very first one I had thought about buying the previous day because it was really squishy and you could shape it into whatever way you felt like any given night without it getting too thick. Voila! mission accomplished, and two good night’s sleeps.

Windows, while far more expensive than pillows, are yet another complex decision once you decide to pull the trigger. We replaced the windows back in the condo we lived in when we were first married, but that was more than twenty years ago and the choices one has with windows has only multiplied exponentially since then. All sorts of double-pane and triple-pane, and a wide variety of materials and tints and coatings to choose from. For us, the big thing here in the Valley of the Sun is keeping out the heat and the UV rays because of the strength of the sun. And we found a manufacturer other folks in our subdivision have used out of the local Lowe’s, so that helped with the choices as well. Because today is the big day for the installers to arrive, we spent the weekend taking down plantation shutters (inside) and the ugly brown window screens (outside), and clearing everything away from the windows both outside and in to make sure the installers have nothing to slow them down. There are fifteen windows to replace in 110-degree heat so we wanted to reduce the amount of prep work as much as possible.

We’re looking forward to being able to have natural daylight in all our rooms without the heat pouring through like it does now. We’re also looking forward to seeing what kind of an impact it has on our electric bill. Just replacing the old pool filter with a modern dual-speed solution back in May resulted in $40 dollars of savings on our electric bill in June; we’re hoping for similar results by having the windows replaced. Since buying the house we’ve replaced our attic insulation, A/C unit, and pool filter. The windows will be the last step in getting our house as energy-efficient as possible.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:29 | Comments (0)

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