July 29, 2017

Lots to catch up on now that things have entered into post-Goodboys mode, but I’m going to start with politics:

Don Surber is absolutely right when he writes that the latest episode involving the GOP’s pathetic attempts to repeal and replace Obamacare and Arizona senator John McCain illustrates everything that is wrong with Washington these days. No one, from the White House on down, is covering themselves in glory, no one wants to play the role of grown-up in the room, and no one seems interested in rising above party politics.

The GOP had seven – count ‘em, seven years to work with healthcare practitioners, lawyers, drug manufacturers, insurance companies, average everyday citizens, and officials at every state and local level to craft a truly modern, creative, and practical approach to overhauling our approach to health care and how folks pay for it, and they did nothing. The Democrats, of course, either wouldn’t or couldn’t help even as they saw Obamacare start to implode because of party politics. And neither party seems interested in doing anything that would push forward President Trump’s agenda because he’s an existential threat to the “UniParty” in Washington that wants only to stay in power, maintain the status quo, and keep the spoils system going.

Enter the latest efforts by the GOP to pass an obviously-flawed bill that does nothing except make it appear to voters that they are moving the ball forward on health care so that they don’t have to do anything else to rock the boat going into the midterms. Recalcitrant senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine, and Dean Heller of Nevada feel the whole thing is bullshit and refuse to play along. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is clueless and unwilling to crack the whip over this, so it comes down to McCain, a vile and petty politician interested only in maintaining his political power and his reputation as a “maverick” when in reality all he cares about is getting attention and playing to the media whenever possible.

Originally, the word was he had minor surgery to remove a blood clot from above his left eye. Then it was revealed to be much more serious, and the whole media establishment suddenly comes down as if it’s the Lord Jesus Christ and the end of democracy that the life of such a “hero”, “statesman”, and “fighter for the common man” might be in grave danger. Statements of thoughts and prayers pour in from all over, giving McCain even more of the only thing in his life he thirsts for and lives for – more attention. The spotlight is firmly on him: what will he do? How will he vote? Surely, he’ll go along with the GOP’s plan, right? After all, he based practically his entire re-election campaign in 2016 on his promise to lead the effort to repeal and replace Obamacare, right?

And then the moment comes, and what does McCain do? Plays the same role as a mean and petty politician he always had. He blasts those who have the nerve to criticize Washington, then, when the defining moment arrives, where, in Tin Cup lingo, you define the moment or the moment defines you, he walks into the chamber, signals his vote with a simple thumbs down then walks back out to head back to Arizona for cancer treatment.

That is the real John McCain, and that’s the way something as important to the GOP’s fortunes in the 2018 midterms is viewed by the Republican senator from Arizona. It’s f**k you to Mitch McConnell, the GOP House, and, in a way, the American voters themselves. Because, in the end, it’s all about him, just as it always has been. And it’s emblematic of everything that’s wrong with Washington – a bunch of self-serving, pompous elitists who play the game solely for the game’s sake, praying that in 3 1/2 years the Trump nightmare will go away, another Washington insider will be elected, and everyone can go back to their bread and circuses as if nothing matters, nothing has happened, and nothing threatens them to be responsible or accountable to the voters who put them there.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 10:46 | Comments (0)
July 28, 2017

It was all the way back on May 25th that my formal prep for this year’s Goodboys Invitational began. My new bag, flush with new clubs still smarting from a month’s worth of range sessions designed to familiarize myself with my new gear and retool my swing from the bottom up (literally – I began with working on my footwork and weight shift without balls and worked my way up!), was strapped to the back of a golf cart at Superstition Springs Golf Club, and from that point all the work I had put in at the range started being applied in real golf settings. As I’ve mentioned before in this forum, there’s a vast difference between hitting balls at a driving range and playing golf. While you’re still hitting balls, it’s an entirely different thing altogether. One is about grooving a swing, the other is about scoring and putting that little white ball (in my case, orange) in that little round hole in as few swings as possible.

From the very start, my focus was on ball-striking: my irons first and my driver second. Everything else came after that, and I went into this year’s Goodboys weekend under no misconceptions that every facet of my game would be in place. As they say about the baseball season, what I’m attempting to do golf-wise is a marathon, not a sprint, and there was simply not enough time to work on everything. Which was OK – my goal really didn’t have anything to do with winning, or even competing, at the Goodboys Invitational. It was all about building a swing I could rely on that would enable me to enjoy my later years hitting balls and playing golf without worrying about shanking the ball and fighting my swing from day to day.

After the debacle in Vegas last March, where for two days straight all I did was hit shanks with my irons OB left and yank my driver OB right, I knew I had reached a defining moment. Golf had ceased to be fun, and I was more than willing to give the sport up if I couldn’t prevent that kind of thing from happening, not just on a regular basis, but ever. Having my clubs stolen shortly thereafter gave me a new reason to start from nothing and build a new swing from scratch. Not from my swing coach Alex Black, not from that February 2015 GOLF Magazine article by Hunter Mahan I had used, then tossed aside, then used again last year – this was going to be my swing built from scratch by me. Sure, I borrowed liberally from both of these sources (the ideas were too good!), but my main goal was to create a swing that I myself owned, not borrowed from someone or someplace else.

