My Dream Eighteen – Inward Nine (Part II)

A Long Walk Home

Hopefully you read my previous post so you have a clue of what is going on here. If not, hit the link and figure it out. On to the inward nine of my Dream 18 otherwise. Hit the halfway house, eat a wiener, and let’s go.

#10 – Inverness – 363 yards, par 4

Are you asking “why this hole” right now? I still kind of am doing that too. The fact is there just aren’t many great 10th holes in our great game. Name one that isn’t Pebble Beach. Go ahead, I’ll wait. And whatever you come up with I probably haven’t played so I can’t use it in this exercise. Nonetheless the 10th at Toledo’s most famous course is an original Donald Ross that plays along the 1st hole down into a fold in the land where the green waits for you.

It is short and strategic off the tee and offers a scoring opportunity to start the 2nd nine as you’ll likely have some kind of wedge into the hole. The 1st and 10th tees at Inverness are mowed together and hug the practice putting green to make a very cool setting near the clubhouse. That alone is worth making anointing the it has my 1st hole to the home nine of my dream course.

#11 – Cog Hill No. 4. (Dubdread) – 607 yards, par 5

If there is a weak stretch to my course it is the 10th, 11th, and 12th holes. They’re great holes but they’re understated. Cog Hill No. 4 has several holes better than the 11th but there aren’t a ton of other 11th holes that fit the need I have for a par 5 on this side and I’d hate to leave out Rees Jones’ redesigned Dubsdread that I played plenty while living around Chicagoland.

The flyover shows the 11th in all its glory. At 600+ yards it is a true 3 shot hole for us mortals. Before the redesign it played closer to 550 and was reachable under the right conditions. The sub-air system at Cog will provide you with plenty of roll and you shouldn’t play the back tee anyway, but you’re still not getting there in 2. That makes the layup very strategic as you have to play smart and short of the bunkers and play to the correct side of the short grass to give yourself a good angle at the pin. The shaved area behind the green is no bueno if you’re long and the pin is back. All that being said, this hole is usually an easy 5 with the option for 4 if you don’t completely fuck it up. Get a birdie early on my 10th or 11th because they may be your last chance at a red number.

#12 – Medinah No. 3 – 476 yards, par 4

I love this hole and think it may be the best hole that isn’t a par 3 on the number three course. It has length and uses natural topography to challenge players hitting a mid to long iron into a smallish green. You probably won’t have a level lie to strike your 2nd shot from into that green either. The hole takes you away from Route 20 and back toward the clubhouse along an inlet of Lake Kadijah that was dug out during one of many redesigns and restoration projects that have occurred at Medinah. The current 12th was actually the 16th hole at one point back in the in not too distant past.

The angle shown in the image above isn’t a camera trick. That’s an accurate representation of how much the hole slants from left to right down toward the water hazard. The green is at the top of the hill near the upper left corner of the photo. Missing the green right, or even hitting the right side of the green depending on conditions, can result in the ball running all the way down to the edge of the rough along the hazard. I think the hole could be improved by shaving that 2nd cut down to fairway length but what do I know?

#13 – Arcadia Bluffs – 240 yards, par 3

The holes along the water at Northern Michigan’s Arcadia Bluffs rival any course in the United States that isn’t on the Pacific Ocean for aesthetic beauty.  The 13th is the par 3 of that stretch that makes you catch your breath as you hit over a ravine that leads down to the beach 250 feet below your target. Once you calm down and focus at the task at hand it hits you that you’re trying to hit a feathery soft 240 yard shot into a howling wind off the big lake.

I’ve played this hole once from a tee other than the 240 yard marker and it wasn’t any easier. The green is huge but even hitting it doesn’t guarantee a 3. The green complex doesn’t allow for you to run a shot up on to it so forget that idea. Commit to your club selection. Commit to your swing. Aim between the two bunkers near the right side of the green and accept the result no matter what and you’ll be fine. All that is of course easier said than done.

#14 – Forest Dunes – 464 yards, par 4

Staying in Northern Michigan, the 14th at Forest Dunes begins a closing stretch of five par 4s that would thrill golfers of all skill levels. Like many of the other courses included in my Dream 18 posts, Forest Dunes has several holes that I favor over the one I’ve selected for my routing. What I mean is, there isn’t a single other 14th hole that I can use based on the courses I’ve already selected and I don’t want to leave Forest Dunes out. The course is too damn good from start to finish. Fourteen on the original course at Forest Dunes is the longest par 4 on the property. It forces you to (typically) hit a mid to long iron into a very skinny and narrow green. Marshland protects the left side of the hole all the way through the green.

