October 1, 2020

Target Handicap: 20.0
Score: 50 + 47 = 97
MyScorecard.com Handicap: 25.7 / Change: (-0.3)
Location: Lone Tree Golf Club

It was time to get out.

So much has happened this year. The last time I actually played a round of golf (back in late October of last year) I was gainfully employed and a Goodboy. Golf was just a form of recreation g to try and clear my head amidst all my other innumerable obligations, professional and otherwise. So it felt weird to be driving out to Lone Tree Golf Club on a hot Thursday morning when there were no e-mail to check ahead of time, and no e-mails to worry about responding to after I got off the course.

I’ll admit: it was a very weird feeling.

The only reason I went out today was because I needed to get in at least one round of golf before I headed back to Massachusetts later in the month in order to hopefully play some fall golf with my Goodboys pals. You see, here in the Valley of the Sun we’re already entering that bizarre 2-3 week period known as “The Great Arizona Golf Course Shutdown”, where all the golf courses shut down in order to make the transition from Bermuda to winter rye grass. My original plan was to sneak a round in at nearby Kokopelli G.C., but 10/1 was their closing date. Since Lone Tree wasn’t closing until 10/5 and I have fond memories of playing there (I shot a career-best 87 four years ago), it was the course I chose for my re-entry into Great White Shank golf.

Going into today’s round my expectations were low. You see, last Saturday, on a whim, I headed to the Kokopelli driving range to hit balls for the first time since early February, just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. As to be expected, I was all over the place, but it was especially distressing to see the dreaded “two-way miss” from 2019 carry over: if it wasn’t a ballooning banana ball off to the right it was a big pull to the left, and nothing I did seemed to have any effect. Then yesterday I headed over to the Papago Park driving range and things started out just as poorly. I was trying everything to remediate what was nothing short of a disaster to no effect.

So I took a time out, had a nice walk around the premises, and took stock about what I was trying to do. I knew my weight shift was off, but where was it coming from? I returned back to my clubs and the scattering of yellow balls waiting to be hit, and went back to as basic a swing as I could possibly come up with: stay on top of the ball, focus only on compressing the ball and taking a divot (irons) and sweeping up at the ball (5-wood and driver), focusing on my weight shift. Nothing good was happening. And then there was a click.

Keep in mind The Great White Shank is not a technical golfer. For better or for worse, I am what they call a “feel” golfer”: meaning, I need to recognize and remember a particular “feel” when I’m hitting the ball correctly. So when, all of a sudden, my driver lost its two-way miss and started going straight and long, I was skeptical. But after a dozen balls and then replicating same with my 5- and 6-irons, I knew I had found a “feel” worth trying out.

I picked up the phone and scheduled a round at Lone Tree.

I deliberately chose not to hit a bucket of balls before before today’s round. Maybe it was a mistake, maybe it wasn’t. But on the first few holes I felt like a blind man feeling his way around a crowded city sidewalk. I double-bogeyed the first hole without a single good shot, but then, on the par 3 #2 just missed a 5-iron that went straight enough that allowed for an ugly chip and two-putt for bogey. But starting with my tee shot on the next hole I could feel the “feel” coming back. All that was missing was my short game, but I wasn’t going to worry about that too much – after all, you don’t go almost a year without playing and expect your short game to be anywhere.

By the time I got to #6 I was starting to feel my oats. My putting sucked, but I had plenty of opportunities to make good scores. I actually made par on that #1 rated hole (a long par 5) where I made the fairway with my driver, hit a wonderful 4-hybrid to 110 yards, then chipped to a distance where even I couldn’t miss.

