July 15, 2014

On Saturday, the Goodboys will head out from there headquarters at the Sheraton Harborside in Portsmouth for the 20-minute drive to Wentworth By The Sea Country Club in Rye, NH. While the drive may be less than a half hour, you might as well be traveling a million miles, because Wentworth By The Sea is a gem of a golf course and a truly unique and enjoyable golf experience that serves as pure escapism from the rest of the Goodboys Invitational weekend.

Whatever Sagamore-Hampton Golf Club was on Friday, Wentworth By The Sea Country Club is not. The golf course’s website has it just about right:

Carved from the gorgeous New England landscape, Wentworth By The Sea Country Club in Rye, New Hampshire features a private, 18-hole championship golf course with panoramic views of the ocean. This genuine Scottish links-style golf course presents challenges for all levels of player, while providing some of the most magnificent ocean vistas along the New Hampshire seacoast in the Portsmouth area.

The dramatic landscape of the course, with undulating fairways and demanding water hazards, makes Wentworth By The Sea Country Club an incomparable golf experience. The challenges of the course are unique to its original design and natural terrain, making it also an enjoyable choice for charity tournament play.

One would think that, being so close to the sea, that Wentworth By The Sea would feature a wide-open, breezy kind of links-style layout, but, their website’s claim aside, nothing could be further from the truth. While I wouldn’t call it heavily forested, there’s no doubt that Wentworth By The Sea requires precision driving off the tee if you don’t want to be forced into punching out onto the fairway through trees for your second shot. The par 5s in particular are a bear – narrow, winding holes that leave you with little wiggle room if your drive is wayward to any degree.

Is it expensive to play? Hell, yeah. But the driving range is awesome – balls stacked up in little mountains like they do at the Florida resort courses. And they don’t mess around as as far as dress and presentation are concerned: while I’ll be able to get away with my Hawaiian shirt not being tucked in, the rest of the Goodboys are gonna have to look smart and not play in jeans or cargo pants, or shirts hanging outside their pants.

There seems to be a lot of old money at Wentworth By The Sea – you can sense it as you walk around the clubhouse and amongst those playing alongside you that day, but that’s OK. For me, the place has a very special memory: many a night when I’ve had trouble falling asleep I think of last year’s round when a severe thunderstorm was passing just to our south and the air was filled with stillness and the sound of distant thunder, the sky a pretty but eerie salmon color. I think of the clubhouse grill where, after the severe weather horn sounded, I discovered one of the best gazpachos I’ve ever tasted served with multi-colored corn chips. I caught flack from a bunch of Goodboys for eschewing the usual hot dog and chips, but after a few taste tests our table was filled with gazpachos and a bunch of happy Goodboys.

I think the Goodboys played from the white tees last year – 6,006 yards, 68.9 rating with a 126 slope – not over the top by any means, but I found the course particularly tough to play. There are a lot of thin woods to work your way around, and two of the last three holes on the back nine are particularly tough: on 16, a forced carry over water that, if the tide is out, will leave you hitting your ball off the beach and the golf equivalent of the opening scene in Saving Private Ryan; a nondescript par 3 17 that lulls you into thinking that your work for the day is done; and finally, on 18, a par 4 featuring a fairway sloping downhill to a pond that you have to carry to an elevated green.

Playing Wentworth By The Sea on a July Saturday is also pretty cool because, inevitably, the rapscallion Goodboys, as a result of any number of opportunities for wayward shots, will get the opportunity to rub elbows with a high-class wedding reception, hitting rescue shots just yards away from pretty girls in low-cut dresses and plates of scallops wrapped in bacon and stuffed mushrooms. Talk about a clash between two diverse worlds!

Having the opportunity to play Wentworth By The Sea during a Goodboys Invitational weekend will be one of the lasting legacies of EXEC-COMM, and an experience I will treasure long after my playing days are over and the Goodboys Invitational weekends themselves pass into antiquity.

Filed in: Goodboys by The Great White Shank at 01:00 | Comments Off on Goodboys Invitational Preview – Wentworth By The Sea
July 14, 2014

Goodboys Invitational 2014 Friday will be played at Sagamore-Hampton G.C. in North Hampton, NH, a course the Goodboys have played just once in their history, back in 2010, the last year legendary Goodboys “Dandy” Drewett (center front) and “Crusher” Spielberg (back, 2nd from left) were part of the proceedings:

It was truly the end of an era.

