February 10, 2014

I remember what early February used to be like back home in Massachusetts. Snow piles everywhere. Scraping windshields in the early morning chill under rose-colored skies. Salt and sand-covered sidewalks and parking lots. The only activity on a golf course would be when me and my old Goodboys pal “Doc” Frechette (may he rest in peace) would go cross-country skiing across fairways and holes virtually unrecognizable covered in white.

The problem with early February back home is that, while you can tell the days are getting longer, the sun isn’t strong enough to do serious melting and the days and nights are still damned cold. I remember those days all too well and am glad that early February here in the Valley of the Sun is far more tolerable. heck, this coming week we’re supposed to be in the low to mid-80s. Nothing wrong with that. In fact, I’m planning on hitting balls several times to soak up some warmth. Tonight was the first time I pushed back our landscaping lights, so spring cannot be far behind.

This normally would be the weekend I’d be in Vegas with my Goodboy friends but this year we decided to push our trip back three weeks to hopefully take advantage of some better weather and warmer temperatures. Not sure how well that strategy will play out, but to all my Goodboys friends I offer up this Jimmy Buffett tune to make you long for warm summer days and a chilled Sam Adams Summer Ale to share over some good Goodboys golf talk.

As it turns out, February, my New England home, and Jimmy Buffett tune all intersect in “Boat Drinks”. This from Wikipedia:

The song was written in February 1979, while Jimmy was homesick in Boston. In the 1992 box set Boats, Beaches, Bars & Ballads, Buffett writes:

It was February in Boston, and I was cold and wanted to go home. Rum and tonic was the antifreeze, and the newspaper was full of ads for warmer climates. I was in a place owned by Derek Sanderson, who was a very famous player for the Boston Bruins in the ’70s. I came out of the bar and couldn’t find a cab except for the one that was running in front of the nearby hotel. There was no driver in it, and I was too cold to care about the consequences. There is an old Navy expression which says, ‘Beg forgiveness, not permission.’ I hopped in and drove back to my hotel. I did leave the fare on the seat.

So enjoy this tune for what it’s worth. Miss you guys and can’t wait to see you – the winter conditions aside, it won’t be long till we’re all back together again.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:51 | Comments (0)
February 8, 2014

…that Sgt. Pepper got the band to conquer America. I was a wee bit too young to appreciate the arrival of The Beatles and don’t recall seeing them on those initial Ed Sullivan shows, but I do remember clearly reading in our local newspaper about “Beatlemania” riots across Britain and Sweden ahead of their arrival.

The NY Daily News has a wonderful commemorative online section commemorating The Beatles arrival in America and that crazy two weeks that changed the face of popular music in America forever. Out went surf music, Phil Spector’s “Wall of Sound”, and Elvis, and in came the British Invasion that changed everything from pop music to pop culture. Things would never be the same again.

Hard to believe – fifty years ago, this weekend. I’m getting old.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 02:34 | Comments (0)
February 7, 2014

We’re five months away from the 24th annual Goodboys Invitational in July (say, I wonder what plans will be made to celebrate our 25th??) and here are the handicaps as they currently stand:

“Vegas” Clark…………….. 6.7
“Killer” Kowalski…………. 6.9
“2 Times” Proctor………… 13.7
“The Funny Guy” Andrusaitis.. 13.8
“Deuce” Doucette…………. 15.4
“Hulkigan” Tripp…………. 18.7
“Skipper” Bornemann………. 20.2
“Goose” Dwyer……………. 21.6
“Doggy Duval” McLaughlin….. 23.0
“Possum” Shepter…………. 25.3
“The Great White Shank” Richard.. 25.9
“Cubby” Myerow…………… 35.8

Slowly but surely I’m making my way down the handicap index (if not yet up the leaderboard). Today’s 100 at Lone Tree Golf Club (under, by the way, the coolest conditions I’ve ever played in Arizona – it never got out of the 50s and the gray skies reminded me of an early New England spring day) was full of signs of good progress with the usual array of mistakes that really cost me.

As with all my rounds of late it’s hard to separate the good news from the bad. Once again I hit a ton of fairways (11) but hit only three greens in regulation. While I hit my hybrids as good as I’ve ever hit them, my 5-wood continues to be a problem child. While the new move with my irons showed great improvement over last time, I still ended up playing the par 3s at +9 which is really killing me at the box office. While my chipping continues to shine around the greens, today I couldn’t hit my lob(ster) wedge to save my life, and it cost me a minimum of five strokes. While my putting continues to improve (only 32 putts and four one putts) I three-putted a couple of greens where I could have saved bogey or better.

