June 29, 2019

Target Handicap: 20.0
Location: Stonecreek Golf Club
Score: 49 + 54 = 103
MyScorecard.com Handicap: 27.4 / Change: (+0.6)

“Awww…f**k it.” So there I was, back at the Stonecreek G.C. driving range just one week after last week’s meltdown. The day was going to be hot and oppressive – 110 with some humidity (not a great combination) – but after last week I just felt the urge to return to the scene of the crime. I started warming up doing all the things I had decided to do from my “Mr. Fix-it” post from last Sunday, and, guess what, none of them were working. My group had an 8-minute call to thee first tee, so just for yucks I grabbed my 5-iron and went back to the same swing I’ve been using for the past two months. A couple of decent swings later, out the door went Mr. Fix-it and I was back to what I was doing before.

(Y’see, the problem really is that I don’t trust my swing enough to stay on top of the ball and make that one-piece turn (shoulders, chest, hips) possible that will deliver the clubface square to the ball. Instead, I know I am getting out of sync and swaying back, which brings the bottom of my swing somewhere between 1-3 inches behind the ball which can lead to thin hits and skulls. But when I do it right, I’m making great contact and see great results. I also know I’m just a couple of months into this and it’s going to take time to break bad habits. I probably won’t have it down for Goodboys Invitational weekend, but we shall see!)

Just like last week, I got off to a h-o-t start. Found the fairway at #1 and converted a nice 152-yard GIR opportunity with a solid 6-iron over the pond to twelve feet that just missed going in for birdie. And just like last week, I hit a crappy second shot on #2 after a serviceable drive, skulling a 3-hybrid just short of the creek. But I made a nice swing with a 7-iron to six feet, then missed what would have been a great par for bogey five. I made a lousy swing with a 5-iron off the tee on #3 (I wouldn’t replicate those nice last few 5-irons on the driving range once during the round, which still pisses me off) and triple-bogeyed that par 3 before bogeying #4 and double-bogeying the par 3 #5 (par 3s are really causing me trouble right now!) before heading to the par 4 #6.

The par 4 #6 is the #1 handicap hole on the course – waste area right with a pond protecting the green behind it, pond on left, and a creek running across the fairway linking the two ponds. Like last week, I pushed my drive left. Unlike last week, however, I didn’t flub the lay-up shot although I still had 156 yards to the pin. What to do, what to do? I knew I wasn’t hitting my 5-iron that well, so I made the decision to grab 4-hybrid and leave things all to chance. Caught it good (really good, actually) and flew the pond five yards off the green. I had a tricky downhill lie in a swaley area but was able to get enough clubhead on a sand wedge and put it on the green to two-putt and walk away with a very satisfying double-bogey. (Anytime I can finish #6 with the same ball I started is a very good thing, indeed!)

Things got sloppy on #s 7-9. On the par 5 #7 I had a great drive and could have gotten a little more on a 7-iron lay-up that left me 205 yards from the pin. Unfortunately, I yanked my 5-wood into the woods before chipping on and two-putting for another double-bogey. On the short par 4 #8 I pushed my drive left leaving me a yardage to the pin I couldn’t figure out, and my Bushnell range finder was giving me what I knew a wrong number (it wouldn’t be the first time today!). I guessed 137 yards and left myself a chip of 20 yards which I caught too flush, leading to a 3-putt and another double-bogey. On the par 4 #9, I pushed another drive left, then butchered a 5-iron punch to get out of trouble that left me in a waste area 120 yards from the pin. I decided to go for it (why not?) and sliced it into a sand trap that I got out and two-putted for another double bogey – three straight holes, three unforced errors. I was happy enough with the 49 (after last week, who wouldn’t?) but I knew I left a good six shots out there.

I started the back nine OK with a great drive that left me only 146 yards from the pin and converted my second GIR opportunity with a nice 6-iron to sixteen feet which I proceeded to three-putt for bogey. Another sloppy attempt at a 5-iron punch out of trouble on #11 resulted in a triple-bogey seven. On the par 3 #12 I pushed a 4-hybrid way left and should have taken my mulligan, but I figured I’d find it (I didn’t) then butchered the rest of the hole for a triple-bogey 6. (That par 3 Friday event at Goodboys weekend ought to be a blast!). I was really pissed at this point and it took me a few moments to compose myself.

…which I did on the par 5, 518 yard next hole by splitting the fairway with my drive, then crushing a 5-wood to 10 yards in front of the green. Made a lovely chip to 3 feet then sunk it for a birdie four (Yessss!). My Bushnell failed me again on #14, telling me I had 150 yards to the pin when I was at least ten yards in front of the 150-yard stake. My indecision led to a pushed 7-iron left and my first failed GIR opp of the day. On the par 3 #15 I thinned a 5-iron (sonofabitch!), then skulled a sand wedge to the back of the green before two-putting for a double-bogey 5. More sloppy golf.

And that’s how the rest of the round would go. I butchered the par 5 #6 with a series of poor swings (driver, 5-wood, a 5-iron dunked in the pond for a triple-bogey 8), then did the same on the par 4 #17 (driver, 5-iron OB off a tree, then another 5-iron) before two poor chips led to my only quad-bogey of the day. I finished up on #18 with a so-so drive but a decent lay-up before spoiling a decent 7-iron with a 3-putt for a double-bogey six. It was a grinding back nine with only two really bad holes, but by then the heat was really getting oppressive and everyone was just happy to get off the damned course.

