May 6, 2014

Hello, Goodboys Nation blog fans, this is Golf Channel’s Kelly Tilghman reporting from Gilbert, Arizona, home of Doug “The Great White Shank” Richard, who, given all the controversy surrounding this past Sunday’s post, invited me down for a one-on-one interview. Rather than being on the defensive and combative in the face of swirling controversy, I found this “Founding Father” of the Goodboys Invitational warm, engaging, and insightful. I hope you enjoy our interview.

KT: Great White Shank, it’s a pleasure to sit down with you.

TGWS: You can call me Shank, Kelly. Here, have a Mai Tai – I made it especially for you.

KT: Thanks. Your Sunday post about the state of your golf game nearly two months before the 2014 Goodboys Invitational sent shock waves through your camp, to the point where even your brother Dave suggested that your entire mental approach to the game needs to be re-evaluated. Your comment?

TGWS: You know, Kelly, there are always going to be doubters out there, as well as folks that attack something you write without understanding the whole context in which they were meant.

KT: For example?

TGWS: Well, for starters, the idea that I’m not enjoying the game when I’m not firing on all cylinders out there. Folks gotta understand that I’m perfectly capable of enjoying a round of golf with strangers even when I’m scrambling my butt off and trying to post a low number out there. Remember, working from home with just a couple of rabbits in the other room means that a round of golf for me is as much a social occasion as it is a test of my ability to take all the hard work I’ve been putting in on the driving range out to the golf course. It’s not one thing or the other, and I’m perfectly capable of doing both at the same time.

KT: What happened on the driving range at Papago, and – if you don’t mind me asking – why did a couple of shanked practice shots result in you losing your swing partly on Friday and having it carry into Saturday?

TGWS: Well, it was just the strangest thing. There I was, just putting a bunch of good swings together and was finishing off my session as I always do by hitting a couple of irons in preparation for the par 3s. Sometimes I’ll hit a 5 or 6-iron, sometimes it might be an 8 or a 9. In this case I had a 7-iron in my hand and hit a dead-ass shank. It surprised me more than anything else, so I grabbed a pitching wedge, took a couple of easy swings, and proceeded to shank that one as well. A minute later, I’m standing on the tee at a tricky par-5 and I’ve got all these negative thoughts running through my head – y’know, don’t go right, don’t hit into that waste area or pond, Hillary being elected President in 2016 – the kinds of negative thoughts your body doesn’t process well.

KT: In other words, what you don’t want to do instead of what you should be focused on…

TGWS: That’s right, just putting good swings on it and making the shots. But it wasn’t as if I was solely focused on that – after all, I was playing with three nice guys – a younger fellow and two others playing for money from the tips, so it was still good fun. A lot of work, but good fun.

KT: Because you were scrambling throughout the round…

TGWS: Oh, God, yes, like a big rat, and on Saturday as well! Probably more on Saturday, where I never found my swing at all. But that was still a great time as well, playing with probably the nicest guys I’ve ever hooked up with. It was like we were friends who had played together a dozen times before. They were single handicaps and here I am scrambling my butt off, pulling rabbits outta my hat around every green. Only 28 putts for the round. And even though I’m skulling drives, fairway woods, and hybrids, I get to 17 only two holes away from shooting in the mid-90s. Put my drive just off the fairway and the roof caved in. A couple of bad decisions and I make a ten. On 18, I really didn’t care and double-parred that hole as well. Shanked a 5-iron and a 3-hybrid. Still shot a 54…

KT: The big number you wrote about.

TGWS: Which is why I just had to head straight out to the driving range and try and exorcise the demons. You really don’t want a bad finish to pollute your head. So I hit balls until I got my swing back. [Laughs] At least until the next ball I hit. My Goodboys friends will probably laugh at this, but I feel as close as I’ve ever felt to shooting in the low 90s consistently. My short game is as good as it’s ever been, and I’m averaging between nine and ten holes every round at bogey or less. Four or five pars every round. Seems like I’m playing very good golf for fourteen holes and spitting the bit on the other four. That’s gotta stop, obviously, and when I’m finally able to break through that barrier I’m going to be a bogey golfer and staying that way until the end of Hillary’s second term, at least. I know it. I feel it. It’s just a matter of time.

KT: So how do you break through that barrier?

TGWS: It’s pretty simple: learn to hit my fairway woods and my hybrids with greater consistency and without fear. Those clubs are killing me right now, and there’s really no way of avoiding them. There are times when the shots are right there: I hit a fairway on a long par-5 and that opportunity for birdie is just staring you in the face, like Michelle Obama starin’ down Carla Bruni. And you have to find a way to embrace it. Out here in Arizona, you can shank or skull shots off folks’ houses and sub-division walls most of the time, but those New England courses, those Goodboys Invitational courses with tree-lined fairways, you’ve got to have a go-to club you can count on, and right now, let’s just say my hybrids and fairway woods are auditioning for a place in Palookaville.

KT: You’ve been criticized by some in your camp of being too score-focused, as opposed to recognizing you’re a twenty-seven handicap and just accepting it for what it is – you know, “you are what you are”. Your response?

TGWS: Some say the objective of golf is to put this little orange ball [holding up a Wilson orange 50] in the hole in as few strokes as possible. Hell, if I wanted to, I’d deep-six the hybrids and fairway woods and just go out there with ten clubs and hit 5-irons and pitching wedges all day. And I’m guessing there are some out there who think that’s exactly what I ought to do. But I can’t do that. This game is all about honor, integrity, and tradition, and by, golly, the good Lord willing, I’m going to master those clubs before this year’s Goodboys Invitational. And when I do, it’s the Long Island Expressway to bogey golf. You can bank the farm on it.

KT: Great White Shank, it’s been a pleasure.

TGWS: Same here, Kelly.

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 00:22 | Comments (2)
  1. OK Pard,. Here it is. You need an intervention. When you are back in May, play a round with me and do EVERYTHING I say and I will straighten you out. Its all about expectations.

    Comment by TFG — May 6, 2014 @ 4:19 am

  2. And I expect you to give me four strokes a side. 🙂

    Comment by The Great White Shank — May 6, 2014 @ 10:41 pm

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