June 13, 2016

I say this with all due respect to my liberal friends and acquaintances: your religion – and make no mistake about it, liberalism is a religion to its subscribers who fiercely ascribe to its three basic tenants of tolerance, acceptance, and diversity – is going to get us all killed.

Look, it would be nice if we could all live in a world of peace, love, and understanding. A world that didn’t all those stupid “IMAGINE” and “COEXIST” bumper-stickers you see on Smart Cars and ’87 Toyotas tooling down the interstate with their drivers texting at the same time. I, too, despise hatred, violence, and the kind of intolerance and religious ideology that leads to what transpired in Orlando the other night. But that ain’t how the human race works, sunshine, nor how it has ever worked.

And as much as y’all want to make this latest act of radical Islamic terrorism – words our President just cannot seem to bring his lips to utter – to be about gun violence and the prevalence of guns in our society, this time that isn’t going to fly. And you know what? Somewhere in the backs of your supposedly open-minded liberal minds – you know, the kind of minds that call Donald Trump Hitler, or those who support him racists simply for the fact he wants to protect American jobs and secure our country’s borders – I think you know damned well that it won’t.

You know why? Because in this case the shooter was not only a licensed gun owner and carrier, but because of the position he held and the weaponry he was being allowed to carry he had to go through hours of training in order to obtain the job he had. And that includes, I’ll betcha, all the stupid sensitivity training that every company’s Human Resources organization (neither human nor a resource, I might add) now forces everyone to attend. And why? Because modern-day liberalism has created a fertile bed for lawsuits if anyone so much dare as to look at someone else the wrong way.

This country is drowning in political correctness, and it is all because of liberalism. I will guarantee you that, just like with the Boston Marathon terrorists and the San Bernadino shooter, people knew who this guy was, knew what was going on inside his head, but were afraid to say anything for fear of reprisal, or if they did it went nowhere. And that’s because modern-day liberalism and the political correctness so espoused and enforced by social media, our public university systems, and the mainstream media have made it virtually impossible for people to say anything for fear of losing their jobs or being outed as intolerant, or racist, or sexist, or a xenophobe or homophobe. My God, look at all the shit Donald Trump is taking, all because he – gasp! – wants to protect American workers first and the viability of our health care system and social programs by reducing the impact of illegal immigration!

Say what you want, liberals, about gun violence, but it wasn’t guns that killed and maimed all those people in Boston or attacked those police officers in New York City. And it isn’t guns being used to stab bus riders or run down pedestrians in Israel. And to try and make it about action instead of ideology and motive, is, frankly, starting to piss me off. What was the motive in Boston? What was the ideology? In Paris? On 9/11? In Madrid? In London? In San Bernadino? At Fort Hood? In Orlando? There’s a common thread running through all of these incidents, but you can’t tell the truth about them because then the tenants of your whole religion collapse like a house of cards. Because then you’d have to admit that tolerance, acceptance, and diversity is just a one-way street when the terrorist who hates everything you stand for wants to shoot your collective asses simply for flying commercial, or meeting friends in a nightclub, or watching a road race. You’d then have to admit that there are bad people out there who want to kill us simply for who we are and the freedoms we stand for.

I’m guessing because of your collective ideologies you wouldn’t have had any problem with the FBI infiltrating Ku Klux Klan organizations and meetings back in the 1950s. After all, those were hate groups, right? Well, perhaps now that a shooter has gone after the one demographic so near and dear to your collective hearts – that being gays – might you consider giving Islamic mosques the same kind of treatment? As Matthew Hennessey writes in CityJournal.org:

I have a different idea. I think it’s well past time that we took off the gloves. Let the FBI surveil the mosques. Let the NYPD surveil the mosques. Let these agencies do what needs to be done without fear of offending the ACLU, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or the self-loathing secular liberals whose first thought when they hear about attacks like this is, “Oh, no. This will help Trump.”