The whole issue as I saw it came down to ball-striking, and the need to hit down on my irons crisply and compress the ball. Reduce the fat hits, reduce the thin hits, and make the kind of contact that caused the ball to jump off the center of the club face. Of course, in order to do that I had to improve my footwork and weight shift, then work on eliminating bad habits I had accumulated over the years, like jumping at the ball and over-swinging. It took a lot of buckets of balls and a lot of trial and error, but two weeks before Goodboys Invitational week it all started to come together in the nick of time.

And the same was true with my driver off the tee. I played with all kinds of alignments and strategies for hitting the ball the way I wanted to, and it was only during the Wednesday of Goodboys week during a twilight nine-hole outing on the back side of Trull Brook that I felt it fall into place. And while I had my share of mis-hits during Goodboys invitational weekend (what 24-handicap wouldn’t?) I felt I drove the ball fairly consistently throughout the weekend, to the point where on numerous occasions where my short game would fail me and I’d three-putt for double or triple bogey I could forget about it and pound a decent drive off the next tee. So in both of those primary areas of concern, all the balls in all the buckets in all that sun and dust and heat and dripping sweat made all the difference, giving me a great foundation to build upon when I pick it all up again.

And it was that foundation that enabled me to persevere even when things seemed to go awry. I went into this year’s Goodboys Invitational weekend a 24-handicap and came out of it the same. But unlike other years, where I didn’t have a clue as to what I was doing right when I played well and likewise when I didn’t, this year I went in with a plan and executed it from the first ball I hit at the range on Friday until the last putt dropped on Sunday. It didn’t always work (that’s obvious!) but I never deviated from my swing nor my strategy – even when things got shaky like on holes 5-8 and 14-15 at Segregansett on Saturday and the first three holes at Triggs Memorial on Sunday. That’s the thing I’m most proud of.

So where do I go from here? Well, I’ll be taking a nice month off from the driving range and the course. The clubs will get a nice bath this coming weekend, and then they’ll have the month of August off (at the very least) before I head back out again in preparation for (hopefully) some fall golf in San Diego at The Crossings and again back home in New England (can someone say, Portsmouth Country Club?) that I have planned.

There’s still work to do, that’s for sure. It was embarrassing how badly I hit my 5-wood and my hybrids, and I’m not exactly sure how I’m going to go about trying to figure them out. If worse comes to worse I could schedule a session with Alex, or I could try to figure it out all out by myself, but either way I’ve got to learn how to hit those clubs consistently. Not that I needed much evidence to the contrary, but this past weekend’s play hammered home the fact that it’s difficult, if near impossible, to shoot the kind of scores I want to shoot (90-95) if I can’t hit those clubs. It’s also painfully obvious I need to work on my putting and chipping more – something I’ll be doing whenever I kick things back into gear. Whether you’re talking about golf in Arizona, or California, or New England, I need to do a better job on and around the greens, and that all starts with continuing to improve my iron play. Hitting more greens in regulation would take the pressure off of my short game and putter, so henceforth GIR will be added to the stats I keep whenever I play alongside fairways hit and putts attempted. It’ll be a challenge, but a fun one at that!

Being a 18-handicap sounds kinda nice, and it’s something I think is achievable, even at my age and with my abilities. We all need that carrot hanging from that stick, so that will be my goal for next year’s Goodboys Invitational weekend: going in as a 18-handicap. Whether I make it or not is not the point – everyone’s got to have a goal to shoot for, and that’s mine. Whether I achieve that goal or not isn’t the point, however – I’ve already achieved what I set out to do when I started this whole thing three months ago. It’s all about putting in the work, and it’s something I’ve enjoyed doing and look forward to doing more of.

Now back to your regular Goodboys Nation weblog programming.

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 09:19 | Comments (0)
July 24, 2017

And so another Goodboys Invitational is in the books.

First of all, the good news: by and large, all the hard work I’d put in over the past two months paid off “bigly” – I drove the ball fairly well and pretty consistently throughout the weekend. My ball-striking with my irons was also consistent throughout the weekend – the most important thing, in my humble opinion. For what seems like forever I would dread any long iron shot or par 3 over crap that came along, afraid that I would chunk it into the junk or shank it and and thereby send me off on a one-way ticket to Nowhereville for the rest of the day (if not the entire weekend). Not this year, daddy-o, not after all the hours I put in in the heat and the dust of a Phoenix summer. No, for the first time in my Goodboys Invitational career I attacked with my irons fearlessly. Sure, I got into trouble with some yanks and over-swings, but I pulled irons out of my bag with abandon throughout the weekend – something I was committed above anything else to do. In that regard the weekend was an unqualified success and something to build upon.