On the back nine I could really feel my game coming together: I made par on three of the first five holes (including the 140-yard, island green #12 – 7-iron so pure I vogued until it stopped twelve feet from the hole), before my only true ugly hole where I got a little out of sorts and made snowman on the par 4 #13. But I recovered to make par on the next par 3 (featuring my first solid chip of the day). Then, after an unnecessary double-bogey on the #15 par 4 where I over-cooked a 6-iron approach (hit it too good!), I made another par with a pro-worthy 9-iron approach from 112 yards that split two bunkers protecting the green. Then, following my best drive of the day on the par 4 #17 (out-driving both of my playing partners for the first time!), I butchered a 6-iron from 152 yards – my only real bad iron shot of the day – leading to a double bogey.

We arrived at the long, long par 5 #18. I check my card and see I’m lying 40. So, in my Great White Shank mind I’ve got nine strokes to kill in order to still break 100. Perhaps that’s not the correct mindset here, but ya gotta understand I hadn’t played a round of actual golf in a long, long time, so I’m feeling like I’m playing with the house’s money, OK? After both my playing partners found the water running along the right side, I blistered yet another drive that found me 220 yards from the pin. To go for it would have been stupid (the hole takes a sharp dog-leg to the left and is well protected by a pond in the front), but I hadn’t hit my 5-wood all day – it was the only club in my bag I hadn’t hit – so I thought it might be fun to try. All I wanted to do was take a little off and keep it just right of the narrow fairway between the pond and the subdivision on the right.

I thought I took a little off, but the last I saw of my ball it was taking a high arc beyond the end of the fairway making a bee-line to John and Sally’s 4 BR/ 2 bath. “Shit!, I yell to one of my playing partners, “I hit it too good!” Riiiight. Anyways, I take a drop, butcher a chip beyond the green, then mangle a couple of putts for a double-bogey seven.

Not a bad piece of work for the day.

I have to say today’s round exceeded my expectations. If you had told me I’d shoot a 97 after being away from real golf for nearly a year I would have told you I’d be very satisfied with that. Which I am. As for the numbers, I hit eight fairways (not bad), made 35 putts (not as many as it seemed), converted two of five green-in regulation opportunities (need to improve my opps!) and had seven holes with scores of no more than bogey. I’m pretty pleased with that.

I doubt there will be much golf to play before I head back to Massachusetts later this month, but now that I’m sort of retired (at least for now), I plan on making plenty of time to work on my “feel” a little more to turn that into a true “move”. I also want to work on my short game. For that, my old digs at Superstition Springs is just the ticket. Between that and the bike rides it will do me good to get me out of the house and into the fresh air, which is something I know I will need.

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 21:04 | Comments Off on Golf Quest Resumed!
February 9, 2020

I had finished a bunch of chores, getting rabbit food for my sister-in-law, food shopping, removing all the frost coverings on our sensitive plants, and making sure my propane exchange tank was working as needed when – bang! – all of a sudden the urge hit me that, as beautiful a day as it was, I ought to go hit some balls.

The last time I had played golf was back in late September, so it had been almost 4 1/2 months since I had even swung a club. So I wasn’t sure exactly what I would be trying to accomplish – if anything – by heading out to the Kokopelli G.C. driving range on such a lovely, mid-70s Saturday afternoon.

Personally, I was pissed that in my haste to throw up last night’s blog post about all the music currently swimming in my head I had neglected to include the Bee Gees’ “Nights on Broadway” and “Got To Get A Message To You” and The Doors’ “Hyacinth House” and “L.A. Woman” that, while driving over to the driving range, I had that opening riff of “Hyacinth House” as the guide to the tempo I would try and achieve during this range session.

(Allow me to first of all state that I had already made the decision that I was abandoning the take-away I had adopted last year, taking the club back and gradually opening it at the top so as to then close it with “a snap” at impact (the idea being, you’d gain some distance from the inherent acceleration at impact). In my view, all that did was introduce the dreaded “two-way miss” – if I got the club square at impact it would go a gazillion miles, a little early I’d generate this ugly, dipsy-doo push to the left, a little late a big yank to the right. The last time I’d played, in September at TPC Scottsdale, Tracey would ask where the ball was going at any given swing and I’d have to say honestly I’d hadn’t the faintest clue.)

