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)
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