January 31, 2014

It’s been a couple of months since we’ve seen mourning doves each afternoon glide in for a sit-in on our wall just beyond the swimming pool fountain. There used to be so many doves that our neighbors houses used to look like planes taxiing on the runway at Sky Harbor, and come late afternoon you could have anywhere from eight to as many as a dozen or more all sitting on the wall, all taking turns fluttering down to the fountain where the water collects in shallow pools for a late afternoon drink and veg-out.

Then one day they were gone. Tracey asked me where they went and I told her that maybe they got a better offer.

Then yesterday afternoon I’m checking the new plantings behind the fountain since a few weeks after they were planted back in mid-September. They look like they’re doing fine, but I wanted to see how much moisture the soil was keeping on our reduced watering schedule. And that’s when I saw the probable reason why the doves had left. No dove carcass, but hundreds of feathers all over the place, as if a two-megaton atomic dove had exploded just above ground zero. I’m guessing perhaps a hawk had disrupted the usual afternoon coffe clatch and took one away (or maybe there’s the rest of the dobve on the other side of the wall).

I’m guessing the doves land there and see the feathers all over the place and it’s “Danger, Will Robinson!” time. I guess I can’t blame them – if I was hanging around a particular spot and saw the signs of mayhem and disaster I’d probably steer clear, too.

When I take my afternoon walks there are a bunch of doves congregating around the small public area down by the end of the street, and I wonder if those are the same doves that used to visit us.

Perhaps this weekend I’ll pick up all the feathers and see if they want to come back.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 02:21 | Comments Off on The Empty Wall
January 30, 2014

You remember that evil, homophobic Chik-fil-A franchise, don’t you? Remember, the subject of huge blow-back and protests by the gay lobby and the national media after the company’s owners dared – dared! to express certain faith-based beliefs?

Talk about living your faith in practical terms:

Once the snow started accumulating, [store owner Mark] Meadows closed the restaurant and sent his staff home. But a few hours later, many of them returned – unable to get to their homes.

“Our store is about a mile and a half from the interstate and it took me two hours to get there,” manager Audrey Pitt said. “It was a parking lot as far as I could see.”

So Pitt left her car on the side of the interstate and joined a flock of bundled up drivers trudging through the snow.

Some of the drivers had been stuck in their cars for nearly seven hours without any food or water. So the staff of the Chick-fil-A decided to lend a helping hand.

“We cooked several hundred sandwiches and stood out on both sides of 280 and handed out the sandwiches to anyone we could get to – as long as we had food to give out.”

The staffers braved the falling snow and ice and Chick-fil-A refused to take a single penny for their sandwiches.

The meal was a gift – no strings attached.

So where’s the homoerotic activists and their tools in the national media on this? I wonder if there might have been a gay, lesbian, transgendered, queer, or other who refused their given-out-of-kindness-and-good-will sandwich, or took it and spit in it before giving it back?

(Crickets chirping)

I thought so.

Read the whole story – no further comment needed.

You can draw your own conclusions and thoughts.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 02:47 | Comments Off on Where’s The Outrage Now?
January 29, 2014

Oh, January. No wonder you’re my least favorite month of the year.

Winter where it’s supposed to be warm. Slushy sharks??

Bone-dry where it’s supposed to be wet.

You have a State of the Union speech by a President with nothing to say and nothing left to offer clearly itching to get back to what he does best: waste taxpayer money by giving speeches to progressive zombies who think he’s a) still interesting and b) still relevant. Which he’s not – on both counts.

Now it’s on to the Super Bowl featuring the only player anyone is even talking about. Me? I only care about the wings and the guacamole dip.

Thank God we have stories like this to keep the flickering, boring flame of mid-winter alive.

Obama’s high school pot dealer who he thanked for the ‘good times’ beaten to death with a hammer by his gay lover after fights over flatulence and drugs.

Good times, good times.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 09:54 | Comment (1)
January 28, 2014

Let’s go 18 holes on whatever course you have in your mind and dreams for a little golf and non-golf thoughts and observations.

Hole #1 – Par 4, 402 yards, dogleg left: What this country needs is more Tiki bars and Polynesian restaurants.

