April 20, 2015

Hello again, Goodboys Nation weblog afficianados! Rich Lerner from Golf Channel here. As you know there is a certain rhythm to the golf year by which the end of certain events starts the anticipation and build-up for events yet to come. For some – like Phil Mickelson – the end of the Masters, the first major of the year, begins the lead-up to the U.S. Open, the second major of the year Phil needs to capture for the career Grand Slam. For others, it means THE PLAYERS, in my view the most over-hyped and overrated event of the entire year, is less than a month away. For Goodboys everywhere, the end of the Masters means Goodboys Invitational weekend is a scant three months away. With the snows and cold of winter receding, and the flowers and greenery of Spring bursting out everywhere, Goodboys throughout Massachusetts are thinking about golf and starting to both mentally and physically prepare for those three magical days in July when once more Goodboys from across the fruited plain will gather to continue that long and hallowed tradition.

One Goodboy who has been especially hard at work for months preparing for the 2015 Goodboys Invitational is Doug “The Great White Shank” Richard, one of the “founding fathers” of the Goodboys Invitational. A five-time winner of the event, it has been seven years since TGWS donned the polyester plaid with partner “Killer” Kowalski following their victory at 2007’s “The Captains on the Cape” event. Since then, it has been a fallow time of swing changes, swing instructors, and a highly-controversial switch from Cobra Golf to Calloway. Throughout it all, The Great White Shank has never lost his sight on the one goal that keeps him from ending it all with a toxic mix of Phenobarbitol and Celine Dion records: garnering that sixth Goodboys Invitational crown.

During Masters week, Golf Channel had the opportunity to sit down with The Great White Shank to discuss the radical changes he has made to his physical well-being, his golf swing, and his overall approach going into the 2015 Goodboys Invitational. We were joined by the people most responsible for these changes: Tony Bate, TGWS’s fitness instructor who provided the impetus for TGWS to get in shape and completely transform his swing, Hunter Mahan, six-time PGA Tour winner whose article in the February 2015 edition of GOLF Magazine provided the model for TGWS’s swing reconstruction, and Brady Riggs, a Top 100 GOLF Magazine instructor out of Woodley Lakes G.C. who serves as TGWS’s downswing instructor. What follows is Part 1 of our conversation, I hope you enjoy it.

RL: Great White Shank, take us back to the beginning of how this all began.

TGWS: Well, Rich I suppose it all started the Sunday night following last year’s Goodboys. I had stopped at a little Mexican restaurant just down the road from where my folks lived for some dinner and was watching the replay of Rory McIlroy’s victory at the Open Championship over a plate of enchiladas and a Sam Summer a nitecap. And I was thinking how for the second straight year I had poured dollars and hours into getting my golf game ready for Goodboys weekend only to find out once again that I had a swing that couldn’t stand up to three straight days of grueling competition. And why was that?

And it wasn’t as if my play during the weekend should have been any surprise – I thought back to all the preparatory rounds in Arizona and the warning signs that had been there all year: my abysmal play on the par 3s, my poor play with my irons. And while my game off the tee had its moments, that banana slice and hard pull never seemed far away. Worse than all that, my whole approach to my golf rounds seemed to be wrong: I was playing defensive golf defensively.

The next day I drove back up to the very same driving range the Goodboys had gathered three days before and hit a bucket of balls. I wasn’t sure at the time what I was doing there (and I actually hit that bucket pretty well) but I felt like I’d come to a fork in the road as far as my “golf quest” went. I briefly considered the thought of going back to my swing coach Alex Black, but I knew deep down that he wasn’t the answer. While he wasn’t the one swinging the club that made all those sixes on the par 3s during Goodboys weekend and made all those questionable decisions that led to my rounds unraveling on Saturday and Sunday after that promising 94 on Friday; the fact was, we’d worked together for two years and I had little, if anything, to show for it.

After hitting that bucket I found a leafy tree at Sagamore Hampton Golf Club (where I’d shot that 94 on Friday) to sit under and watch a few groups tee off. As the warm summer sun and soft afternoon breeze kissed my face, the words of that wacky French philosopher Marcel Proust popped into my head. Proust once wrote that “the voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes”. My golf swing needed a new set of eyes for sure, but more than anything else I needed to undertake a voyage of discovery. I didn’t know how that was going to happen, but I knew I had a year to find out.

RL: Tony Bate, you’ve been credited with helping The Great White Shank with his new swing. How did it all come about?

TB: The Great White Shank came into the fitness center where I had been working last November. Like most people who come in, he was interested in getting himself in shape, losing a few pounds, and toning up. After discussing his goals and showing him around, we agreed to work together for a month and see how it would go.

TGWS: Being only five minutes from my house I had driven by the Desert Fitness gym many times and thought about getting in better shape but always found a hundred reasons to put it off. One Saturday in November, instead of driving by I decided to drive in. I met Tony and we just sort of clicked: I liked the passion he brought to his craft and decided then and there I was going to make a lifestyle change. Golf actually had nothing to do with it.

TB: Our discussion about The Great White Shank’s golf swing came later. What I noticed from the start is that he had some definite issues we could work on: frankly, he had balance and stability issues and the flexibility of a pot roast. While his lower body was sorta OK, he had the upper-body strength of a Chihuahua. So we immediately put together a program to start addressing those issues.

RL: How did the issues involving his golf game come up?

TB: Well, as we got to know each other he mentioned he played golf and was hoping our work together would help in that regard. Being a player myself, I asked him to demonstrate his swing without a club – you know, arms out, hands together. I noticed right off that his set-up at address wasn’t very athletic-looking and that he wasn’t staying on top of the ball – his swing was kind of flat and he sorta swayed backwards during his backswing. I suggested he needed to stay more on top of the ball and become more aggressive and athletic in his swing. So I introduced him to the bosu ball and suggested he learn how to take golf swings while balancing on that.

TGWS: If there’s one thing those Bosu ball exercises teach you is to stay balanced and on top of the ball. You start to sway in any way and you’re gonna fall off. I didn’t know it at the time, but Tony was cultivating for me a real, total swing change. More than that, the fitness regimen he introduced enabled me to start building strength in my upper body, lower body, and core. The fitness work really didn’t enter into my mind as golf-related; I was just trying to get into shape and feel good about myself.

RL: There’s much more coming on this special edition of Goodboys Nation weblog’s interview with Tony Bate, Hunter Mahan, and Brady Riggs. I hope you’ll join us for Part 2 of this series that should be coming up as soon as The Great White Shank finishes the transcription. Thanks for joining us!

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 02:44 | Comment (1)
1 Comment
  1. […] season when I tee it up at Stonecreek Golf Club up the road in Phoenix. The swing, as mentioned in prior posts, is as ready as it will ever be, having been reconstructed completely from scratch courtesy of my […]

    Pingback by GoodBoys Nation - Archives » From Here On Out, Everything Counts — May 1, 2015 @ 2:14 am

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