I know how all you liberals will respond. They’ll be the usual flowers, stuffed animals, balloons, and the obligatory candlelight vigils – gotta have a candlelight vigil, right? – amidst the wreckage and waste, human and otherwise. They’ll be the usual hash tags and peace symbols (has someone already started selling T-shirts with “Orlando” on the front with a peace sign in the “O”?). And, of course, you’ll see the cable networks inundated with talking heads pushing gun control and blaming the NRA and intolerant conservatives for the climate that produced Sunday morning’s massacre. It’s all so predictable and equally pathetic.

Listen, it’s time to grow up, liberals, and remove the rose-colored glasses from your collective heads. But you won’t, because then you’d have to admit that all the high-fallutin’ ideals you so espouse – indeed, everything modern-day liberalism stands for and has ever stood for – is nothing but a crock of shit. Or worse, something that will get you, and all of us, killed in the end simply for who we are and where we live.

But that’s OK, you just go ahead and keep thinking it’s Donald Trump who’s the enemy.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 01:49 | Comments (0)
June 12, 2016

A few thoughts and comments about the Orlando gay club massacre…

When does an act of terror committed by a man of Islamic heritage and a registered Democratic Party voter with a legal permit to carry firearms get reported as a “mass shooting due to lax gun laws”?

When you’re the lying, cowardly, sniveling, entirely disingenuous and inherently corrupt mainstream media.

One can only wonder how this would be reported if it were a some Christian fundamentalist or a Confederate flag-waving red-neck who did the shooting. Would that be a gay hate crime instead of just a “mass shooting”?

And you gotta laugh that the guy’s father who said it had nothing to do with the shooter’s religion, it was just seeing two men kissing that set him off.

And, of course, you just knew the nightclub was a “gun free” zone.

And I’m wondering – although I’m sure all of this will come out in the days ahead – where were the cops or armed security guards? How on earth can you have after-hours night clubs without security? And I’m not talking about the shooter in this case, but just knowing all the gangs operating out there. Seems a lack of common sense here.

OK, so let’s see: a guy of Islamic heritage, known to the FBI and subject to a FBI investigation in the past, is somehow allowed to own a gun. Nothing to see here folks, move along.

If this is found to be true than this would be chilling indeed.

I know, I’m sixty so maybe this doesn’t apply here, but my own personal experience is that nothing good happens after 11 PM.

And, once again, we see that Donald Trump is right. I’m not saying that his proposal for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the U.S. would apply here – it wouldn’t – but I can guarantee a Trump administration would be looking into toughening up our domestic intelligence operations and organizations. Because right now, under the Obama administration you’ve got an average of 1+ acts of Islamic terrorism per year occurring on American soil since he’s been president.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 11:27 | Comments (0)
June 11, 2016

Days until Goodboys Invitational weekend: 35
Location: Lone Tree Golf Club
Score: 44 + 43 = 87
Handicap: 25.6 / Trend: 24.2 (-1.4)

I wish I could tell you there was a point in time during today’s round at Lone Tree Golf Club where I felt everything came together and that I felt “in the zone”, but that never happened: playing alone on a warm, humid day in the Valley of the Sun, I simply stayed in the moment, playing the shot in front of me, not worrying about the last shot, not thinking about the next shot, not concerned about the numbers I dutifully scribbled on the scorecard. My only swing thought throughout the day was to not over-swing and to focus on my weight shift practice swing, as my swing coach Alex Black had shown me at our last lesson, then let it fly.

I won’t lie to you: my performance last week at Superstition Springs hurt, really stung, and so I spent a lot of time this week – four trips to the range – working on ridding myself of the bad habits that had crept into my game over the past six weeks like, to quote Stevie Nick’s wonderful lyric in Fleetwood Mac’s “Angel”, a ghost through a fog. I’d always been prone to over-swinging – my “death move” being finishing off on my back foot with my front foot on what I call twinkletoes, but in the past few weeks it had gotten so bad that I had lost control of my driver and was shanking my pitching wedge. So the trips to the range this past week, even with all the heat and in the sun, focused on only two things: weight shift, and not trying to kill the ball.

