June 28, 2018

Interesting article in City Journal about the goings-on in today’s European Union:

…The EU, that great construct of progressive centralism, he added, “is devoid of any character. European culture is in hiding, disappearing, without a soul.” Critical here is the precipitous decline of Christianity, the ideal that forged Europe’s premodern identity. Well over 50 percent of Europeans under 30 don’t identify with a religion; in the UK, the Muslim population could exceed Anglican Church membership within a decade.

Christianity’s decline, observed Tocqueville scholar Joshua Mitchell, represents a direct threat to European democracy. The great French writer, he reminded us, was Christian, and his descendants today remain committed to the Catholic faith. Christian values tempered the transition from aristocracy to democracy; Tocqueville saw Christianity as a constraint on the rampant individualism and materialism characteristic of democratic societies, which he had observed in the United States. Tocqueville, Mitchell suggested, “believed people have to have a culture, a place and a religion.”

Perhaps the most heated expression of demo-pessimism comes as a reaction to mass migration, notably from Islamic countries. The decision of German Chancellor Angela Merkel to open her borders to refugees from places like Syria and Afghanistan and the African continent has destabilized European sensibilities in a way not seen since the Second World War. Few speakers defended Merkel’s actions, reflecting almost three-to-one negative reaction to mass migration among Europeans. This opposition has helped nurture populist movements across the continent, including the new government in Italy. Unrestricted migration helped drive Brexit in the UK and sent many traditionally centrist voters elsewhere flocking to anti-immigrant parties, including some on the extreme, quasi-fascist right.

A couple of thoughts about this:

Of course, Christianity has only itself to blame for the “precipitous decline” mentioned above. Modern-day Protestantism is nothing more than watered-down, modern-day liberalism practiced on Sundays – by and large – by churches who have handed their legacy and used the ordination of radical feminists, gays, and lesbians, as a tool to shove modern-day progressivism down the throats of their ever-declining numbers. And the Roman Catholic Church’s horrendous mishandling of sexual abuse cases by priests has harmed the Church immeasurably. It’s no wonder, then, you see the rise of non-denominational small and “mega” churches who take the Bible seriously, teach the Gospels, and require their members to tithe. You can criticize them all you want – especially when it comes to the televangelists who are all over the cable networks – but nature abhors a vacuum, and these churches are fulfilling a need for people seeking a greater purpose and fulfillment in their lives beyond the reach of modern society and the information and media-saturated world we live in. Good for them, I say.

Finally, Mark Steyn predicted this set of affairs in his fine book, America Alone, in which he wrote the following:

On the Continent and elsewhere in the West, native populations are aging and fading and being supplanted remorselessly by a young Muslim demographic. Time for the obligatory “of courses”: of course, not all Muslims are terrorists — though enough are hot for jihad to provide an impressive support network of mosques from Vienna to Stockholm to Toronto to Seattle. Of course, not all Muslims support terrorists — though enough of them share their basic objectives (the wish to live under Islamic law in Europe and North America) to function wittingly or otherwise as the “good cop” end of an Islamic good cop/bad cop routine. But, at the very minimum, this fast-moving demographic transformation provides a huge comfort zone for the jihad to move around in. And in a more profound way it rationalizes what would otherwise be the nuttiness of the terrorists’ demands. An IRA man blows up a pub in defiance of democratic reality — because he knows that at the ballot box the Ulster Loyalists win the elections and the Irish Republicans lose. When a European jihadist blows something up, that’s not in defiance of democratic reality but merely a portent of democratic reality to come. He’s jumping the gun, but in every respect things are moving his way.

What we are seeing today is nothing more than a modern-day reenactment of the Goths and the Vandals sacking Rome. Unlike Rome in its day, however, we know exactly what’s going on out there in the so-called wilderness. We read about it, hear, text and tweet about it, and get browbeaten by the elites in our society over it, and then, basically, do nothing about it. I’ve never understood the “open borders” crowd and their hatred for Western civilization. At least here in the West we don’t force women to cover themselves up and treat them as second-class citizens. I guess it’s all borne out of ignorance: until one lives in a truly repressive society and culture you have no way of knowing how good you have it on the western side of the fence.

Oh well. My Hemingway Daiquiri needs refreshing.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 19:34 | Comments (0)
June 27, 2018

Less than a month from Goodboys Invitational weekend. I’m in regular contact with Foxwoods Hotel & Casino in Connecticut, working out the finer logistical details: checking in, checking out, where our Champions Dinner will be held, shuttles to the Lake of Isles Golf Course, etc. In between, I’m trying to clear my desk of all kinds of work ahead of heading back to Massachusetts on the 14th – there’s training I have to get done, “The Client Who Shall Remain Nameless” keeps on putting demands on both my team and my patience, and there’s all kinds of other work-related stuff going on.

Had a rough outing at Superstition Springs Golf Club last Friday when all kinds of old demons crept back into my game. Part of it was the abysmal setting I was playing golf in – a grandfather teaching his 12-year old granddaughter how to play golf with me trying to offer words of encouragement as best I could while we backed up two groups behind us. By the time I shook them and the foursome in front of me it was just getting way too hot to golf and my attention (and my swing) began to wander. Ended up with a 51+54 for a 105, but it looked a lot worse than that.