I’m not pleased about my handicap index going up like it did after today’s round, but I really need to figure out a way to tighten up my game on a number of fronts: I only hit five fairways today (quite poor), but I’m killing myself on the par 3s and any iron play off the tee. Sure, there were some sloppy holes out there, but that’s a norm I’ve learned to live with. The 36 putts I made could have been a little better, but until I start hitting my irons more consistently I can’t really expect to shoot better scores. Fortunately, I’ll have one more range session before I play my traditional Goodboys send-off round at Superstition Springs in two weeks’ time. I’m happy I improved my score at Stonecreek by a whopping fourteen strokes over last week’s round (who but The Great White Shank can do such a thing?) but there remains more work to do.

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 20:12 | Comments (0)

Back from a week of hard and stressful corporate meetings, hence the lack of posts. The only bright spot of it all was meeting my sister-in-law Tam’s son for dinner and drinks – the last time we saw each other was 25 years ago, so that was great. It is truly amazing how time has flown. Being in meetings and all the necessary follow-ups and e-mail chasing, I haven’t really had much of a chance to follow any news but there is still time for a few items worth mentioning.

Given that Bob Newhart was always one of my favorite comics, it was great to read this review of a recent performance he did in Minneapolis. Hard to believe he’s still going strong at 89. If you haven’t watched his classic “Stop It!” routine, it’s embedded in Scott Johnson’s post and is a must-watch if you want to see a master of comedy and timing at work.

Another of my favorites is Richard Dreyfuss. The guy never gives a bad performance, and in interviews he has always come off as both thoughtful and sincere.

…which reminds me it’s almost July and Goodboys Invitational season, a time when I always watch the special feature “The Making of Jaws” from the 30th anniversary special release. If you love “Jaws” and love to hear a good story told, it’s a must-watch. It’s pretty damned funny, not to mention a truly amazing thing that the movie ever got made.

Both Newhart and Dreyfuss are a dying breed – entertainers who not just entertain, but are not vulgar and have a deep respect for a country that has allowed them to be as successful as they are. I never get the hatred so many Hollywood celebrities express towards this country and folks who happen to disagree with their political views. For one thing, why would you want to alienate half your audience? You watch Hollywood these days and all you see are political activists disguised as entertainers who really don’t entertain much.

I didn’t watch either of the Democratic debates, wouldn’t anyways because I knew exactly what they would be spewing over the two nights. But the fact that there is no candidate – not one, not even Slow Joe Biden – who wouldn’t extend free health care to illegal aliens tells me all I need to know. There is not a Democratic candidate in the world who will get elected in 2020 pushing a platform that only attract more illegals to migrate here.

…which is, of course, exactly what the Democrats want. they are out of their friggin’ minds.

Speaking of “Slow Joe” Biden, I, too, like Cory Booker (who, BTW, is as much of a fraud as Kamala Harris), was astonished at Biden’s latest comments yesterday while attempting to defend himself against Harris’s accusations of supporting policies in the past that were racist in nature. Here’s what Biden said:

“We’ve got to recognize that kid wearing a hoodie may very well be the next poet laureate and not a gangbanger.”

Can you imagine the outcry had Donald Trump said such a thing? Talk about your stereotypical views of the African-American community! I’m guessing Biden’s comment is going to get a lot more play in the coming days. The guy is a walking, talking joke – ignorant and stupid on his feet – and he’s doing the slow Jeb Bush dance into political death.

It’s time for the Red Sox to start playing up to their capabilities. OK, I get the World Series hangover, but there’s something wrong with this team. For one thing, it’s become fairly clear that, as erratic as Craig Kimbrel could be last year, he at least was a bona fide closer and had his role. The Sox need a closer badly, and now they’re probably going to have to pay big $s – either at the trading deadline or during the off-season – in order to get one.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 07:55 | Comments (0)
June 23, 2019

9:30 AM on a Sunday morning at the Kokopelli G.C. driving range. It’s a sleepy time of day – the first foursomes of the day are winding their way through the back nine, and a handful of hackers are out there working on their swings. I should be working on a presentation for senior management illustrating the initiatives I’ve recently put in place to foster collaboration between our India-based and North America-based teams to improve the quality of product delivered to our clients, but, dammike me it, I had a crappy day out on a golf course yesterday, and The Great White Shank is not one to let sleeping dogs lie.

The first thing I did after purchasing my medium bucket is to find a place on the far right side of the Kokopelli driving range to make for myself the tightest friggin’ fairway possible: a twenty-yard strip of dirt between the net shielding hackers like me from those finishing up on #18 and the more grassy area preferred by the majority of those who were whacking balls to my left. What I wanted to do is test what, if any, residual there was leftover from yesterday’s meltdown at Stonecreek G.C. That would tell me if I could truly chalk it up as just a bad day or if additional troubleshooting and intervention might be needed.

It didn’t take more than a few balls to tell me there was a fundamental problem here. Sure, the ground I was hitting off of was a bony as an 85-year old Katherine Hepburn, but the first six balls – three 3-hybrids and three 6-irons – between them couldn’t have achieved more than two feet of height. Understand, I hate skulling balls – it goes back to ancient days when I was first learning to play the game. Not being able to hit a hybrid or an iron in the air technically means your swing has bottomed out behind the ball and is just starting its ascent at contact (something I learned from this month’s edition of Golf Digest), but in practical terms it means you suck at golf and ought to be considering gardening, porn, or taking a theater company on a musical version of The Silence of the Lambs nationwide as an alternate form of recreation.

It was starting to get a little warm out there, so I slurped a grape-flavored Gatorade G2 and took stock of what was going on, and I mentally noted four main deficiencies in my swing:

1. I’m not squared up at stance at address (I’m too open).
2. Rather than staying on top of the ball and coiling, I’m swaying backwards. Meaning that…
3. …I’m not posting up on my right side, thereby hindering the down-strike to square the clubface and compress the ball.
4. My feet are too wide at address, also limiting my ability to square the clubface through impact.