I’d played Lone Tree well in the past, shooting 90 once, but I remember that particular round more for taking advantage of the subdivision the course winds its way through by way of a number of fortuitous bounces off the walls that line so many of the holes than anything else. Oh, and the meltdown on the par 5 #18 when I realized I only had to triple-bogey the hole to break 90 but made nine instead.

I know it sounds the height of arrogance – especially after shooting an incredible forty-one (count ‘em, 41) fewer strokes than my round at Superstition Springs just a week ago, but the fact is this was pretty much a rocking-chair 87. Being consistent off the tee all day I was never in any real trouble except for the island green #12 where, having to take a drop after going just short with a 5-iron from 155 yards out, I really put pressure on myself to put a pitching wedge on the deck from the 70-yard drop zone. Which I did, knees shaking, but then three-putted (my only one of the day) from thirty-five feet.

Usually, I can look at a round and say that I left x number of strokes out there through bad shot-making or bad decisions, but the 87 was pretty much right on target. If I got lucky with a sand wedge chip-in for birdie on the par 3 #8, I had to take a drop with penalty on the par 4 #17 because a foursome all of a sudden appeared out of nowhere behind me, and I had no time to look for my tee shot which at last look was headed dead straight down the center of the fairway. But those are the breaks.

…Come to think of it, there was a sequence of shots that, if anything else, defined today’s round. On #7, a 433-yard par 4 with a pond lining the right side, I push my drive left through a fence and into a neighbor’s swimming pool. Rather than take a drop, I hit my third off the tee and pulverize it dead center of the fairway, leaving me 187 to the pin. I grab my 4-hybrid – a club I’ve struggled with all year – and hit it flush. A click, a couple of bounces, and I’m left with a putt of sixteen feet, which I then proceed to leisurely two-putt for a very nice double-bogey six. That one felt pretty good, I’ll tell ya.

The numbers don’t lie: eight one-putts or less, eight fairways hit (six on the back), two birdies (my first of the year), five pars (two of the three par 5s, including that pesky #18), and six bogeys. And while Lone Tree is no Superstition Springs, it’s no slouch either: nearly 6,500 yards from the blues with a rating of 70.3 and a slope of 120. I don’t care what course you’re playing, you shoot 87 and you, mi amigo, are playing golf.

What I’m most proud of, of course, is the fact that I spent most of the day smack-dab in the middle of the fairway following my tee shot. Which is why there are really no heroics to boast of from today’s round. Golf is so much easier a game to play if you’ve got a nice lie and a good yardage to the green: you just pick the right iron and try and shook it down the whammy. And while there were a couple of sculls out there, there were more than a few pulverized 4-hybrids and enough close-enough-to-precision irons that allowed my short game (the best I’ve had all year) to take over from there: hence the one-putts.

Still, just as I said after shrugging off last week’s debacle at Superstition Springs, today’s round, while as gratifying as last week’s wasn’t, is just one round and tomorrow is another day. The ice-cold Sam Adams Boston Lager went down pretty smooth at the grille afterwards, and I felt really good about seeing all that hard work at the range this week pay off, but I’m content to simply enjoy this round of a lifetime for what it was and to just keep trying to improve on what I’m trying to do.

Filed in: Golf Quest,Goodboys by The Great White Shank at 01:02 | Comments (0)
June 10, 2016

The Beatles were still on a roll in early 1968, but cracks had started to appear in the façade. Their manager, Brian Epstein, was dead of a drug overdose several months back, and while Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band had become a world-wide phenomena, their follow-up attempt at avant-garde film-making, Paul McCartney’s Magical Mystery Tour, while containing some fine music (even better on the American LP), had been universally panned in England. The Beatles seemed fairly adrift and bored with psychedelia, and after meeting the Maharishi Mahesh-Yogi and being introduced to Transcendental Meditation, returned to the studio for recording their next single, which would be McCartney’s “Lady Madonna” b/w George Harrison’s “The Inner Light” before heading off to India with the likes of Donovan, Marianne Faithfull, Mike Love of The Beach Boys, and Mia Farrow in search of enlightenment.