Hole #2 – Par 3, 192 yards, downhill: If you wanted any further evidence that no golfer is immune from putting up the occasional big blowout number, all you had to do was watch Tiger Woods struggle mightily on Saturday at last weekend’s Farmer’s Insurance Open and miss the three-day cut. If the best damned golfer in the world can shoot a 78 on occasion then who am I to think I I’m immune from the same.

Hole #3 – Par 4, 357 yards: Looking for an interesting video on Tiki culture? Here’s Part 1 and here’s Part 2. Little did I know it was my parents’ musical taste (bringing home the “South Pacific” soundtrack that introduced me to Tiki.

Hole #4 – Par 4, 441 yards, dogleg right: The biggest part of my game that’s missing right now is my play on the par 3s. I went back to last Goodboys Invitational weekend and found I’m regularly playing the par 3s between +6 and +9 every round. No way you can shoot in the low 90s (or lower) consistently with numbers like that.

Hole #5 – Par 3, 181 yards, uphill: Here about that true-life demonic possession story out of Indiana? Really creepy!

Hole #6 – Par 4, 383 yards: This week is Waste Management Open week here in the Valley of the Sun. It’s the biggest sporting week of the year. The WM Open is the rowdiest week on Tour, and something I’d like to take in at least once just to experience it. But I’d only do it from the confines of a corporate tent – no hanging out with the drunken hoi poloi for me. Even if you can’t attend the golf, just hanging around Old Town Scottsdale would be an absolute blast – you’re bound to see a pro or two taking in the sights and sounds.

Hole #7 – Par 5, 586 yards, dogleg left: I won’t be seeing him much (I won’t be buying DirecTV’s MLB Extra Innings package since we’re working on our debt), but glad to see NESN color analyst Jerry Remy is returning to the broadcast booth this year. I understand his (and others) concerns about returning with his son awaiting trial for the murder of his girlfriend, but life at some point has to go on. While Remy may not have been the ideal father, in the end each person is responsible for their own deeds, and unless Remy was involved in the murder in some way – which he wasn’t – he’s just a grieving dad trying to get on with his life like everyone else has to do in those kinds of situations.

Hole #8 – Par 4, 441 yards: The Republicans are truly the Stupid Party. You have real unemployment somewhere around 16%, unemployment among African-Americans and Hispanics at incredibly-high levels, and these guys want to curry favor in the national media by flooding the market with millions of unskilled labor. What the GOP ought to be doing is looking out for the average American and pushing for policies that create jobs, not more labor.

Hole #9 – Par 4, 372 yards: To me, there are few things better than to spend a lazy sunny afternoon at the driving range working on my game. And to think, I used to dread practicing and driving ranges in general.

At the turn: Just thinking: a month from today I’ll be with a some Goodboys in Las Vegas!

Hole #10 – Par 4, 462 yards, uphill dogleg right: Not much of a football fan and follower, but most folks around here think Denver is gonna destroy the Seahawks. Lots of Californians with intimate knowledge of Pete Carroll’s coaching abilities, I’m guessing.

Hole #11 – Par 4, 360 yards: Golf is truly a humbling game. As soon as you get one area figured out your game springs a leak in another. Roy McAvoy says in “Tin Cup” that in golf “perfection is unattainable”, and he’s right. And that’s why I’ve grown to love it so. It took a long time, believe me…

Hole #12 – Par 3, 112 yards, downhill: Friday is Chinese New Year, the Year of the Horse. At Wynn Las Vegas it will be their biggest weekend of the year – between that and Super Bowl weekend it ought to have quite the vibe. Wynn really does CNY up big-time, and while I’m glad I won’t be there (I prefer not-so-crowded) it would still be fun to drop in and check it out.

Hole #13 – Par 5, 519 yards, dogleg left: Continuing hole #8: You want to further depress employment? Increase the minimum wage and inundate the marketplace with rules and regulations that stifle risk-taking and creativity. Geez, you’d almost think the Obama administration wants to create an America solely dependent on government. 😉

Hole #14 – Par 4, 434 yards: I haven’t watched a State of the Union address in years, and I’ve come to despise the whole event as political garbage. Kevin Williamson’s scathing post at NRO’s Corner blog describes the ghastly spectacle it has become far better than I ever could. It’s a must read.

