August 20, 2013

A world that’s changing too fast for me:

This is the coolest thing ever. I don’t understand the technology, but it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that it’s all just a matter of scale – soon you’ll be able to create your own golf clubs or virtually anything with a program and the materials necessary.

Call it the result of an over-feminization of America. This is what happens when you put liberals and feminists in charge:

Across the country, schools are policing and punishing the distinctive, assertive sociability of boys. Many much-loved games have vanished from school playgrounds. At some schools, tug of war has been replaced with “tug of peace.” Since the 1990s, elimination games like dodgeball, red rover and tag have been under a cloud — too damaging to self-esteem and too violent, say certain experts. Young boys, with few exceptions, love action narratives. These usually involve heroes, bad guys, rescues and shoot-ups. As boys’ play proceeds, plots become more elaborate and the boys more transfixed. When researchers ask boys why they do it, the standard reply is, “Because it’s fun.”

Me, I rather liked playing dodgeball (we called it bombardment). I hated gym in general but bombardment was cool except for the fact I had to play without my glasses, which meant I couldn’t see anything or hit anyone. It tought you that life was a contact sport, that not everything was fair, and it was kill or be killed. You know, the way the world really works.

You know it’s bad when headlines like this don’t shock anymore. Between this and Red Sox broadcaster Jerry Remy’s son, you have to wonder what kind of evil has been unleashed on the world.

It’s truly outrageous that the western media isn’t covering what’s happening to the Coptic Christians in Egypt, even more so that the Obama administration doesn’t seem to have a problem with it. It just underscores the fact that modern-day journalism is dead, replaced by elitist liberal zealots who hate mainstream America and its values, traditions and laws, especially Christianity in all forms. And the same holds true for the Obama administration. Personally, I don’t think Barack Obama cares one bit about anything except playing golf and making campaign appearances to friendly audiences – you know, the perks of his office. Which is OK if that’s what he wants to do. But the fact that his lap-dog media lets him get away with it tells you everything you need to know.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 02:31 | Comments (0)
August 19, 2013

While this kind of thing comes as no surprise, he’s been pulling this act for years and it’s getting old. Last year at this time, the Beach Boys 50th anniversary was cause for real celebration: a reunion album featuring the remaining living Beach Boys far better than even the most jaded fan could reasonably have expected (spending time in the top 10, no less!). They follow it up with a world-wide tour and public appearances that are well-received across the board, only to have it end acrimoniously in public with a war of letters between Love and Brian Wilson published in the L.A. Times, no less. Some would have let discretion be the better part of valor and let sleeping dogs lie, but that’s not Love’s style: whenever he feels the need to publicize his phony “Beach Boys” gigs (like when Brian is about to release a brand-new album), he disses on Brian but doesn’t blame Brian by name – rather, it’s “mysterious forces” or “outsiders” or “Brian’s handlers”, as if Brian is just aching to spend weeks and months writing songe with Love but can’t. He’s been doing this for years and it’s a damned shame.

Fact is, if Brian thought engaging Love to write songs together would produce a better product than he would working with others he would, but Love’s talents as a co-writer are at best minimal and mostly banal, and Brian doesn’t need the hassle anymore. So instead of another Beach Boys album – which even Brian was jazzed about doing during last year’s tour – we’ll be getting one featuring Jeff Beck, Al Jardine, David Marks and others who appreciate his time and his talents. It’s too bad, but the vast majority of Beach Boys fans have come to expect no less from Mike Love. Transcendental Meditation may help you find inner peace, but it doesn’t prevent you from being an world-class ass.

……

A great article about one of, if not the all-time greatest rock song ever produced. Fifty years old, and Hal Blaine’s BOOM boom boom BAM BOOM boom boom BAM opening still grabs the ears. It’s arguably Phil Spector’s greatest production, and a killer example of what Phil’s “Wall of Sound” recording style was all about. While Phil’s recording was in mono, the version I’ve linked to is great because the mix helps distinguish the various layers Phil incorporated into the song, you can really hear the saxaphones and the background vocals. Any way you play it, it’s a fabulous tune.