“Lady Madonna”, of course, was a huge hit, signifying The Beatles’ move away from the psychedelia of their previous releases and towards the no frills, “back to basics” rock that would fill the so-called White Album later that year, and even more so, the ill-fated Get Back sessions of early 1969. But I’ve felt for some time that the first Beatle single of 1968 should have been John Lennon’s early version of “Across The Universe” (#45 here) backed with Harrison’s “Inner Light”, with “Madonna” released afterwards (perhaps with Lennon’s “Hey Bulldog” from the Yellow Submarine sessions), as the intended “back to basics” release.

I’ve come to think that not releasing this earlier version of “Across The Universe” (don’t get me started about hardly the “official” release that was – at least to these ears – mangled completely by Phil Spector for “Let It Be” with “The Inner Light” was a misstep by the Fab Four. For one thing, the songs complement each other in so many ways. Both songs feature lush, beautiful melodies reflective of The Beatles collective state of mind at the time. “Across The Universe”, in particular, with its sitar and layered guitar opening is melodic and peaceful; “Inner Light” is more intense and earnest, yet the messages are still the same: true and lasting peace can only be found within. Taken together, these two songs with their message of peace and the inner search for spiritual enlightenment serve as two different takes on the search for enlightenment and peace that would contrast greatly with the political and social upheavals going on at the time: 1968 would turn out to be an ugly and violent year in so many ways.

While I doubt releasing a single containing two beautifully-written and performed messages of peace and inner tranquility would have made a dent in the goings-on of the time, The Beatles were, of course, at that time, The Beatles, and the cache they brought with the musical statements they made at that time did matter. As a purely musical statement, “Across The Universe” b/w “The Inner Light” would have been a release truly unique and indicative of the transitional period they were collectively in. Instead, next to “Lady Madonna”, “The Inner Light” sounds (at least to these ears) awkward, out of place, and, to be truthful, a toss-away “B” side that deserved better and something more complementary to its sentiments.

Not that it matters much – it’s just something that came to my mind last night for some reason. The next post I’ll discuss another misstep involving a song about Transcendental Meditation: The Beach Boys “All This Is That”.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 03:50 | Comments (2)
June 9, 2016

Aaah, yes, it appears we have reached my favorite time of the year: monsoon season. While I go into it every year with anticipation, come mid-August I’m sick of the heat, the (relative to everywhere else) humidity, and, most especially, the dust. But we’ve had such a dry winter, I’m just hoping this year we get some thunderstorms that do more than just blow up dust and produce a brief downpour.

Here is what the morning Channel 3 weather forecast at AZFamily.com had to say:

…Dewpoints have risen dramatically over the last 24 hours thanks to a surge of moisture coming up from the Gulf of California. No storms are expected in the Valley today, but that could change in the next day or two.

As a trough of low pressure moves through the West over the next few days, Arizona will come under the influence of a southerly flow, which will draw moisture into the state. That will lead to some showers and thunderstorms today in the higher elevations of Eastern Arizona, with more widespread activity expected Friday.

On Friday, there’s a slight chance we could get some storm activity in the Valley. It’s about a 20 percent chance, and the best chance with any thunderstorms near the Valley will be not for rain, but for gusty outflow winds and blowing dust.