Hole #15 – Par 4, 389 yards: My top 5 favorite courses, you ask? Well, Portsmouth Country Club has to be my all-time favorite. Because it’s so long you gotta have your tee game with you, but if you don’t bring your short game and keep the ball below the hole there, you’re toast. On a hot summer’s day there’s no place better. Second on my list is The Crossings at Carlsbad, a course I played last year. Breathtaking in beauty and set-up. Trull Brook is like a poor man’s Augusta National, always well maintained and a course where you’ll use all your clubs. #4 would have to be Trilogy Golf Club at Power Ranch – a local course I really enjoy playing as a challenge. And #5 would have to be The Port Course at The Captains – just being on Cape Cod, the scrub pines, a great set-up, and that crazy par 5 8th with that stupid pond at the bottom of the hill protecting an elevated green.

Hole #16 – Par 4, 417 yards, uphill: Sure, our feathery acacia is just about to burst with yellow flowers, but a true sign of spring not being far away is hearing Red Sox DH David Otiz complain about his contract status. After last year, I say give him a three-year at a decent number and let him finish out his career with the Sox. Big Papi deserves it.

Hole #17 – Par 3, 162 yards: With the wussification of the world all around us it’s good to see there are still a few “men’s men” out there.

Hole #18 – Par 5, 515 yards, downhill: I like a par 5 to close out a round better than a tough uphill par 4 when you’re trying to make a number.

19th hole: Hope you enjoyed this round, let’s do it again sometime!

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 20:40 | Comments Off on Let’s Play 18!
January 27, 2014

Sad news from the home front as we lost our rabbit Peanut the other day. She had stopped eating after breakfast on Thursday, and when she didn’t present herself well on Friday morning we took her to the vet and found out she had a stomach blockage and kidney and possible heart problems. She got the best of care but ended up passing away sometime on Friday night or early Saturday morning. She was only 5 1/2 years old – young for a bunny – and her passing leaves quite a void in our household.

Peanut came to us courtesy of a former co-worker who had seen her in his back yard roaming free for a couple of days. Given the time of year (June), she was probably an “Easter bunny” who had either escaped from her owners or had been let loose when she moved beyond the novelty stage (as, unfortunately, so many rabbit owners do, thinking that store-bought rabbits can survive in the wild, which they can’t). Anyways, the next time she came around to feast on Dan’s lawn he was able to corner and catch her (something I still find incredible to believe, because she could really scoot!). We then met at a local strip mall parking lot where he handed her over in a little cardboard box – a fitting start, since cardboard boxes would be her choice of sanctuary throughout her life. From that point on, Peanut was a force to be reckoned with.

Of all the rabbits we have had over the years Peanut was the prettiest. She was part lion-head, so her prettiest feature were the long strands of white and light-brown hair that came off of her facial area. And if you were lucky enough to catch a rare glimpse of her tail, she had a single lone spot of black fur there. As pretty as she was, though, she was a beast. Not mean to humans – we she barely tolerated as her food source – but to other female rabbits whom she hated with a passion. Whether it was Marble Jr., Little Half-Pint, Butterscotch, or, most recently, Marlie, Peanut reserved all her vitriol for rabbits of the female persuasion. In that way her behavior was almost pathological.

But Peanut had her suitors over time. For the short period of time their time with us intersected, The Big Nipper loved Peanut and would pursue her making soft, gentle grunting sounds. When my sister-in-law’s rabbits The Beastie Boys stayed with us for awhile some years back, we allowed them some time with Peanut and she didn’t mind their attention at all. But it was after The Big Nipper’s passing when we got our rabbit Cosmo that Peanut found the love of her life. From virtually the very get-go, Peanut and Cosmo were inseparable, and Cosmo is missing his mate mightily right now. Cosmo was quite the demanding bunny mate, expecting Peanut to groom him repeatedly at night even though you could tell Peanut thought he was being quite the a pain in the ass. Still, she put up with it and gave Cosmo all the attention he wanted until she would have enough and head for the litter box.