I expect like last time the Goodboys will be playing from the blue tees, measuring 6,013 yards, a 70.7 rating, and a 121 slope. Personally, I love this course, not because it is particularly memorable – at least as far as golf courses go – but, rather, because it doesn’t pretend to be anything than what it is: a pretty, if nondescript, humble little layout with a no-frills clubhouse that (at least to me) is a welcome change from the kind of clubhouses you see at all too many golf courses these days that can’t seem to decide whether they’re in the golf business or the wedding reception business.

Perhaps its just me, but whenever I step on the property I feel as if I’m transported back to an earlier, simpler time when one would “summer” by the Atlantic seacoast, spending long afternoons relaxing with a book and/or friends and a pitcher of lemonade on a porch under big leafy trees, waiting for a late afternoon sea breeze or thunderstorm to cool the sweat on one’s brow.

Sagamore-Hampton features two fairly distinct nines: the front (par 35) pretty much a wide open cow pasture with a few annoying water hazards; the back (par 36) starting with a long, downhill par 5 that then winds its way through woods before emerging out into the open at the end.

While not specifically part of Goodboys Invitational history, Sagamore-Hampton does have its place in unofficial Goodboys lore. Many – and I do mean many – moons ago, the team of “The Funny Guy” Andrusaitis and The Great White Shank played fellow Goodboys “Killer” Kowalski and “Gaylord” Perry on a steamy summer Friday. Just when it appeared that TFG and TGWS had their match firmly in hand, out of the blue, Gaylord sunk nearly-identical (and nearly-improbable) 30-foot putts on 17 and 18 to win the match. The foursome then gathered at the Carousel Lounge at Salisbury Beach, where “The Unforgettable Fran Owens” proceeded to serenade Gaylord as only she can, as a reward for his hand in the victory. Unfortunately, Gaylord was not amused, and “UFO” let him know it. Ahhh, thems were the days!

I think Sagamore-Hampton is a great Friday venue for the 2014 Goodboys Invitational.

Filed in: Goodboys by The Great White Shank at 01:53 | Comments Off on Goodboys Invitational Preview – Sagamore-Hampton G.C.
July 13, 2014

Hard to believe, but it’s that magical time of year where Goodboys from across the plains gather together on the New Hampshire seacoast to renew acquaintances, drink lots of beer, act like juvenile delinquents, and actually find some time to play competitive golf for the sole purpose of determining who will have the right and privilege of calling themselves EXEC-COMM for the 2015 Goodboys Invitational, the 25th anniversary of this hallowed and ancient rite.

And what a schedule of posts I have planned for this week!

Monday: Goodboys Invitational Preview – Sagamore-Hampton G.C., Friday’s chosen venue.

Tuesday: Goodboys Invitational Preview – Wentworth by the Sea C.C., Saturday’s chosen venue.

Wednesday: Goodboys Invitational Preview – Black Swan C.C., Sunday’s chosen get-away venue.

Thursday: GoodboysNation weblog’s exclusive Golf Channel’s Goodboys Invitational Preview.

There will be no posting on Friday and Saturday, as I’ll be totally immersed in the passions and play of Goodboys Invitational weekend, but on Sunday night I’ll post the final results of the 2014 Goodboys Invitational. I know y’all will be on pins and needles awaiting to see who comes out on top!

Filed in: Goodboys by The Great White Shank at 02:13 | Comments Off on It’s Goodboys Invitational Week!
July 11, 2014

Finally. No more golf and heat, I’m done for the year.
Done with the sizzling azure skies.
Done with gulping down quarts of Gatorade Frost.
Done with near-empty or empty driving ranges and golf courses.
Done with all the prep work.
It’s time to put up or shut up, it’s time for Goodboys Invitational week and whatever it brings.

Today’s last golf round of the year at Superstition Springs was a grind, no two ways about it. A tough course on any given day, it was especially tough because, for the first time in my life, I played an entire round of golf by myself – with our monsoony-humid conditions and a high of 106 expected, there weren’t a lot of takers for the 9:36 slot. And, since I was stuck on work calls until 9:24, there wasn’t a whole lot of time to warm up. Oh sure, I could have spent 20-30 minutes banging balls, but the longer you warm up, the longer you’re going to be out there in the sun and heat. So I found two balls on the empty putting green, hit a pitching wedge and a driver just to get the feel of what I might have in me, and headed out.