……

It can’t be August and not recall Elvis Presley’s death thirty-six years ago (has it really been that long??). While I enjoyed Elvis’ music enough while he was alive, it wasn’t until after his death that I really got into his music and came to appreciate his talents both before and after his movie years. And even then, if it’s a lazy Sunday afternoon and you don’t want to clean the house and see an Elvis movie marathon on, how can you not pop some popcorn and just enjoy them for their fun, innocence, and clean humor. You can’t beat his gospel records, and while these are fine performances, my all-time favorite of his is the very last record he ever recorded. It simply doesn’t get a whole lot better than that.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 02:22 | Comments (0)
August 17, 2013

I’ve enjoyed this little self-imposed sabbatical while traveling to and from Atlanta. Lots of work that needed to get done after some serious software upgrades at my place of work, and all this typing isn’t helping my elbow which is as bad as it’s ever been. Gonna get that checked out on Tuesday. Still, it’s good to see that nothing really changes whether you’re blogging or not. I mean, the President of the United States is as bad in terms of outright lying to the American public as he’s ever been, A-Rod is as much of a lying stool-pigeon as he’s ever been, and the Red Sox need to start playing better if they hope to make the playoffs. What happened to their offense?

Still, it’s cool to know that an Area 51 really does exist after all (now Tracey’s going to want to visit for sure!), and that Los Angeles county can force porn stars to wear condoms. I wonder if that would stand up at the Supreme Court?

It’s still blazing hot out here, and the the pool is back up to 94. There’s a good chance for some monsoon thunderstorms the next couple of days, and my lime tree is bursting with limes. Dave, Rob, Jana, let me know if you want a couple dozen or and I’ll send some to ya!

That’s all for now, lots of work to get done. See y’all soon.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 11:09 | Comments (3)
August 12, 2013

Greetings from Atlanta, a town where I’m still trying to figure out what the allure is that so many people choose to make it their home. But more on that another time.

Congratulations to Jason Duffner on winning the PGA Championship and his first major. Everyone knows him for that famous waggle which seems to go on interminably before he finally pulls the trigger, but he’s got a great swing and is a true student of the game. He earned my respect when he made the conscious decision in 2012 to start playing some European Tour events, saying that he wanted to experience playing on all different kinds of golf courses other than the perfect tracts the players get here in the USA on a week in/week out basis. I can’t help but think that decision and his finally breaking through to win his first major are not unrelated.

I think it’s time sites hosting PGA Tour events start cracking down on the idiots who feel the need to yell stupid things as soon as a player hits his drive. It used to be limited to imbeciles who’d yell “Get in the hole!” after Tiger or Phil drove the ball (never mind the fact that the hole was a par 4), but it’s gotten to the point where it’s happening all the time and is taking all the joy out of watching golf on TV. This past weekend at Oak Hill was an embarrassment, but New Yorkers are a pretty – er, boistrous (I’m being kind) – crowd to begin with. Still, when you’ve got golfers and on-air talent complaining about it you know it’s become a problem.

I know what you’re thinking – every other sport plays in large venues where the crowds are going crazy and those athletes are able to do their jobs, why not golf? Well, I think in golf it’s a little different. First of all, if you’re acting like a moron and yelling stupid things at a baseball, football, or hockey event you’re pretty much drowned out by thousands of other folks in an enclosed setting (although I do remember years ago that guy at Tampa Bay Rays games being totally obnoxious without a large crowd to drown him out), whereas in golf you’re one of only dozens or hundreds that are in close proximity to the players. Second of all, c’mon, we’re taking golf here – pristine settings in the great outdoors and a sport that is more genteel in nature.