The Gatorade was refreshing. I looked up and the four people who were hitting balls with me had disappeared. It was just me and the guy driving the ball machine. The idiot ran over the rope that marked the hitting area and all of a sudden it was like a serpent unleashed in Loch Ness – I actually had to leap to avoid being slapped by its recoil.

The first remediation – and this was hard – was deciding to abandon the flatter take-away and bigger coil I had been using since that Easter Sunday session at the Superstition Springs driving range. While it was a great idea at the time (and, truth be told, it got me at least ten yards more on my irons when I caught it flush), I just couldn’t square the club face consistently, and, more often than not, resulted in either a push or (gasp!) the dreaded shank. So I decided to go back to my former, more upright,take-away where I kept the clubface square instead of opening at take-away and closing at impact. Immediately, I started seeing: a) better contact with the ball, and b) a higher trajectory in my ball flight.

The second remediation was to reduce my (somewhat) wider stance at address and bring my feel into alignment with the width of my shoulders. Just taking a few practice swings I could feel a bit more flexibility coming in and – because of my more upright take-away – an easier means for posting up on my right side.

Finally (and this applies to both the driver and any irons I might be hitting off a tee) I went back to my swing instructor Alex Black’s suggestion that I use the alignment arrows on my golf ball to point where I want to hit the ball and then align my stance at address accordingly. Maybe others can just drop a ball on the ground or place it on a tee and just hit away, but I have a fundamental problem with my stance at address being too open all the time. It could be because of my eyes and the fact that, because of the Lasik I had done twenty years ago, I really only play golf with one eye (my right). I found using the ball to help me align my stance almost immediately got rid of that big fluffy push to the left that was killing my distance and causing me to miss fairways.

By the time I had finished my bucket, I felt like I was in a much better place than when I started (which, come to think of it, is what the driving range is all about). I still have a few adjustments to consider – most especially with my irons. As in, do I hold the club leaning somewhat forward at address or try to keep my club perpendicular with the ground? And, recognizing why I went to the flatter swing plane to begin with, how do I handle the tendency to pull my irons right of the green when there are GIR (green in egulation) opportunities. What I’ve decided in my own way is, given the choice between an open clubface pushing the ball short and right or pulling it long and left, I’ll go with the latter and drop down a club if need be.

I’m not sure who it was who said that everyone is born with a swing that you feel most comfortable with, but I’ve decided that I’ll work with the swing that feels most natural to me – which is a more upright take-away with the clubface kept square for a longer period of time (i.e., “outside the plane”) with my irons and try and accommodate the pull tendencies with less club and focusing on keeping my upper body as quiet as possible. As for my driver and hybrids, I’m not going to screw around with them so much: rather, I’ll focus on squaring up at address and shortening my stance to accommodate a better coil and post-up on my right side and let ‘er rip for better or worse.

Sure, it would have been nice to have self-corrected what was happening during yesterday’s round at Stonecreek, but that’s just something I’m not capable of doing. I admit that. I’ve always been more of a “feel” golfer than a technical golfer, and as long as it feels good I’m jes’ gonna keep on doing it, even if it leads to a 117 on the scorecard. But what I’m most proud of is that, even if it took a good sixteen hours, I have deliberately and technically worked my way out of the abyss and once again am feeling good about the changes I’ve made to my golf swing. Will it last? Time will tell.

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 20:43 | Comments (2)
June 22, 2019

Target Handicap: 20.0
Location: Stonecreek Golf Club
Score: 53 + 64 = 117
MyScorecard.com Handicap: 26.8 / Change: (none)

Sometimes you’re just going to have one of those days on the golf course where things just aren’t meant to be. Today was one of those days – one in which I played worse than I can remember playing. 117 is the highest score I’ve ever recorded since using MyScorecard to track my scores and handicap over the past seven years. Unfortunately, it’s not like I’ve never shot a 117 before – in fact, going through my MyScorecard.com records, this is actually the fourth time I’ve shot 117: at the same Stonecreek course four years back in May 2015, then a year later at Superstition Springs in June 2016, then last December with my Goodboys pals at Royal Links in Las Vegas. I find that strange, frankly.

What was different about today is that I actually felt great warming up on the Stonecreek range. Not every ball was perfect, of course, but I felt relaxed and felt I had a great transition and tempo working for me. Things didn’t go bad immediately: the feeling from the range carried over to the first hole where I found fairway at #1 and blistered a 4-hybrid ten yards left of the green, rolling to a stop just above a sand bunker. It was a tricky downhill lie, but a nifty flick of a sand wedge left me with an uphill 12-footer for par, which I two-putted for bogey.

On #2 with its pond in front (always a nemesis), my drive carried the pond with a yard or two to spare, leaving me dead middle of the fairway 152 yards from the pin. I don’t know what happened on the next shot. I thought I took the 6-iron back correctly, but it barely nicked the ball and squibbed it two feet to the left. I was more astonished than angry at that happening, but when I skulled the next shot into a dry creek running across the fairway forty yards ahead and had to take an unplayable lie, I’ll admit to being pissed. I then caught an angry pitching wedge too good, leaving me forty feet from the pin and then 3-putted for a quad bogey eight. That after what should have been an easy green in regulation off the tee.

All of a sudden, I found myself fighting for my life on every shot. I got away with a thinly-hit 5-iron to sixteen feet on the par 3 #3, which I two-putted for par. On the par 4 #4, my drive was a balloon shot way left, but a decent-enough 5-iron recovery shot left me in the middle of the fairway only 130 yards from the pin. I badly pushed my 8-iron way left, leaving me short-sided from forty feet. Fortunately, I hit a beautiful chip to three feet (outstanding, really) and one-putted for bogey. On the par 3 #5, I shanked a 7-iron off the tee then yanked my mulligan into some thin woods on the left pin high. Not only was I lucky enough to find my ball, but was able to chip it on the green and two-putt from thirty feet to save my bogey. But I knew I wasn’t fooling anyone.