I paid my money for a medium bucket and headed out to the range with no small amount of trepidation. I honestly didn’t know what I was trying to achieve outside of getting over the mental hurdle of just hitting balls again. The “Hyacinth House” tempo in my head (I know this sounds bizarre, but, hey, we’re talking The Great White Shank here), I noticed there were a couple of spots wide open next to a guy in an Air Force Academy T-shirt who was working on his Callaway Epic driver, and I found myself immediately intrigued by his smooth hips / chest / shoulder tempo – the same kind of “Hyacinth House” tempo I had in my head. Suddenly, I was taken back to almost two years ago and that range session where a guy named Matthew recognized I wasn’t keeping my “Vs”; yes! that’s exactly what I wanted to get back to!!

Right off the bat, I was inspired to go with that single, simple move – hips, chest, shoulder all working together – not caring about whether I was turning the club-face open at the top of my back-swing or not and just focus on staying on top of the ball and finishing off on my right side. Focus on tempo (not jumping at the ball) and weight shift (get off that damned left side!). I also committed myself to the idea that if I felt like my stance at address was somewhat closed, then I was most probably square. And to make sure that I was playing all my irons in the middle of my stance.

It was pretty funny that, right off from the bat, I found myself not just making great contact as far as ball-striking went, but how natural it felt, like an old friend. Look, the fact is I’m never going to be at best a 20-25 handicap golfer; far easier to reconcile one’s swing and one’ approach to the game to gauge one’s abilities. So all I focused on was: (1) staying on top of the ball, (2) swing all the through so the club ended up somewhere around my right shoulder, and (3) don’t jump at the ball. If I can do all of these things consistently I think I’ll be that much further head of the game. Of course, I’m going to have to work on that pull from 120 yards in, but better to fix one “big miss” than the dreaded “two way”. And a couple-two-three times I actually had a baby draw to show for it!

In the end, it was a pretty good day. I know I’m going to have to work out that yank or pull to the right (most especially with my short clubs), but far better that than to have to deal with that fu**in’ two-way miss that was making my life miserable. Not only did I not know where the ball would go after any given swing, but that ugly dipsy-doo push left was costing me a ton of yards off the tee. Easier to work on a one-way miss than the dreaded two-way, that’s for sure!

A good start.

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 01:30 | Comments Off on Home On The Range
July 13, 2019

Target Handicap: 20.0to
Location: Superstition Springs Golf Club
Score: 45 + 54 = 99
MyScorecard.com Handicap: 25.7 / Change: (-0.9)

The par 5 #17 at Superstition Springs. It’s near 1 PM on a sweltering Saturday, the temperature is already 106, and there’s a giddyup of humidity starting to blow up the monsoon activity to our east and southeast. After yet another solid drive – my fourth fairway on “The Springs'” difficult back nine, I’ve muffed a planned low 5-iron pitch designed stay left of the pond right and stop just short of the pond left, allowing me, say, a 110-yard iron over the land bridge that separates both ponds. Instead, I flunked it off to the left up on the hill amidst a thin stand of pine trees. One of my playing partners has done the same thing, our balls lying just a yard away from each other.

“What are you planning on doing?”, asks Jose. He’s a cheery twenty-something with arms covered in tattoos. He’s learning the game and is the epitome of a grinder out there.

“Well, the smart play is to avoid these trees and pitch it down the hill to the 100-yard marker.”

“Dude, that may be smart but that’s pussy golf.”

“Where are you planning on going?”

“I’m going between the second and third tree and run it up that land bridge to the green.”

He chokes down on his 3-iron and takes a vicious slap at the ball. It nearly carries the land bridge but runs out of steam just before the end of the pond right, coming to rest about a foot from the farthest reach of the pond. He takes a short bow after a round of golf claps from our foursome.