The bad news, and the honest-to-God truth was, I give away the Goodboys Invitational championship, and did it in the worst way possible, as my short game (especially my putting) completely left me on Sunday and in turn let my team down. Was it akin to the infamous “cheap bridge table collapse” of the “Killer” Kowalski and “Gaylord” Perry team at Killington in 1993, where, with the Spielberg Memorial Trophy seemingly in the bag with seven holes to play, allowed yours truly and “The Funny Guy” Andrusaitis to win in improbable fashion? No, but it was pretty bad.

I know what you’re thinking: that’s like saying, “So, apart from that, how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?” But that’s getting ahead of things. Let’s first walk through the entire weekend just so y’all’s clear on just how much of a success it was for The Great White Shank, regardless of how events played out.

On Friday the Goodboys gathered at Agawam Hunt Club in Providence. A nice course, perfect for a Goodboys Invitational opening round. Wide fairways, generous landing areas, fast but consistent greens – similar to what I’m used to here in the Valley of the Sun. I had told my Goodboys pal The Funny Guy after my dismal Tuesday outing at Green Meadow that I was this close to putting my game together, and put it together I did. Just two days prior, on Wednesday night, playing nine holes in the twilight with my Goodboys pal Killer at Trull Brook, I made par on four of the last five holes on the back nine for a crowd-pleasing 46. In doing so, I found a little something on the twelfth hole that would keep me in fairly good stead off the tee throughout Goodboys Invitational weekend. So on Friday at Agawam, I drove the ball exceptionally well, as well as I’d done in many a day. We were playing a four-man bramble off the tee, and I’m pleased to say my foursome used several of my drives for their second shots in. Overall, I hit seven fairways and had 34 putts – a damned good performance. My shot of the day was on #3, a par 4 where after a duffed second shot I was left with 124 yards to the pin, then stuck an 8-iron to 1 foot for par, which I happily converted. By the end of the day, with all our Goodboys handicaps taken into consideration, I had shot a second-best 82 (conservatively, had I played my own ball in I’m guessing I would have shot somewhere around a 96), and my partner “Skeeta” Clark and I had a two-stroke lead going into Saturday.

Segregansett Country Club in Taunton was, by and large, a tough sled for most, if not all, of the Goodboys. A little local knowledge on this tight, shot-makers course would have gone a long way; unfortunately, none of us had ever played it before. It was here that the first cracks started to show in my game, and, not surprisingly, it was courtesy of my 5-wood and hybrids, clubs I have struggled with since I brought them home two months ago. At Segregansett, there was no hiding the need to use those particular clubs: there were tee shots on several holes that one simply couldn’t pull driver on, and I paid the price dearly for it. Looking back at the card, I can see those clubs costing me a good four strokes. Given the quirkiness of the layout, I felt happy with a 53 / 55 = 108 on a course I had only hit three fairways on. And while the greens were quick and a little tougher to read than at Agawam, the 33 putts I hit didn’t cause me any grief. What I was most proud of was the fact that I lost my tempo for a good portion of the front nine but clawed my way back. My 108 wasn’t especially great, but pretty much all the Goodboys had a tough time of it that day. Knowing what I now know, Segregansett was a course I wouldn’t mind playing again. Going into Sunday, Skeeta and I were five strokes up on our nearest competitor. With the way I had played and how I was striking the ball, there was every reason to believe we had a better than even shot of taking home the Goodboys Invitational trophy.

Things didn’t get off to a good start on Sunday at Triggs Memorial Golf Course in Providence. The fairways weren’t unusually narrow, but the rough just off was so thick that if you strayed even slightly the best you could hope for was to get it back in play; there would be no going for the green out of the rough at Triggs. I found that out on the very first hole – a sculled drive that took two tries to get it onto the fairway. Unfortunately, I pushed a 5-iron waaaay left, then it took me two shots to get it on the green before two-putting for a double par.

It wouldn’t get a whole lot better from there.

Triggs is an old Donald Ross-designed course – meaning, lots of elevated and undulating greens protected by bunkers and thick rough off the fringes. If you weren’t pin-point in your accuracy with your approach shots it was too bad for you: if you were off a little, you were off a lot. Which I was. I stopped counting the number of times my approach shots would roll off the green into the thickest of roughs with downhill putts. Maybe others have that kind of game, but we just don’t see that kind of crap here in the Valley of the Sun. And how do you practice for it? The greens themselves were inconsistent and just slower than what I was used to, and it caused me fits. After a while they just wore you down, and I was worn down, tired, and frustrated by my short game from start to finish. While I hit only four fairways all day I don’t feel as if I drove the ball all that badly, but when I didn’t hit the fairway bad things just sort of happened. And I don’t feel as if I hit my irons that bad either, although I was clearly a hair off.