The par 4 #6 is the #1 handicap hole on the course, with a tight fairway that runs between two ponds. It’s always been a difficult hole for me. Today, I ballooned another drive short and left, then shanked what was supposed to be just a little recovery 5-iron. I was 200 yards from the pin at this point, so I grabbed my 3-hybrid and caught it good enough to just get it over the pond on the left. Talk about living dangerously! I had 30 yards over a sand trap to the green, but unfortunately hit my sand wedge forty yards, and it rolled into the pond on the right. Chipped on and two-putted for a quad bogey eight. On the par 5 #7, I actually hit a solid drive just off the fairway right. A flawlessly executed 5-iron left me 180 yards to the pin. Unfortunately, I skulled the 3-hybrid into a dry creek and had to take an unplayable lie. I over-clubbed with an angry 7-iron that flew the back of the green, leaving me with an impossible downhill lie to a severely uphill green. Two tries, two putts, another quad bogey.

And from there it just got worse. I couldn’t hit my driver to save my life – this only two days after having my best driving day of the year on fairways a heckuva lot narrower than Stonecreek’s on my way to shooting a 46 at Papago Park. The 53 on the front nine was accomplished purely by smoke and mirrors; on the back I just lost my swing completely. I had no clue – zero – where any ball was going to go. Nothing was hit flush, and then the skulls came in spades. Starting on the par 3 #12 I couldn’t get an iron or a hybrid off the ground. The worst would come on the long par 5 #16 where I proceeded to skull three straight 5-woods – a club I’ve been absolutely crushing all year – before skulling four straight balls into the pond protecting the green. It was embarrassing, and I’ll admit I lost my composure out there for the first time in a very long time. The back nine was as ugly as anything I can remember: four 8s, a ten, and nine lost balls. Hard to believe it all added up to only a 64; it felt like a 74.

Hours later, and a chilled Pinot Grigio beside me, I don’t know what to make of today. I don’t know how one can go shooting an 89 and a 117 in the course of a few weeks’ time. Back in the days when I really cared, the prospect of having to play Goodboys Invitational weekend in one month’s time would have scared the bejeezus out of me and send me scurrying for a lesson from Alex Black. But (and I know this sounds ridiculous after today) I still believe in my swing and plan on keeping it no matter what happens going forward. For whatever reason, I just got way out of kilter and never found my way back. I have a feeling those TaylorMades feel quite abused after today, and frankly, I’m not in any rush to pick them up again any time soon.

Fortunately, work and a business trip this week will prevent me from touching my clubs, and I think that’s a good thing. But with Goodboys week rapidly approaching, I know I’m going to have to make the trek over to the Kokopelli driving range a week from Monday and just start over again. I really don’t know what happened today, but it’s clear that even with all the swing changes I’ve ben making, the consistency I’ve been trying to achieve by going with a swing and committing to it no matter what is only as good as the person swinging the club. And after today, it’s clear that the demons I thought I had eradicated a long time ago are still there. It’s enough to make me want to give the game up, because if it can happen out of the blue as it did today, what’s to stop it from happening again at any other time? All I’ve ever wanted was a swing that allows me to go out and enjoy an occasional, perhaps weekly, round of golf whenever I retire.

Perhaps that’s just asking too much.

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 21:14 | Comments (0)
June 21, 2019

Three items today that shows that the general public’s tolerance for the kind of social engineering going on is reaching critical mass, to the point where they are starting to push back.

1. Good to hear that states are finally starting to crack down on people and their “emotional support animals”. We’re not talking about blind folks (wait, can I even use that term anymore? Or is it now “sight challenged”?) and seeing-eye dogs. We’re talking about morons having exotic creatures and trying to bring them onto planes and restaurants and other public places for “emotional support”. I call them morons, but they’re really losers who can’t – or refuse – human companionship because of their so-called emotional vulnerability. Bullshit. Perhaps its because of their reliance on animals to give them a sense of self-worth that they’re so incapable of human relations. So they garf onto to animals to the extent they can’t go anywhere without them and the hell with the concerns of others. The fact is, these people are sick and don’t need emotional support animals, they need psychological help. Hopefully, the movement to reign these clowns in keeps growing.

2. Transgenders and women’s sports. I’m glad these Connecticut women athletes are filing suit, but it’s a damned shame it has had to come to that. I’m going to try and use common sense here – something that isn’t very common nowadays. And, typically, liberal activism lies at the core of what is beyond madness. Folks aren’t going to like what I’m about to say, but I don’t care. Transgenders don’t belong in women’s sports – period. It has nothing to do with fairness, it has everything to do with what you were born with.

Taking the broader view first, I’m sick to death of all the mainstream media articles celebrating transgender “rights”. In my view, the whole issue of transgenderism is nothing more than social and sexual deviancy pushed by those who deep down hate themselves for what they are and are therefore looking for some way of society accepting what and who they are. I don’t buy the issue as physical – you are either born with male or female sex organs. And if you’re a male who longs to be a female (or vice versa), well, I’m sorry, but life doesn’t always work out the way everyone wants. It’s not an issue of gender – it’s a psychological issue that requires psychological help. And these transgender activists (who, by the way, are the least tolerant of individuals alive) want to shove their sexual and social identities down the throats of everyone else. They push their sick, deviant lifestyles on others and expect everyone to kowtow to their demands or they’ll file lawsuits to get what they insist is theirs.

