May 31, 2015

From my post on January 21:

After much consultation with my team and advisors I have chosen to end my relationship with Superstition Springs Golf Club in Mesa, and will be moving my formal base of operations to Papago Golf Course in Phoenix effective immediately.

This is no reflection on the people or the facilities at Superstition Springs. Over the past decade I have come to know every inch of its driving range, chipping area, and putting green. I have met some very nice people there and have grown particularly fond of that hitting space on the far left side (adjacent to Alex Black‘s reserved practice area) with the moguls to the left and the 100-yard marker (which has never spent a day 100 yards out) smack-dab in the middle of my own little fairway. I will remember fondly the shady area on the west side of the practice green – especially on those blazing hot days of June and July when I’m doing my final Goodboys prep. The putting green was always a good challenge. And the course itself? Well, let me just say I won’t miss the fourteenth and seventeenth holes with all that water; only once in all the times I’ve played there have I ever been able to bogey either of them.

It’s an early monsoon-like day in the Valley of the Sun. Even though it’s before noon on this Sunday, the sky is already a sizzling electric blue and thunderheads are building over the Superstition mountains to the east. The driving range at Superstition Springs G.C is nearly deserted – it’s just me in my old familiar spot at the far left-hand end of the range (right next to Alex Black’s pristine instructional area) and another guy down at the other end. My exposed areas are lathered in SPF 50, I’ve got a wide-brimmed hat, and two big bottles of Gatorade blue in the tiny amount of shade created by my golf bag to keep me company.

Almost seven weeks from this very moment in time the 2015 Goodboys Invitational will be wrapping up. Seven weeks from tomorrow I’ll play one final post-Goodboys round with a small group of Goodboys at TPC River Highlands in Connecticut, and that will be pretty much it for 2015.

I’m ready to go to work.

Before I tip my bucket of balls over and reach into my bag to put on my glove I take a minute to drink in the surroundings (not to mention my Gatorade). Nothing has changed, and I’m back home where I want – and need – to be. As much of a tradition the Goodboys Invitational is in July, so is the prep work I begin putting in come June at the Superstition Springs driving range. Who knows what on God’s green earth I was thinking back in January when I said I was going to leave “The Springs” for greener pastures. Maybe it’s just the cowboy in me that never seems satisfied with good enough. Maybe just like everyone else I found out that the grass is not necessarily greener on the other side, or that no matter where you go you always carry your baggage with you. But after four months in golf limbo, I’d finally realized that me and Alex Black and Superstition Springs are the golf equivalent of grapefruit juice and Hemingwway daiquiris – you can’t have one without the other.

So here I am, fresh off my lesson with Alex, with a large and small bucket to occupy my time this Sunday morning. The goals are simple: don’t stand too close to the ball, don’t play the ball too forward in my stance with any club, take a divot with my irons, and, with any ball I tee up, position the markings in the direction I want to hit it before I place my club-face behind it and take my stance at address.

My session is very typical of Springs past: good stretches and not-so good stretches. I battled through an attack of the shanks that appeared out of nowhere while trying to hit 75-yard sand wedges (of all things) and finished on a high note. More than anything else, by following Alex’s advice of positioning my ball and not standing so close at address I hit my driver better than I have all year. And just as importantly, afterwards at the putting green I found my short game come back like an old familiar friend by not standing so close to the ball and taking the club back on a slightly flatter place.

All told, being back at “The Springs” has me in a much better frame of mind as I prepare for this year’s Goodboys weekend. The prodigal son has returned, and no one seems to care one way or the other. I’ve got a good foundation in place; the only thing is to see if I can keep things moving forward and positively as the weeks count down.

It’s good to be back. It’s good to be home.

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 21:26 | Comments Off on The Prodigal Son Says, “Never Mind!”
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