Once again, my 5-wood and hybrids treated me harshly. There are some very long par 4s on the front nine at Triggs, and three increasingly long par 5s on the back – holes requiring precision with hybrids and fairway woods. And with the rough waiting to gobble your ball like a Great White Shark, dumping a 5-iron down the hole wasn’t an option – not when you’re 3-putting greens and missing every two-foot putt, which I was. And in each case, I simply couldn’t hit the damned things – duff after duff after duff. It became such a hopeless task. But what ended up truly killing me was my putting – a total of 41 putts (even with a chip-in on #6), including seven – count ‘em, seven! – three-putts. I know I’ve had days with more putts than that, but not on a Goodboys Sunday with everything on the line. And it cost our team dearly. I managed only two holes at bogey or better all day and a Goodboys high score of 115. And that on a day when my partner Skeeta blistered the course with a rockin’ 78.

Sitting on the Triggs patio afterwards, I was still hoping against hope that our scores would hold up, but, like Hillary Clinton’s campaign staff last November when the numbers started coming in, I was starting to get a little nervous. The other scores were better than I expected, and my partner was hoping against hope that one of the teams would catch us from behind so that he (i.e., we) wouldn’t be stuck with having to run next year’s event as tradition dictates. When it was announced that the team of “Possum” Shepter and “Mothra” Nolan had beat us by five strokes, all I could do was look at my card and see all those three-putt holes and the long par 4s and par 5s where even a halfway decently-hit 5-iron or hybrid might have made the difference. Skeeta wasn’t unhappy with the results, but I was pissed. I hadn’t just thrown the potential for a decent round away, I had given away the 2017 Goodboys Invitational!

This one’s gonna smart for awhile.

Still, it wasn’t all for naught. For the first time in my Goodboys career since we started paying a monetary reward for first- and second-place finishes, I actually took home some dough-re-mi. Second place wasn’t first place, but knowing that it was my play on Friday that gave us the head start heading into the weekend helped ease the sting of Sunday’s fiasco. And looking back, I feel confident that with another go at Triggs Memorial I could go out and put up a decent number, and the same goes for Segregansett. I’m not just close, I’m very close to where I want to be.

All in all, I have no complaints with how things went down this Goodboys Invitational weekend. Would it have been nice to win? Absolutely. But we came close and that’s good enough for me. It would have been nice to have figured out my 5-wood and hybrids, but that wasn’t my primary area of focus these past two months. It would have been nice to chip and putt better on Sunday at Triggs, but I just don’t have the opportunity to play those kinds of greens and learn the kinds of shots those kinds of greens demand out in Arizona. What I wanted to do this Goodboys weekend was strike my irons with authority and drive the ball reasonably well, and in both cases it was “mission accomplished”.

Now it’s time for a nice, long break until the fall.

Congratulations to the new Exec-Comm, Possum and Mothra. You’ll have the privilege of seeing their happy mugs at the upper-right of the Goodboys Nation weblog main page until someone takes it away from them.

And, finally, a “YUUUGE” muchas gracias to the former Exec-Comm, “Goose” Dwyer and “Deuce” Doucette for two great years of Goodboys Invitational weekend planning. I’m sure they’re grateful for the chance to not have to play with each other for a third straight year, but, more especially, at not having to worry about planning yet another Goodboys Invitational.

Filed in: Golf Quest,Goodboys by The Great White Shank at 00:12 | Comments (0)
July 19, 2017

Days until the 2017 Goodboys Invitational: 3
Location: Green Meadow Golf Club (Jungle Course)
Score: 58 / 56 = 114
Handicap: 24.0 / Change: +0.6

There’s a running joke my Goodboys pals have whenever I struggle playing golf back here in New England (which is, frankly, most of the time. Using their best Quint impression from that classic scene from “Jaws”, they’ll say something like:

“…not like playing some Scottsdale muni, is it Chief?”

And the fact is, they’re right. Playing golf in New England isn’t like playing golf in the Valley of the Sun – it’s not even close. Oh, you have the same clubs, you play by the same rules, and keep score the same way, but that’s where the similarities end. The courses are laid out differently, there are few elevation changes, the grasses used are different and employed in different fashion. The biggest difference is in the rough and where it is deployed. On the courses I cycle through there may be rough – even around the greens – but it’s not nearly as thick. And while there are trees, they’re not big trees with lots of them gathered together and lining the fairways like freakin’ sentinels guarding the Queen’s jewels. The biggest difference is the kind of trouble you can get into. I mean, you can smash balls OB into someone’s back yard or swimming pool, or into a desert area where you wouldn’t want to go into because of snakes and cactus and brush, but in either case you take your penalty, drop a ball, and move on.

And that’s the hardest thing I find getting re-accustomed to whenever I play golf in New England. The idea that the first rule of thumb is that when you get into trouble, get out of it. Swallow your pride, don’t cute, and get out of your predicament as quickly and efficiently as possible. Take your medicine, and along with it the likelihood of a big number.