My glass of Pinot Grigio wasn’t even half empty when I realized the bad habits I had fallen into, all the signs were there: fat hits, a few yanks, banana slices with the driver. I remembered my last session a couple of years back with my swing coach Alex Black, and the drills forcing me to shift my weight and take a divot in front of the ball. Woulda been nice to recognize that on the field of battle, but no one ever accused The Great White Shank of situational awareness when it comes to his golf swing. Me, I need a little separation from the action. A few years ago, I’d need weeks (if not months) and perhaps a lesson to work these things out; now I’m down to a half glass of white wine on the 19th tee.

Now that’s what I call progress!

Golf is a funny game. Every time you think you got things nailed down it comes back to bit your ass. What separates the good hackers in Goodboys Nation – Skeeta, Killer, The Funny Guy, and Deuce, for instance – from the average to mediocre everyday hackers like the rest of us is that they have a greater self-awareness about their swings; they can feel when they need to gear down and make the necessary adjustments then all of a sudden rip off four or five pars in the next seven or eight holes. I’m obviously not there yet.

But that doesn’t mean I’m not creeping closer, if only in tiny increments. On the front nine at the Springs I was spraying my driver everywhere. On the back nine, I made an adjustment and all of a sudden got the accuracy and distance back that I had been missing the day before at Papago Park. It’s all about weight shift and (for me) a mental picture of keeping my lower body quiet.

And that’s what I’ve been working on at the Kokopelli G.C driving range the past few days – crawling out of the abyss and getting back to the fundamentals of weight shift and keeping my lower body quiet. It was brutally hot out there today, me being the only one on the range. On days like this, where the temps are 110 or higher, you just get in, work on what has to be worked on, and make tracks to the A/C in your car. But I love the solitude of the range, playing games in my mind with where I want to place the ball and seeing how close I can get it.

Sometimes I wonder how long I’ll be able to hit balls at the range. My logical mind says I’ve got another twenty years or so of ball-hitting ahead of me, but you never know, do you? So I try to get the most out of my time there: if the mourning doves and foo-foo birds are making a ruckus I’ll talk to them. I don’t care what the “professionals” in their Titleist gear and designer golf clothes think. If a sudden breeze comes up to rustle the palms or stir the pine trees lining the first fairway I’ll stop and just listen for a minute. I like it like that. Not today, though – it was too damned hot to waste time.

I think I’m going to play this weekend and then next weekend and that will be a wrap ahead of my Massachusetts return for Goodboys Week. Maybe my handicap trend is four points higher than I wanted it to be by this time, but I think I’m in a good place – an even better place than I was last year. I’ve great clubs, enjoy working on my fundamentals, and am looking forward to (hopefully) surprising some people.

That’s where The Great White Shank is right now.

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 18:48 | Comment (1)
June 23, 2018

This article by Patricia McCarthy at the American Thinker does a better job of explaining something I’ve been saying all along:

The rage and fury of the left today are astonishing. Conservatives hated every moment of the Obama presidency and the damage his administration did, but not one of import ever behaved in the manner the leftists do today. There is something so aberrant about the left now. Is this who these people always were in ever-repeating generations? No. Never before was the left so vitriolic.

The most curious aspect of the left’s malice is how incendiary it is among people of a certain age – that would be those of us old enough to know better! The old meme that we mellow with age does not apply to the likes of Robert De Niro or Peter Fonda. These men, like so many others of their ilk, have reverted to being the worst of ignorant childhood bullies. Think Animal Farm. As for the women like [Kathy] Griffin and [Samantha] Bee? They are the ultimate examples of the evils that feminism wrought: unrelenting anger at real men. They loved Obama precisely because he was never a real man, certainly not for those of us of a certain age. He was and remains the perfect pajama boy of his Obamacare dream, a feminized, immature, 98-pound weakling, in mind, body, and spirit.

Like I’ve always said about the left – and that goes for the majority of liberals and Democrats – is that they don’t know when to stop. Even if (and it’s becoming almost impossible to find an example nowadays because their hatred for Trump, well, trumps everything else) they have a good idea, it’s never enough to just put it out there for debate. Everything has to be shoved down your throat like a forkful of mashed spuds. And if you happen to disagree with them, well, you’re a racist, sexist, xenophobe, homophobe or a Nazi.

I’ve talked about the three-legged stool of the religion that liberalism is – diversity, tolerance, and acceptance, and how liberals are only tolerant, diverse, and accepting as long as you hold their views and think the way they think. And the difference between the left and the right in the way they handle differences of opinion these days is astonishing. When Barack Obama was president you never saw conservatives in Hollywood threatening to kill him or harm his family. You never saw anywhere near the level of freak-out you’re seeing on the left, and it appears to be getting worse. The left has always embraced fascism and the idea that the ends justify the means, but they’ve usually been fairly successful in keeping their true agenda under wraps. It appears that is no longer the case. McCarthy continues:

We are in fact a divided nation, the mature and immature, the civil and uncivil, the decent and the indecent. We are divided between those who love this country and those who hate it. Our leftists are Marxist globalists who want to see America destroyed or at least transformed from the inside, as Khrushchev predicted fifty years ago that it would be. The Marxists have won in academe. They have won over the Democratic Party completely. Pelosi, Schumer, et al. are on board with flooding the U.S. with illiterate migrants, numbers of them criminals, to satisfy their anti-American ideology. They and their agenda should be shunned by all Americans with a modicum of common sense.