This is nowhere more apparent than the push for transgendered males to participate in female sports. It’s pathetic, and its patently unfair to the “real” women who work hard to succeed in their various forms of competition. Genetics and human nature don’t lie – you can take all the friggin’ drugs you want, and have yourself mutilated to the point where you can (supposedly) “feel good” about yourself, but it doesn’t change the fact that you’re what you were born as. You want to change that? Then in my opinion you’re a freak. Harsh words? You bet. But frankly, I’m tired of the mainstream media condemning religion (most especially Christianity) and our Judeo-Christian traditions, and celebrating social and sexual deviancy as if freedom of expression trumps all. And where are the so-called “feminists” in this ongoing travesty? Feminism used to stand for women being treated equally and celebrated for their exploits. And now you have these freaks coming in and competing on an unfair playing field against women who, through no fault of their own, have to deal with this kind of bullshit.

Fortunately, I think people are starting to push back. The courts shouldn’t have to get involved with this. The solution is simple: whatever you were born with is what you are. If you want to go dickering around with what God created, that’s your choice, but don’t try to force your own freak show on the women’s athletics stage.

3. The issue of homelessness – especially as it applies to what is happening in places like Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, and Los Angeles – is finally starting to percolate into the public domain after it being shoved under the covers for so long. And why is that? Because people are increasingly sick and tired of their cities and neighborhoods being taken over by panhandlers and homeless camps and all the negative issues that go along with that – most especially public health and crime. I do believe that most people have long since tired of the influx of these people into their communities but have heretofore been afraid of being tarred with the labels of intolerance and heartlessness. But the problem is growing, and in places like the above, the issue of public health has forced the issue into the daylight, and it’s going to need to be confronted with a combination of the rule of law, compassion, and ingenuity.

As a nation, the whole issue of mental health is one no one seems to want to take on. People think about “insane asylums” and the whole thing gets stigmatized. We don’t have nearly enough professionals trained in the care of the mentally ill, and there aren’t nearly enough places for housing the mentally ill where folks can be trained. In my view – and call me callous if you’d like – what I would like to see are laws first and foremost enforced. If folks don’t want to go to shelters, you jail them in places specifically designed or set aside for their care. If people can no longer take care of themselves or are willing to take care of themselves you designate them wards of the state and you find places to permanently house them.

Oh sure, the next question I’ll hear is, “where do we get the money?” I’ll tell you where: you can take all the money and resources that states are having to spend for housing and care of illegal aliens and dedicate it to our own citizens, first and foremost. The issue is not compassion – how’s that working out for you, California? The issue is putting our own people first before we even start thinking about those from other countries. Frankly, I don’t care about what happens to those who set foot in this country knowing they are committing an illegal act. If they’re not true candidates for political asylum you turn them back and send them back to their own countries. Why are we wasting our precious resources – in every sense of the word – on people who are here illegally when our own fellow citizens can’t or won’t be taken care of in a humane way? I’m not saying the issue isn’t complicated or easy to solve, but I’ll be damned as an American citizen to see my tax dollars go to folks who aren’t even American citizens instead of our own fellow countrymen.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 21:31 | Comments (0)
June 20, 2019

As hard to believe as it seems, the predicted high temperatures for this coming weekend in the Valley of the Sun are supposed to only be in the very high ’90s – almost unheard of! The daily highs should be running in the mid-100s and we should have at least seen more than just a two-day stretch in the 107-108 range. But hey, I’ll take it – so much so that I’m going to play a round of golf this weekend and not be concerned the least at a tee time just shy of 10 AM. I guarantee that’s nothing anyone would want to try were the temperatures running near or at the norm.

In the meantime, some thoughts for this Thursday:

Just when you thought the Democrats couldn’t get more radical, there they are, having hearing on slavery reparations in the House. I mean, are you kidding me? Do they really think this is some kind of a winning strategy for 2020. I’ll tell you this: it’s pretty darned obvious that the most radical wing of the Democrats have control over the current and future direction of the Party. I’m hardly one to refuse to offer the Dems more rope if they truly want to hang themselves, but what they are doing is stupid politically – there’s no other way to put it.

…speaking of stupid, “Slow Joe” Biden is doing nothing to dismiss the idea that he’s old, out of touch, and way in over his head. You read the stories of comments he’s made recently both here and here (Talking up his cozy relationship with segregationist senators? Really, Joe?) and you wonder just how long he’s going to last. The only chance Biden had was to use his “centrist” positions to unite voting blocs traditionally Democrat (i.e., white middle-class and suburban swing staters) with the more radical wing of the Party who just wants someone who will defeat Trump. But he’s already turned his back on positions associated with the former, and looks and acts too old, gaffe-prone, and feeble to attract the latter.

…what is abundantly clear is that “Slow Joe” is actually not very bright, is a COG (creepy old geezer) around women, and he sounds stupidly dated with his “C’mon, man” kind of hip schtick. I don’t see how he can be fast on his feet and look and act anything but an old, worn-out tired Washington swamp rat sharing a stage with his fellow Democratic challengers. Had he run against the Clintons in 2016 he not only would have beaten Hillary, but Donald Trump as well, I’m certain. Now? He’s nothing but a joke whose time is now past:

Democrat voters are fickle, folks. In every cycle, the party’s leaders always try to push a favorite candidate, and that favored candidate is usually rejected. The lone exceptions to this dynamic in modern times have been Walter Mondale, Al Gore and Hillary Clinton, all loooooooooosers. In 2016, the party’s leaders went so far as to actually rig the primaries in Clinton’s favor, and Obama and his evil minions did everything they could to rig the general election in her favor, and she still lost.

The Fainting Felon’s attempt to saddle the nation with a third Obama term was a miserable failure, and now here is Joe Biden, trying to execute the exact same failed strategy four years later. But Biden’s trying to do it before a party voter base that has been radicalized to the point of insanity, and the primary voting is going to be dominated by the most radicalized among them.

Say goodnight, Joe.