Peanut loved her Mr. Coffee box as her own little place of shelter, and even Cosmo knew that when she went there that she was not to be disturbed. The box originally had a cardboard floor and a left side, but Peanut customized the box to her specifications over time by, well, eating them. Peanut really never got the hang of being petted, and it was only in the last year or so that she would permit us to pet her a few times before she said “Enough!” and would bolt for her box or head under the office desk for sanctuary.

Peanut was a great rabbit and will be missed.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:42 | Comments (5)
January 24, 2014

A few items to close out another week while folks back East seek refuge from the snow and the breaking wind

This is kinda cool. Love this kind of stuff… a couple of those creatures remind me of Goodboys past, but I won’t say whom!

What an amazing picture. Can you imagine Muslims standing between Islamo-fascists and the Christians they are trying to annihilate to try and bring about understanding and peace? (That’s OK, supply your own crickets chirping…)

Looks like love wasn’t enough to keep them together. Jeez, you’d think at their age they could have waited another year to have a big blow-out 40th anniversary celebration before calling it quits. A lot of people don’t know that Toni Tennille is the only woman to have actually sung backup live on tour with The Beach Boys, back in the years 1970-72 when The Captain (Daryl Dragon) was their keyboardist and occasional arranger. His work is all over the Sunflower, Surf’s Up, and Carl and the Passions – So Tough albums. On the latter, Toni’s voice can be clearly heard as the highest voice in the “celestial chorus” following the instrumental break in Dennis Wilson’s majestic “Cuddle Up”.

With all the cold and the snow back home, I’ll bet my Goodboys friends would like to be watching the big waves rolling in on Hawaii’s North Shore. Aloha, Baby!

A rant on the falsehoods and general avoidance of the facts involving abortion by liberals and feminists by none other than Brit Hume. This ought to make waves and I hope it does.

Of course he will. Question is, how many people actually care anymore what the President says? When you’ve got a plurality of the American people who think his administration is incompetent and that he’s a bold-faced liar when it comes to Obacare and keeping your existing health plan and doctor, who will have the stomach to watch him blather on in front of all the clowns in Washington. Very few, I would gather.

I don’t know what else a guy can say about this, but the girl sure can sing. And not just her music, but her “making of ” videos are really interesting as well.

Toodles. It’s gonna be 72 degrees with some light cloud cover. Off to make my 10:50 tee time!

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:24 | Comments Off on Friday stuff
January 23, 2014

You know, there are times when I simply have to shake my head at some of the sh*t goin’ down in the country today. This isn’t a rant, rather, it’s really a question of what we have become as a people and what we believe in our hearts and in our minds collectively. Quite different from what people we consider our “leaders” tell us they want us to believe in order to achieve political ends, but what each of us – you and me, be we liberal, conservative, black, white, football fans, baseball fans, cat lovers, dog lovers, classical music lovers, hip-hop and rap fans. You know, what each of us believes in our moral core, in our heart of hearts, in our souls.

Look, people can disagree on just about everything – big issues, little issues. (I know that because me and my good friend and frequent commenter Jana do!) We can disagree on what is better for us individually and as a people. We can disagree on whether someone is nothing more than a head spewing political talking points or whether they truly have the interests of us both collectively and individually as a means to a particular end that we may or may not agree with. And I’m OK with that, really I am. I have good friends that are considered liberals (though, fortunately not of the left-wing loon variety), and I have conservative friends and friends that are either in the middle or clueless as to where they stand on just about anything (and you know who you are!).

I know what you’re thinking: why does he carry on so? Because there are times when I’m personally offended when someone says something that is so beyond the pale of stupid so as to give the word ignorant a bad name. I suppose I should know better by now that whenever the President of the United States speaks, he’s capable of saying something beyond ignorant, but I guess I respect the office enough that I continually expect better and am constantly disappointed.

