July 28, 2015

I know everyone is after Tiger Woods for taking as long as he has to make his latest swing changes work at a competitive level, but I can tell you I identify with the dude: it’s one thing to bang balls on some nondescript, non-threatening driving range, it’s a whole ‘nutha thing to take those changes to a golf course and make things happen. It’s been a long, crazy trip from Goodboys 2014 to Goodboys 2015. Coming out of the debacle that was last year’s Goodboys I didn’t know where or how it was going to happen, but I knew some drastic changes had to be made to my golf game if I were to achieve my humble goal of simply playing consistent bogey golf. And while I didn’t exactly play bogey golf at this year’s Goodboys Invitational it was there for the taking, and then some. And it wouldn’t have happened were it not for Hunter Mahan, Alex Black, and my commitment to getting myself in better shape.

The Goodboys are a tough crowd – great guys, but a tough crowd. Oh sure, you’ll get the usual “nice shot” when you make one, but no one cares or notices how much work you might have put into your game – we just don’t see each other enough. So it felt pretty damned rewarding to get compliments from a couple of the guys as to my swing changes over the weekend.

“You’ve obviously been taking lessons!”

“I’ve never seen you swing the club so well.”

…not to mention “Killer” Kowalski telling me I’d become ‘sneaky long’ after I out-driving him on one of the par 5s on Sunday at CrossWinds.

What I’m most proud of is the fact that this was the first Goodboys I can remember where my swing held up over the entire weekend. That doesn’t mean I didn’t struggle at times: there were a couple of shanks, even a couple of whiffs – but I was always able to get back in my box and resume hitting quality shots. Throughout the weekend I was (at least for me) a virtual fairway-hitting machine: I think I hit ten fairways on Friday, nine on Saturday, and another ten on Sunday. And let me tell you, there were more than a few times over the weekend where I was waiting in the fairway for my playing partners to hit, having outdriven them all – something that rarely, if ever, happened before. Between my added length and my ability to hit (or come close to hitting) fairways I played the par 5s better than I’d ever done, making par on two each of the three days. And Alex would be happy to know I really focused on hitting my power draws and taking divots regularly!

Two shots come to mind that I never would have attempted before: #8 at Waverly Oaks, plays steep downhill, the pin tucked around a big declivity front and right. It was playing around 190, and in the past I probably would have tried to hit a straight 7-iron to put myself on a flat spot short of the green where I could then chip up and (hopefully) make two putts and walk away with my bogey. This year I grabbed 5-iron and pulverized a power draw that landed on the left side of the green, leaving forty feet for birdie. I two-putted and walked away with par. On Saturday at Pinehills, #5 is a 360-yard par 4 with a pond protecting the green on the right. I hit a nice drive that left me just short of the pond and 125 yards to the pin. Back in the old days I probably would have pitched left, taking the pond out of play and leaving me short of the green for another pitch on and two-putt. This year, I nutted an 8-iron that I thought would put me green center, instead I flew it over the green and ten yards into the woods. Took my penalty, duffed a chip and three-putted for a “triple-bogey blues, walk like a man” 7.

And that’s kind of the way my weekend went, exactly opposite how it would have gone in years past: instead of struggling to get to 100 yards out then using my short game to salvage holes, this year I hit the ball consistently well but couldn’t get the job done from 120 yards out. Sometimes I’d over-swing and yank the ball right, other times I’d take what I thought should be the right club and fly the green by ten or twenty yards. But the point is, I stayed with the plan, taking divots, putting good swings together. And come Sunday afternoon, as the Goodboys gathered for the awards ceremony and a last couple of brewskies before splitting to the four winds, rather than feeling mentally and physically spent, I felt energized about the way I played. My partner and I had finished second, seven shots back. All the hard work had paid off.

Of course there’s still plenty of work to be done. I have to do a better job of staying within myself and not over-swinging – especially with my short irons. I also have to re-learn my yardages, as my improved ball contact (and perhaps my gym work) has increased my distance – in some cases significantly. And, of course, let’s not forget the need to improve my overall consistency. But, unlike last year when I left Goodboys Invitational dazed, confused, and searching for a golf swing I could rely on, I’ve now got a great foundation to work from. I put a ton of hard work in this year and it finally paid off. Now me and the clubs get two months off to relax and recharge for (hopefully) some fall golf in New England and Vegas weekend in February. And then comes the ramp-up to the 2016 Goodboys Invitational. I can tell you this: I’d like to prepare for next year’s Goodboys by hitting the range less and the golf course more. We’ll see.