Like Dr. Jim Suttie tells his student Tom Coyne in Paper Tiger, golf is hard. There’s always something creeping into your game, like that unwanted guest that shows up at your house party at 11 PM and won’t go home. The past two times out (both at Lone Tree) it’s been my play on 18 that has absolutely destroyed a good round. Now maybe 18 (a par generous 5 with lots of water right, then left) is just a hole that gets in my head, but still. Last time out I hit a decent drive, then dropped two successive 5-woods into the water leading to a double-par 10. Today, my first attempt at driver was a shank that almost decapitated an electric-blue Corvette as it buzzed by us. My second attempt hit a palm tree to our left dead on and almost decapitated a playing partner. By this time we were laughing so hard it was virtually impossible for me to hit anything straight. So I didn’t. While my eighth shot (a 3 hybrid from 190) was pure, almost hitting the stick, the damage had been done, and another double par turned what could have been a rocking-chair 47 or 48 back nine ended up as an ugly 52.

The fact I can call a 52 ugly shows you just how far I have come. And even though I shot 100, my handicap index still dropped below 26 for the first time. I’m now a mere 7/10 of a point from passing “Possum” Shepter, and I’ve already got my eyes on seeing how close I can get to “Doggy Duval” McLaughlin before this years Goodboys Invitational.

So I’m making progress. Like the saying goes, I wish just once I could play my usual game. 🙂 Next week it will be back to Kokopelli Golf Club for a full afternoon of ball-striking and short game work, followed by an afternoon of intense short game work at Superstition Springs. As far as I’ve come there is still a long way to go. I can’t wait.

Filed in: Goodboys by The Great White Shank at 00:39 | Comments (0)
February 6, 2014

A few links-related thoughts and observations while golf season seems far, far away for my Goodboys friends:

So now Tiger’s messing with his grip to fix his poor play in 2014?

“A quick little fix to my grip and that was all good, and the driving was something that I didn’t really do very well last week. This weekend, nice to be able to start piping it out there again and getting it out there with the big boys, when I didn’t have my grip right,” he said. “I throttled back a little bit, try to get the ball in play, and just don’t hit it as far.”

Is that right? A player of Tiger’s caliber messing with his grip? I thought you never messed with your grip. Could be that Tiger’s just doing the usual off-handed blather with the media because they know – and he knows – they’ll just lap it up as gospel, but that still doesn’t right to me.

Today I’ll be playing my first round after ditching once and for all the orange Wilson 50s I’ve been playing for years. It’s been a long tradition for The Great White Shank to play with orange golf balls, but it’s time to call it a day, grow up, and play like a real man. 🙂 Last Goodboys weekend I played Callaway Hex Diablos and really liked the feel and added distance I got off them, and I used a couple of Christmas gift cards to buy a couple dozen of Callaway’s new Hex Hot Pros. I still had a whole bunch of orange balls left, however, and it has only been through attrition that I’m now down to five – count ’em, five – of the Wilsons. Those I plan on keeping around for practice.

I used to really enjoy watching Bubba Watson play golf but his play and act have started to get really old. No one can deny he can really bomb the ball, but it seems to me he spends as much time pointing right after a double-crossed tee shot as he does playing sloppy golf around the greens. That big open stance and swinging out of his shoes actually hurts my eyes, because that’s what I used to do, and I’ve worked really hard to eliminate those bad habits from my own game. And I don’t get him having his caddy read his putts for him – I mean, that’s stupid. Of course, when he misses six- and eight-footers then glares at his caddy as if it was his fault – well, he ought to look down and see who’s actually the one holding the putter. There’s no doubt he’s one talented golfer, but I just don’t enjoy watching him anymore.

This weekend it’s the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-am. Beautiful location to watch golf being played but the tournament itself is a snoozer. SBNation’s golf blog is right to question exactly who the celebrities are that are supposed to attract attention: do I really care to watch Kenny G or Huey Lewis or Chris Berman play golf? Not really. And the fact that Bill Murray isn’t there this year doesn’t bother me a bit – he, like his act – like us all, for that matter, is getting kinda old. Still, it is Pebble Beach and there’s bound to be some good golf played.

So I decided after my last round at Lone Tree Golf Club that it was time to incorporate that new downswing and follow-through I’ve been using with my hybrids and woods into my iron play. I had been hesitant to make the switch, but my abysmal par 3 play over the past several months finally convinced me it was time to make the same swing with every club in the bag and let the club’s length and loft do the rest. I’ve spent the last two weeks working hard on my irons and I’m feeling pretty confident about the change and the results I’m seeing. Now it’s time to, as they say, take it to the course. Will it make a difference? We’ll soon see.