I didn’t do that yesterday at Green Meadow playing alongside my Goodboys pals The Funny Guy and Doggy Duval, and as you can tell from my score, I paid dearly for it. Trying to advance the ball back on the fairway through narrow openings that would have gotten me closer to the hole than had I gone out sideways (or even backwards) I hit four – count ‘em, four big trees hard and square so that I lost six strokes in just four swings – four shots I had to play over and one that I had to take an unplayable on after I whiffed trying to get it back in play. And that doesn’t count an ill-advised 5-iron on #1 that ended up on gorse worthy of this week’s Open Championship that I should have just taken an unplayable on but tried to hack it out (it went six inches) and whiffed on the next one before giving up. I’m no math genius, but that’s nine strokes just thrown away as if they didn’t mean anything. All of a sudden that’s a respectable (at least for me) 105 that I could have been satisfied with, especially with the other issues I faced during the round.

Let’s go back to the rough for a moment. Maybe some folks think of Green Meadow as a wide-open course for hackers but I found the rough particularly thick if you weren’t playing fairways and greens as The Funny Guy does so well (he shot his usual 88) – especially around the greens. As a result I really struggled around the greens. My putting was typically lousy but not atrociously so (34), but I was pissing strokes away trying to judge how hard I should hit my pitching wedge and under what conditions I should have dropped down to something like an 8-iron. Found myself with a lot of putts short of the hole, and not by any small measure, either. Towards the very end I think I found something – chipping with a flatter takeaway than I would normally be accustomed to – but we’ll see tonight during my final (and traditional) nine-hole tune-up at Trull Brook.

Of course, a lot of the above wouldn’t have happened so much had I been getting off the tee OK, but I had brought to the course with me that ugly push/slice that not just looks awful, but drains loses yardage with every sick yard of trajectory. I kinda sorta figured out on #8 that I had been swaying backward in my take-away and, outside of a couple of holes, drove the ball better on the back nine. But whenever I didn’t, I added to my troubles with poor course management. How does one shoot a ghastly 114 at Green Meadow? By driving the ball poorly (I hit only three fairways), managed the course poorly (no pars, only seven bogeys), and brought with me an abysmal short game (the worst of the year). Sure, I feel like I struck the ball well with my irons all day, but that’s like the old joke, “So, other than that, how did you like the play, Mrs. Lincoln?”

Fortunately, I can take the above as a learning experience ahead of Goodboys Invitational weekend. While time might be short there is still time. I truly feel as if I’m “almost there”. We’ll see…

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 07:00 | Comment (1)
July 16, 2017

Catching up on a bunch of stuff in order to clean the desk drawer out before I head back to Massachusetts for Goodboys Invitational week:

Honest to God, you can’t make this sh*t up. What on earth did this loser expect?

Moose on a golf course. You gotta watch the whole thing. It’s pretty funny.

…of course, I think moose, by and large, are pretty amusing creatures. I still can’t watch the opening credits of the TV show Northern Exposure without laughing. You can see the moose getting pushed out from off-camera.

What it’s like to be hit by lightning. That would scare the bejeezus out of me.

It’s been nine months and no one, and I mean no one, has yet to provide any concrete evidence of any kind of “collusion” between the Donald Trump campaign and Russia or any specific statute that might have been violated in any way by anyone affiliated with Trump’s presidential campaign or administration. As Matthew Walther writes in The Week:

Today we are supposed to mouth along because Don Jr., who is not as dumb as he looks (which is not, I realize, setting the bar very high), tweeted screenshots of his Nigerian-prince-like email exchanges with a poseur who pretended in the loosest possible sense to represent the interests of the Russian government. The emails led to a meeting that went nowhere. Knock me over with a feather.

Walther then compares what the media is telling us to believe about Trump and Russia compared to what has actually been proven when it comes to Hillary Clinton and Russia:

Here was a presidential candidate whose husband, a former president, runs an international pseudo-charity that keeps him on a never-ending series of private jet flights to an equally interminable number of luxury hotels in exotic locales — a gruesome neoliberal shakedown machine with metal tentacles sunk into the bank accounts of shady businessmen and tinpot dictators the whole world round. An infinite number of grasping conflict-of-interest stories could have been written about the Clinton Foundation, and many were. But they didn’t matter nearly as much as TRUMP AND RUSSIA.

The mainstream media continues to run with this Russia / collusion narrative, not because a crime of any kind has been committed – do you not think that if anything illegal had occurred it would have been leaked from a thousand Washington political and media insiders by now? – but because, frankly, they’ve got no alternative. They still haven’t come to grips with the reality that Donald Trump – Donald Trump – beat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election, and they honestly don’t know what to do with themselves. Frankly, the CNNs, MSNBCs, and NPRs of the world are reacting like juveniles – they didn’t get their way, and they’re taking their ball and going home. It’s pretty pathetic. The good thing is that most of America sees them for what they are: a bunch of sore losers.