And as it turned out, I didn’t have much. I battled the yanks all day, playing my way down the right hand side of just about every hole Superstition Springs had. My short game, which had been showing marked improvement over the past few weeks, devolved into something just short of blah. Fortunately, though, I kept my head about me and stuck to my plan of playing “smart golf” pretty much the entire round and grinded my way to a 49 + 51 = 100, a score I would take any day at the course I consider one of the toughest I’ve ever played.

(See, it’s not just that SS is long – you can play the gold tees at just under 6,000 yards but, frankly, the course isn’t very interesting from those tees; 6,700 from the green tees will really test every part of your game. But what they do is trick up the so-called “easy” holes by protecting the greens with phony moguls that force you to play from the air. And, something I never realized until today even though I’ve played the course a dozen or more times, the par 5s all start out really wide and then gradually get really narrow at the end. As I learned today, if you don’t have a perfect lie in the middle of the fairway (something I had only once) you have no business – repeat, no business pulling fairway wood for your second shot.)

Even though I was playing by myself, I did catch up to groups playing in front of me so that, by noon and the heat really building I was just a mule slogging his way towards the finish line. And without a playing partner to jabber and pass time with it’s just you losing balls you lost track of and a tough back nine forcing you to make one clutch shot after another:

* On the par 4 10th, a clutch pitching wedge from a deep grass bunker to two-putt distance for double-bogey.
* On the par 5 11th, two balls lost but a ten-foot putt for triple-bogey.
* On the par 3 12th, a clutch pitching wedge from an awkward, downhill, thin lie to one foot for par.
* On the par 4 13th, a yanked 7-iron that I spent five minutes looking for before realizing it was on the green. Three putts from 40 feet for bogey.
* On the par 4 14th (a brutally narrow hole with water left and OB right), a bail-out drive followed by a smart 5-iron to set up a smart pitching wedge to avoid a sand trap; two-putted for bogey.
* On the par 3 15th, a clutch pitching wedge from a waste area with no room to work with, two putts for bogey.
* On the par 4 16th, things were getting really hot, but I nailed a drive, hit a smart 5-iron just short of the moguls, then duffed two pitching wedges before two-putting for double-bogey.

I’ll admit, by 17 (a sturdy par 5 with a green well protected by a lake with fingers of water jetting out to the left) I was ready to call it a day. After blistering my drive I yanked a well-intentioned 7-iron lay-up into the water, then grabbed 5-iron and hit the shot I originally wanted to play, but it found the bottom of a deep grass bunker. I’ve got 120 yards over water to the hole and the crappiest of lies, but, throwing care to the wind, I grab my 8-iron and catch it pure, leaving me with ten feet for a miraculous bogey. I miss the putt.

I look at the scorecard even though I know I shouldn’t. But feeling as if I’m swirling in a microwave oven, I say what the hell. Turns out I’m lying 44, meaning double-bogey breaks 100 at SS for the first time. If I play smart, that ought to be easy, right? I know I should hit 5-iron to play it safe but there’s an awfully big landing area out there, so I pull 3-hybrid and proceed to yank it into the creek running down the right side. I still have my mulligan, so now I pull 5-iron, but chunk it into the pond on the right side of the tee box. The heck with breaking 100, I just want an ice-cold margarita and tall glass of ice water!

Hitting three where my ball went into the creek, I’ve lost my focus and my first attempt at a 5-wood to hit the green is an ugly slap into the creek. So much for breaking 100. I drop another ball and crush my second attempt at a 5-wood to just off the green. A lovely 20-yard chip to one foot and a putt later, and I’ve shot 100.

I’m sitting inside the dark Margarita Bar at a nearby Mexican restaurant and tally up the damage: seven fairways hit, 34 putts, and a dozen lost balls. And even at that I still shot 100, my best score at Superstition Springs ever. Not sure what it says about the state of my golf game, but I do know that my score would have been a whole lot higher had I not stuck to my strategy of playing “smart golf”. With Goodboys Invitational week beckoning, I’ve done as much as I can possibly do to be ready.

I’m just glad I’m done with Arizona golf for a while.

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 21:11 | Comments (2)
July 10, 2014

Sitting out here on the patio with all kinds of lightning towards the south with some rumbles of thunder ready to usher in a dust storm. But that doesn’t mean I’m not blogging…

I think this is pretty cool. Best wedding picture I’ve ever seen, for sure…

Consider this one of the feel-good stories of the year.

I’m excited about the Red Sox starting to ditch the deadwood and allow their talented young players to learn what life is like in the big leagues together. I’d sure feel better if they’d lock Jon Lester up for a long-term contract, though.