Personally, I think what’s really freaking the left out these days is that they’re finally coming to the realization that President Donald Trump isn’t going anywhere. It was always a fairy-tale that he was going to be impeached. Now the reality that Robert Mueller’s investigation isn’t going to have Trump or anyone around him led away in chains is starting to set in, as is the understanding that the American people are (for lack of a better term) “getting used” to Trump’s persona and his “America First” agenda. They see large cracks starting to appear in their historic hold on African-Americans as a loyal voting bloc as folks like Kanye West and Candace Owens start speaking their own form of “truth to power”, so like a snake cornered they are lashing out in their anger and frustration. And as that anger and frustration grow, it become more unhinged. As McCarthy closes:

The left today is vicious beyond reason and dangerous. They are purposefully trying to incite violence against the president and his family. They are appealing to the craziest, most mentally deranged among us. They are hoping for an assassination. If it happens, as when Steve Scalise was so injured, they celebrate. It is who they are. Odious. They have descended into the abyss of revulsion from which they are not likely to recover any time soon. We need to fight back as conservatives have never before fought back. This left needs to be repudiated.

And conservatives are finally starting to fight back. What is different now is that Donald Trump is president. And not only is he unafraid to express his love for this country, its history, laws, and traditions, he’s not afraid to punch back twice as hard when previous Republicans and conservatives would cower and run away and hide. Trump is used to the rough-and-tumble of New York and New Jersey real estate politics, and his massive ego actually embraces the same when it comes to national politics.

General George Patton once said that Americans love winners and despise losing more than anything. What is truly freaking out the left is that they see Trump winning and the Democrats message for the midterms – open borders, more illegal immigration, a return to Obamacare, repeal of the Trump tax cuts and higher taxes – as a losing message unable to gain a foothold amongst mid-term voters. They see their party leadership in the hands of Charles Schumer and Nancy Pelosi as ineffective and a joke. And as the idea of a massive “blue wave” recedes and the prospects of Republican gains in both the Senate and, perhaps, even the House, improve, the liberal left is being marginalized to their own wacko extremes. Not exactly a winning message for traditional left-of-center Democrats and Independents.

Expect things to get worse as the mid-terms draw nearer.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 12:31 | Comments (0)
June 21, 2018

Days until the 2018 Goodboys Invitational: 28
MyScorecard.com Handicap: 25.4 / Change: (+0.2)
Location: Papago Golf Course
Score: 45 / 50 = 95

Just to be clear, I’m not talking Charles Manson’s ghastly definition of “Helter Skelter”, I’m talking about Paul MCartney’s when he wrote that deep track classic for The Beatles’ “White Album” of 1968 – which is the Brit term for a roller coaster. How Charlie could have gotten it so wrong is beyong anyone’s guess, but that’s a discussion for another time.

I mean, how else does one describe a round that begins with not one, but two chip-in birdies to start, three holes in the back spent in the wilderness going triple bogey / quad bogey / triple bogey featuring a whiff and not one, but two shanks, then turning it back around to finish the round bogey / bogey / before a closing par on the #2 rated hole on the course? That, my compadres is a roller-coaster round for the ages.

Papago Golf Course is located only five minutes away from Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, but you’d never know it – I think it’s actually on either Indian reservation land or land used by the Arizona National Guard – but its 18 holes winds its way through eucalyptus trees and desert scrub with views of some truly lovely buttes. For my money, it’s driving range is the most picturesque I’ve ever hit balls at. It’s usually my go-to spot for working on my game, but this year they’re building a clubhouse to replace the trailers, with a restaurant and patio that will overlook the 1st and 10th tees, so the range, chipping area, and putting green are temporarily gone, replaced by a construction staging area. Once everything re-opens this fall, I look forward to having an after-practice beverage or two on the clubhouse patio – it’s really going to be a thing of beauty.

I don’t recall the course being in as great a shape as it was today when I played nine holes one Friday many years ago. At that time I thought it was all kind of scrubby and claustrophobic with balls from adjacent fairways flying everywhere. Not today – the fairways were lush, the greens perfectly smooth and medium-fast in terms of speed. And with the temperatures already around the century mark when I teed off at 10 AM, the place was nearly empty. As it was, I played 18 holes by myself, and did it in 2 1/2 hours – the way golf should be played!

Without a practice facility there was no opportunity to warm up, so I took a couple of practice swings, stretched my back out a bit, placed an orange ball on the tee and promptly whacked one down the middle of the fairway. Hole #1 is a dog-leg par 5 that rounds a small pond. I had a great lie for a 5-wood, but I chunked my 5-wood (the first of several on the day – bad, bad 5-wood!), leaving me 180 to the pin. Grabbed my 5-iron and tattooed it, leaving me pin-high and short-sided, with a downhill, 20-foot chip to the pin. Which I promptly drained for birdie. Not a bad way to start.