“See? it’s easy.”

I choke down on my 5-iron. I’m not totally committed to the shot (shame on me!), it’s a different angle than the simpler out I had planned. (You see, I have a history with trees – if they’re out there, it’s a lock my ball is going to hit it.) I take a swing and it caroms off the third pine and bounces backwards to the middle of the fairway, 150 yards from the pin. I have the whole land bridge in front of me, so while it sucks that I’m now lying three and farther back then I was when I was lying two, I still have a legit shot at bogey. I take a good practice swing, but make that stupid dopey move on my downswing I’m trying to cure myself of and skull it into the pond. I drop another ball, but this time I’m seeing absolutely red and don’t think about aiming a little left and away from the pond left. I catch it cleanly, but it’s fading on me. It hits the mound left of the green and bounces into the pond. A chip and a two-putt later, I put a “X” on the card for a crowd-pleasing quad-bogey ten.

Jose? He chips on and two-putts for his bogey. With a wry smile he says, “Course management, bro.”

Hence the 54 on a back nine that I otherwise played as well as I ever have at the Springs. Listen, the back is tough: with the exception of the notorious par 4 #14 (which I happened this time to bogey with a solid drive and a equally-solid 4-hybrid, chip on and two-putt) the fairways are generous but the holes are all well-protected with bunkering (sand and grass) that requires you to be precise in your yardages. And since we were playing the 6700-yard Champions tees, there weren’t (at least for me) going to be a lot of GIR (green in regulation) opportunities. Still, I was lying at 38 coming to the #17 tee and had every reason to feel good about where I sat, even if my game wasn’t as sharp as it had been last weekend at Lone Tree.

It’s a lesson to be learned: if you have a plan, stick to it.

At any rate, #17 aside, it was another solid round, with another nine (in this case the front) in the mid-forties, and that without a real sharp game from 100 yards out. But the Springs will do that to you, forcing you to play defensive around its well-protected greens. My numbers were pretty good: while I had only three GIR opportunities (I can’t remember having to hit so many hybrids in my life, but that was good in a way – I needed the work!) and converted one. I played the four par 3s at two-over, something I’m quite proud of. The par 5s were a bit of a problem, but it wasn’t for the lack of my drives off the tee (I hit all four fairways) it was what happened after that that resulted in me playing them +12 after getting out of position with my send shot (5-woods all pushed a little left of where I wanted them to go). I had 30 putts on the atrociously-aerated greens, and, a couple of hiccups aside, my chipping game was good.

Without a doubt I’m trending in the right direction. I’ve worked really hard on my game this year and have gotten it into a place where, even if I’m not executing well I know exactly what it is I’m trying to do out there. I’m starting to accumulate nine-hole rounds in the mid-forties (my ultimate goal). For the second straight round, I hit my driver with renewed confidence: even on the notorious #14 my knees didn’t go to jello as they normally do. Instead, I made a good swing and feathered a soft fade to the center of a tight fairway. I’ll admit that my irons are still a work in progress, but I’m getting more comfortable with those as well.

I enter Goodboys Invitational week happy that I’m done with the Arizona heat (at least as far as golf goes), and I’m looking forward to a nice break after Goodboys Week is over. There’s lots to do to finish off the back yard and all kinds of housecleaning to do. But I’m ready for some New England golf and seeing how my game holds up under those conditions.

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 20:39 | Comment (1)
July 5, 2019

Target Handicap: 20.0
Location: Lone Tree Golf Club
Score: 50 + 43 = 93
MyScorecard.com Handicap: 26.6 / Change: (-0.8)

As soon as I realized I was going to be able to play golf on the 4th of July, I booked me a tee time at Lone Tree and made a trip to the Kokopelli G.C driving range to work on both my driver and hitting irons (7, 6, 5) off a tee. My inability to play par 3 holes was getting into my head, and I knew that the only way I was going to fix it was to work on staying on top of the ball with my new strong grip and really focusing on my transition and weight shift. The same thing with my driver. I just knew somehow that I was (even if only a little) sliding backwards and not shifting my weight forward to strike the ball cleanly and with the clubface square. Even though it was brutally hot out there, sometimes a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do, so I swilled two G2s (grape flavor) and fought the anemia that was making me feel a little light-headed. Half a large bucket with the irons, half hitting driver.