…along those same lines there’s this bit of news from the New York Times. It corresponds exactly to what I heard from my GOP operative guy high in the party’s echelon. We hadn’t communicated since Election Day, but he plays golf (a 10 handicap, so he says) and he called to say how entertaining he’d found my posts involving my golf game to be. He agreed with the advice Matthew gave me and wished me luck at this year’s Goodboys Invitational, which was nice. More importantly, he also told me he’s been hearing similar things involving opposition polling that a blogger called FLEPOREBLOG reported over at The Conservative Treehouse blog:

Earlier this month, a congressional source told me, Democratic strategists looking at a Republican-held swing district that is expected to be in play in next year’s midterm elections were shocked when a private poll they conducted showed that Republican support for Mr. Trump in the district is even stronger now than it was on Election Day.

My GOP guy tells me the Democrats are in far more disarray than the GOP could ever be, and that the biggest mistake the Democrats are making is allowing the mainstream media to overplay their hand as far as the whole Russia collusion thing and unrelenting opposition to President Trump goes. It’s his view that, more than anything, the American people are fair-minded, and that, even if they may not personally like Donald Trump or even agree with everything his administration is doing, they have a sense that he’s being treated unfairly by both Democrats and the mainstream media, and it’s going to hurt them come the 2018 midterms.

My feeling is that there’s no question that a lot can happen between now and the 2018 midterms, but I can guarantee you that President Trump is going to use the 2018 midterms as a referendum on his presidency and will therefore be barnstorming the country on behalf of GOP candidates that support his agenda. And I can also guarantee you that those incumbents who don’t toe the President’s line will find himself (or herself) on the wrong side of things were another Republican to decide to primary them. This president is a heckuva lot more popular with Republicans than the mainstream media will admit to.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:24 | Comments (0)
July 15, 2017

Apologies are in order for the lack of posts in the last ten days. Whenever I haven’t been working or hitting the driving range or actually playing golf I’ve been spending all my hours in project management certification training my company has required me to do. I’ve had nearly a year to sit down and get it done, but I let it go right up until near deadline, figuring it was at best a couple of days worth of effort. Silly me: I’ve come to discover it’s more like 36 hours for the three certifications. It’s all computer-based training and the stuff is pretty dry. And there are no shortcuts since you have to take a test at the end of each module and it’s context based to the extreme. I’m getting a lot out of it, but it’s not just sucking the hours out of my days, but it’s mentally draining as well.

Still, a blogger’s gotta blog, doesn’t he?

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 23:04 | Comments (0)
July 14, 2017

Days until the 2017 Goodboys Invitational: 7
Location: Superstition Springs Golf Club
Score: 48 / 48 = 96
Handicap: 23.4 / Change: -0.6

The par 5 #8 hole at Superstition Springs is long – over 550 yards, starts out straight and wide (although you really can’t go left because of all the moguls and crap they have over there, and you can’t go right because of the bunkers strategically placed down the right side, so maybe it’s not as wide as it looks) then doglegs slightly right, shrinking to a narrow but long green. It has always been trouble for me, especially because of the narrow approach shot it demands. Today, I had split the fairway with my drive, and for the second-straight par 5 pulverized a 5-wood that left me only 123 yards to the pin.

I was in a great spot and brimming with confidence: not only had I birdied the previous par 5, but I had hit the previous green in regulation (the tight par 3 seventh) with a crushed 175-yard 5-iron before three-putting from 30 feet for a bogey. I felt like all the hard work and driving range visits I’d put in over the past month were finally – finally kicking in. And for once I had a healthy mindset as well: I wasn’t thinking “Don’t f**k this up, you moron!”, it was more like, “OK, you’re in the go-zone, let’s try and birdie this thing!” I pulled 8-iron out of the bag, visualized my target, took a couple of practice swings..

Oops, forgot to take a deep breath. Yanked it ten yards off target into the bunker right of the green, took two to get out, then three-putted again for an 8.

I’m dispensing with the negatives early, because my last round in the stifling heat and humidity (at least for these parts) is finally over. In the past 2+ weeks I’d played golf twice and hit the driving range five times, coming home each time as a walking talking human dish rag, peeling my clothes off as soon as I walked in the door and jumping into the relative refreshment of our 94-degree pool. Today would be no exception, except for one thing: it would be the last time I would have to do this. As I told my clubs as I changed out of my shoes in the blistering Superstition Springs parking lot, their next destination would be a nice bath in a bucket of water, then the driving range at the Golf & Ski in Hudson, New Hampshire where the air would be cooler, the grass thicker, and the breezes refreshing to the skin. It’s been a long, hot, and hard past three months, and I have never (and will probably never again) work as hard on my golf game ever again. But there were fundamentals I needed to get down and a swing change to introduce, and you don’t make that happen going out just once a week and hit a few dozen balls. Simply put, I’ve paid my dues.

While the 96 I shot today was my best round ever at “the Springs”, it wasn’t anywhere near the best I’ve ever played, not even for the couple of stretches where I made bogey or par on three out of four holes (holes 4-7 and 12-15). But what stood out today was the way I kept my mental focus virtually throughout the round. With the exception of a ten-minute stretch between that 8-iron on #8 and a nifty out from the sand on #9 to six inches that even I couldn’t miss for a nifty bogey 5, I kept my wits about me, didn’t over-swing, and struck my irons more consistently than I have all year.