On #2, a short par 4 of 311 yards, I put my second drive in the middle of a very narrow fairway, leaving me 94 yards to the hole. I yanked a sand wedge (shades of things to come) right of the green with a chip of perhaps five yards to the green with the pin uphill twenty feet from the fringe. And damned if I didn’t chip it in for a second birdie. I’ve done a lot of things in my golf life, but I’ve never walked to the third at -2 without a single registered putt. “Don’t get cocky, kid” I said to myself as I drove to the third hole.

After that blazing start I hopped a ride on the double-bogey train for a few holes as I found greenside bunkers on 3, 4, and 5. I’d never had to hit my sand wedge out of a real sand trap before, and it had been over six months since I’d ever put my golf shoes into golf course sand, so I was rusty. Took two to get out of the sand on #3, but I figured things out after that – and good thing, I would have plenty of opportunities.

I was starting to lose my driver after the second hole and fighting the yanks with both my driver and my irons. Nothing I tried to stop the over-swinging worked. Fortunately, my short game was, and it kept me in the round thereafter. I double-bogeyed both par 5s on #9 and #10, wasting two halfway-decent but short drives with chunked 5-woods. Not sure why I was so poor with the 5-wood today, guess I’m going to have to figure that out before I play for a second day in a row tomorrow – say, that’s redundant, isn’t it?

I temporarily righted the ship on #11, a par 3 requiring a 140-yard carry over a pond, stiffing a 6-iron that went over the pin, leaving me 15-feet for my birdie – not a great time for my first three-putt of the day. Things got even better on the short par 4 #12 where a decent-enough drive left me only 95 yards to the pin. I came off a sand wedge – hit it really poor – but chipped to one foot for a tap-in par.

Then the wheels fell off. Just like that.

Big push OB left off the #13 tee, then after a decent penalty drive, I couldn’t hit an iron to save my life. Poor chip, two putts, triple bogey. I quadruple-bogeyed the next hole as a result of some truly poor course management, for like the thousandth time violating the rule “when you get into trouble, get out of it”. There was a eucalyptus tree between me and the pin. Shoulda taken my medicine and just hit it out to the right, but thought I had a look to the left. Tried to get cute and whiffed my second shot. Third shot banged off the tree, and, well, that’s how you end up with a snowman on a 110-degree day. On the par 5 #15, I yanked a drive into the scrub right, and this time took my medicine. But once again, I chunked a 5-wood back into the scrub, and four shots later (two shanked) I dragged my double-bogeyed ass to the 16th tee.

It was getting hot, but I stayed cool after the last three holes. I hit a decent drive just off the fairway right, then slightly pulled a 3-hybrid 200 yards to just off the green to the right. Decent chip, two-putt for bogey. On the par 3 #17, a long, narrow hole with OB to the left (it was in no danger today!), I pulled the 3-hybrid from my bag and, yes, pulled it ten yards right and just short of the green. A chip and a two-putt later, I had my second bogey in a row. I was grinding, but that’s what The Great White Shank has gotten pretty damned good at (if I do say so myself). On #18, the second hardest-rated hole playing at 441 yards, I hit my best drive of the day long and straight (where did that come from?), leaving me 190 to the pin. I should have taken 5-iron and kept the bunkers protecting the green out of play, but I didn’t, pulling 4-hybrid instead. Luckily, I pushed it a bit, leaving it just in front of a big momma sand trap on the left. Another great chip on a day of great chips left me three feet for par, which I promptly drained.

Without that incredible start, I’d probably be looking at a score right around 100, give or take a stroke or two, so I can’t really be that happy with today’s round. The only thing I did consistently well all day was chip and putt (which is nice, of course), but all that jumping at the ball and over-swinging has got to be rectified before I play Superstition Springs tomorrow, another day where the temp is supposed to hit 110. Papago Golf Course doesn’t protect its greens like the Springs does, so you have to leave yourself in good places off the tee and hit good second shots. If I do there what I did today at Papago it will be a bloodbath. And I’ve got to figure out where the distance on my driver went – I think I’ve gotten into a habit of taking the club back too upright. We’ll see.

At least at the Springs I’ll have the chance to hit a few balls and try and get my s**t together before heading out. I guess it’s a sign of just how far I’ve come in the past fifteen months since rebuilding my swing from the ground up and then all the equipment changes – after all, if I’m saying I need to get my s**t together after shooting a 95 I must be making progress!

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 19:18 | Comments (0)

I always look forward to the longest day of the year. It’s a cause for celebration, I think – for me, it’s typically a day to light candles all over the house and celebrate light in every form of brightness I can conjure up. This year, I’ll be playing golf in 110-degree temperatures – the first of two days straight. I want to work on my driver and my short game, and I want to see how well my back holds up. We’re just weeks away from Goodboys Invitational weekend, and things have finally quieted down at work, so it’s a perfect time to lube up, hydrate, and see what I can do out there. I haven’t exactly decided where I’m going to play – I’m leaning towards Papago Park today with a return to Superstition Springs tomorrow. One thing is for sure, I won’t be fighting the crowds on the first tee – when it gets this hot, it’s not too hard to walk onto a golf course around 10 AM and fly your way around the course.