The fairway provides a big target to hit off the tee but that isn’t always apparent when you’re standing on the back box. The tall grass in front of you conceals how much fairway is out there. A bunker on the right side comes up fast if you rip it 285+ so there’s that to think about too. That being said, hit the fairway and put a good swing on your approach and you may have a shot at a 3. I’ve made a few here because a broken clock is correct twice a day too.

#15 – Erin Hills – 370 yards, par 4

The last short hole of my routing is the dramatic 15th at Erin Hills. All I have to say to get you to remember this hole from the 2017 U.S. Open is “Justin Thomas”. You didn’t forget that 3 wood he hit to nearly ace the hole on Saturday on his way to a course record 63, did you? Thomas did that with the tee moved up to 288 yards. That’s part of the charm of the hole, you can place the tee anywhere within an 80 yard range every day of a championship and it is still going to thrill the fans, scare the players, and allow anything from a 2 to a 7 on the scorecard.

What makes the hole great for me is the green complex. The green is psychedelic by itself but when you add in the perch it sits on that is complete shaved all the way around it gives the players a buffet of options and ways to play the hole. The 15th was a star at the U.S. Open as well as at the 2011 U.S. Amateur. Kudos to the USGA for being creative with how it plays. The tree you see to the left above doesn’t really come into play on the hole but it is the most noticeable one on the grounds of Erin Hills and helps to make this a signature hole.

#16 – Oakland Hills (South) – 406 yards, par 4

Hogan called the South course at Oakland Hills a monster, but one of the shortest holes on its exhausting back nine makes my routing. The 16th has been famous for years thanks to major championship heroics from Hogan, Gary Player, and Padraig Harrington. Its also one of only two holes on the Monster where water comes into play.

 

The tee shot is rather benign but after that the hole can and will eat your lunch if you lose focus for a nanosecond. I had a great angle from the fairway and a nine iron in my hand and still didn’t have the balls to fire at the flag over the lake. A pull to dry land isn’t a disaster but your short game will be tested and pitching the ball long back into the hazard is never off the table.

#17 – Kapalua (Plantation) – 549 yards, par 4

Don’t let that number on the scorecard fool you. First, it isn’t a par 5. That isn’t a typo. Second, it doesn’t play anywhere near 549 yards. And third, you’ll probably never play the 17th at the Plantation course from that yardage. The typical wind at Kapalua is behind you on 17 and you’re hitting down the good side of an old volcano. With that in mind, hit anything remotely solid and you’ll hit one of the longest drives of your life on this hole.

Enjoy that and regain your focus because the 2nd shot can make or break you. Depending on the tee you play, wind strength, direction, and conditions you’ll have anywhere from 240 to 180 yards left into 17. From there you’re trying to hit a longer club off a down hill lie over a giant gorge. Thank god it isn’t all carry and there’s plenty of room to bail out short and right of the green. That’s the smart play because most balls hit in that general area will funnel on to or near the green and make a par 4 an obtainable goal.

#18 – Butler National – 484 yards, par 4

Holes 12 to 18 on my course give you one true birdie opportunity at 15. There’s certainly no let up at 18 where you’ll find Butler National’s famed closing hole. The hole was most know for its trademark “Y” shaped tree in the middle of the fairway but the tree was lost about a decade a go and the club decided not to replace it. While it was memorable it was a bit unfair to hit one right down the middle and be stymie right behind it. All things must change and evolve I suppose.

Without the tree the hole is still a bear to make par on. There’s trouble if you miss the fairway to either side and the rough is lush enough to the point where you don’t want to try to advance a 200 yard shot out of it over the hazard that guards the green.  The hole is demanding and full of strategy. My only complaint is that the closing hole at a club as prestigious as Butler should have the clubhouse and/or some kind of 19th hole nearby for spectating.

Inward Nine – 3959 yards, par 36

There you have it, my Dream 18 of holes I’ve played laid out in the order they appear at their course of origin. The result is a glorious par 71 that beats you up but makes it fun along its 7300+ yards. How did I do? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below with your critiques and submissions of your own holes or courses. Don’t be shy and don’t forget, sharing is caring.

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My Dream Eighteen – Outward Nine (Part I)

Inspired, If You Can Call It That

I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of the Dream 18 concept. I first read about a similar concept as a kid when I was becoming a young golf nerd. The book that detailed a dream eighteen holes was the New World Atlas of Golf. Someone gave it to my dad and I’m not sure he ever read it like I did – which was cover to cover, backwards and frontwards, 764 times. If you know the book you know what it looks like.