Don’t get me wrong: there’s nothing wrong with applause and loud shouts of encouragement when players hit a great drive. But these obnoxious clowns don’t care about that: the ball could be starting forty yards off track and they’ll still yell ridiculous things like “mashed potatoes” or something equally as absurd just to get heard on national TV. It’s too bad our culture has degenerated to the point where people pay good money just to show how immature and obnoxious they can be, it is what it is. But that doesn’t mean a few jerks have the right to wreck the experience for others who pay the same kind of money.

It’s time venues hosting profssional golf tournaments start enforcing codes of conduct on spectators who come out to watch. A few highly-publicized ejections from the course will nip this problem in the bud before it gets any worse – if it possibly can.

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 06:25 | Comments (0)
August 9, 2013

In his book Surf Is Where You Find It, champion surfer Gerry Lopez tells the story of the day he and a couple of his surfer friends ended up having afternoon tea at the house of another one of their friends, a well-to-do family on Oahu’s North Shore. The story goes that they didn’t quite know the proper way to behave when, famished after a hard day of surfing, they found before them a plate full of crackers and a very large cheese ball. One of Gerry’s friends, exercising the better part of discretion although his stomach begged otherwise, chose to take a cracker at a time with the smallest sliver of cheese, one at a time. The other friend watched this for a few minutes and, deciding he couldn’t bear it any more, cut the cheese ball in half and wolfed it down with a handful of crackers. A minute and another mouthful later, the remaining half was gone as well.

“Get it while you can, bro.”, he told his friends. It was a defining moment and a mantra they all took with them going forward in their own lives.

I tell this story only because it seems to me too many of us put life on hold in order to take care of things we think are more practical in nature. There are bills to pay, debt to pay off, and obligations we feel we have to meet. But you know what? Those things will always be there; they’re just artificial barriers we place around ourselves so we don’t have to feel guilty about not chasing our dreams or not living life outside the box we have placed ourselves in.

Life is short and precious beyond our ability to fully understand it. Those we love and care for won’t be around forever. What we have in terms of our own health and well-being won’t be there forever, either. The sands are passing through the hour-glass – can you feel it? Live life and all it has to offer to the fullest.

Get it while you can, bro.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 02:23 | Comments (0)
August 8, 2013

It’s early August, but even here in the Valley of the Sun there are signs that summer is winding down. Oh sure, we’ve got eight more weeks of heat and another month of possible monsoon, but the sun angle is not what it was, and as a result the pool temperature is starting to slide, even with the 100+ days. Today we dropped below 90 for the first time in a while; it will be interesting if the hot expected for the next week bump it back over 90. In pagan times, this was a time for celebrating the wheat harvest – me, I can already feel the urge to start putting the classical sounds of WCRI in Rhode Island and listen for some Boccherini. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves!!

I’ve always loved August. Back in our Dracut, MA condo days, the sunflower seeds I would toss out for the cardinals and blue jays during the winter and spring would have resulted in a line of beautiful sunflowers along our little back porch. Back in my teens, my grandfather’s gladiolus would be out in all kinds of beautiful colors by this time and we’d sell them by the side of the road for (I think) a dollar a dozen. Those were the days.

In New England the weather is changing so that whenever you get the humidity coming in it means lots of clouds and murky days. But all of a sudden, you’ll get that front that pushes out the clouds and brings in bright sunny days with that very first night that has a chill in the air. Aaah, it’s to die for. When that happens my Auntie Marge and Uncle Don, along with thousands of New Englanders, start making plans for their Florida winter getaway. For them it’s almost time to say adios. Here in Arizona, we start thinking about “Arizona winter”, that special time of year when you don’t have to shovel sunshine.

Here’s a lovely poem I think that sums up August and everything it is:

“A languid atmosphere, a lazy breeze,
With labored respiration, moves the wheat
From distant reaches, till the golden seas
Break in crisp whispers at my feet.

My book, neglected of an idle mind,
Hides for a moment from the eyes of men;
Or lightly opened by a critic wind,
Affrightedly reviews itself again.

Off through the haze that dances in the shine
The warm sun showers in the open glade,
The forest lies, a silhouette design
Dimmed through and through with shade.