Warming up at Lone Tree the very next day – not more than 18 hours later – I’m hitting the ball all over the damned place. Oh, I’m staying on top of the ball all right, but the balls are flying every which way. And so it was as the round got underway, me playing alone between two foursomes, surf music on the iPhone. Even though I started bogey, double bogey, bogey, bogey I was doing it with mirrors. Somehow I’d make one great shot or sink a long putt, but I had no clue where the ball was going. On the par 5 #5, I actually put together my first really good shots of the day and was on the green in four, sixteen feet away, but four-putted for a triple bogey snowman. Then, on the next whole, a short 328-yard par 4, I hit my first straight drive of the day and something clicked. A 9-iron to ten feet and a two-putt for my first par of the day. A little bit of sloppy golf ensured on the next three holes (most especially on the par 5 #9, where a fairway-splitting longest drive of the day coupled with a perfectly-executed 3-hybrid left me only 122 yards to the pin), but a yanked 8-iron way right left me in Nowheresville and I had to settle for an unstaisfying double-bogey seven. Still, I knew I was starting to strike the ball rather crisply.

It was another sloppy hole on #10: instead of waiting for the foursome in front of me to clear the green, I attempted an “easy” 6-iron out of a fairway bunker and yanked it OB right, leading to a double-bogey 6 saved only by a 20-foot one putt. But after that The Great White Shank was off to the races. I had easy birdie opportunities on the par 4 #11 (eight feet, par), the island green par 3 #12 (a dying quail 5-iron that caught the bank and rolled to five feet, par), the par 4 #13 (twenty feet, par), and then a near hole-in-one on the par 3 #14 (1 1/2 feet, birdie) before getting sloppy on the par 4 #15 after a so-so drive and a crushed 5-wood left me only fifteen yards from the green and a forward-placed pin. Not only did I chunk my first chip, but I skulled my second attempt across the green, resulting in a triple-bogey seven.

I didn’t let that bother me, however, and I finished the final three holes with three very workman-like bogeys for a crowd-pleasing 43. While it’s true that Lone Tree’s back nine features generous fairways, I don’t care if you’re playing Pebble Beach or the local mini-golf with the flying saucers and Bluebeard’s Castle – you shoot a 43, you’re playing bona fide real golf. Not only did I hit seven consecutive fairways on the back nine (twelve total), but I was solid middle on all of them. I converted three of five GIR (green in regulation) opportunities on the back (three of eight total), and was tidy enough with only seventeen putts (36 total). What made me most satisfied was the way I hit my irons – even though I pulled a couple, they were hit square, and I know that was just the result of getting a little too upright with my takeaway, a fairly easy fix. It was a good enough performance after a rocky start.

All I really care about right now is ball contact and staying on top of the ball. I’m still a little bit in-between, hence some holes playing like Ray Charles and others like Ray Floyd (hence the title of this post), but that’s just the way it is right now. I truly believe that if I continue to do that and work on my transition and weight shift, the scores will come. Could be in time for Goodboys Invitational weekend (two weeks hence!), perhaps not. But again, it doesn’t really matter. My target of being a 20-handicap is a long-term goal, not a short one.

All I know is that yesterday felt pretty damned good, and we’ll just have to see what happens when I play my traditional send-off round at Superstition Springs G.C. one week hence. It’s hard to believe Goodboys Invitational week is almost here, but I’m back to feeling like I’m trending in the right direction. Of course, I thought that a month ago, so we’ll just have to see!