How does one know the “young rads” now own the Democratic Party? When socialist babe Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez compares the housing of illegal aliens – something no different than what the Obama administration did, BTW, to “concentration camps” and is allowed to pretty much get away with it by her Party cohorts. Hey, AOC, one word of advice: when you’ve lost the likes of “Sleepy Chuck” Todd, it might be time to examine your own level of ignorance when it comes to history and just shut the hell up if you don’t know any better. She’s really become an embarrassment to all but the most young and radical of the Party, but not even “San Fran Nan” Pelosi is dumb enough to tell her to shut up. After all, Pelosi knows that, as Bob Dylan once sang, you don’t need to be a weatherman to know which way the wind is blowing.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:20 | Comments (0)
June 17, 2019

That’s right, the year has gone by that fast. The mornings are already at their earliest, but there’s still increasing daylight to be had by the lengthening sunsets until Saturday, when (here in Phoenix) we lose a second of daylight.

To me, it’s not the end of June that delineates the first half of the year from the second half, but Goodboys Invitational weekend. Sure, that’s still four weeks away, but it just seems like the height of summer then. And once you get past Goodboys weekend it’s time to start making plans for the dwindling days of summer and the onset of early Fall.

Here in the Valley of the Sun, it’s “officially” monsoon season, but the reality is that you don’t get the first hints of monsoony until there’s a noticeable increase in the humidity around July 4 or thereafter. They’re saying that the first half of monsoon season will be dry, but that we’ll get above-average moisture in late August and September. That would seem to jive with Weatherbell.com‘s Joe Bastardi, who says there will be more tropical systems forming closer to the East Coast and the northwest coast of Mexico than normal. We’ll see.

A few other items on my mind…

This past weekend’s U.S. Open was enjoyable to watch on TV because of scenic Pebble Beach, but I’m guessing most folks found it to be a snoozer because neither Gary Woodland (congrats to him!), Brooks Koepka, or Justin Rose are exactly what one would call colorful personalities on the golf course. Truth be told, they’re all kind of robotic in their approach to the game and their efficiency – which, BTW, I’m guessing is why they played so well at Pebble.

…contrast that, say, with the likes of the swashbuckling Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson, who got treated rather rudely with their “go for broke” mentality. Which is why, I reckon, most folks enjoy watching them play.

…while on the subject of the U.S. Open, the FOX broadcasting team of Joe Buck, Paul Azinger, Curtis Strange, and Brad Faxon were awful. I hate announcers who tell you something you can see for yourself on the boob tube in front of you. They brought zilch, nada, nothing to the telecast. Case in point: Tracey noticed that Tiger Woods had the top of at least one strip of KT Tape (she knows it well!) showing on his neck above his shirt. Now wouldn’t that be newsworthy? I mean, you’re not relying on KT if you’re feeling in tip-top shape. If Tracey could see it, you’d think the bozos actually being paid to point out interesting things to their audience would as well.

…but all this does is reinforce my opinion that the media – and it doesn’t matter if they cover politics or sports – are as dumb as rocks. And ESPN’s Mike Tirico is the epitome of that. He’s a joke. I’m still trying to figure out what he thinks he actually brings to golf telecasts.

I happen to find quite persuasive Larry Schweikart’s analogy of today’s national debate over abortion to the nineteenth-century national debate over slavery. Modern technology has overwhelmed the original, now grossly primitive, concept of “women’s choice” and abortion on demand. That was all well and good before you could see the amazing evidence of God’s hand at work in the womb; increasingly, the advocates of abortion on demand are going to have to face the fact that anything after the first trimester is akin to the destruction of a human being. And women – and their male counterparts – are going to have to actually start taking responsibility for their lifestyle choices.

…which is why, like socialist babe Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (and Texas senator Ted Cruz), I support the sale of over-the-counter contraceptives. Anything we as a society can do to reduce the number of abortions is a good thing. Of course, the vile ghouls who both work and financially support Planned Parenthood would disagree.

Gee whiz, President Trump, it’s about freakin’ time. What took you so long?

Ditto.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 21:46 | Comments (0)
June 13, 2019

Random thoughts from here and there, hither and yon…

To bad for the Boston Bruins, losing Game 7 against the St. Louis Blues in the Stanley Cup finals. I haven’t watched a Bruins game — for decades, I could probably, if you forced me, to name two Bruins (Brad Marchand and Tuukka Rask, right?) but it still would have been cool to have the Sox, Patriots, and Bruins all holding championship titles at the same time.

…the good thing is, at least now I won’t have to listen to and read countless stories in the Boston media about whether the Bruins should or should not go to the White House and read about all the spoiled SJWs saying they’re not going to visit because Trump is a, whatever. The fact that so many members of the Red Sox refused to go remains a disgrace. Just like with Barack Hussein Obama – who I hardly respected – you honor the office, not the person who occupies it. Had the Red Sox gone as a team it would have in turn honored the Boston fans to see their team celebrating their achievement in the Rose Garden.

For a group of people who demand tolerance for their chosen sexual and social identities and lifestyle choices, I can’t think of any group less tolerant than the LGBTQ etc. etc. etc. activist community.

Today begins, of course, the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. And while I hate to have to pick him to win (GOLF Channel would be virtually unwatchable) I gotta go with Tiger Woods to win. With the exception of Phil Mickelson, there’s no one who knows his way around that track better than Tiger, and the shorter distances and small poana grass greens ought to work in his favor.

Anyone who actually pays attention to any political polling this far out of the 2020 elections needs to get a life. And that applies especially to anyone who takes any poll by Quinnipiac University seriously. I’m not sure they’ve ever gotten any poll right, like, ever. And yet the bozos in the mainstream media trumpet every QU poll that comes out. They only do it, of course, because Quinnipiac is so left-leaning, but you’d think those folks would have some sense of shame after a while. Of course, they publish the polls solely to get headlines, and the mainstream media lapdogs are more than happy to oblige.