A dreamy day; and tranquilly I lie
At anchor from all storms of mental strain;
With absent vision, gazing at the sky,
“Like one that hears it rain.””
– James Whitcomb Riley, A Summer Afternoon

Hat tip: egreenway.com

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 21:17 | Comments (0)
August 7, 2013

(Last in a very long series.)

It’s a rainy monsoon day here in the Valley of the Sun, a perfect day to close the book on my “Golf Quest 2012”. The 2013 Goodboys Invitational weekend is far in the rear-view mirror, my clubs are a couple thousand miles a way in Georgia awaiting one final round this year with my brother, and there’s work around the house and the backyard just waiting for Labor Day to swing on by. I’m not sure everyone has found all of these blog posts entertaining, but they have been fun to write and will be interesting to revisit some day when it comes time to pick the sticks up again and begin preparations for next year’s Goodboys weekend. When that happens, it sure won’t look or feel the same as this year’s once-in-a-golf-lifetime experience: while it’s been great fun and a learning experience, I’m glad it’s over. And my elbow sure doesn’t mind!

As I said throughout the 4 1/2 months while immersed into everything golf and improving my game, the scorecard doesn’t lie.

So let’s take one last look at the numbers and see what the evidence shows. At my first lesson with Alex Black, I told him my goal was to shoot bogey-and-a-half golf (99) or better regularly and to play well at Goodboys Invitational weekend. Looking at my scores this year, it’s hard not to notice a real line of demarcation between the months of April and May, when I was post-lesson and fully comfortable with my new swing, and after the first week in June when, upon Alex’s recommendation, I had my swing diagnosed at the PGA Superstore and exchanged my Callaway RAZR X driver, 3-wood, and 5-wood with A-flex shaft replacements. That same week I also replaced my old Dynacraft putter with a new Ping Scottsdale model.

So what happened? Here are the results of the six rounds I played during April and May:

Lone Tree – 106
Trilogy at Power Ranch – 110
Superstition Springs – 108
Trilogy at Power Ranch – 107
The Crossings at Carlsbad – 112
Western Skies – 112

Six rounds played, an average score of just over 109. Not only was I missing fairways and losing balls, I was averaging nearly 40 putts a round. Now let’s look at the ten rounds played since making those equipment changes. The results are pretty striking:

Superstition Springs – 103
Superstition Springs – 99

— the lesson where Alex changed my grip and hand position

Lone Tree – 90
Trull Brook – 98
Portsmouth – 100
Maynard (nine-hole) – 50
The Ledges – 102
Wentworth By The Sea – 108
Black Swan – 102
Cape Ann (nine-hole) – 48

That’s an average right at 100, a nine-stroke improvement over the final 1 1/2 months alone. See what happens when your big clubs complement your swing type? You start swinging more aggressively, driving the ball further, and hitting more fairways. When you add to that a putter that gives you confidence to start making putts, all of a sudden life is a beautiful thing.

Not that there isn’t ample room for improvement still. While those June and July rounds show I accomplished what I set out to do, I see in each of those rounds – and remember quite clearly – mental mistakes that cost me anyhere from a small handful to more than a dozen strokes per round. Anyone can make a poor shot from time to time, but there’s no excuse for some of the mistakes made, like not checking what club I had in my hand, not taking my medicine after a bad shot and getting out of trouble as quickly as I could have, or not committing 100% to every shot. Like Dr. Bob Winters, my de facto sports psychologist says:

“You can control the effort you put into every shot you make, results you cannot control.”

There’s also room for improvement with my short game around the greens. The one frustrating thing is that I never made the adjustment to thicker New England grass and slower New England greens; I kept coming up way short with my pitching wedge and leaving myself too many long putts when an 8-iron might have been a better choice to get the ball closer to the hole. While my putting unquestionably improved, I was still making 34-36 putts a round, and three or four one-putts instead of two-putting would have surely helped my scoring.