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 18:18 | Comments Off on Ray Ray Golf
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 Off on Clawing Back From The Abyss
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 Off on Bad Day
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 Off on Missed Opportunities Galore
May 31, 2019

Target Handicap: 20.0
Location: Kokopelli Golf Club
Score: 42 + 47 = 89
MyScorecard.com Handicap: 26.0 / Change: (-1.0)

OK, I have to admit I didn’t see this one coming. I wasn’t even on planning to play, but a doctor’s appointment left the rest of my day wide open so I headed back to Kokopelli Golf Course, that sporty track where I shot a 109 a couple of weeks ago. The course was pretty empty when I arrived, so rather than warm up with a small bucket (with a high of 98 the day was going to be plenty warm enough as it was), I grabbed a cart and headed for the first tee.

While waiting for the twosome in front of me to clear the dogleg right (#1 is a 489-yard par 5) I committed myself to my plan: stick to what I’ve been working on, and no over-swinging. That was it – the goal was to let whatever happened, happen. A solid driver and equally solid 5-wood left me just thirty yards from the pin, and an all-too-familiar three-putt from sixteen feet led to a bogey. But after that I just felt myself fall into a quasi-groove, and I made par on five of the next six holes:

* On #2 (par 3, 184 yards), an OK 4-hybrid just off the green left and two putts for par.
* On #3 (a short 319-yard par 4), a pushed 5-iron left followed by a thinly-hit 3-hybrid to twenty feet and two putts.
* On #5 (373-yard par 4) caught a fairway, 5-iron over the green, chipped on, one putt.
* On #6 (184-yard par 3) pushed a 4-hybrid left, chipped on, one putt.
* On #7 (340-yard par 4) caught another fairway, 9-iron to twelve feet, two putts.

I bogeyed both #s 8 (a long 552-yard par 5) and #9 (missed a two-foot putt for par) for a 42, matching my all-time best nine-hole score. The biggest difference from the last few times out? My short game showed up and I made some putts for a change – only 13 on the front – an indication that I was chipping well. My ball-striking was OK enough, I just played smart and didn’t make a whole lot of mistakes.

There was no one in front of me when I teed off on #10, so before I hit got my iPhone out and asked Siri to queue up my surf music mix. Anytime you can have a beautiful day and an open golf course in front of you, I mean how good is that?

I started the back nine with a bogey five on #10, then on #11 (a tight 331-yard par 4) my drive was pulled right but I executed a 7-iron off a bony lie to six feet. Missed the birdie putt but made par. On #12 (a 407-yard par 4) I caught another fairway and hit an 8-iron to twelve feet. Missed that birdie putt but made another par. On #13 (a short 324-yard par 4) I made my first real mistakes of the day. I had only 112 yards to the pin and pulled a 9-iron way left. Chipped on and missed a four-footer for bogey. Then, on #14 (175-yard par 3) a 5-iron left me twenty feet for par. Got my first putt to three feet, then proceeded to three-putt from that distance for a double-bogey five. Ouch! My play on #s 15 (a 505-yard par 5 with water all down the left) and #16 (a pedestrian 345-yard par 4) was rather sloppy, but I grinded out a bogey and double-bogey, respectively before a rocking-chair bogey on the par 3 #17 and double-bogeying #18 for a 47.

Two weeks ago I played the same course and shot a 109. So how does one improve their score by a whopping twenty strokes in that time? It’s just golf. Clearly, I did everything today just a little bit better than I (obviously) did two weeks ago. Without a doubt, my short game (with the exception of that four-putt on #14) was a whole lot better, and that helped out immensely. It might sound strange, but even though I hit seven fairways today, I don’t really feel as if I hit my driver all that well – I could never really catch a feel. And the same held true with my irons – while I hit a number of quality shots, I never felt like I was in any kind of a groove. And it’s also true I got some very good bounces today, but that’s what happens, I think, when you’re playing fairly well.