Two examples of my mental toughness: on the par 3 #15 I tried a 3-hybrid from 195 yards and pushed it far left. Downhill lie to an uphill green thirty yards away, overhanging tree in front. Choked down on a 5-iron and smacked it into the bank, where it eased to ten feet away. A gutsy play that earned kudos from my playing partners. Then, on the par 5 #16, the second-highest handicapped hole, big pond and water down the right and water both left and right of the hole, I hit exactly the drive I planned (left side of fairway), hit a perfectly controlled 7-iron to 110 yards, then dropped a 9-iron twenty feet from the hole. Smart plays, good focus, great course management.

Because I was keeping track, I had six opportunities from 120 yards or less to hit the green in regulation and made only two. But that’s OK – these are the kinds of things I still need to work on. But the trend is definitely in my favor: I made a birdie for the second straight round, and, after tracking my scores and handicap on MyScorecard.com for the past five years, this is the first time I’ve broken 100 in three of my last four outings. I can’t – and won’t – say that I’m peaking in time for Goodboys Invitational week, but I now believe all the work in the sun and the heat over thee past three months is starting to pay dividends. Whether it’s swing thoughts or swings, I feel as if I’m getting more consistent with what I’m trying to do. That doesn’t mean it will always translate into good scores and consistent play, but I’m trying to change habits out there on the golf course, and those are the kinds of things that always take more time.

So, while I’m going into Goodboys Invitational week with a bit of confidence there are still things I know I need to work on: those short irons and getting more consistent with my driver. I’ve given up trying to hit my hybrids for now and would only drag them out if I were in the wide-open spaces. And then there’s the damned 5-wood: I had two really great hits today, then on the first par 5 on the back what did I do? Scull it into a fairway bunker. For right now I’ll just have to accept it’s going to be hit-or-miss. But if that’s all I have to worry about that would be a good thing! For Goodboys Invitational week the only swing thoughts I will have in mind is “keeping my Vs” and “compress the ball”. Then whatever happens, happens.

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 21:02 | Comments (0)
July 7, 2017

Days until the 2017 Goodboys Invitational: 35
Location: Lone Tree Golf Club
Score: 49 / 48 = 97
Handicap: 23.9 / Trend: 24.0 (no change)

It’s two weeks out from the 2017 Goodboys Invitational weekend and I’m about to tee it up at Lone Tree Golf Club. It’s already damned hot at 9 AM – the temperature on the pro shop thermometer read 102 – heading for a record high of 117. We’re under another Excessive Heat Warning, and the place looked like a ghost town when I walked into the cool, dark pro shop. Oh, there were golfers out there (I saw them as I drove through the main entrance) but they were on the back nine, working their way feverishly to get out of the sun and into a cold pitcher of suds before the real heat started to rise. Alone at the driving range, taking my practice swings with a small bag of balls at my feet, I could feel the heat already rising through the damp ground as if I was playing in Texas or Louisiana. Six balls in, I said screw it and headed straight to the first tee. If I were lucky, I’d motor my way around the course in three hours and get outta Dodge no later than 12:30.

I beat that time by twenty minutes. And a damned good thing, too, because it was really starting to broil out there. As lubed up and hydrated as I was, it was getting hard to stay focused out there. Sure, I wanted to play well, but it was all about survival, and the kind of heat we’re having is nothing to take lightly. Just the day before, while hitting a large bucket at the Kokopelli Golf Club driving range, I heard a fire truck and paramedics drive up to attend to a gentleman who appeared to have been overcome by the heat at the other end of the range. Smacking my opening drive down the left side of the fairway, I looked at my phone, noted the time, drank some water, and kicked into my round into gear.

Lone Tree is a pretty wide open track, but I went into the round in full Goodboys preparation mode. Sure, you can miss the fairways and play the ball off the wide waste areas that line both sides of the course as it winds its way through the walled-in golf community, but I committed myself to considering any drive that ended up in those areas as OB, as if it were New England woods. My Goodboys pal “The Funny Guy” likes to chide me whenever I would hit a ball into the woods back home, saying, “Not like playing a Scottsdale muni, is it chief?”, so for this round and my final Arizona round at Superstition Springs next Friday that’s the way I would play it.

One other thing I did differently today was to try and imagine myself in Goodboys competition. Before I teed off on each hole, I would look at it and imagine a hole I’d played from Goodboys Invitational past. It was both challenging and fun. I might have been out at Lone Tree, but in my mind I was playing at The Ledges, or Breakfast Hill, or The Captains, or Waverly Oaks. It was an interesting exercise, and it made me feel in some ways connected to my buds who are going about their own Goodboys weekend preparations in their own ways.