But that’s just the golf, and while this might be both interesting and a revelation to me it’s not the whole picture – if it were, this would have been a very empty and unfulfilling quest indeed. Golf can be one of the emptiest of pursuits because it’s such an individual sport. Banging balls on a nondescript driving range or away from your playing partners on the opposite side of the fairway, you’re the only witness whenever some previously-unseen exhibition of golf greatness reveals itself. There’s no ESPN Sportscenter highlight reel to savor time and again, just the self-satisfaction of knowing you just hit a great shot and a memory that will live forever. An when you pile up enough good holes and good shots to the point where even your fellow Goodboys acknowledge you’ve become a different golfer, a player, that alone is worth the whole damned effort.

What Alex Black, and through Tom Coyne’s book Paper Tiger, Dr. Jim Suttie and Dr. Bob Winters, gave me over those 4 1/2 months was the ability to enjoy golf for the game it is for the first time in my life. As a result of their combined wisdom, golf became a simple game. Since I only had to focus on repeating what they’d taught me when it came my time to hit, I was able to enjoy everything a round of golf with friends (or strangers) should be about – comraderie, the beautiful surroundings, and the challenge of playing a course and not have it play you. I don’t care who you are and how good a golfer you think you are – it’s no fun when you’re out there struggling, putting up big numbers, and piling up one bad shot after another with the course playing you for a chump. I know, because I’ve been there hundreds of times.

Last Saturday I drove over to Superstition Springs Golf Course one last time to report back to Alex my Goodboys weekend and thank him personally for everything. He asked me when I was planning on picking up a club again, and I jokingly told him next March when it will be time for my next lesson. We agreed that the next step is to tidy up my short game and spend more time working on shots less than 50 yards in. He’s confident I can improve to shooting bogey golf (90 or thereabouts) regularly, saying about my Lone Tree 90, you do it once, there’s no reason why you can’t do it regularly. He’s right, and I’m looking forward to giving it a try.

Within reasonable means.

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 02:12 | Comments (0)
August 6, 2013

“Queen palms are just like people.” – Gabe, Queen Palm Zen Master

Gabe works at nearby Whitfill Nursery and considers himself an expert at the Syagrus romanzoffiana, better known in these parts as the Queen Palm. They’re ubiquitous here in the Valley of the Sun, but most plant guys will tell you they really don’t like the soil here and, as a result, require a lot of attention and care if they’re to prosper. Well, those plant guys obviously haven’t met my next-door neighbor who, between his front and back yards, has a dozen of them and they’re all doing great. And he does nothing to take of them, knows nothing about ’em. He just leaves them be to sink or swim on their own. It’s a strategy they appear to approve of.

I’ve lost two of the three queen palms that were originally planted in a triangle facing out from my southeast corner wall around the time our house was built. We lost the first one about five years ago – not sure why, but it was always the runt of the litter and we figured the other two just overpowered it by taking all the available nutrients out of the soil for themselves. The second we lost this year as a direct result of my January water fiasco when one of Carmelo’s guys accidentally set the weekly one-hour watering the queens and my backyard bushes got to run daily, and the (at least) week-long deluge of water ended up rotting out its root system. Fortunately, the third one survived and appears to still be doing OK.

Tracey and I were trying to figure out what we wanted to do with the corner, and I thought of not replacing the two queens at all because – at least on our side of the wall – they’ve been such a pain in the neck to fuss over.

Enter Gabe, Queen Palm Zen Master.

This past Saturday, I drive into Whitfill on Saturday on a whim and see Gabe sitting in a golf cart talking with a bunch of workers on their lunch break. He asks what I’m looking for and I start to mention something about replacing my queen palms.

“Replace your queen palms?”, he asks. “Would you replace a family member you didn’t like?”

(Now actually, I can think of a couple-two-three so-called “family members” worth replacing, but we won’t get into that. Besides, Gabe wouldn’t let me answer his question which I figured was simply rhetorical in nature, anyways.)

“If you have a queen palm problem, the only solution is to deal with it from a queen palm perspective. Hop in my cart.”