Meanwhile:

If liberals are supposed to be the most compassionate of folks, why are they so uncivil in their actions and discourse? I know there are wackos on both sides of the political aisle, but you rarely see conservatives engaging in actions like this and this. Look, you can disagree and protest against whatever you want, but there are lines that shouldn’t be crossed, and liberals do it all the time. I don’t take to much of what Rush Limbaugh usually says, but in this case he’s right – people are going to be killed, and the lack of condemnation on the part of the mainstream media and Democrats speaks loudly.

The activist who led a demonstration inside a Mexican restaurant where is actually a Department of Justice employee – she needs to be fired immediately. And as for Peter Fonda, well, John Lennon pretty much sized him up as a wacko a long time ago in the fine deep track “She Said, She Said” from their classic LP Revolver:

We didn’t want to hear about that! We were on an acid trip and the sun was shining and the girls were dancing and the whole thing was beautiful and Sixties, and this guy – who I really didn’t know; he hadn’t made Easy Rider or anything – kept coming over, wearing shades, saying, “I know what it’s like to be dead,” and we kept leaving him because he was so boring! … It was scary. You know … when you’re flying high and [whispers] “I know what it’s like to be dead, man.”

You’d think ahead of the midterms that the libs would try and tone it down a bit, but if anything it seems to me they’re getting more unhinged every day. On one hand, it gives me great pleasure to know that President Trump has unhinged them so much that you know every day of their lives is one of unending misery; on the other, someone is going to get killed. And if that were to happen there are enough wackos out there who would take offense to something like that and want to take an eye for an eye.

Me? I just don’t understand it. I lived through eight years of Barack Obama and watched him attempt to turn this country into Venezuela but you didn’t see this kind of thing from conservatives. It baffles me because life is too damned short to get your panties in a wringer just because your candidate lost. If it bothers you that much, work your ass off to get more Democrats voted in. But this juvenile, obnoxious “resistance” bullshit – it has to stop.

It’s time for liberals to grow up and grow a pair. But I can guarantee you they won’t.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:58 | Comments (0)
June 20, 2018

A few thoughts about stuff.

As the media slobbers over the separation of illegal immigrant families who try to pass into the U.S. unlawfully – yeah, keep it up, Democrats, that’s a winning issue to run on – the Trump administration isn’t afraid one bit to unleash the hounds against Iran. I’ve always said in this space that the oriental (and here I’m referring to “the East” as opposed to “the West”) mind has always respected the fastest horse. They understand – and respect – President Trump far more than our insufferable, wet-nursed mainstream media does. Believe me, if you don’t think the mullahs in Iran don’t see what’s coming their way, you don’t understand Theodore Roosevelt’s “big stick” ideology in a 21st century setting. Donald Trump is the closest thing we’ve ever had to Teddy, and the world is going to be drastically and irrevocably changed because of it.

You want to talk about families being separated? OK, let’s talk about separating families.

…or the estimated 58.5 million babies separated from their mothers – permanently – since Roe vs. Wade.

…so excuse me for my lack of compassion for people who come here, knowingly and willingly putting their children at risk knowing that they are committing an illegal act.

Strange, I don’t remember Democrats making such a fuss about this when Barack Obama was president and you-know-who was Secretary of State. Their gall and hypocrisy knows no bounds. But like I’ve always said, Democrats don’t give shit about anything except power and getting elected. African-Americans used to be their identity group du jour, now they’re fawning over the Hispanics and transgenders. Anything for a vote.

It’s looking like an awesome pennant race between the Red Sox and the Yankees, doesn’t it? Be interesting to see what both teams do at the July 31 trading deadline.

Can we all agree that Director James Comey’s FBI was a cesspool of political activism on behalf of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton? It’s really a disgrace that Madame Hillary was given a pass for her private server, e-mails, and reckless disregard for classified information because of partisan politics. The law ought to be the law. Mark my words, this is going to end up in Barack Obama’s Oval Office. And what is being uncovered here will make Richard Nixon and Watergate look like shoplifting gummy bears out of a candy store. This is going to change Washington and the way business is done there forever.

I guarantee you Robert Mueller has had enough and is going to be looking for a face-saving out to wrap his bogus investigation up by the end of July. Right around the MLB trading deadline.

Fifty years ago this instrumental hit the American charts for the first time. I loved it then, love it now. A very interesting arrangement with swooping strings and cool vocal work. It’s truly one of my “life songs” – a song that takes me back to innocent times, our families vacationing up at Lake Ossipee (or was it Molly’s cabin?) and a time when everyone and everything was young and alive. It’s all gone, gone forever.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:41 | Comments (0)
June 19, 2018

And so it appears that everything associated with the nightmare previously referred to in this space as “The Client Who Shall Remain Nameless” has ended with a whimper instead of a bang. The dick-head senior managers who inundated my inbox with messages and texted my cell at all hours of the day looking for immediate answers have all drifted back into anonymity. The skittish India support people who knew not how to open any cases without a status of “CRITICAL!!” have drifted away as well. The client folk who have been a regular part of the daily conversation for the past seven months? Gone as well. They’re all gone. As if the past seven months – seven friggin’ months – never happened. Seven months. A Vegas weekend ruined. A Christmas season ruined. 14-hour days (or more) and weekends spent at the computer spent trying to pull everything together. And not just me: others as well. And the project director responsible for the whole debacle – one that has to have cost the company hundreds of thousands of dollars? She’s not only still employed, but has moved to another group responsible for – of all things – overseeing client engagements. Go figure.