I’m sorry, but there ought to be no joy – and certainly no celebrating – in beating a soccer opponent 13-0 like the U.S. Women’s team did against Thailand the other day. Believe me, I’m no snowflake when it comes to teams beating another decisively, but there ought to be a classier way of doing it than the U.S. showed. They came across as a bunch of classless bullies.

While still on sports, I told you the Minnesota Twins were going to be good this year.

…and the Red Sox are just a lifeless, boring team. I’ve heard of World Series hangovers before, but this one is particularly ugly to watch. It’s not the the 2014 team that finished in last place after winning the World Series the previous year – that was a particularly bad team. It’s just there’s little worse than boring baseball, and the Red Sox this year are B-O-R-I-N-G.

And speaking of lifeless, I knew the knives were going to come out for “Slow Joe” Biden, but even I didn’t think he’s oblige his detractors by running such a lackluster, uninspired campaign. You listen to all the gaffes and lies he drags out on the stump, and you can’t help but wonder if he really believes half the shit he’s saying. He’s going to get run into a blender come debate season.

The only reason why the Democrats are pushing the impeachment of President Trump so forcefully is because they know they’re going to need impeachment to offset the incredible embarrassment that’s hurtling towards them as a result of Attorney General Barr and U.S. Attorney John Durham‘s investigations. It’s increasingly obvious the Democrats were up to their necks in unethical and illegal activities involving spying and dirty tricks that it’s going to make what the Nixon White House did pale in comparison. The drip, drip, drip is just starting, and its going to get much, much worse – not just for Democrats but for the so-called “legacy” of the Obama administration. And for Democrats there will be nowhere to hide.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:59 | Comments (0)
June 11, 2019

The big heat has finally arrived here in the Valley of the Sun, heat advisories up everywhere. Hard to believe it’s the beginning of June and this is the first time we’ve seen these kinds of temperatures, but we’ll take it. We’re just a little bit over a week away from the unofficial start of monsoon season. Where has this year gone? It seems like yesterday I was putting the Christmas decorations away.

This is a special kind of heat, when it gets to be 107-108 plus. 108 seems to be the magic number when it comes to heat advisories being triggered. I call it “double bogey heat”. After you’ve lived here for a while, it’s hot but 108 doesn’t seem to me to be crazy hot. When you get to, say, 113 or above, now that’s crazy heat – the kind that pushes your swimming pool temperature to 94, 95 – the highest our pool will go. In 15+ years I’ve never seen it go above that, and frankly, I really don’t want it to.

I’m in kind of a funny place mentally this year. Maybe it’s because of work (where there are big changes in the wind) and a couple of long-time members of my team at work have announced their retirements. Or maybe it’s because come October it will be (to quote that Sgt. Pepper tune), “Will you still need me, will you still feed me when I’m” sixty-four.” The age feels strange to me. Starting next year I’ll be able to start taking my pension from working at Lahey Clinic for so many years. This fall I have to sign up for Medicare. I’ve had this cough I can’t seem to get rid of for at least four months now and my primary quack can’t figure out what’s going on. I think he’s going to change my blood pressure medication to see if that helps at all. It all just seems kind of weird to me – it’s as if I’m still in my forties but am living an older person’s life.

Maybe that’s why, ever since I resumed playing golf after last year’s Goodboys Invitational week on that warm and lovely October afternoon on the last day of triple digit temperatures, the sky filled with high wispy clouds being pushed out by the remains of Hurricane Rosa, that I enjoyed myself so much on the golf course and have done so since, playing rounds with strangers of all kinds. There’s a kind on anonymity out there: they don’t know – or care – how old I am, I’m not thinking about how old I am, I’m just out there recreating. Sure, I’m trying to reduce my handicap seven friggin’ strokes and am constantly working on refining my swing to get me there, but it’s always a good time, my score gets logged with comments, and I’m back to real life.

It’s not like I’m fixated on sickness and death, but I can’t help wonder from time to time how it will all go down for me eventually. I’m reading John D. MacDonald’s Condominium on my Kindle, about the tales and travails of a condo complex in Gulf Coast Florida during the early ’80s condo boom filled with retirees and shysters trying to take advantage of their ages and situations. Some of them are dealing with illnesses of various kinds, others with money worries or problems, all of them wondering why they’re in “God’s Waiting Room” and how the hell they all got there. And it resonates with me.

Don’t get me wrong – I’ve come to love Arizona and our house and community, but I miss the summers and falls in New England. I sure don’t miss the winters and the springs. But I can’t help but wonder where this all leads. I think about what I would (or could) do when I retire, and frankly, it bores me. Sure, I’d have the time to both play golf – perhaps join a weekly golf league – and clean the house more regularly then it currently gets. Or maybe I would find some kind of part-time work that I’d really enjoy. But I don’t feel ready for that. And what about if I (or, rather, when) I get sick – like, really sick. How would I handle it? Would, say, getting cancer (again) freak me out? Or would I attack it, like so many others do, with a grim determination to fight it out?

I guess it’s different getting older when there are no children involved. For my sister-in-law, she’s got her kids (and grandkids) that she’s constantly communicating (or attempting to communicate) with to one extent or another. I don’t think it’s because she feels like it’s important to leave any kind of legacy, she’s just a mom who cares about her children and it fills her life to some extent. Tracey and I d don’t. It’s not something I regret, and I don’t think Tracey regrets it, either. It’s just life the way it all turned out. Of course, I still have my dad around and my good friends back East, but everyone there – even Dad – has their own lives and situations. Tracey and I did a lot of traveling back in our first two decades of marriage, and, outside of the occasional weekend trip to Las Vegas or San Diego, or the occasional trip back East, traveling really doesn’t interest me much. People are weird, and traveling has become both weird and tedious. For example, I can’t imagine taking a cruise on one of those super-ships they have these days. All they are are floating hotels with young families and kids running all over the place.