Which I proceeded to do as Gabe drove me around to the area where they had dozens of queen palms in all sizes and prices. I told him my sad tale, and Gabe felt my pain.

“It sounds like your queen palm got waterboarded”, Gabe says thoughtfully. “People don’t like to be waterboarded, neither do queen palms.” I’m trying to wrap my brain around equating waterboarding Al-Qaeda terrorist suspects with an accidental turn of a watering system setting, but then again, I don’t love queen palms as much as Gabe does.

“Queens go dormant in the winter and even watering them once a week can lead them to stress. You were watering your queens too much in the winter to begin with. People like to rest after a long, hard work season, queens need to rest as well. So you gotta let them rest. Now during the summertime, that’s when you gotta water ’em – twice a week 45-60 minutes is good as long as your soil drains well. And you have to feed them – in March and in September. They’re picky, just like a beautiful woman is picky, so feeding them all year round can be a problem if you’re not doing it right.”

Gabe shows me his selection of queens, then we head back towards the entrance. I’ve been there only five minutes and I feel like I’ve met the Zen Master of Queen Palms. I ask him if it’s OK for queen palms to be crowded in, like my three in the corner were originally.

Gabe steps out of the cart into the sun. “See me? Do I like being out in the sun all by myself? No. I need shade from the sun and protection from the wind. Queen palms are just like people. You put a bunch together and they protect each other from the shade and the monsoon winds. Nobody ought to be alone.”

“Some mesquites don’t like to be planted near each other and touch one another.”, I counter.

Gabe practically spits his answer on the ground. “That’s their problem.”

Now I’m starting to get it. Gabe’s a people person and treats people and plants alike. I think he’s found the right business to be in, because he’s already convinced me to replace my two lost queens with new ones this fall. I’m hooked like a rainbow trout, confirming once again why car dealers always enjoyed seeing the likes of me walk through their showroom doors. I can practically hear the wheels in Gabe’s brain churning.

“Here’s what we’re gonna do. The week after Labor Day you’re gonna call my friend Chivo, who used to work here. Good man, stump remover supremo. He’ll dig up your two stumps and leave a nice hole for me. Then, you’re gonna call me and I’m gonna come over and see exactly what you have for space so I can pick out the perfect palms for you. Then, we’ll plant them for you and put them on a feeding schedule. We’ll get those palms feeling welcome and happy, and you’ll have a beautiful corner once again full of queens, eh, amigo?”

Gabe is clearly a man with a plan, my kind of guy. More than that, he’s right – our corner really looked really beautiful when we had the three queens there, and it would be nice to see the area restored to its original look. I feel silly for having thought seriously about replacing the queens with something else. Tracey was horrified at the thought.

Now everyone is happy – Tracey, me, and Gabe the Queen Palm Zen Master.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 03:10 | Comments (2)
August 5, 2013

At the end of Tom Coyne’s Paper Tiger – the insipration and my constant companinion during my 2012 Golf Quest – Coyne’s application for PGA Q School has been rejected, and he’s been reduced to attempting to qualify for the South American and Australasian tours. It has not gone so well. After the tens of thousands of balls beaten and putts practiced, all the sessions with his swing coach Dr. Jim Suttie and his sports psychologist Dr. Bob Winters, and the hundreds of practice rounds he’s played, while reducing his handicap to better than scratch (+0.4) he’s nevertheless finished near the bottom of the field in qualifying events. Still, the book has a happy ending: after missing the cut in Australia, he presents his fiancée with an engagement ring by the 18th green and they find a kangaroo-infested course where he’s playing simply for the fun of it while his bride-to-be flashes her ring in the sun and they count kangaroos instead of his strokes.

Like Dr. Suttie told Coyne right up front, “golf is hard”.