There’s really nothing like the localized storms you get here in the Valley of the Sun during monsoon season. Whereas, say, back home in New England where the thunderstorms are typically associated with a front that blows through, here you get these pop-up storms that can vary in intensity as little as a mile away. Last year there was a storm that for us blew some wind and rain around, but in the adjoining subdivision a microburst or straight-line winds took down more than a dozen trees, some of them big mesquites. We hope for nothing like that extreme this year, but some storms that produce a night or two or three of soaking rains would be welcome.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:53 | Comments (0)
June 7, 2016

I can’t recall whether it was me who gave myself the complete 20-volume “Master and Commander” series of novels by Patrick O’Brian, or whether I had Tracey buy them for me, but it really doesn’t matter:

1.Master and Commander (1969)
2.Post Captain (1972)
3.HMS Surprise (1973)
4.The Mauritius Command (1977)
5.Desolation Island (1978)
6.The Fortune of War (1979)
7.The Surgeon’s Mate (1980)
8.The Ionian Mission (1981)
9.Treason’s Harbour (1983)
10.The Far Side of the World (1984)
11.The Reverse of the Medal (1986)
12.The Letter of Marque (1988)
13.The Thirteen Gun Salute (1989)
14.The Nutmeg of Consolation (1991)
15.Clarissa Oakes (1992) – (The Truelove in the USA)
16.The Wine-Dark Sea (1993)
17.The Commodore (1995)
18.The Yellow Admiral (1996)
19.The Hundred Days (1998)
20.Blue at the Mizzen (1999)
21.The Final Unfinished Voyage of Jack Aubrey (2004) – (21 in the USA)

…but here it is, early June, and I’ve just started the ninth entry in the series, Treason’s Harbour, and they have been all an absolute joy to read. Whenever I finish one, I’ll take a few days off before opening the next one, and every time I do it is like being reintroduced to old and happily-familiar characters all over again.

It’s hard to describe O’Brian’s novels as action novels, although there is a fair amount of sea battling going on during the Napoleonic Wars / War of 1812 period that it appears the series covers. (I say “appears” because I haven’t read them all the way through, and have thus far resisted attempts to use various Internet sites out there developed by devotees to sneak a peak at what might be coming.) Rather, given the way he writes, the books feel like a form of long-hand prose developed into a series of adventures that envelop both Captain “Lucky Jack” Aubrey and his surgeon / naturalist Dr. Stephen Maturin, who also doubles as an intelligence officer working for the Crown.

As I read through the books I am fairly astonished at just how successfully actors Russell Crowe and Paul Bettany captured the essence of Aubrey and Maturin in the movie Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. I haven’t gotten to that particular book yet – it comes after Treason’s Harbour in the series, but I’ve learned enough to know that movie is only slightly based on the book. Indeed, I see it as an advantage to have seen Master and Commander, because so many of the characters in that movie have been taken from the books and captured on the “big screen” so effectively. They help bring O’Brian’s books even more alive than they already would have been without the movie.

What is truly amazing about O’Brian is how so totally and completely researched in not just sailing ships of the era and how they are sailed (the lingo alone takes a while to get used to), but also the people, places, cultures, and traditions of an earlier time. Indeed, I would have to say that O’Brian must have lived his life in complete conflict with the age he lived and the age he researched and wrote about so thoroughly.

The books themselves meander – there’s no other way to describe it – through the lives of Aubrey and Maturin in a way that you don’t really get any kind of sense of plot. And yet there is. Even though the events of one book are continued into the next, each could be read as its own standalone novel. To point: even at this point I feel as if I could go back to the first book in the series and feel as if I never really read it all the first time.

Quite simply, these are the among the most enjoyable books I’ve ever read: given all the stresses and strains going on around me and my family these days and this year, they are a welcome distraction in the way they sweep one away to another time and place, so totally and completely different from our own. I so much look forward to working my way through the rest over the second half of the year.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 20:04 | Comments (0)
June 4, 2016

Between work and working on my golf game (if you want to call it that) it’s been a long hard week. We’re in the middle of a stretch of 113-116 degree days, so this weekend is perfect for staying in and doing some much-needed house cleaning. In the meantime, just a few items that I hadn’t had a chance to blog much about.

Do I feel bad about a gorilla being shot at a zoo? Yes. But if I have to choose between a four-year old and a gorilla, and there’s no way to quickly tranquilize the gorilla like, say, playing Celine Dion music over the loudspeakers, then you gotta do what you gotta do.