Image result for New World Atlas of Golf

I still have it and reference it from time to time even though it is dated. Last week Golf Channel’s Morning Drive started a discussion of their own Dream 18. Matt Ginella and Geoff Shackelford put up their lists and the debate began. Ginella’s was Monterey-centric as it included every hole at Pebble Beach from 6 to 10 and also 18. Shack’s were largely from the links courses of Scotland. Matt kept his holes in order where 18 at Pebble still had to be 18 on his list. Shack put his holes all over the map. Nice lists, but too many from the same courses and too many that most of us haven’t played.

I’ve never been to Pebble. I’ve never been to Scotland. But I was inspired by the concept Morning Drive discussed and decided to come up with my own course. Here are my parameters: no doubling up on courses – meaning one hole from each course; I have to have played it; and they have to keep their assigned hole number in my 18 as they are in their real life courses. I’m a man of integrity after all. It sounds simple but it gets a little difficult to actually pull off if you want to come up with a par 70+ golf course. I pressed on and came up with my Dream 18 based on these constraints. The result is a glorious 7,333 yard par 71 track that stretches from Maui to Long Island. This post is part 1 of a 2 post series. On to the first nine:

#1 – Franklin Hills – 451 yards, par 4 

The venerable, but mostly Jewish, Franklin Hills Country Club starts off with one of the best 1st holes in golf. The tee shot is elevated and allows for you to bomb one down from just in front of the starter shack to a generous fairway and green. From the tips you’ll have mid-iron or less in and give yourself a good chance at par with a birdie reward for a well struck 2nd shot and a good roll with your putter.

Since the great tree removal project at Franklin occurred in the last few years the first tee now gives you a better look at the rest of the golf course. Your entire round here is enjoyable (even more so once you realize your putts generally break toward 13 Mile) and the tone is set with a great 1st hole.

#2 – Whistling Straits (Straits) – 592 yards, par 5

Number 2 on Pete Dye’s most famous Kohler, Wisconsin design probably isn’t a hole many of you think of when you think of Whistling Straits. That’s part of the rub in this concept. You can only use a single hole from any course. It makes you picky. And it means other holes at the Straits that are more revered get left on the cutting room floor.

Watch the video. That’s the best par 5 on this championship layout that has hosted 3 PGA Championships and a Senior U.S. Open. The pot bunker 40 yards short of the green is a motherfucker if you’re thinking about going for it in two. The views down the left and long aren’t too shabby either.

#3 – Torrey Pines (South) – 200 yards, par 3

Any Dream 18 is going to include a few signature holes and the 3rd at Torrey Pines South course is the first one that pops up on my list. 200 yards plays more like 180. The green is huge but the view is distracting. I snapped this pic on my way to the Rose Bowl just a few years ago.

What else needs to be said about it? The hole gets covered plenty during early coverage of the Farmer’s tournament but because it is the third hole is doesn’t have a ton of history. It doesn’t need it and is glorious without.

#4 – Baltusrol (Lower) – 194 yards, par 3

Let me be the first to say that back to back par 3s is a bad idea on any real golf course. But this is a dream and I can do it anyway I want. Baltusrol’s Lower course has a stack of historic, classic A.W. Tillinghast holes but I can only pick one from the great New Jersey course and this has to be it.

Robert T. Jones redesigned this gem back in the 1950s and the members complained that it was too hard. So he went out and teed one up and aced it. No shit. I believe Jones hit a 4 wood for his famous 1. Most professionals were swinging 7 irons there in the 2016 PGA. I think I hit a 5 and a 6 iron the two times I played it. Yes the game has changed but the 4th hole on Baltusrol’s Lower course maybe the best 4th hole in the world. Note – this was the lone hole from the New World Atlas of Golf Book (mentioned above) that made my list.

#5 – Bethpage (Black) – 478 yards, par 4

Speaking of Tilly, golf nerds refer to his 5th hole at Bethpage Black as the quintessential Tillinghast hole because it benefits a player who can work the ball in opposite directions from their tee shot to their approach. Off the tee the 5th hole favors a gentle fade. From the fairway up to the elevated green a draw would be required to find any pin on the left half of the green.