And it’s not just time that has been lost – time that could have been spent with family and friends and doing stuff around the house, my relationship with my boss and my the company I work for has been lost as well. I’ll never look at either the same way again. Loyalty and respect go two ways, and while I’ve never expected work to be anything but work, I don’t like being betrayed and disrespected in front of my team (something that happened more than once), and I’ll never allow myself to be put in that kind of position again. In the past I’ve been willing to overlook slights and the usual corporate bullshit in the interests of what’s best for the company. No more. Until this debacle I had never even once considered retirement, now, at 62, I could care less if they want to send me packing. I’ll find something else to do, believe me. Oh, I’ll continue to put in the effort expected as part of my position, but to go out of my way to help others in the company? Fuhgeddaboudit. This whole experience is one I won’t forgive and I won’t forget.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 19:36 | Comments (0)
June 18, 2018

Another U.S. Open, another year of controversy involving course set-up. The last time the Open was held at Shinnecock Hills the USGA admitted they let the course get away from them. Three years ago at Chambers Bay, they didn’t expect the course to respond as it did to the weather and the elements, leaving the golfers crusty brown surfaces that looked like some West Texas muni. This year, Saturday was a debacle when the USGA admitted they didn’t take into account the amount of wind and the impact it would have on the greens with the pin placements that were chosen for the day. Fortunately, for the USGA…

…Order was restored on Sunday when officials chose the side of caution, dumping plenty of water on the greens overnight and situating the cups more often than not near the center of greens, away from severe run-offs near the edges.

There were still plenty of high scores, but an average of 72.2 on the par-70 course suggested the set-up had been just about right, though it was helped by winds that did not blow quite as strongly as the previous day.

The USGA got lucky, though, in that Koepka won. He played late on Saturday.

Had Tony Finau or Daniel Berger hoisted the trophy, the criticism might well have got louder.

Both played early on Saturday, shooting 66 before the greens wilted under the baking sun, and neither would have expected to be tied for the lead at the end of the third round.

Golf is not meant to be fair but Finau and Berger, through no fault of their own, were provided with such an advantage that had either won, the victory might well have left a sour taste.

Finau was ranked 37th in the world while Berger started the week ranked 43rd — both accomplished players but yet to make their mark in major championships.

In the end, the top four finishers — Koepka, Tommy Fleetwood, Dustin Johnson and Patrick Reed — all started the week ranked in the top 13, so nobody could say it was a fluke leaderboard.

There’s no question that the USGA dodged the proverbial bullet this year, but unless they seriously – and I mean seriously – reevaluate their approach to setting up future Opens, they’ll just keep running the same risk year in, year out.

I won’t hold my breath.

Methinks the whole idea of what the USGA believes the U.S. Open is supposed to prove and how the USGA sets up their courses in order to achieve that goal is both outdated and ill-advised. Clearly, they are fighting a losing battle with technology and the athleticism of today’s professional golfers, and that’s not going to change anytime soon. I think GOLF Channel’s Frank Nobilo hit the nail on the head when he said that what the USGA is now reduced to doing is taking courses that were designed some 80-100 years ago to play a certain way in a far different era and tricking them up in order to achieve the USGA’s goal of making them par as close to the winning score as possible, and the hell with everyone and everything else.

It makes no sense. What the USGA is doing is risking making our national golf championship a farce. What does “par” really mean, anyways? And why should par matter? The idea should be to create a stern test for the professional golfer around a certain philosophy that the golfer who plays the best all-around should win. Not the golfer who can best drop an approach shot from 150 or 170 yards out onto an area the size of a postage stamp. That’s not golf, and I’m certain that’s not what the original course designer – no matter who they are or were – had in mind.

So here’s an idea for the USGA: forget about par. Forget that par even exists. And, for gawdsakes, leave the stimp meters in the equipment shed. Allow the courses you choose to be themselves and set them as reasonably close to the way the original designers had in mind. If you want to squeeze the fairways and leave the rough “U.S. Open rough” – fine. But leave the greens alone. Let them run as true to average as they can. And then – most importantly – let the chips fall where they may and just count the strokes. Forget about +2, -5, +7, etc. A guys shoots 69-72-69-75? Count it as 285. No one needs to know what par is. No one should care. Put your collective egos in your pockets and your outdated ideas about what par should be and just count the strokes. The better players are going to rise to the top, and if some non-marquee or top 20 player in the world doesn’t win, accept it for what it is.

I can assure you, as much as you think the fans out there want to see the pros struggle and get embarrassed like they do in their own weekly Sunday leagues, no one wants to see Rickie Fowler shoot an 84 or Dustin Johnson shoot 77 like they did on Saturday. No one wants to see the best players in the world shooting +12 or +18 for the weekend, even if it is just one week a year. No one wants to see a putt on line just barely trickle past the hole and then pick up speed and roll off the green entirely. That’s not USGA golf, that’s clown golf.

You probably won’t listen to The Great White Shank, but if you, the USGA, just set up your courses honestly and count the strokes instead of worrying about what the winning score should be in accordance with par, you might actually be able to relax and watch the best players do what they do best instead of sitting on the edge of your seats year in, year out worrying about the weather conditions and if the course is going to “get away from you”, leaving you embarrassed and making excuses yet again.