Getting ready to play golf on the edge of the Atlantic, I’m listening to some Gordon Lightfoot and especially enjoying seafaring songs like this, and this, and especially this tune I hadn’t heard before until I created my new Gord mix. The lyrics are wonderfully and whimsically oceanic:

Oh the gist of it all is the first day of fall
is the day when my ship will set sail
The best of all friends will say good-bye again
there’s still time for one last glass of ale
We’ll sail away proudly, our backs to the wall
on a southwind and lots of good cheer
And when we’ve looked over the white cliffs of Dover,
we’ll be in Bahama next year

From Bermuda on down the Triangle around us
will teach us a lesson or two
There’s many a mate who unevenyly stated
the course he had charted was true
“Don’t worry ’bout me,” he said, “Go down below,
give a certified sailor a turn,
Just sip on your rum or I’ll give you my thumb
and say, son you got something t’ learn!”

It’s a mighty hard way to come down
And a mighty fine way to be found
So hand me my grip from an old sailing ship
Put the kiss of the dawn on my lips
With some luck tonight I might have her at my fingertips

Oh the best of all things is the first day of spring
when when the water runs heavy and fast
The mermaids have all gone to Davy Jones’ Ball
and it seems their first trip was their last
They had so much fun, they don’t wish to return
to the beach where they lay all day long
They’d rather stay under and boy it’s no wonder
when all the rock lobsters roll on

It’s a mighty fine way to be found…

Triangle, Triangle, oh see my ship dangle
we’re bound for Bahama my friend
Like lovers like danger like babies like mangers
but that’s where my storybook ends
Like soldiers of fortune, believers in God
and all kings without crosses to bear
All sweepers and cleaners with no misdemeanors
should try the Triangle out there

It’s a mighty hard way to come down
And a mighty fine way to be found
So hand me my grip from an old sailing ship
Put the kiss of dawn on my lips
With some luck tonight I might have her at my fingertips

When she took her last tumble the sea bottom rumbled
there was no confusion or blame
The captain said, “Men we must answer again
to the sea so ye may not complain”
And as they lay sleeping down there in the deep
with their faces turned up to the stars
A tuna fish turned to a mermaid in bed
and said, “There goes another sandbar”

It’s a mighty hard way to come down
And a mighty fine way to be found
So hand me my grip from an old sailing ship
Put the kiss of the dawn on my lips
With some luck tonight I might have her at my fingertips

I think next I’m going to watch Jaws!

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:54 | Comments Off on Just Stuff
July 9, 2014

My thoughts on the border crisis just hours south of me? To me the most humanitarian thing to do – after all, the Obama administration and the United Nations are calling it a “humanitarian issue”, right? – is pretty simple: 1) You put the military smack dab on the border to stop the flood of folks coming through; 2) You treat all those who have crossed over, make sure they’re fed, treated for disease, and cared for; 3) Identify the countries of origin for everyone who has crossed over; then 4) Put them all on planes – first class is OK – and send them back to their families wherever they came from. And if those countries refuse to let our planes land to reunite them with their families, you immediately shut off every dollar of foreign aid sent to them. I guarantee that will change their minds pretty quick.

But none of this is going to happen, of course, because not only is the President of the United States is at best an inept putz, at worst a pathetic, shiftless, lying incompetent, but Speaker of the House John Boehner is a spineless weasel, and House Majority Leader Harry Reid a corrupt, unethical, and senile old fool.

Be advised I don’t use these words lightly – it is a disgrace that such a bunch of incompetent asses are responsible for this country’s welfare and well-being.

What this country needs is a good revolution.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 21:48 | Comments Off on On The Border
July 7, 2014

Found this whimsical little poem perfect for the month of July:

“Mosquito is out,
it’s the end of the day;
she’s humming and hunting
her evening away.
Who knows why such hunger
arrives on such wings
at sundown? I guess
it’s the nature of things.”

– N. M. Boedecker, Midsummer Night Itch

Love the title, especially since wherever I am the mosquito will never be far away – even here in Arizona.

Hat tip: gardendigest.com

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:53 | Comments Off on July Poem
July 6, 2014

Now that the Tiki bar deck is done I don’t know what to do with myself. There’s this welcome feeling of emptiness that comes when a project you’ve been intensely involved in comes to an end, and I’ve got a little over a week before I’ll be heading back east for Goodboys week. Oh, it’s not that there isn’t still work to be done – lots of house cleaning, for certain. And there’s still work outside to be done – consulting with Carmelo on what to with my vanishing lawns on the east side and in the back, for instance. But most likely we’ll use this year as a building block for the seeding of winter rye in three months and just put topsoil down in the bad areas and adjust the sprinklers accordingly.