To my point: here is the statement released by the White House on Wednesday, the 41st anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade decision regarding abortion (my boldings):

Today, as we reflect on the 41st anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, we recommit ourselves to the decision’s guiding principle: that every woman should be able to make her own choices about her body and her health. We reaffirm our steadfast commitment to protecting a woman’s access to safe, affordable health care and her constitutional right to privacy, including the right to reproductive freedom. And we resolve to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies, support maternal and child health, and continue to build safe and healthy communities for all our children. Because this is a country where everyone deserves the same freedom and opportunities to fulfill their dreams.

Where everyone deserves the same freedom and opportunities to fulfill their dreams. You got that? Everyone. Not some people. Everyone. A statement which I happen to wholeheartedly agree with. That’s why people from all over the world want to come here to begin with, BTW. America the place to plant their flag, to hang their shingle, to dream dreams, big and little, and maybe even achieve one or two. To make something better of their lives, for themselves and their children.

(Which is why, BTW, the whole immigration (legal and illegal) question is so complex. How do you offer a place where people can come and pursue their dreams while keeping out those who have no interest in bettering themselves and just sucking off the system or seeking to destroy it from within?)

But I digress.

It’s not just the last sentence, but the context of which it is made that offends not only my sensibilities and intelligence, but offends me as a fellow human being. It bothers me and offends me as a Christian because this statement is made by someone who is a husband and a father to two daughters; someone we’re constantly told is a God-fearing and religious man of the Christian faith. Think about his statement again.

And we resolve to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies, support maternal and child health, and continue to build safe and healthy communities for all our children. Because this is a country where everyone deserves the same freedom and opportunities to fulfill their dreams.

Does the President really believe that when a woman is pregnant there isn’t an “everyone” involved at some point in time if the pregnancy is allowed to continue beyond a point in time people can agree to disagree on? Is the mother the only one whose dreams count? What about the dreams of future generations? The hope of our generation? Shouldn’t a fetus or baby to be born ought to at least be considered in the term “everyone” as someone having the same freedom to have a life, freedom, and opportunity to achieve their own dreams? I guess not, at least as far as the supposed leader of all the people is concerned?

Don’t get me wrong here. I’m pro-life but am not a zealot about it. I just think it’s totally ignorant and morally wrong to completely deny the reality of what a pregnancy is, as if there’s no other life involved besides the mother’s. A woman doesn’t become pregnant with a brick. Or a firehouse. Or a 5-iron. Or a sixteen-wheeler. Or an apple. Or an Eades Diet. A woman becomes pregnant with the potential of life. A life that, if left to be carried to some form of term, should have the same freedoms, opportunities, and dreams we are all entitled to as endowed by our Creator. Abortion terminates life. Abortion doesn’t happen in a vacuum – that’s not a rake or a banana being terminated – that much has to be admitted if we’re truly honest with ourselves as human beings who can clearly see the human anatomy, physiology and genetics at work. Human beings who, BTW, were allowed by our mothers and others through grace, accident, or determination to bring us to full term.

To ignore that fact, to say a woman’s right to choose to abort, terminate, end, kill – whatever term you want to use – a life or future life (again, whatever you want it), ensure’s “everyone’s freedom” is not only ignorant and one of the most inane, stupid, and senseless statements any human being, let alone the President of the United States, I’ve ever heard said, but, when you think about it, one of the most cold, heartless, and frightening things anyone of us can think or say.

If this statement is what President Barack Obama truly believes – and I earnestly pray this is nothing more than just awkward wording or petty political posturing and pandering – then he is beyond grace, and a man without any conscience or soul.

But what bothers me more is the absence of any kind of real universal outrage – no matter what the political persuasion – at such a cold, heartless, and morally bankrupt and reprehensible statement by our Head of State. That, I think, tells me a whole lot more about we as a people than it does about whomever responsible for crafting it and approving its release.

Hat tip: Andrew Johnson at National Review Online’s Corner blog

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 01:07 | Comments Off on Where’s The Outrage?
January 22, 2014

A few random thoughts on a day when I’m pretty happy to be living in sunny Arizona:

Perhaps with all this diet-induced amnesia an item like this might be in order. Just kidding, but it’s amazing what you can buy at Amazon.com. If you want some great laughs, scroll down to look at the customer comments – there are some really creative people out there!