Our national championship deserves better.

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 17:28 | Comments (2)
June 16, 2018

Days until the 2018 Goodboys Invitational: 33
MyScorecard.com Handicap: 25.2 / Change: (-0.7)
Location: Lone Tree Golf Club
Score: 45

We were getting our first monsoon rain of the season when I arrived at Lone Tree Golf Club for my first “real” round to be played since getting my new M2 graphite irons, but from the looks of the parking lot the rain wasn’t keeping folks away on this Father’s Day weekend. When I originally made my tee time two days ago, the course was wide open; now it was packed for pretty much the rest of the day. I guess everyone saw a chance to play in wet (but not too wet) conditions and temperatures only in the 70s. Can’t blame them – that’s December weather out here. There was no starter so I had to try my luck hitching on with a less-than foursome out there, and there weren’t many of those.

I spotted a threesome heading to the first tee, so I curtailed my warm-up after four balls and drove over to meet them. I asked if I could tag along, and for the first time in my memory I was actually asked not to join them, saying they were playing as a memorial to their dad. Pretty bizarre, but I was thinking they might have his ashes on them and were going to find a way to spread them across a course he might have loved to play. At least I’d like to think that was the case. They did point me to a twosome already by the first hole green and allowed me to hit my ball off the tee so I could catch up with them. Which I did, but that lasted only five minutes when their phone rang and they had to quit their round because one of the guy’s wives needed the baby car seat in his truck for her car. I kid you not.

So now I’m left by myself to finish the hole by myself. I’m 156 yards from the hole, grab my 6-iron and leave it just off the green on the right, short-sided and high above the pin. I had spent three hours last Wednesday afternoon over at Superstition Springs Golf Club revamping my chipping game from the ground up and playing with different set-up and address positions, and it paid off when I just barely missed chipping in for birdie. Rushed my short putt and missed it for par, but at least I could get away from the guys in back of me.

I love my M2 5-iron. Easy to hit, ball just jumps off the clubface, every time. With my Callaway Steelheads, my 5-iron was a 170-yard club at best. The #2 hole at Lone Tree was playing 180 yards slightly downhill, pin at the back. My tee ball went 183, landing just off the fringe on the left. Two putts later (one official) I make par. When I get to #4 the hole was empty, so I played away. Thinned my drive, skulled a 5-wood – two really bad shots – but still had only 93 yards to the pin. Not great, because I had short-sided myself once again and above the pin right. I’ve learned with my M2s that a sand wedge, 80 yards with the Callaways, is now 100 yards, so I eased up on a sand wedge and put it exactly where I wanted it. Rolled out more than I thought it would, though, and three putts later I had a double-bogey six. But a good double-bogey, because I’ve really been working hard on my wedge play inside 100 yards. With the M2 and a sand wedge, it’s become a lot easier.

When I reached the par 5 fifth, I see two walkers about three-quarters the way up the hole, so I hit my tee shot – my first really good strike of the day – and then drive up to where they were. Two twelve-year olds just kicking around, one kinda chubby, the other a dead-ringer for the kid in The Sixth Sense. I ask if I can play with them and they said sure. I go back to my tee ball and, not wanting to be a hindrance, rush my 5-wood and skull it forty yards. “Oh brother”, I’m thinking, “these kids will think I’m a hacker.” The chubby kid looks back and says, “Hey mister, take your time, we’re not going anywhere, there are some real hackers in front of us.” So that’s what I did: took my time, focused a little on the task at hand, and crushed my 5-wood with slight fade towards the green. “Wow!” the two kids yell in unison.

Taught them a lesson about how The Great White Shank can play.

We had a great time the rest of the way. The chubby kid was playing from the red tees – he said until he turns thirteen he’s required to do that in order to keep his 18-handicap. He routinely hit the ball 220 yards off the tee. Beautiful, athletic swing. The other kid played from the whites, wasn’t quite as good a player, but he had a nice short game and could putt lights-out. They both played no worse than bogey all the way in. I taught them some Goodboys-style golf with a little bit of trash-talk that they really got into, and we all gave as good as we got. Lots of laughs and a lot of fun. Better yet, they both liked to play quick – something the adult foursome in front of us obviously never heard of.

I double-bogeyed the par 5 fifth, my bogey putt hanging over the lip and refusing to go in, then parred #6 after a solid drive and an eased-off 9-iron from 117 yards that left me for a third time short-sided and above the hole before I almost holed a sand wedge chip. I parred #7 with another solid drive and a 4-hybrid that went 190 yards that left me pin-high but twenty yards off and above the green to the left. My Goodboys 2018 partner “The Funny Guy” Andrusaitis would have been proud to see me chip with an 8-iron (!) that left me twelve feet for par. Which I promptly drained to fist pumps all around.

I made a mental mistake on the par 3 eighth. Normally playing 184 yards, “Uncle Bushnell” had me at 154 yards. With the Callaways, that would be an obvious 6-iron, but I had a sneaky suspicion I could get there with a M2 7, Didn’t trust myself and tried to play an easy 6, but my upper body got ahead of my lower and I yanked it far right, down into a gully. But I’d worked really hard on my short game and made a nice uphill chip with a pitching wedge to six feet. For the second time, I left a putt on the lip. Rocking-chair bogey.

