Wish I felt better to spend my three nights in Vegas anywhere else but my hotel room, but let’s face it: you can do a whole lot worse than spending your nights trying to get your strength back at the Wynn Las Vegas looking out over a beautiful landscape, the mountains and lights spreading out all before you. It doesn’t get old in its breathtaking brilliance. A nice bed, a couple bottles of bottled water, and a good book – well, it just goes to show there really are a hundred ways of enjoying Vegas, and after this visit I can honestly say I think I’ve tried ‘em all and they’ve all been good.
I wish I could say the same thing about my golf game. Two rounds on beautiful courses, with nines of 61-59-59-63. That’s right: a 120 at Stallion Mountain, a 122 at Las Vegas National. So how does a supposedly great ball-striker like The Great White Shank shoot such bloated scores? Well, for one thing, by living up to his nickname. Look, I don’t about the shanks and where they come from. No one does. All I know is, after a couple of decent (albeit abbreviated) range sessions last week, I grabbed my pitching wedge at the Stallion Mountain driving range and proceeded to hit three shanks in a row. I then grabbed a 8-iron and did the same damned thing. And then grabbed my new 3-wood and hit a couple of big yanks right. And did the same thing with my new driver. I didn’t know what to think, but figured out I’d work it out on the course.
The shanks stayed with me the entire round, on virtually every iron I tried to hit. And the yanks did as well, on virtually every wood I tried to hit. I was in defense mode all day long. Never had that happen to me in as long as I can remember, if ever. It was as if some stranger had occupied my golf body, making it do things I couldn’t stop from happening. I didn’t know who I was, had no clue as to what I was doing out there. Heck, I was even shanking my chips from just off the green. Try doing that at home, folks. Fortunately, the people I was playing with were also just a bunch of hackers, so they didn’t care: we all had a good time just moving the ball around.
I was hoping to be able to try and work out the shanks on the range before my round at Las Vegas National, but it didn’t work out: I was just getting ready to hit my first pitching wedge when the starter came over and asked if I’d mind hooking up with the twosome already on the first tee. What could I say? When the starter says go, you go. So less than fifteen minutes after pulling into the parking lot I’m getting ready to hit with two real Las Vegas showbiz types: Bill, a lawyer to the entertainment industry here, and the other guy (I forget his name) who plays a Frank Valli-type role in a show at Bally’s. He even looked the part. Real nice guys, lots of laughs to play with, lots of showbiz names being dropped between shots throughout the round.
Unfortunately, I really could have used that range session. From beginning to end I had zero clue where any ball I was hitting went. I just couldn’t play a clean hole from start to finish. Decent drive? I’d chunk or shank my approach shot. Lost ball yanked off the tee? I’d make a decent enough before completely messing up around the green. And don’t even get me started if my ball ended up in the sand. I was totally lost. In the end it wasn’t all for not: I got comp’d for the show at Ballys and heard a couple of some funny stories about Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon (none of them flattering) and others. Danny Aiello sounds like a really nice guy.
But to be truthful, as enjoyable as the two rounds were, and they were enjoyable – I had a great time – but something came out of me as a result of all this. It was a lot of work out there, and I really don’t feel like picking up a club anytime soon. As I texted my good Goodboys friend Killer after the round, golf is a harsh mistress. You put so much time and effort into it, and very seldom do you get anything near in return for it. I finally hit two really good pitching wedges on the last two holes, from 90 and 98 yards, but there was no joy in it. All I could ask was why. I didn’t feel like I did anything different on those two shots than two holes prior when I shanked not one, not two, but three 6-irons in a row OB. And if there was another hole or two left to play what’s to say I wouldn’t shank something else? Is it rhythm, tempo, technique, stupidity? I mean, who wants to deal with that? And what’s to say that, even if I were to, say, hit the range and the shanks weren’t there, what’s to say they wouldn’t appear the next time I’m warming up for my next round of golf? Because I know they’re there, a monster within, just like that TV show.
So I honestly don’t know where my game (or lack thereof) goes from here. The sad thing is, I really felt late last summer and early fall I was really close to playing something akin to bogey and a half golf. Now I can’t even come close to double-bogey golf. Maybe it’s time to just give it all a rest. Or maybe I need to take this whole experience to my swing guy Alex Black and learn some coping mechanisms. Or most likely both, but all in their own good time.