The tee is much more elevated than the picture above shows. I wish I could have found a flyover of this beauty. When I first played it in 2002 it was 455 yards. For the 2009 U.S. Open a tee was added to make it play closer to 480. That back tee forces a near 280 yard carry over the last bunker on the right. You’ve got that, right? The elevated green is also firm and shallow. I think in 2002 I hit an 8 iron in and found it to be fair. In 2006 from 30 yards back my 5 iron approach didn’t hold the same. You will have earned a par here if you get to write one down on your card.

#6 – Point O’Woods – 444 yards, par 4

Point O’Woods hosted the Western Golf Association’s Western Amateur for nearly 25 years. Greats like Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, and Justin Leonard won the event at P.O.W. While the first 5 holes are rather getable for players of Phil and Tiger’s caliber, the fun at this legendary Southwest Michigan R.T. Jones design begins a the 6th hole. When I’ve played it the firm fairway conditions have typically allowed for a scoring iron approach shot. That wasn’t the case when the course was designed in the 1950s.

Short iron or not, that narrow green you see above makes the 6th anything but a pushover. I pulled a sand wedge from 135 into the left bunker and made a 6 without hitting a shot that I was really pissed out. The right side of the hole once featured the old log cabin home of Pro-Emeritus, Sam Drake. His dwelling was removed a few years after Drake’s death.

#7 – Crystal Downs – 335 yards, par 4

There have been books written about the 7th at Crystal Downs. Ok, not really, but the short par 4 with the boomerang shaped green will make a golf architecture nerd hard quicker than a Vegas hooker could.

I love the hole because of all the options it gives the player. On the day the picture above was taken my partner laid back off the tee by hitting a 200 yard 6 iron that left him a flat stance in the fairway. I hit driver into the middle bunker you see in the side of the hill about 50 yards short of the green. I had to hit a miracle chip to a left hole location to save par. My partner flagged a pitching wedge to 3 feet, made birdie, and won us the hole. You can make a 2 or a 7 on this classic Alister MacKenzie design no matter how you play it. I could talk about the green for another 3 paragraphs but I’ll keep this brief. It is subtle yet insane, but soooo much fun.

#8 – The Dunes – 515 yards, par 5

The best 9 hole course in the world has to have one of the best holes in the world, right? Legendary writer Dan Jenkins thinks it does. That hole would be the 8th at the Dunes.

The short par 5 plays anything but unless you know its secret. A large waste area covers the hole from 255 yards from the back tee to about 330 yards. In other words you either hit it 254 or 331. There’s nothing in between. That being said, most players lay back and it becomes a 3 shot hole. Your layup 2nd shot becomes very important. Lay up too short and you’re blocked by a tree on the corner of the dogleg. Too far right and an over-hanging tree can be in your line. 75 to 90 yards short is about right but to get there you have to hit a pure 225 yard shot with accuracy. 2nd shot layups aren’t that tough on any other 3 shot hole I’ve played.

What’s the secret of the hole? If you can carry it 270 or so you can hit it down the 5th fairway and go for the green in 2. That doesn’t take anything away from the hole for me. I look at that as a secret you have to unlock. The club caddies don’t seem to want to put the idea in your head for some reason.

#9 – Kingsley Club – 165 yards, par 3

Ahhhhh Kingsley. I love this place. And I love about 6 other holes here as much as I love the 9th. But the 9th is truly unique for a hole that looks almost like you could throw it on the green from the tee. When you leave the 8th green a sign points you to either the south or east tee that is being used for the day. The south plays shorter at 135 or so. The sets of tees are 90 degrees apart. The hole is very much exposed to the northern Michigan winds. And the fun as only started because you’re not to the green yet.

That picture above is from the east tee and gives you a sense of the contour on the greens. You have to use the banks to get it close but a smart shot to the correct depth will allow you to snuggle it in tight or even make an ace. Miss the green and do your best to make bogey and move on to the 10th. She’s a motherfucker but she’s fair with a wedge or short iron. I’ve heard the club now has a 225 yard tee behind the original east tee box. I can’t imagine they use it much. The green is too small and a shot with a long iron into it would be insanity. However, I’d like to be invited back to give it a try.

Outward Nine – 3374 yards, par 35

On to the inward nine. Part II coming soon.

 

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Welcome Back Tiger (Again)

A Hero’s Welcome Challenge

Tiger Woods returned to the golf world last weekend in the Bahamas at the Hero World Challenge. Oh, you knew that already? He looked good. No, he was more than good, he looked fantastic. He was limber, he was happy, and he was mostly sharp albeit in comparison to a limited field of 18 on an easy course. His short game had some rust but he showed some brilliance in that realm at times too. In the end he beat World Number 1 Dustin Johnson and Player of the Year for 2017, Justin Thomas. That’s not too shabby.