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 03:58 | Comments (2)
February 5, 2014

I feel bad for my family and friends back in Massachusetts, and Jana back in Louisville – this has been one awful winter. Storms, storms, and more storms to come. Not much I can do about it (unless anyone wants to take advantage of our guest bedroom) but I did find this YouTube video of a beach with the lovely sounds of waves. Skip the ad at the beginning, close your eyes, and enjoy nearly three hours of waves spilling up along a deserted shore.

If you prefer something a little more tropical, here you go. Just as nice.

It’s music to my ears out here in the sun-drenched and water-parched Valley of the Sun, hope it is to yours as well.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 12:38 | Comments (2)
February 4, 2014

See those headlines the other day about the ongoing drought out here in the West, especially in California? Lake Mead, the massive reservoir outside of Las Vegas that provides much of the water for Nevada, Arizona, and California is down like 20 feet from where it should be, and the warning signs are around that unless we get a change in the winters from the relatively dry last few years there could be a real water cruch around these parts. What to do? What to do?

There are folks around who think the solution is to drain Lake Powell and fill Lake Mead with its contents. Don’t know how viable or wise a solution that would be.

Here’s the thing I don’t understand. I’m just 4 hours from the Gulf of California and 5 1/2 hours drive from the Pacific Ocean – neither an insignificant body of water, right? – so why hasn’t anyone figured out large-scale desalination of ocean water as a long-term solution for the Great American Southwest? I mean, the technology is there – it’s used to cool nuclear plants, right? And it’s not as if someone hasn’t thought of this already. It can be done. And screw the damned environmentalists – it this ought to be just a start, what’s needed is the same thing in greater numbers or on an even larger scale than anyone could imagine.

There’s so much attention paid to highway infrastructure and stupid light rail, why can’t that energy and those dollars be spent creating a massive water infrastructure that would supply the West with all the water it could possibly need for the rest of life as we know it? And while we’re at it, why not use Great Lakes water to feed the Ogalalla Aquafier and prevent that from drying up as well? It’s not like the water is gonna disappear – water is everywhere and constantly going everywhere. And, like Yoko Ono once sang, we’re all water too.

Hell, we sent a man to the moon, didn’t we? Like Marvin Gaye once sang, let’s get it on.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:19 | Comments (0)
February 3, 2014

…the Broncos (the post title a nod to a great horse) in the Super Bowl. Didn’t see a minute of it – instead, after spending the better part of the day winter cleaning (this past weekend was the east side of the house, next weekend it’s the west side), I hit a small bucket of balls then watched the finish of the Waste Management Open and Bubba Watson tossing a virtual sure-win away with some poor play on the final hole to give Kevin Stadler his first PGA Tour win. More on that in a later post.

The whole thing about the Super Bowl is that every year it’s less and less about a football game and more of an event than anything else. The lop-sided score will be something everyone remembers for a while, but a year from now – never mind two years – will anyone be able to remember a single commercial amongst what sounds like a mighty bland set of offerings? Or who performed at halftime? Makes you wonder about the millions upon millions of dollars spent by the NFL, taxpayers, advertisers, and all sorts of other folks to put it together.

The Super Bowl does serve one important purpose, I guess, which is to fill the void between the holidays and Valentine’s Day and give folks a reason to gather around while it’s winter for most of the nation. And it definitely helps the food industry in every possible way, which is also a good thing. Next year, the Super Bowl XLIX (love those Roman numerals!) is out here in AZ and folks here are already ramping up to give them a good show. Between the Waste Management Open (where they broken an all-time attendance record this year) and the Super Bowl, the Valley of the Sun will definitely be where it’s all rockin’ the first weekend of next February.

UPDATE: Re: my link to a post about the Super Bowl commercials. If you live in the Savannah, GA market you got to see this one. Wow! If I lived in that market and needed a personal injury lawyer, you know who I would call. Just awesome.

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 10:45 | Comments (0)
February 1, 2014

It’s a chilly weekend back East and the weather pattern of above-average temps has finally broken here in the Valley of the Sun. Looking for a sound to bring lovely thoughts of flowers, sunshine, and ocean? One of my favorite female vocalists is Hawaiian singer Robi Kahakalau. She has sung with the Hawaiian Style Band and others, and I find her voice a breath of fragrant air whenever I hear it. Here are a few samples for you to enjoy:

No Ke Ano Ahiahi is one song she’s quite well known for. You can’t listen to this song and stay in a bad mood! And it sounds just as good live – I just love her smiling eyes.

Pi’i Mai Ka Nalu is another.

Himene Tatarahapa makes you wish you were back in the islands watching the ocean and sipping on a Mai Tai.

I love Deeper In Love with Hawaiian Style Band. Her voice is so distinctive, it makes you want to fall in love all over again.

I guarantee anything you hear from “Sistah Robi” is gonna cheer you up no matter what kind of day you are having. She’s a true Hawaiian treasure.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:27 | Comments (0)

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