The kids had really gotten into golf Goodboys-style, so we agreed we’d play the final hole for the beverage of choice for whoever had the lowest score. I teed off first and made my worst swing of the day, a big push OB left. Teed it up for my third shot and pulverized it down the middle. It’s always easier the second time, isn’t it? Sixth Sense hooked his drive OB left as well, then pulverized his third shot down the middle. The chubby kid hit his drive of the day, 240 yards, leaving him just 180 yards to the pin. He had a great game all around so me and Sixth Sense were out of it. But that didn’t stop me from crushing a 5-wood to 93 yards, then easing off another sand wedge that bounced twice just before the green and rolled to eight feet from the pin. My putt rolled around the cup and bounced out for a double-bogey. But it would have been one hell of a bogey. The chubby kid hit his second shot to twelve feet and left his eagle putt short.

The kids were getting picked up by their dad, and I was going to be sandwiched between two foursomes, so I called it an early day. The sun was breaking out and it felt Florida-humid, so getting off the course just after noon wasn’t going to be a bad thing. But I accomplished what I wanted to: continue to validate the distances of the M2s and work on my tempo. I felt a move with my driver on #7 that I tried to replicate on #9 that I want to practice on a bit more.

Overall, it was a good round. Four fairways hit, 15 putts, three-for-three in hitting the green from less than 100 yards out. No greens in regulation (which was disappointing), but it gave me a chance to practice the chipping game changes I’d been working on. I’m feeling very confident in my game, and with just over a month before Goodboys Invitational weekend, I feel my game is rounding into shape nicely.

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 19:27 | Comments (0)
June 10, 2018

We’re not far away from monsoon season here in the Valley of the Sun, and everyone is hopeful that it will be a wet one. The fact that there is already monsoon-ish weather down south of us in Mexico is a hopeful sign. Lord knows we could use some precipitation here because last winter was nearly bone dry, and a borderline El Nino predicted for next winter typically offers more of the same.

R.I.P. Anthony Bourdain. His most famous book, Kitchen Confidential, was a great read and one of the most entertaining books I’ve ever read. I didn’t enjoy his TV work as much – all too often I thought he was always trying to be edgy for the sake of being edgy – but there’s no doubt that’s how he lived his life – on the edge, and ultimately the edge caught up with him. I feel bad that he killed himself knowing he was leaving an 11-year old daughter behind. Having had a brother who committed suicide several years ago, I can’t imagine what it would take to drop that kind of weight on your children. But that’s the nature of suicide – it is an act of irrationality that, unless you’ve experienced that kind of darkness (which I never have), you can’t understand.

R.I.P. Danny Kirwin, a Fleetwood Mac before Fleetwood Mac became, well, “Fleetwood Mac”. He was a gifted guitarist, his sounds all over Bare Trees, a classic in my opinion. Kirwin’s lead guitar work is prominent on one of my favorite Christine McVie tunes, her fine “Spare Me A Little Of Your Love”.

R.I.P. Johnny “Pie” McKenzie. Back in the early ’70s when the whole New England area was Bruins-crazy you could recite the line he was on, alongside Fred Stanfield and Johnny Bucyk.

Sad to hear about Charles Krauthammer. I always enjoyed watching him spar with Bill O’Reilly on “The O’Reilly Factor”. Didn’t always agree with him, but I respected him as a writer and an observer of the politics. One can only wish him and his family peace in the short time they have together.

…which is why I try to find something in every day to make it worth living. It might be just a few minutes with a glass of pinot grigio under happy pineapple lights on the back patio listening to palm tree branches rustle in a warm breeze, or watching the mourning doves congregate on our wall to drink from our fountain, or take a warm soak in the tub with a good book, or hit a bucket of balls at the range. There’s always something in every day that you don’t want to take for granted, so live each day as if it were your last!! You never know when that physical exam is going to come back with something unpleasant, or some part of your body that you like having gives out.

I’m pretty agnostic when it comes to the legalization of marijuana, but anything that would tie Democrats and liberals panties in a knot is OK by me. Just another reason why I love this president.

Honestly, you can’t make this stuff up. What’s wrong with beauty pageants? Look, I understand life isn’t always fair. Not everyone is born beauty-pageant pretty. Me? I’d like to think I look at the whole package when it comes to women – I’ve known pretty women I wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole and average-looking women whose “whole package” makes them far more attractive than looks alone. But for gawdsakes, there’s nothing wrong with a pretty girl, just as there’s nothing wrong with exploiting guys that are hugely handsome. But that’s liberals for you – they just want to suck the joy out of life. It’s just a damned beauty pageant. Live with it!

Which reminds me: God willing, I’m so looking forward to Vegas in December – this time with no laptop in tow, and no text coming across my phone in the middle of nowhere demanding I be in Pensacola, Florida the next day. I want to replay my year all over again from the moment “The Client Who Shall Remain Nameless” started.

Just another way Donald Trump is changing not just the way the world looks at the U.S.A., but changing the world. Period.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 02:16 | Comment (1)

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