I need to get me one of these – if for nothing else than to launch during Goodboys Invitational weekend to keep tabs on the play ahead and behind me.

Whoops (my boldings):

James Dunleavy beheaded his mother in an “honour killing” as he believed she had shamed the family, a former friend claims.Irishman Dunleavy, 40 – a Muslim convert – was last week found guilty of killing 66-year-old Philomena, cutting up her body and burying her in a shallow grave.

He was ordered to be detained in the State Hospital at Carstairs before he returns to court for sentencing in April.

It has now emerged that Dunleavy may have misinterpreted the Koran and slaughtered his mother in an honour killing after she split from his dad.

Gotta love those wacky, extremist Muslims, huh?

…I wonder if New York governor Andrew Cuomo would consider Dunleavy’s actions as extremist and not worthy of New York residence as much as pro-gun and pro-life advocates?

Expect to hear more calls for this as time goes on. When it comes to abject lawlessness the Obama administration makes Richard Nixon look like a penny-ante candy thief.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:44 | Comments Off on On A Snow Day (Back Home)
January 21, 2014

Like the Enya song goes, my, my time flies. Seems like it was only yesterday that I was starting my Eades Diet which, for all intents and purposes, ends today. I’ve lost the pounds I wanted to lose and will take it from here pretty much on my own somewhat adhering to the rest of the Eades regimen.

Those dreaded whey protein “Power Up!” shakes? A mere memory(!). The magnesium and potassium supplements? Over. Those horrible leucine tablets that: a) never dissolved in liquid no matter how much you mixed and blended?, and b) were downright dangerous to try and swallow, even when cut in half? Done with. And along with them, hopefully, the insomnia which I don’t recall as bad last time as it has been this time around. Saturday night I tried to sleep without any sleep aid and was still tossing and turning at 3:40 AM so I took half a Sominex and didn’t wake up until noon. Talk about a lost day!

But the diet, the walks with 2 lb. weights, and the “Laplace in Place” exercises have once again done their trick. I’ve lost 8 1/2 pounds to get me back to the 160-lb mark which I hope never to budge from ever again. My middle is working its way back inward from outward, and I do feel better overall. Unlike last time, I plan on sticking with the walks and the exercises to keep me on the straight and narrow while really committing myself to eating more smartly so I don’t ever, ever have to go through this again.

It’s a great diet because, having done it twice, it absolutely works. A couple of weeks of misery and you’re on your way to better health and a thinner middle. And just because I have the insomnia doesn’t mean you will – heck, it’s not even mentioned as a potential side-effect in the book.

At any rate, a good way to start off the new year.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 02:32 | Comments Off on Here Endeth The Diet
January 18, 2014

“The Cleavage”.
“The Bunghole”.
“The Trench”.

Sounds like surfer lingo for the great local surfing spots, but at the Kokopelli Golf Club driving range they’re targets for folks to aim towards when they’re practicing. “The Cleavage” is way, way out there – more of an aiming point than a landing area, actually, where the juxtaposition of two large mounds creates, well, a small area of cleavage that makes for a real tight target for driving accuracy. “The Bunghole” is a big gaping hole that can play anywhere from sixty to 130 yards depending on where the hitting areas are set up, and “The Trench” is a long, low area along a series of mounds on the left side of the range that (supposedly) creates a natural boundary between the range and the first hole.

It’s an unusually warm Friday afternoon and I’ve snagged the best spot on the range – the far left slot. I like it for three reasons: 1) being a lefty, I don’t have to distract any “normal” golfer hitting in the slot to my left; 2) it has a slight downward slope to it at its far end, allowing one to practice hitting balls a little below your feet; c) the left-hand side of the hitting area is typically virgin grass left unscathed by the ravages of right-handed hackers; and, most importantly, d) “The Cleavage”, “The Bunghole”, and “The Trench” are all perfectly lined up for you.