I talked about Tiger’s return in more detail on the Fore! Golfers Network Podcast with host Bill Hobson. You can check it out in the tweet below.

Thanks again to Bill for having me on.

When the dust settled on the Hero Rickie Fowler own by 3 shots over Charley Hoffman. Rickie got it done with a 61 that started with 8 birdies in his first 9 holes. I think that’s a sign of things to come for Rick in 2018.

Site News

I know you haven’t seen much activity here in recent months, but you get what you pay for. I do have some posts coming soon with different content for you to enjoy. Stay tuned and be patient.

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It Isn’t the Ball

A ≠ C But A+B+Dx5 Does = C

Did I lose you already? Good. Hang in there. Ok, so I haven’t posted in 3 months and you’re wondering what has drawn me out of my cave of hibernation to do so on the biggest bar night of the year. Well, I’m sober as a church mouse so it isn’t the booze, for once. With the USGA announcing they’re looking into taking measures to roll back or limit how far the golf ball goes the interwebs are a buzz with opinions on the matter. What you see from Golf Twitter and other forums is that something has to be done because precious courses like Augusta National, St. Andrews, Shinnecock and Pebble Beach will become obsolete if we don’t roll back the ball. Slow your roll, folks. As America’s Pro – Michael Breed of the Golf Fix – points out, there are several other factors that have made golfers hit it further over the last 20+ years. The golf ball is only a small factor.

I agree with all of that, Trackman technology is another you could add to that list as it allows for precise refinement in launch conditions. I also think that agronomy is over looked too much as a variable. I see Tour pros get 65 yards of roll compared to the 2 yards I get on my home course. Can someone show me the increase in roll out yards from the tee over the last decade? The Tour courses play firm and fast and are prepped to be that way for months before a tournament. Public courses I play are over watered so they look good to the guy that just paid $80 to play on Saturday morning.

On top of what Michael has pointed out, check out this data from Golfweek’s David Dusek:

Club head speed going up is a big deal. When you look at a decade’s worth of driving distance data on Tour you can see that it has gone up, but it isn’t a huge amount within 5 to 7 year segments. It is only large over 20 years. That doesn’t scream “problem” to me. When you see the club head speed numbers going up over a decade that explains the distance gains more than companies “improving” their balls. In 2002 the numbers were about 110 mph and 161 mph for club ball speed. The trend is there. And that has nothing to do with improvements to the ball. Fitness and other equipment improving are much bigger factors which are exacerbated in the numbers produced by highly skilled pros.

In the same 15 years from 2002 to 2017 my handicap has ranged from +1 to 3 and is currently a 1. I play about 50 rounds a year down from nearly 100 in 2002. I’m still in my 30s and haven’t lost muscle mass yet. My club head speed is within 1 mph hour of what it was in 2002. Ball speed is similar. I still play the same irons from 2002. I hit my irons nearly the exact same distance that I did 15 years ago. Where’s the extra distance I’m supposed to be getting with the so-called ball that goes too far?

Image result for Pro V1 image

I’d bet dollars to donuts that if I spent money on some refined training techniques, fitness, and new irons I’d start hitting my 7 iron 185 instead of 170. Is the ball better? Yes. Is the ball the problem? No. Is there a solution? Probably not. The cat is out of the bag. The USGA limits the COR on a driver so perhaps they can come up with a similar measure on the ball to hold it in its place but it won’t go backward. There’s too much money in play for that to happen. In the meantime, tell anyone that will listen that they need to bark up a different tree and find a new argument to save St. Andrews from the nuclear bomb that is the newest Pro V1 (sarcasm). Golf will be fine, some people just need to complain and try to govern things they can’t control. Let them get it out of their system and move on.

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Back And Loaded With Hot Takes

Four Posts In 3 Months Isn’t Bad For A Dead Guy

Okay, okay, okay……I’ve been a little detached from this place for most of the summer. Vacations, kids, work, and most importantly my own golf game have taken priority over talking about golf on the interwebs. That’s just the way it is. I warned you. But tonight the wife has the kids out of town and I’ve got some time to babble on about what’s happened in golf for a few months. While the dog stares at me and wonders if I murdered the rest of the family I’ll press on and hope the beer fairy shows up with better shit than I’ve got in the man cave fridge right now. Here we go.