I think I like it better here in the backyard where the landscape is beautiful, and at night the colors are lovely and the lights happy. Just like last night where a warm, slightly dusty, breeze from the southwest rustled the palm trees and got the wind chimes all a-tinkling. I sipped a Sam Summer and thought about just how pleasant it all felt. And how I should really try and find a weekend to play another eighteen holes before I go back to Massachusetts for Goodboys weekend next month. I’ve been thinking that next year’s Goodboys will be my last – it will be thirty years of Goodboys golf, and sooner or later everything has to come to an end. But then I catch myself and stop thinking about things too far ahead. (As is, in more than kind of a way, what this post is doing.) I don’t really like thinking too far ahead anymore – it troubles, if not frightens, me. Far better to stick to my mantra of listening to George Harrison’s “Be Here Now” every day before I start work.

Because the now is all there really is, isn’t?

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 18:11 | Comments (0)
June 8, 2019

Target Handicap: 20.0
Location: Trilogy Golf at Power Ranch
Score: 51 + 51 = 102
MyScorecard.com Handicap: 26.8 / Change: (+0.8)

The last eighteen-hole round of golf here in Arizona before Goodboys Invitational weekend, and my head is still shaking after a day of missed opportunities. No way did I think I had another 89 in me (as I shot last week) when I teed it up at Trilogy Power Ranch on a warm Saturday morning, but I also didn’t think I would shoot such a disappointing score after having arguably my best driving day of the year.

Golf is a funny game. Two weeks ago I had those “infield fly rule” pop-ups creep into my driver, and I never thought I’d ever be able to hit that club ever again – that’s how lost I felt. Today, I hit eight fairways and just barely missed a few more. But the number of fairways hit doesn’t tell the story. You know what tells the story? The fact I had seven – count ’em, seven – green-in-regulation opportunities (meaning, I’m standing in the fairway with an iron in my hand and the opportunity to hit the green in two on par 4s, or in three on the par 5s). Seven opportunities to make birdie at best, par most likely, or bogey at worst. And how many did I convert? One.

It’s so frustrating. Last week at Kokopelli, I drove the ball OK but it was my iron play that really made the difference. This week it wasn’t until the 17th hole – a softly-faded 6-iron into a crosswind from 147 yards – where I hit an iron onto a green. Before that, I couldn’t hit an iron to save my life. And the same with my Cobra 4-hybrid, which is about ready to be consigned to the deepest recesses of my garage closet to join his brother 3-hybrid. I can’t toss my 6-iron out because it’s a beautiful club, but today I couldn’t hit it. Couldn’t hit any iron, for that matter – everything was thin or skulled. I think I figured out way too late that I wasn’t staying on top of the ball and turning my hips, but who knows? It’s just damned disappointing to have so many chances at GIR and perform so poorly. I played those seven holes +15, including two quad bogeys and two triple bogeys.

The first missed GIR, on the short par 4 #2 wasn’t so bad – my 170-yard drive left me dead center of the fairway and 146 yards to the pin. I skulled a 6-iron to 60 yards, but couldn’t get a pitching wedge on the green. I two-putted for a double-bogey six. But it was on the 364-yard #5 that things went beyond absurd. A blistered (for me) 214-yard drive left me with 150 yards left-center of the fairway. I pulled 6-iron again and pushed it short and left of the green. I then yanked a sand wedge (another club that is causing me grief) into the sand bunker right. It took me three tries to get the ball out before two-putting for quad-bogey snowman. (BTW, I’d also push another 6-iron from a perfect position in the middle of the fairway on #9 into a pond left, leading to a triple-bogey seven.

What was frustrating about all this is that I couldn’t identify the problem and fix it. Which was too bad, because all day I hit my driver and 5-wood very solidly – perhaps the best I hit both clubs all year. My short game wasn’t as tight as it was last week at Kokopelli, but I’ve come to expect that there will be good days and bad. The 34 putts I made wasn’t awful, but once again I missed two putts from a foot out – something that has plagued me all year.

The back nine was a carbon-copy of the front nine. I was in GIR position on a four out of five hole stretch (13-17) and made triple, par (on a long par 5, no less), quad, and another par. The quad was especially offensive: after a 240-yard drive (best of day) I had 6-iron (again) in my hand. I skulled it into a waste area of deep grass, got it out of the grass but was left with 60 yards to the pin. I skulled my pitching wedge over the back, duffed my attempt to chip back on (my only real poor chip of the day then three-putted (the last a foot-long). You can’t shoot good scores if you’re going to play golf like that – it’s the worst kind of sloppy golf, and after a while it just beats you down.

That’s looking at the glass half-empty. On the glass half-full side of the equation, the fact is that I gave myself all those GIR opportunities to begin with. Which tells me I am in a much better place than where I was even at the start of the year. The fact that I’m no longer satisfied with a pair of 51s tells me that I know inside I’m capable of so much more. Others may disagree, but that’s just the way I’ve come to see things.

I’ve played a lot of golf over the past two months, and with the real heat now here I don’t expect to do more than perhaps hit the range or play nine holes between now and Goodboys Invitational week. It’s been a roller-coaster ride: these changes I’ve committed to with my swing have their good moments and their bad. It’s just tough to go out and play and not know what parts of your game are going to be working and what ones aren’t. I still like the changes I’ve made and remain committed to them, but a day like today – an OK enough score that could have been so much better – still leaves a sour taste in the mouth.

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 21:03 | Comments (0)

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