R.I.P. Muhammad Ali. There will never be another like him. Truly one of the greats. Godspeed, Champ.

How would you like to see this feller strolling across the fairway at your local muni?

Sure, I’m a Trump fan, but the PGA Tour is making a mistake dropping his Doral resort for – are you kidding me – Mexico City? Whether you like The Donald or not, the fact is: that Miami / Doral has been a prestigious destination on the Tour’s schedule for nearly six decades. And to let petty politics – and make no mistake about it, this is nothing but petty politics, there being few in the sports world as petty as outgoing PGA Commissioner Tim Finchem – trump (pun intended) history and tradition is a shame.

…not to mention the fact there are any number of other PGA Tour events lacking in both color and tradition that would make a move to Mexico City more interesting. But who the hell would want to play golf there?

What happened outside Donald Trump’s San Jose rally yesterday is both a disgrace and dangerous to American democracy, bordering on the kind of mob rule you see in Socialist and Communist countries. While it took President Obama the better part of a day to condemn the violence, I’m glad he did so, and I hope more Democrats would follow his lead. People have a right to express their support for the candidate of their choice as long as it doesn’t infringe upon another’s right. If folks want to peacefully protest Donald Trump’s rallies, I have no problem with that – that’s their right. But the moment you start threatening and assaulting folks, that is a crime and needs to be swiftly and powerfully dealt with. San Jose should be ashamed of their moronic mayor and the police chief; they should be forced to submit their resignations immediately.

…and for liberal morons to assert that Trump himself is responsible for the violence is the same kind of “had it coming” thinking that blames rape victims for wearing provocative clothing.

Gee whiz. This can’t be a good thing.

Since we’re past Memorial Day and can now say it’s “officially” summer, how about some hot sounds from a great surf band, The Anacondas?

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:10 | Comments (0)
June 2, 2016

Days until Goodboys Invitational weekend: 44
Location: Superstition Springs Golf Club
Score: 55 + 73 = 128 (Adjusted: 55 + 62 = 117)
Handicap: 25.6 / Trend: 25.6 (no change)

Hi, this is Rich Lerner. Let’s go out to Superstition Springs and a truly ugly round of golf put together by The Great White Shank, his worst of the year. I’m here with our Golf Channel analysts Brandel Chamblee and David Duval, both of which have seen their own share of ups and downs on the golf course over the years, but I’m guessing nothing like this. Brandel, what went wrong for The Great White Shank out there today?

Most folks think the approach shot is the key to scoring at Superstition Springs, but like the great Greg Norman has always said, the most important shot on any hole is off the tee. You can talk putting, short game or irons, but if you can’t get off the tee, to use a baseball analogy, you’re already sitting at 0-2. Eighteen holes, zero – and I mean zero – fairways hit by TGWS today. It doesn’t matter if you’re playing a challenging course like Superstition Springs or the local muni down the street: if you’re hitting your second shot out of position at best, or lying three or more at worse – and we all saw plenty of that today – you’re gonna get crucified out there.

David, what did you see from The Great White Shank out there today?

Confusion. Poor swings. Playing the ball way too far forward. You just can’t play that way. He lost fourteen balls out there today. That’s a lot of penalty strokes. And not just that, it makes for an expensive round of golf!

And Brandel, that was the story for today, wasn’t it? The Great White Shank not being able to get off the tee.

Very unusual for him, for sure, because if there has been one aspect of his game that’s been as steady as anything else this year it has been his tee game. I don’t recall ever seeing TGWS hit a banana slice like he did on the par 5 sixth: it not only went over the subdivision wall, but clear over the house adjacent to the wall. And then to top his second ball into the pond right, well, it’s tough to play bogey golf on a par 5 when you’re sitting in the fairway and lying five after three tee shots.

David, what on earth happened on the par 3 seventh?