There’s still work to do, most especially hitting my irons and hybrids off a tee – for some reason I just have a propensity to over-swing. That’s something I’d like to see improvement on before Goodboys Invitational weekend. But any time I can break ninety, boy, I’ll take it! It’s just not something I’ll count on seeing me do anytime soon. For The Great White Shank, all the golf stars have to be in alignment in order to do that. Today they were, which is why I call it “sucker golf”.

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 21:35 | Comments Off on Sucker Golf
May 24, 2019

Target Handicap: 20.0
Location: Stonecreek Golf Club
Score: 53 + 55 = 108
MyScorecard.com Handicap: 27.2 / Change: (+0.1)

There is golf the way it should be played on a bright and sunny, unseasonably warm (i.e., not hot) Friday in May, and there’s golf the way it shouldn’t be played – in fact, avoided at all cost. One would think Friday would be a perfect day to get a little work in, close up shop early for the day, and go out and play 18 before you get past three o’clock in the afternoon and beat the rush hour drive home.

One would think.

Unfortunately, that didn’t happen today, as I was paired with a couple of women who played as fast I like to, yet proceeded to slog through a 5 1/2 hour round behind three foursomes of hackers doing a bachelor party weekend. Not only did they suck, they fu**ed around all day and were friggin’ slow as molasses. How bad was it? When you arrive at a par 5 after a par 3 and find the foursome in front of you hadn’t even teed off yet. Needless to say, this didn’t help my disposition much, and none of us could really find a good rhythm in our games all day. The ranger? He was nowhere to be found after the third hole after he wished us all good morning and good luck out there. He knew what was going on and didn’t want anything to do with it.

I’m not going to make that an excuse for a horrible day golf-wise, because it’s been a while since I’ve felt so lost out there on a golf course. I literally had no idea where the ball was going to go at any given time, which is truly sad because until yesterday I was feeling pretty darned optimistic about the changes I’d been making with my swing.

Today’s problems actually started yesterday afternoon at the Superstition Springs driving range where, after last Friday’s round at Kokopelli, I thought I’d work on my driver to try and square up at address a little more to try and get rid of that loopy push-fade (is there such a thing?) that had me missing fairways at “the Koke”. I bought a small bucket and found my favorite spot at the far left side of the range where there’s a natural twenty-yard wide “fairway” between the 100-yard marker and a big hill separating the range from an electrical building and the first hole. I took a couple of practice swings, then hit my first drive, a towering infield fly rule ball that landed next to the 100-yard marker. I looked down to see my tee, decapitated just under the head, the stick standing there like some lone soldier in no man’s land.

I laughed, casually wiped the stick out of the way with my foot, and teed up another ball. The same thing happened. And again. And again. And again. A dozen times. I was perplexed, to say the least.

I reached into my bag and grabbed some tees, only to find that if I didn’t get this resolved – and pronto – I wouldn’t have any more tees. See, you have to understand that this predicament came clear out of the blue – The Great White Shank doesn’t hit tee balls like that. Oh, I’ll yank drives and push drives and skull drives, and even hit drives straight from time to time, but there are three things The Great White Shank seldom, if ever, does off the tee:

He doesn’t hook the ball.
He doesn’t slice the ball.
And he doesn’t hit 70-to-100 yard infield flies to first and second base.

I’ll admit, I started to get rattled. I took practice swings over and over, trying to feel my way out of this mess, to no avail. A half-hour later, the bucket was empty, I was out of tees, and the area I had been hitting was littered with tees, all decapitated in the same way. I really didn’t know what to do, so I went over to the chipping area and tried to clear my head. That turned out to be a disaster as well, because, no matter what I did every chip was sculled across the green.

I paused for a bit and tried to think things through. Clearly, I was out of sync in every way, and perhaps both the driver and my pitching wedge were responding in the only way they knew how. And knowing I had a tee time at a tough golf course in just eighteen hours filled me with a dread I hadn’t felt for a long time. I wasn’t mad, but I was certainly depressed to have this happen after all the friggin’ work I’d been putting in the last two months.