The Players

All I’ve written since the Players is a post about people who blocked me on Twitter and various course reviews. Forgive me while I go back to May for my 1st hot take out of the barrel. On Mother’s Day the Players reminded us again while it will never be a major we give a fuck about. First, having it on Mother’s Day doesn’t help. That’s the one day you’re supposed to do something with your mom, for your wife, etc. The 1% of ladies who want to watch 4.5 hours of golf on NBC on the 1st nice day of the year doesn’t actually exist. Second, do you remember who won? I just had to Google it. Si Woo Kim beat Louis Oosthuizen and Ian Poulter by three shots. Rafa Cabrera Bello and Kyle Fucking Stanley rounded out the top 5.

Image result for players championship 2017 image

Besides Louis, those names scream “major” don’t they? Poulter treated 2nd like he won. Fuck that shankapotomus loser. And then the defending champ shows up to give the winner the trophy in a Swoosh t-shirt….like he was in the gym getting swolll and took a break to get the crystal out of his locker and bring it to Kim? Major indeed. Pray they move it back to March. Next.

The U.S. Open 

Cool course. Shitty luck with the weather. Deserving champion. Saturday fireworks. Sunday dud. That’s about it, right? I really would have enjoyed a Justin Thomas or Rickie Fowler victory. Both those lads played splendidly for 54 to 63 holes and didn’t get it done on Sunday. Thomas’ 3 wood nearly put itself in the hall of fame with the three shots he hit in the 3rd round with it. I’m still in awe.

In the end it was Koepka who finally broke through. He deserved it. He was even more impressive than Thomas but was also more steady and consistent throughout the championship. I’m not sure he would have won had the course been firm and fast as it is intended, but if my aunt had a dick she’d be my uncle. Koepka’s only problem was having Joe Buck call his current girlfriend by his ex’s name. Oops for Buck, but that probably got Brooksie double laid for a week. You did see Miss Jenna Sims, right?

Image result for jena sims

Messing that up should prove Buck isn’t interested in women. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Koepka took the girl and the trophy to Vegas to party for a long weekend after his 1st major victory. What a life.

The Golden Boy

The Summer of Spieth began a week after the U.S. Open when homie got super angry after holing out in a playoff to win and threw his wedge at his caddie (yes, that’s sarcasm).

All joking aside, that’s Eldrick-like shit right there. Cool to see as a fan, but that’s about right when I started to not root for Jordan Spieth. He’s too good. He always says the right thing. He gets breaks and takes advantage of them in route to victories. I find it maddening. I’m not rooting against him, but a Daniel Berger victory would have been more interesting to me. I know I’m in the minority.

Fast forward to the British Open. I was rooting for Kuchar. Spieth was phenomenal in how he went around Royal Birkdale. But the reality is on any other day and with any other player that 5 on 13 is a double bogey 6. That’s a 2 shot margin for Kuchar and a lot bigger of a hill to climb. Spieth took advantage of the rules and had the level head to keep all options open when seeking a drop on the practice range. Good for him, but holy fuck. Read that again. He got a free drop to play from the fucking driving range. Why isn’t the range out of bounds? The 10th fairway at Royal Birkdale was out of bounds from the 9th tee but the practice range is playable from anywhere? That’s a bunch of monkey shit. Without that break I’m not sure you see the birdie barrage that ended with a Mack truck running over Kuchar.

Image result for Jordan Spieth claret jug image

Poor Matty.

What’s Up With Tigah?

Oh you know, just free diving for lobsters, taking pictures without his shirt, tweeting about his Raiders pool table, and walking around with busty nannies. Same old shit.

Image result for tiger woods crab

That one, with the large crustacean, from last week……..come on. How are you doing that with a bad back but can’t hit a golf ball? This guy is full of horse shit. Either that or his doctor has some very strange rehab methods.

Then that one of the current nanny. Some say they were walking hand in hand right before the click of the camera. I doubt it because she isn’t blonde, doesn’t work at Perkins, doesn’t moo or downhill ski…..you get the idea. Of course he’s fucking her. He’s Tiger Woods. Yeah, this guy…..

Image result for Tiger Woods mugshot

Well, I can’t have a TW take without discussing his Memorial Day DUI arrest, right? What’s with this dude and holiday weekends? Recall that his 2009 disaster began with his car hitting a fire hydrant on Thanksgiving. His bullshit about being hopped up on pain killers seems to be true but how does he not have enough people around him at all times to monitor what he’s high on and where he’s going in a car. Can’t he get an autonomous Tesla or simply order an Uber? He should have served 10 days in jail simply for being stupid.