I’ve paid my $11 for a large bucket, made a quick stop in the men’s room to dampen one end of my golf towel (only hackers walk over to the water bucket to dip their clubs in for a cleaning!), set my clubs up on the stand provided for my slot, and take a moment to admire how beautiful my Callaways glisten in the sun. For a brief moment I can imagine myself at some fancy Scottsdale or Gulf Coast resort, the weather is so perfect. Closing my eyes I take in the happy sounds of a driving range with the sound of whacks, whooshes, and the chatter of folks enjoying a pre- or post-round lunch just a couple dozen paces behind where we’re all hitting balls today.

Back in the old days, having folks sitting right behind me with nothing to do but watch people hit and comment on their swings would scare the bejeezus out of me, but those days are long past. Nowadays, not only do I not care if folks want to watch me hit balls, I almost crave the opportunity to put on a show for folks so they can see just how far I’ve come in just a year’s time. This time last year – before the Alex Black lessons, before Paper Tiger, before all the hard work, and, most especially, before the new move courtesy of that Rickie Fowler look-alike, I never actually knew what game or swing I would find whenever I hit the driving range. It was like Forrest Gump‘s box of chocolates – I never knew what I would find. More often than not, it wouldn’t be pretty.

Those days are long past and hopefully never to be seen again. Since that Rickie Fowler intervention my game has settled into a very nice, predictable place where all I’m now doing is trying to improve my consistency in terms of focus, contact, and accuracy. Also gone are the days when I’d just hit balls for the sake of hitting balls. I used to smirk at guys who would treat every ball they were hitting at some hacked up, sodapop valley driving range as if they were in contention down the stretch at Augusta National (who the hell did they think they were, Tiger Woods?), but nowadays I’m that guy, and if the folks next to and behind me want to smirk, let them – I’m not out here here to simply hit balls, I’m here to work on my game – with purpose.

The Kokopelli range is pretty crowded today. To my right is an old-timer practicing his woods and spraying them all over the place. A young couple is next to him: she’s learning the game and he’s patiently trying to teach her to get the ball in the air. As usual, the music playing is classic ’70s tunes, and more tunes than I can count I remember playing with my brother Mark back in our old Top Priority band days. Hearing The Who’s “Pinball Wizard” start playing, I can still remember the bass line I used to play and for a moment feel like the dinosaur that I am.

The feeling passes quickly, however, and its time to get to work. The left elbow actually feels good today: the 2-lb. weights I’m lifting while I’m doing my walks must be starting to help. And between the eight pounds I’ve lost and the inches I’m shrunk around my middle from those annoying “Laplace in Place” excercises during my Eades diet really show: in my teal Margaritaville “Poker in Paradise” t-shirt and bright white shorts I look and feel great. I do some stretching – another thing I used to hurry through – and take a few practice swings. I feel rusty from not hitting balls for two weeks.

My first two pitching wedges towards “The Bunghole” are ugly and fat, a cause for panic back in the old days but I know that’s just the rust. I can hear (more like feel) a table of guys snickering behind me, so I turn around and see them laughing amongst themselves. “Don’t worry, boys”, I tell them with an air of happy confidence, “the show’s about to start!” and we all share a good laugh. And then the show does start – three pitching wedges, three 9-irons, three 8-irons, all dropped into “The Bunghole”, all featuring a similar high lovely fade trajectory (complete with the same “Vogue” posing I’ve cultivated from all my recent hard work. I may not be Phil Mickelson out there, but the guys aren’t sickering anymore.

I’ve got my routine down pat. Place ball on ground. Take five steps back and pick out my target, then then find a spot 3-5 feet in front of the ball that I can use for a aiming point. Keep my eye on that spot as I walk towards the ball and take my address. One look at the target again to visualize how I want the shot to look, a sight move left with my upper body to square up, then make my swing, clearing out the hips as I come through in order to strike the ball crisply. Hold the high finish no matter if the ball is struck pure or sculled fifty feet. Wipe the clubface off with my towel, then repeat as many times as necessary to make three good shots in a row.