What to do? As soon as I got home I hit the computer and searched YouTube for “skying driver”. I found a British chap who told me that what I was doing was taking the club back outside the plane, thus causing the club to hit down on the ball when with the driver you should be hitting the ball on the upswing. All well and good, but my question was why. And maybe this was just like getting the shanks that appear from seemingly out of nowhere. All I knew is, all the positive feelings and thoughts of tempo and transition I had been working on were now out the window. I knew I wouldn’t have a whole lot of time on Friday morning to work this out on the driving range (and, frankly, when you’re getting ready to play a round of golf you shouldn’t be trying to “work” anything out – you should be getting ready to play), so it was going to be hope for the best and cope with the rest.

Friday morning came. I only had a chance to hit ten balls before my name was called to the first tee. The range was ugly – clearly, Thursday’s range session had eaten deep into my psyche. I was so all over the place, I couldn’t remember the last time I headed to the first tee so lacking in confidence. I told myself to just try and slow everything down and deal with whatever happened from there. Any thought of shooting any kind of score was out the window, this was going to be survival golf.

Strangely enough, my opening drive was pure, straight down the middle. Followed by a crushed 5-iron that left me twelve feet for birdie. How about that: a green in regulation! A two-putt for par, and I was hopeful that maybe this was something I could build on. But that feeling evaporated quickly on #2 with an infield fly to third base (unfortunately, third base being OB on the other side of the net separating #2 fairway from the driving range) and a yanked mulligan into the pond right. Great, I’m thinking, now I have a two-way miss to deal with.

And that’s the way the front nine went. I could feel my irons starting to get away from me – a shanked 5-iron on #3, a ballooned drive left on #4 with a 3-putt for double bogey. On the par 3 #5 I saved bogey after chunking a 5-iron off the tee with a dandy pitch to three feet (missed the putt, something I would replicate several times from the same distance going forward). The infield fly came back on the #6 tee, landing in a waste area that took two tries to get out of before I dunked a 8-iron from 120 into the pond right (quad bogey). After hitting a good drive on the par 5 #7 I pushed my 5-wood way left but recovered sufficiently to three-putt from ten feet for double bogey.

…you get the picture.

The back nine was the same, except that I was now so uncertain as to where anything was going I could barely function. And if I happened to get on a green in somewhat decent shape, ol’ mister three-wiggle would rear his ugly head. I missed so many three-footers that I just gave up even thinking I was going to make anything. Compounding the misery was having to wait ten minutes on every friggin’ tee box before you could even hit. Even the ladies I was playing with were checking their watches – they obviously had places to go and better things to do.

And then, finally, came the par 4 #18. Not only did I hit a perfect drive off the tee (I marked it at 220 yards), I followed it up with an equally-perfect 5-wood that landed on the green, albeit thirty feet away from a pin tucked way back. Good first putt to three feet, missed the par, made bogey and actually felt like I played the hole well. That made it two well-played holes – #1 and #18. In between? A mess.

The final numbers were ugly: two greens in regulation, four fairways hit, ten lost balls, and 38 putts for a round of survival double-bogey golf. Geesh, I should just mail in my scores. All the work I’ve put in, and I’ve made no progress whatsoever. In fact, I’d call it a step backwards. And tomorrow I’ve got a very tough course waiting for me with lots of water to boot.

This is most certainly not the way I planned things to go. And to think, just last week I was complaining about that fade that was causing me to miss fairways right. I’d kill for that swing right now. And, while it’s most certainly not at the top of my list of concerns, I’ve got to do something about my putting – I don’t know why, but it’s terrible right now.

I think after tomorrow I’m going to take a nice, long vacation from my clubs. They deserve better.

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 20:47 | Comments Off on Stuck In Neutral


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