Or…my neighbor John says he’s going to try artificial turf in his back yard, says it’s incredible how natural the phony grass surfaces they’re now creating are, so I’m having Arizona Luxury Lawns come out and estimate what it would cost to replace my back lawn. Not only would it reduce our water usage and be good for the environment, but the Tiki bar deck wouldn’t be getting wet whenever the sprinklers come on.

For now? I think I’ll be washing floors since the Tiki deck work tracked a lot of dirt into the house. And, ahead of my planned final round of Arizona golf coming Friday, there are golf clubs to clean and watch the sky for any monsoon season activity. Sure beats sawing, drilling, and pounding nails into wood!

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 12:38 | Comments Off on In Between
July 5, 2014

With just two weeks to go until Goodboys Invitational weekend, my sole focus playing Trilogy Golf Course at Power Ranch on Thursday was my course management skills and testing out my revamped short-game to see how it held up in real playing conditions. Oh, and staying sufficiently hydrated since the temps were going to hit 110 before any late afternoon monsoon action were to come through.

Right from my warm-up I felt I was hitting my irons as good as I have all year, but for some reason, between last Sunday’s practice and Thursday morning my hybrids seemed to take a siesta. And they never awoke from their slumber the entire day – causing one of the two course management mistakes that would end up costing me.

The result of nearly-perfect course management coupled with the best short game I’ve had since I can remember led to a rock-solid 44 on the front nine. Even better, I played the three par 3s at +2, and the two long par 5s at +2 as well – something I haven’t done at all this year.

The back nine started rocky with a quadruple-bogey 8 caused by two very poor shot-making decisions – pulling 3-wood when I had been hitting my driver well all day and pushing my drive into a back yard, then trying to make up for the penalty stroke by going for the green with a hybrid when an iron left in front of the green for a chip on, two-putt for double-bogey was the correct strategy. I didn’t let it get to me, though, and I played solid golf until the last hole.

Ah, yes – the last hole. For some reason I’ve really had trouble closing my rounds out in style this year, and Thursday was no exception. Eighteen at Trilogy is a fairly wide-open hole with a pond protecting the green on the right and front. There’s a lot of room to the left, but you’ll be needing your short game because the green slopes towards the water. I missed the fairway short and left, but made the correct decision to lay up short of the pond and did so perfectly, leaving me 110 to the center of the green. I suppose the correct play was to aim far left and not go for the green at all, chipping on and two-putting for my bogey, but I was in such a great position, and heck, how hard can a 9-iron to the center of the green be, right?

Five minutes later I was marking my scorecard with another quad-bogey 8 after two chunked 9-irons into Davy Jones’ locker. My 53 for the back nine gave me a 97 total, which was extremely good for the course and the conditions we were playing in, but there’s no question I left 3-4 strokes out that really weren’t difficult at all. But there wasn’t any crying over spilled milk – I know there will always be a couple of holes that will get away from me; the goal is to keep those to a bare minimum, which I did.

There were a lot of good things to take away from Thursday’s round – 30 putts (including 7 one-putts!) which was a direct result of improved chipping, big improvement in my sand game (thank you Peter Kostis!), and by far the best course management of the year. And to break 100 on a tough course with rocket-fast greens means I’m definitely trending in the right direction. Next week I’ll play my final round of year in Arizona at Superstition Springs where it’s all about putting the ball in play and managing your way around its quirky and wet layout – a very good test for Goodboys week.

After that, it will be put up or shut up.

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 00:18 | Comments Off on Trending Right
July 4, 2014

Flags

Hope y’all have a great Independence Day. We’ll be christening our Tiki bar deck with a bottle of Vueve Cliquot and some barbecued chicken. Pics forthcoming.

UPDATE:…and here’s the crew that made the whole deck possible. From left to right: John McIntyre (technical consultant), my sister-in-law Tam (able-bodied assistant), my wife Tracey (design consultant), and yours truly (project overseer and construction hack). Unfortunately, the neighborhood cat, the folks from two Lowe’s Gilbert stores (at Gilbert and Warner, and at Higley and Queen Creek, and the Paul’s Ace Hardware at Gilbert and Baseline weren’t available.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 11:14 | Comments Off on Happy Fourth!

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