I miss hitting balls already.

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 16:29 | Comments (3)
July 27, 2015

I know y’all have been waiting to hear the details of this year’s 25th annual Goodboys Invitational weekend, so consider this post everything you’ve been waiting for and then some!

A great weekend was had by all. First of all, the weather cooperated quite nicely for us once again. It started out steamy on Friday but we got some nice cloud cover to keep the heat down, and the same held true for Saturday when we lucked out having a bad thunderstorm dissipate as it passed north of us. Sunday started out sunny and oppressive, but the clouds came in again and made it very comfortable for playing, so the boys couldn’t use the weather as an excuse, that’s fer shure.

The three Plymouth, Mass. courses picked by last year’s Exec-Comm were (at least in my view) the best combination of courses we ever played. Waverly Oaks was a banger’s course but you still had to bring your short game. The Nicklaus course at Pinehills was as nice a course as the GBs have ever played – although a “Jack track” it allowed for a lot of imaginative shot-making as it weaved it’s way through pine forests. And while CrossWinds G.C. featured the same kind of rolling hills as Pinehills, it had generous fairways and terrific greens. It wouldn’t bother The Great White Shank none to play one or two of these courses again next year.

As mentioned below, a big fat “Congratulations!” to the team of “Deuce” Doucette and “Goose” Dwyer for achieving the highest level of golf excellence possible and the title of Exec-Comm for 2016. Not only did they win the coveted Spielberg Memorial Trophy and a chance to don those nifty polyester jackets, but their mugs get to adorn the Goodboys Nation blog for the next year. It was great to see Goose win his first Goodboys championship in fifteen – count ‘em, fifteen! – tries, and for Deuce it he’s now a two-timer in the Goodboys winner’s circle. They finished seven strokes ahead of the second-place team of yours truly and “Cubby” Myerow (as the late, great Mel Allen used to say, “how about that!) and as for the other teams, I mean, who cares, right?

If there was one disappointment for the weekend it was the food. The one thing all Goodboys hope for going into the 2016 Invitational is that this Exec-Comm will find us some better places to chow. (Which is not to blame the outgoing Exec-Comm for their choices – given their location I probably would have picked them as well.) The East Bay Grille was beyond horrible – we waited 2 1/2 hours for bad food – and while Isaac’s gets points for at least delivering our food two hours earlier than the previous night, that’s about it. There seems to be a lot of cool places to eat once you get a block away from the touristy harbor locations, so that’s something I’m sure will get consideration in the 2016 plans.

All in all it was a great weekend – lots of laughs, great golf, and a joy to see everyone again. Let the countdown to 2016 begin!

Filed in: Goodboys by The Great White Shank at 21:58 | Comments (0)
July 22, 2015

I know, I know – it’s been like forevah since there has been a new post but between work, travel and Goodboys Invitational week it’s been a bear to find time to put up posts. I promise I’ll do better once I’m back in the Valley of the Sun tomorrow. In the meantime:

…my team finished a solid second at the Goodboys

…congrats to “Deuce” Doucette and “Goose” Dwyer (previously known as “Best Goodboys Never To Have Won a Goodboy Invitational”) for their victory

…the honeybee situation is still ongoing and awaits resolution when I get back

…no I don’t think Donald Trump has said anything about John McCain that isn’t true. He’s forgotten what he was sent to Washington for

…the Red Sox stink and manager John Farrell has to be fired

…the whole New England experience of ordering and enjoying a veal cutlet sub (no cheese, please) never gets tired

..there are few things better than summer in New England

…but you can keep the winters, thank you

Today I’ll be goin’ to the beach to gaze at some big blue. See y’all when I’m back in the Valley of the Sun!

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 06:14 | Comments (0)
July 12, 2015

Tonight I’ll be hopping a red-eye for Massachusetts and the start of Goodboys Invitational week, and my travel adventure is already off to a flying start as the flight is already two hours late in departing. Not sure what state my game will be in – I had the best range session of my life on Friday, hitting power draws and fades at will and taking great divots, then one of the worst on Saturday with shanks and tops the order of the day. No worries, though – it will be good to get away from the heat and the bees, eat some seafood (everywhere else it’s just “fish”), and help my folks get their new computer up to snuff. Here are a few links to finish off the weekend:

Check out this awesome video of a huge iceberg flipping over off the coast of Newfoundland.