The PGA

That’s about 1000 words to catch us all up for the summer. The PGA is of course next on the docket for majors. Glory’s Last Shot comes to Quail Hollow in Charlotte, North Carolina…..in August. Brilliant idea. It’ll be 90 degrees with 110% humidity this week. There’s a reason the normal tour event at this course comes to Charlotte in May. Move the PGA you say? Well, that’s what the AP broke today. The Players will move back to March and the PGA to May. That’s dumb too. They’ll be fine playing on Long Island, in Jersey, Ohio, and anywhere south of there but you can say goodbye to past PGA sites like Medinah, Oakland Hills, Hazeltine, and Whistling Straits. They’re all out of play for a May date. You can’t risk playing in 54 degree weather with no leaves on the trees and the ground still frozen. I don’t like the move. Texas, Florida, and other southern states have enough professional golf events. The first PGA in May comes in 2019. Let’s hope this is a 2 or 3 year experiment.

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As for the tourney itself, I’ll take Rickie Fowler. He’s due. He finished strong in Akron. And he won his first PGA Tour event at Quail Hollow. That story line seems like something Jimmy “No Pants” Nantz will be telling us about all weekend long. Enjoy it. Perhaps I’ll post about the victor before Christmas.

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Its John Deere Week, You Know What That Means…

It Means I’m Re-Blogging My TPC John Deere Course Review

An oldie but a goodie, here’s my 2013 post reviewing my trip to TPC Deere Run in 2009. Enjoy.

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Course Review: The Loop at Forest Dunes

Forest Dunes (The Loop, Red Routing) – Roscommon, MI (Architect: Tom Doak)

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Background

Forest Dunes’ 3rd owner finally figured out how to make money at his gem of a facility and decided to invest some of it back into a 2nd golf course. He turned the design over to world famous architect Tom Doak because TD sold him on his idea for the first reversible golf course in the United States. After Doak waived his magic wand, pushed some sand with a dozer, and sprinkled in some fescue seed, the Loop at Forest Dunes opened for play in June of 2016. The original course at Forest Dunes set the bar very high for for me so needless to say I was a bit excited to get on the Loop for the first time in May. In 2016 the course was only open to preview play, meaning guests staying at the Forest Dunes resort. In 2017 the public can make tee times a week in advance. The Loop is a walking only course that plays clockwise one day and counter clockwise the next. The different paths of play are known as Red and Black.

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You read that right. On a Monday you could play the Red course, which would start you off the first tee and play to the first green for that routing. On Tuesday you would play the Black course, which tees off in the other direction, down a different fairway, where your first green was your 17th the day before. I’ll go out on a limb and guess you’ve never played anything like that in your life.

From what I understand, Doak has always wanted to create a course like the Loop because he’s intimately aware that St. Andrews used to be played that way. What Doak set out to do at the Loop was accomplished and now gives the original Forest Dunes course a sibling across the street worthy of being in the same family. The vibe of the Loop smacks you right in the face as soon as you drop a ball on the fescue putting green. It sounds like someone just kicked a coffin. The greens are rock hard and meant to play that way. They’re top dressed regularly and watered only enough to keep them from dying. What lays ahead of you for the day from the first tee on feels a bit like a game of croquet being played in a neighbor’s yard.

Layout/Scenery

As you make your way across the parking lot and main drive way from the Forest Dunes clubhouse you find yourself at the caddie shack of the Loop. If you’re taking a jock, pro jock, you’ll meet your looper there and be told the routing in play for the day. On the day I visited Loop players were working with the counter clockwise routing of the Red course. If you’re looking at the 18th green, that would be to the right, nearest tee to the caddie shack. The holes are framed with fescue and some trees and brush outside of the mowed area, however, they don’t have the traditional shape you see on most courses. At the Loop most holes are laid out in a rectangular shape, like a back yard. I’ve only seen this before on certain Seth Raynor designs and Onwentsia in the Chicago area. This feature was most prominent on the Red’s 13th hole (not pictured below).

I later recalled that Doak was involved in late 1990s renovation to Onwentsia and think he might have brought some of those visuals to the Loop. That look also works well when you need to be able to play the holes in opposite directions every other day. The bunkers and fairway ribbons that traverse the square look still leave plenty for the eye to take in regarding how the hole is framed.