The 49 on the front nine wasn’t bad, but I threw away a lot of strokes. I had a few opportunities thanks to some decent enough driving, but I couldn’t get the ball on the green in regulation when I had the chance, and to compound the problem my chipping and putting were lousy. Still, I was striking the ball solidly enough, I just couldn’t make anything happen. Taking five shots to get in from 60 yards on the par 4 fifth was embarrassingly sloppy, and the eight I made on the par 5 ninth resulted from taking the same number of shots to get in from 122 yards. Two opportunities to make good scores frittered away as if strokes don’t mean a thing.

The back nine could – could have been magical. I somehow lost my ability to hit my driver straight at the turn and didn’t get it back until the seventeenth, but I was scrambling like crazy. The elderly gentleman who joined me at the turn took to calling me “Seve” for the way I kept escaping out of trouble with my sand wedge and pitching wedge, neither of which I could hit on the front nine. I birdied the par 3 twelfth – an island green, no less! – by flaring a 6-iron from 153 yards to seven feet. I bogeyed the par 4 #13 after hitting my drive into a fairway bunker, then hitting my approach shot into a sand trap and a nearly-impossible downhill lie. On the par 4 #14, I had a sharply-downhill chip to an elevated green and left myself only twelve feet for par.

The reason I say the back nine could have been magical is that it all started to go to shit from there. I four-putted from twelve feet for a triple-bogey seven. On the par 4 #15 I drove the ball into a fairway bunker, then hit a 5-iron to 40 yards left of the green into a gnarly mess of junk. I got applause from my playing partner when I hacked it out to eight inches from the cup. Bill gave it to me, but because at Goodboys you have to putt it all the way in I told him I still had to putt it. I missed. On the long par 5 #18 I wasted a perfect drive with two sculled attempts at a 5-wood, then tried to get cute by going for the pin with a 5-iron from 162 yards protected by a pond. Lying three as I was, the smart play would have been to hit an easy 6-iron right of the pond and try and fade it in, but I was frying both mentally and physically and went for it. I missed carrying the pond by a yard. Instead of playing for double-bogey I made snowman.

I can take a lot from today’s round. Clearly, the work I’ve been putting in at the range is starting to pay off. If I make that 8-inch putt, two-putt instead of that four-putt, and play #18 a little smarter I’d be penciling in a 44 for a 93 – exactly the kind of golf I want to be playing. I’ve still got some work to do at the range: my iron-play from 120 yards in, tightening up my driver a little bit more, learn to hit that damned 5-wood, but I really feel as if I’m close. Superstition Springs – my usual pre-Goodboys week send-off – will be it’s usual challenge and gauge as to where my game really is before I head back to Massachusetts. After today, I’m really looking forward to getting out of this heat and playing golf with my friends.

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 20:34 | Comment (1)
July 4, 2017

Hat tip: pbs.twing.com

Freedom is never free. Happy birthday, America!

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 02:36 | Comments (0)
July 2, 2017

Just in time for Goodboys Invitational weekend. One of my favorite Goodboys preparations is to watch the special features disc on the Jaws whatever anniversary release it was. Not only is it interesting, but Richard Dreyfuss reveals himself to be quite the storyteller.

This is why I can’t bring myself to go to St. Mary Magdalene regularly anymore. The Roman Catholics might have the best theology around, but they’re the biggest hypocrites in the world. Being a pedophile is bad enough, to hand a big cross around your neck as if you’re a servant of Christ is beyond sacrilegious. Both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict – two great Popes, BTW – had a chance to clean house and for whatever reason either didn’t or couldn’t. This new Pope is a social justice warrior moron, I got nothing to do or say to him.

I think the Golden Bear is about right on this. The longer Tiger is away, the tougher it will be for him to come back and compete at the level he is used to. But I figure he figures he’s got enough problems as it is.

Kudos to these pro-Trump activists. That’s the way to do it – convert them with kindness. If this were the liberal left protesting, they would have broken windows and trashed the place.

If this is indeed true, then there’s really nothing left as far as the mainstream media’s obsession with President Trump and Russia goes. It all started with General Flynn, remember? I’m going to go out on a limb here and predict that the whole Russia Special Counsel investigation is not about Trump, but about the Democrats, Hillary Clinton, and the Obama administration’s unmasking of American citizens solely for political gain. The Democrats will rue the day they pushed this TRump / Russia narrative. Now he’s going to each them for lunch.

This is (truly) CNN.

Regarding the hoopla over President’s Trump’s supposedly outlandish tweets about the MSNBC “Morning Joe” team of sleazeball Joe Scarborough and shallow, bitchy Mika Brezninski. The GOP elites in Washington simply can’t comprehend the idea of liberals bashing them on a daily basis and actually having the balls to call them out on it. My view? The only response GOP members should have is “We’ll get Trump to stop tweeting when you start treating him with the respect the office deserves, otherwise go **** yourselves.”

Meanwhile, while the media is focused on Trump and Morning Joe, good things are happening.

This is what a real President stands for.

LPGA golfer Natalie Gulbis as a Republican congressman? Could happen

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:46 | Comments (0)

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