Another example of liberals being wussies. What on earth is wrong with people? If something offends you just move on!

I think Carly Fiorina is right: it’s not that Donald Trump is such a good candidate for the GOP nomination, it’s that he’s tapped into an anger out there after seven years of a runaway federal government completely out of control, unaccountable for anything, and incompetent leadership on both sides of the aisle unwilling to do anything about it.

I’m beginning to think Jordan Spieth has a real chance to win golf’s Grand Slam this year. The rounds he has put together Friday and Saturday at the John Deere have been something to see.

Chicks with great swings – example #1. Chicks with great swings – example #2. They’re not Paula Creamer, of course – in my mind she has the nicest swing on the LPGA Tour, but not!

Thoughts and prayers go out to former golf commentator Peter Oosterhuis and his family following his announcement he has an early onset of Alzheimer’s. Really sad.

Here’s some surf music to guide me to Sky Harbor Airport – see y’all in the Eastern Time Zone!

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 09:56 | Comments (0)
July 11, 2015

Quote courtesy of PowerLine’s Scott Johnson, who writes:

After Dylann Roof murdered nine pastors and churchgoers in the course of Bible study in Charleston, President Obama couldn’t wait to use the occasion for his narrow political purposes. “Let’s be clear,” he said with urgency in his voice. “At some point we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence … doesn’t happen in other places with this kind of frequency. And it is in our power to do something about it.” The implication, of course, was that additional gun control legislation was required but that his political opponents refused to see the light.

Now we learn in whose power it was to do something about it, and it wasn’t anyone Obama was talking about. The Washington Post reports: “Dylann Roof, who is accused of killing nine people at a church in South Carolina three weeks ago, was only able to purchase the gun used in the attack because of breakdowns in the FBI’s background-check system, FBI Director James B. Comey said Friday.” The White House, of course, declines to comment.

If there has ever been a smaller man or bigger jerk than Barack Obama holding the office of president, we need to know now.

I could say more but it would be hard to top that.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 01:31 | Comments (2)
July 10, 2015

Played my final round of Arizona golf for a while at Stonecreek Golf Club as a final preparation for Goodboys Invitational week which starts next week. And as I started writing this post I tried to think back to where I was last year at this time, getting ready for the 2014 Goodboys Invitational, and Voila! I found this post. I can barely remember that round of golf, but I can tell you that where I was last year and where I am this year are two very different places, even though the results appear (at least to date) to be the same.

The saying goes that as a golfer you are what you are. But that doesn’t mean one shouldn’t strive to improve and try to find areas here and there where one can better one’s self. And I know that even though next week is Goodboys Invitational week I’m still working through the changes Alex Black wants me to make, both with my swing and my approach to the various parts of my game he’s sure will improve if I just stick to his wise counsel. Some of his ideas (for example, using the markings on the ball to aim my tee shots) I’ve found easy to adopt and incorporate into my overall set-up. Others, like trying to draw the ball and use the markings of the ball to aim my putts, I’ve found a little more difficult. But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to take them to Goodboys weekend and try and put them to good use.

Today at Stonecreek I ground out a 50/53=103 on a positively ten-bell day for golf. It wasn’t overly hot and I had the course virtually all to myself so I put in all the necessary work I wanted to in preparation for next week. As usual, some very poor decisions course management-wise killed me, and two 8s on the front and a nine on the back killed what actually could have been a pretty good round. I hit nine of fourteen fairways (a plus) but had 38 putts (not so plus) and actually fought off a couple of instances of the shanks during the round – something I don’t think I could have done before this year. In both cases, I went back to the fundamentals Alex is trying to get me to do, and while I wasn’t entirely successful, I definitely had the right idea going forward.

If today validated anything, it’s the importance of getting off the tee. Even if I don’t bring my “A” game (as if I ever had one), if I can find fairways I can usually (usually being the operative word here, given that on the holes I shot a collective 25 were holes I hit all three fairways on) get around a course. If I can’t, I really don’t have the kind of game that allows for incredible recoveries, so my performance at Goodboys weekend will only go as far as my driver and 3-wood take me.