Your guess is as good as mine. Sure, the tees were set up crazy back, at a whopping 223 yards, but I’m surprised he didn’t just pull 5-iron and play the hole as a short par 4. In my mind – and this is just my opinion – trying to go for the green with a 5-wood when you’ve got water in front and to the right, knowing that you’re already struggling with your woods, is just inviting disaster. Which he did by topping his first ball into the water, banana slicing his second into the car lot beyond the wall left, and yanking his third into the water right.

He settles down a bit on numbers eight and nine to shoot 55, but the roof really caved in on the back nine. What did you see, Brandel?

Just a lot of mistakes. He struggled to make double bogeys on ten, twelve and thirteen – and that par on the par 5 eleventh resulting from a beautifully struck 5-iron was very nice, but #14 has always been the Shank’s nemesis. A wide fairway, for sure, but with water in front and curling down the right with that pond on the left, you have to hit it straight. Unfortunately, he topped the ball into the pond on his first then yanked the next two into the water right before finally finding the fairway. Lying seven, he tops an attempted 5-iron lay-up into the pond, then a couple of chips and a three-putt later, well, I call that a 14.

And it didn’t get any better after that with a triple-bogey six, a double-par ten on the always-tough 17th, and yet another ten on #18 that featured two more lost balls. His Goodboys handicap only allowed him to post a 62 for the back, but that was a whopping 73 – almost unheard of. David, how does one recover from that?

Pull putter off the tee, I guess. [Laughter] But seriously, continuing with Brandel’s baseball analogy, it’s no different than one of those fluky games during every season where the team is down 17-2 in the third inning and they’re dragging the mascot out to throw knuckle balls the rest of the way. I mean, it’s one round of golf – and an ugly one, for sure – but you just have to shake it off, figure out what you did wrong, and get back to fundamentals.

Brandel, you have to be wondering what’s going through that young man’s mind – after all, we’re only 6 1/2 weeks away from Goodboys Invitational weekend.

That’s right. Our Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte reports he had a lesson with his swing coach Alex Black only yesterday, and they always say never go out and play a round after a lesson. I do think he’ll be OK. He has to look at today as an anomaly – and it probably is, given the way he has hit the ball off the tee most of this year. If he looks at the bright side, he’ll see that his score was so high that his MyScorecard.com handicap didn’t move an inch. And, while it didn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things, he did hit several decent irons out there – something he hasn’t really done that much of lately.

Well, if there’s one small consolation, at least he was playing by himself and not having to worry about playing with, say, a stick and slowing him down. Now that would have been a bit uncomfortable.

Thank you Brandel and David – astute analysis as always. Now back to Orlando and our Golf Central studios.

Filed in: Golf Quest,Goodboys by The Great White Shank at 22:31 | Comments (0)
June 1, 2016

Wednesday, 3:50 PM. Sculling, chunking, and shanking a bunch of pitching wedges, 7-irons, and 5-irons.

Wednesday: 4:15 PM. My swing coach Alex Black is complimenting the return of my power fade as I launch one 5-iron after another into the azure ozone of a warm June afternoon. Almost as if the iron woes of the past several weeks had never happened.

The difference? A single move Alex has been working with one of his students, a member of the UCLA golf team, on. The move itself is pretty simple, and one you can actually take to the golf course with you. Take your normal backswing, whatever it is, and on your downswing step into it, not unlike David Ortiz stepping into a fastball. And be sure to take your divot as you do it.

I had reached out to my swing coach Alex Black on a whim. I’ve been hitting my irons so poorly lately, and worse than that, I’ve felt completely off-kilter and unable to bring the club head square to target. The shanks that have returned with increasing frequency are bad enough, but it’s my confidence being shaken that has bothered me more than anything else. All I’ve been doing these past few weeks – even when my scoring was good – was playing defensively and not trying to screw up. It’s a bad place to be in.