Today my 7-iron is misbehaving for some reason, so it takes ten balls to hit three in a row to the target I planned. But the 6- and 5-irons seem to me the best I’ve ever hit with close clubs – six balls perfectly struck “on the screws” into the middle of The Trench, around and beyond the 150-yard marker, right where I aimed. Before I hit my irons (especially the 5 and 6), I’ve taken to saying to myself “let the club do the work” since I’m prone to overswinging with them. (The biggest hole in my game right now is on par 3 holes where all too often I’m jumping at the ball, leading to mis-hits and big numbers. If I want to break 90 I can’t be shooting rounds where I’m +6 or higher on the par 3s!)

I take a long swig of water and walk over to a nearby shady spot for a break. The driving range was once the most nerve-wracking and anxiety-ridden place on the face of the earth; now it’s a place for inner peace, enjoyment, and personal satisfaction. I take a few minutes to watch the mourning doves scurrying around and a bunch of water-birds doing laps in the lake by the first hole. I take in a few deep breaths of clean desert air and do a “Laplace in PLace” exercise while watching the sun glisten off the water; I feel as if I’m in a small slice of paradise right here on earth. Knowing I’m better shape physically has really made a difference in the way I feel mentally (the fact I’m now finished with those dreadful two-a-day whey protein shakes doesn’t hurt either, I can tell you that!).

Time to get back to work. I pull the socks off my 3- and 4-hybrids and start tattooing one ball after another using The Cleavage as my target. These clubs still need a little work – my big miss is a slice left – but with each range session I’m getting more and more accurate and consistent. For whatever reason, the four seems to misbehave more than the three, the latter of which I proceed to stripe on the screws five in a row. As with all my other clubs, before they’re put back in the bag they all get a nice wipe-down with the towel: first the wet side, then the dry.

It’s on to my fairway woods, and now my focus changes. I’m no longer just hitting shots towards The Cleavage, I play a game with myself by envisioning the more difficult holes I’ve played that I’m most familiar with as well. For example, #3 at Trull Brook. Or #12 and #14 at Passaconaway, or #7 at Butter Brook, #14 at Superstition Springs, #18 at The Ledges, those narrow par 5s on the back nine at Wentworth By The Sea – each gets their own turn in my focused fantasy game.

As I’ve been doing since that encounter with the Rickie Fowler wannabe, all my trajectories from my 5-wood, 3-wood, and driver seem mind-numbingly the same: they start out straight and high, then as they start to fade slightly left, the ball appears to drop out of the sky like a quail bagged with a 30 odd six. It’s an optical illusion, of course, because the ball isn’t just dropping out of the sky, it’s still devouring yards like Obamacare with with folks’ pre-existing medical plans. I’m not sure how many yards I’ve gained since deploying this new move – it’s more than a few – but it’s the consistency and accuracy I’m looking for the most and achieving every time out.

My bucket is done, so I head off towards the chipping area and putting green where I will spend the next two hours. Fellow Goodboy “Vegas” Clark wants me to focus on five-footers placed around all kinds of holes and holeing ten in a row before I move on to the next one, so I do that for an hour. Then it’s over to the sand trap where I hit fifty balls in an attempt to perfect my sand game; I figure out my recent problems there have all been the result of over-swinging. Then it’s over to the chipping area where I lose count of hitting 60-degree lob wedges and pitching wedges from all kinds of angles and heights. No more than twenty feet away from me is someone’s back yard, and a handsome young couple (the wife is a stunning blonde) are having martinis on their patio. I feel as if I’m in Vegas. Two worlds separated by a single wrought-iron fence.

I’ve been out here for more than three hours and the sun is starting to dip behind the horizon. I feel the first cool dampness of approaching dusk on my skin and pack up my things. Kokopelli has a lighted driving range, so as I walk towards my car I say hello to a couple of guys heading in for their own range sessions. If my diet allowed alcohol, it would be a perfect time to stop at the grill, order up a burger and a glass of pinot grigio, then take my turn watching others hit, but that’ll have to wait for another time. As I stow my clubs in the trunk, I think back on a good day, a productive day, and really feel as if I’m close to taking the next step in my goal of playing in the 90s consistently and breaking 90 on occasion. I’m a month away from Vegas, and next week I’ll play a round at Lone Tree to take the next measure of where things stand.

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 13:49 | Comments Off on A Day At The Range


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