With just a week to go there is still much work to be done. I still have to learn to trust my swing and set-up that allows for that magical draw trajectory, but there’s still time: sometime this weekend you can be sure I’ll be out somewhere with a small bucket of balls and my 5, 6, and 7-irons. Unlike last year, where I was really operating on feel and tempo alone, this year there’s a lot more technique involved. It’s actually exciting and frustrating to see such mixed results, but I also understand that the swing changes are long-term; it’s just that the 2015 Goodboys Invitational happens to be in the short-term. So we’ll see how it goes.

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 02:00 | Comments (3)
July 8, 2015

I dunno, maybe it’s just me but the old expression methinks doth protest too much seems to apply to all the self-righteous indignation being expressed my the mainstream media and liberals everywhere over Donald Trump’s comments about illegal immigrants and who is coming across our virtually unattended southern border these days. Only a fool (or an elitist liberal, sometimes I get the two confused) would deny that the large percentage of people coming across the border are largely under-educated and unskilled people looking for the opportunity to work or collect benefits. Is that so wrong to say? That Mexico’s “best and brightest” aren’t the ones who are crossing illegally?

I’m fed up with all the damned political correctness going around these days. I’m fed up with limousine liberals who speak about their compassion for illegal immigrants when they’d be the first damned ones to complain if a renter allowed a bunch of illegals to occupy the house next door to them, or express their concern for the earth and the environment while they jet around the earth to conferences and film openings. As Instapundit’s Glenn Reynolds is fond of saying, I’ll believe there’s a crisis when liberals start acting like there is.

But I digress.

Back to The Donald. Is he a blowhard? Sure. Is he bombastic? Yep. Is he an egomaniac? Absolutely. But the one thing he is not is a politician, and frankly, I’m tired of politicians. In fact, it’s gotten to the point where I despise the vast majority of the political class – on both sides of the aisle – and wouldn’t mind seeing all of Washington, D.C. cleaned out as one would roaches via the Roach Motel. These people are destroying this country; at least The Donald has the guts to say what he thinks.

And to a certain extent he’s right: consider the vast majority of African-Americans who without much thought or question line up on Election Day to pull the lever for Democrats. What, pray tell, group of Americans do you think would be hurt the most by a flood of unskilled and under-educated labor? It’s African-Americans. So why do Democrats and liberals in general support illegal immigration? Because they know what demographic the next big big big voting bloc is gonna coming from, and as the Hispanic population grows in number and political power they’ll drop the African-American community like a bad habit. And why? Because the only thing Democrats are interested in is power – expanding and consolidating it. (Republicans want the same thing, BTW, they’re just too politically inept and tone-deaf to act upon it.)

Which is why it’s important for firebrands like The Donald and Ann Coulter, and bloggers like Power Line’s John Hinderaker to call attention to one of the impacts of unfettered and unregulated illegal immigration. That is not to say that all folks coming across the border are bad, evil, dumb, or inferior to Americans and those who are here legally; those who try to twist Trump’s and Coulter’s words into something akin to that are just demogoguing the issue. They know that once people become unafraid of the elitist mob mentality that has protected illegal immigration for so long they have nothing to support their case other than so-called compassion.

Look, I have compassion for folks who want to come here and seek a better life – were I in their situation I would probably try to do the same thing. But I also have compassion for the folks who are here legally and shouldn’t have to compete for people who are here illegally for jobs and benefits. Perhaps if we had no unemployment and were swimming in dough-re-mi, well then maybe it would be time to consider sharing a little more of our wealth and opportunity. But we’re not (even Bernie Sanders knows how high unemployment is), and we’re awash in trillions of dollars of debt.

A nation unwilling to secure its borders and unwilling to enforce its own laws isn’t a nation at all. And that’s what The Donald is saying, perhaps not as articulately as some would like. But at least he’s speaking the truth, which is more than I can say for all the other seemingly gutless wonders seeking the Presidency. I may not personally like him much and would find it hard to pull the lever for him, but The Donald is right.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 18:42 | Comments (2)
July 7, 2015

My sister-in-law Tammy is still mourning the loss of the last of her “Beastie Boys”, Floppy, but we got to talking a couple of weeks ago and she braved up to the idea of adopting a couple of replacement rabbits. Sorta like, if the horse throws you the best thing to do to get over it is get back on and ride her ’til she bucks you again, right? We knew we wanted to replace her Beastie Boy lops with another pair of lops, so it only took me ten minutes to go to Craigslist Phoenix where I was pretty sure anyone who had lops to sell would advertise. And sure enough, no more than 30 minutes from us was a lady with two eight-week old lops to sell. So a week ago Saturday we headed out, checked them out, and Tam couldn’t resist their bunny cuteness. So welcome to the (Tammy) Richard household Bailey and Midget:

Bailey’s the brown one on the left, a boy, and he’s actually a bit larger than Midget, who’s a female. Right now there just a couple of cute beasts full of piss and vinegar who eat like wolves, drink like fishes, and tear around their living area on a nightly basis. In four weeks we’ll have Bailey neutered (sorry, pal!), and two weeks after that Midget will be spayed. Then we can really start to get an idea of what their personalities will be. Since their lops, and lops are just loving, gregarious beasts we needn’t worry – they’ll be the same kind of happy and loving rabbits Cookie and Floppy were, and a perfect addition to Tam’s furred and feathered family.

She still has Butterscotch, her adult rabbit, of course, and we’re not sure yet how that’s all gonna work out. The babies are too small for Butterscotch to comprehend what to do with them, but she doesn’t appear to really like them very much. Oh she was interested for the first couple of days; now she just spends most of her time inside her rabbit condo – sulking, I think. But she’s a big girl and she’ll ultimately get over it.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 02:49 | Comments (2)
July 6, 2015

[Ed. note: this was a post meant for last week, but asyou can guess by the dearth of posts lately, things got a little crazy around here work-wise and I fell behind in my blog posting. Still, no need to let a good post go to waste, so here it is...]

I’m tellin’ ya, you gotta stay on top of things around here before things get completely out of hand. The other day I’m skimming the pool, just vegging out from a long, stressful day at work and I see a bee kind of doing a bee thing at a juncture where the pool deck and a big ornamental rock that separates the deck from the pebble-tech siding meet. I didn’t think much of it until the bee flew a way and another bee zoomed by my head and made a bee-line (pun intended) to the very same spot. Too coincidental for this observer of nature, so I put down the skimmer and check the scene out and see that there are at least eight bees in that crack. I couldn’t tell what they were doing, or even if they were going inside the crack to some nesting area, but I decided to leave them “bee” for the time – after all, it’s not uncommon in this area for thousands of bees to set up headquarters in someone’s back yard to veg out for a day or two on their way to some final destination: we had that happen to us a few years ago.

A day goes by and the bees are still active around that spot. I’m thinking this may be a problem. Not only would I like to use the pool when I come back from my gym workouts, but I’ve got pebble-tech to scrub down before that gets out of hand.

Another day goes by, still lots of bee activity. Being an appreciator of bees in general, and the fact that these bees don’t appear to be of an aggressive nature – they appear to care less whether there are humans checking them out – I decide to give them another 24 hours. I do so in a verbal manner, telling the bees I see to inform the rest of the flock that they have 24 hours to clear out, and there will NOT be any further warnings.

Yesterday I decide to stick to my guns – there are still bees buzzing all over the place. I grab a hose and position myself on the opposite side of the pool and let ‘em have it. The bees scatter, some fall in the pool, some fly away, some continue to circle around. Using the skimmer, I rescue a couple of bees helplessly flailing about in the water and carry them to safety, giving them a stern warning not to return. But what to cover it with until I can get some caulk and close that up permanently? And that’s when I saw the pile of leftover pieces of Tahitian thatch left over from the Tiki bar roof job, so I grab some sections and toss them over the area. The bees are starting to come back, so I work pretty quickly, tossing pieces on top of the other and I se it drapes over the opening really well. The bees still want to check it out, and I don’t want to have them work their way through all the little openings in the thatch, so I grab some big towels and drape them over the thatch; that they’re halfway in the water makes them heavy and keeps them in place.

It’s looks like a man-made dam on some tiny river:

The bees still tried to check things out for the next hour or so, but I think they got the message, since a day later the bee activity has stopped. This weekend I’ll caulk the area up and pool season can get back to normal.

7/6 UPDATE: Well I did caulk the area up after removing “the dam” and things have kinda settled down on the bee front. It’s taken some time for the bees to give up their quest to make a home in the rocks. Oh, you still see a couple every day checking things out, but they don’t stay long. I’d hate to think I walled in a bunch of bees and the bees flying around are responding to cries from deep within for help, but even if that were so, in the quest for a nice and relaxing pool season it’s either them or me. Chalk another crisis resolved by the weekend warrior.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 17:35 | Comment (1)
July 4, 2015

Something to think about on this day when we celebrate our independence.

Freedom is never free.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 02:26 | Comments (0)

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