Alex only needed me to take three swings before he stopped me right there. “You have no transition”, says he. “And even if you look like you have one it’s a faux transition, like long after the fact. All the shanks, sculls, and fat hits are simply the result of not getting your weight off of your back foot and onto your front.”

“And the yanks?”, I ask.

Alex smiles. “The yanks are from doing whatever you’re doing without extending your arms.”

Alex takes me over to his cart and shows me a video of his student practicing the “one step move” at some range in sunny SoCal. His swing looks picture perfect, like he ought to be at least on the Web.com Tour.

“He’s got a great swing”, I say admiringly.

“He’s got work to do just like everyone else does”, replies Alex. “Just like you do.”

And that’s how the remaining 40 minutes of our 50-minute lesson goes. Me hitting golf balls with the one step move. They’re not all perfect at the start: my body is so used to falling back everything feels foreign. But I warm up to it and soon I get the hang of it: I’m pulverizing 5-irons, then 7-irons, then the dreaded pitching wedge I’ve somehow forgotten how to hit.

The first few wedges are butt-ugly. But the last five are picture perfect: little clicks that dot a piece of driving range 100 yards out the size of a beach towel.

“Perfect”, says Alex. “Now, like it says in the Bible, go forth and multiply.”

I head back to the range and hit a small bucket of balls. I love the power draw, love the way it looks, love the way it feels. I feel indestructible and the fact that this is a drill I can take with me, not just as a take-away from this lesson, but to the golf course itself for my practice swings. It’s the drill that gets me away from my “death move”.

It’s one of the best $80 I ever spent. Now all I have to do is put it into practice when the strokes count.

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 01:40 | Comments (0)
May 30, 2016

…in this case the ER was the Superstition Springs driving range. Sure, there were a bunch of things on my plate this day: a trip to Lowe’s for more playground sand (to fill in under the Tiki bar deck), Hi’s Silk Flowers for my annual Memorial Day planting of hydrangea in the front pots, and a deck and Tiki bar to paint and stain, but my iron play on Friday at Superstition Springs has haunted me since.

Maybe it’s because I have a visceral response to the shanks – akin to Quint’s feelings about sharks – reminding me of my earliest days picking up the game. Or maybe it’s because of that little “fix” I implemented back in April to try and resolve the issue of pulling my irons to the right. If I have the choice between pulling my irons to the right and shanking my irons, I’ll take the pull any day.

At any rate, I was getting ready to head out to Lowe’s when my clubs, sitting there all anxious and questioning in the corner of the garage, caught the corner of my eye. At that point there was no question where my first stop was going to be.

The range at the Springs was pretty empty – no surprise on a Memorial Day weekend. My only goal today was to get back to the place I was six weeks ago. Oh, I’m going to make a couple of adjustments to try and resolve the issues that made me implement the changes in the first place: playing the ball a little further back in my stance, and after setting up square I’m going to pull my back foot back a little bit to encourage a draw, but the rolling of the wrists is out, and I don’t care where the club face is pointing at the top of the backswing.

The results are immediate. I’m back to that lovely trajectory I’ve been missing the past six weeks: no more fades. I really don’t like playing a fade, anyway – anything that moves the ball right to left I just really don’t like. I hit a bunch of shots that go very straight. I hit a few that scull straight from over-swinging and picking up my head, But there are no more balls traveling right to left, and, more importantly, the shanks appear to be gone.

I go through a bucket and the range guy comes over and offers me another large bucket. I’m not sure if he’s just being magnanimous or thinks I need more work, but I accept it. And I go through the bucket hitting all my irons, again without a shank. I think I’m still going to have to work out the “big miss” to the right, but it appears – at least for now – that playing the ball a little less forward and not over-swinging will take care of that.

The important thing is that I’m back to hitting my irons in a familiar way, and in a way that keeps it simple and eliminates the moving parts that have caused me so much trouble over the past six weeks. When it comes to The Great White Shank and golf, simple is better. Now I want to take it to the course and see what happens.

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 05:06 | Comments (0)

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