It’s a warm July afteroon at Cape Ann Golf Course, the bright afternoon sun slowly being displaced by milky clouds sliding in from the southwest as I scratch my way around this lovely, yet rustic nine-hole track. And like Tom Coyne’s final round with the kangaroos, I’m playing my final round of New England golf for the year for the sheer fun of it. There are no Goodboys around, no pressure putts, no expectations whatsoever – I’ve hitched up with a nice middle-aged couple, Jim and Maureen, who have graciously permitted me to crash their little afternoon soiree. No longer a Goodboys trying to put up a number, I’m just the perfect golf stranger playing my game, keeping up, not showing anyone up, just a casual round of golf with some friendly people.

It all seems so anti-climactic. Just a week ago I was knee-deep in Goodboys Invitational competition, completely focused on the task at hand, playing each shot one at a time. Same game, but entirely different when played in competition and your goal is gaining respect and putting up a number. Today, for the first time in months, there’s no competition, no agenda, nothing to work on – I’m just hitting shots when it’s my turn and complementing my playing partners’ good shots when it’s not. It feels so strange to be playing with nothing on the line, yet quietly exhilarating in its own way. It feels reassuring to know that when I have to bear down and make good shots I can do it: for example, a 30-yard sand wedge from deep rough over a bunker to two feet (sunk for a par 3), and a pulverized 4-hybrid after a skulled tee shot that helped me save par on a long, uphill par 4. Most of the time, however, I’m just playing for the sake of enjoying the game, not fighting with my swing, not a golf care in the world.

It was only after stashing my clubs in the trunk of my rental and sitting at the clubhouse bar over a cold Sam Summer draft that it began to sink in that I had accomplished everything I had set out to do this year. I had shot a rocking-chair 48 that featured a couple of pars, a couple of double bogeys, a few great shots, a couple of dumb mistakes. And it seemed so ordinary. My final hole served as a fitting coda to my 4 1/2 months of golf immersion, if only because it seemed quintessential Great White Shank golf – a smashed driver off the tee that cut off a dogleg right a tad too aggressively, a Mickelson-esque 5-iron from a tight lie under a broad maple to just off the green, a chip onto the green and two putts for a scrambling bogey five.

At the bar watching an uneventful weekend news broadcast, I thought back to that late early-March night when, needing something to take my mind off of work, I had absentmindedly picked Paper Tiger off the bookshelf and began leafing through it. An hour later, I’d decided to make Tom Coyne’s journey of several years prior my own and commit myself to a 4 1/2 month quest to immerse myself in a game I had struggled with for two decades and through maximum effort, education, and innovation see where that journey would take me and how good I could become. I knew it would take no small amount of time, money, and dedication, but it seemed something worth trying, if only to see where and how it all ended, and if I had the mental toughness to see it through to the finish.

What a ride it had been. I thought of all the swing changes and equipment changes, the lessons and the practice, the thousands of range balls hit in the Arizona heat, the dozens of rounds played, and, most of all, the people, places, and experiences that have made the journey so fascinating. If it were just about the golf and only the golf, I think the whole experience coming to a close would leave a sense of emptiness and deflation, but the feeling of self-satisfaction and quiet elation told me it had been more than just about improving the way I hit a little a white ball – it was about accomplishing something I had set out to do, enjoying the ride for the sheer experience of it all, and using my blog to share those experiences with others whether they liked it or not. 🙂

Now it was all over. I thanked the bartender, said goodbye to the pro shop attendant, and stepped outside into a glorious early New England summer evening. The clouds had dissipated and the sun, now low on the horizon, burned bright orange against my face and skin. I popped some surf tunes into the CD player, backed carefully out of the tiny lot, and headed out to see if I could find a place with fried clams and scallops that didn’t have a long wait (I didn’t). Instead, I found an empty ice-cream shop where I ordered myself a tall chocolate frappe and turned south towards home. There would be no more New England golf to play this year, but there was still plenty of New England summer left to enjoy.

Next: some lessons learned and a few final thoughts as to where I go from here.

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 02:11 | Comments (0)
August 4, 2013

Just a reminder about what what no one is missing when it’s a weekend in August.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 13:09 | Comments (0)

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