 

There’s nothing boring about the layout. Both routings take you in different directions so you’ll rarely play the same shot with the same wind. The mix of holes is fantastic. You’ll play a little bit of everything in long par 4s, short par 3s, long par 5s, short par 4s, long par 3s, and short par 5s. They’re all a treat. The shot above of my father-in-law playing the short par 3 sixth hole on the Red. From the back tee it might measure 125 yards, but it is no picnic. The green has different sections to play to and you’d be wise to use the natural contours of the green complex to snuggle the ball in close. We both did but walked away only with pars. You can also get a better look at the most recent top dressing that occurred 5 days earlier in that image.

What you see above is the typical look of a hole at the Loop. We played it about a month into the short northern Michigan golf season so the longer natural grass wasn’t all the way up yet and there were still trees with minimal leaves. I’m sure the property looks better in the fall when the longer grass is bronzed on the top and the trees are at peak fall foliage. There’s not water in play and no dramatic views so if I have a knock on any part of the layout it is the lack of scenery. The golf itself is a purists dream.

Score: 4.5

Conditioning

Firm, fast, and more firm. That’s what you get at the Loop. A typical 100 yard wedge shot from the fairway should be played like a 90 yard shot. 200 yards into the wind, hit your 200 yard club because the fucker is going to roll up on the green even after the wind kills it 15 yards short of the front edge. The sand based soil, fescue fairways, and bent grass greens with mucho top dressing provide you with an experience you’re probably unfamiliar with. That style of play takes a few holes to get used to but it also allows for you to be creative with your shots and play the ground game you don’t ever practice. Good luck with that.

The course is only a year old so it isn’t plush yet and to keep the rugged feel that I believe Doak wants here I don’t think you’ll ever look at the Loop as you do its perfectly manicured sibling that shares the same mailing address. That being said, the fescue fairways never left me with a bad lie.

The greens on the other hand were a bit of a conversation starter in our group. We all knew what we were getting into with how firm they are, but I think they’re pushing a very fine line. The course received almost an inch of rain the day before we played it and we still barely made ball marks. On the 8th hole I hit a pitching wedge from the fairway into the wind that released 35 feet to the back fringe. I played for 20 feet of that roll out and still only had a 12 foot putt, but yikes.

I’d like to give a score for conditioning of “incomplete” because of the newness of the track, but will forge ahead with a numeric score nonetheless. I was impressed with the fescue grasses and like the intent they’re going for on the greens. If they take the harsh edges off the greens, like dial the firmness back from 9.9 to 8, I think they’ll have it about perfect. Until then I can’t go much higher than a 4 because I did see a few trouble spots that looked out of place after a morning mow as a well as some long, healthy fescue a yard off the fairway that was nearly unfair thanks to being over watered.

Score: 4.0

Value

The original Forest Dunes course has a rack rate of $149. I think that’s a decent value considering several publications rank it as a top 100 golf course. I don’t think the Loop will ever achieve the same lofty status as its sibling, but it is a unique course and a great 2nd fiddle. Golf Digest just ranked it the 6th best course in Michigan with the first course being number 4. Not too shabby. That being said, it isn’t a great value at the $149 rate they want. Throw in a caddie fee and you’re well over $200. I liked it, but I’m not paying that freight for that course.

Now, shoulder season rates in May, early June, September and October….I’m in. Those are about $90 and if you don’t take a pro jock and carry your own bag there’s no other fee added on. Remember, no carts!

Score: 3.5

Service/Pace

Because I didn’t take a caddie I can’t say if they’re any good. The rest of the staff at FD is everything you’d expect at a 5 star course. The starter is more than helpful, but he should be as he only sees about 12 groups a day right now, and the beverage cart girls do all they can to sell you whatever you need from their parked carts along your walk. Yes, they don’t even allow the beverage carts on the course.

If I can complain about anything it is that the halfway house was closed behind the 9th green. I have no idea why other than they had so few groups scheduled to play. But at the rates you pay there someone should be working it just for 1 group on the course.

Because there’s no groups on the course to clog things up the pace is whatever you make of it. Three of us walked, two of us were in the push cart mafia, and I carried. We made it around in 4:10 with my dad taking his sweet time and me waiting out a 5 minute rain delay on the 18th green (I left rain gear in the car!).

Score: 4.5

Amenities

The facilities at Forest Dunes are 2nd to none. They have one of the best practice ranges I’ve ever used. The short game area is fantastic. A caddie program. Oh, and they’re bringing back their natural grass putting course soon! Now throw in a great restaurant, fantastic proshop, cottages, new lodges…..what more could you want?

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Hopefully nothing because there is nothing. The Forest Dunes property is in the middle of nowhere. The small town of Roscommon nearby doesn’t give you much either unless you feel like getting a bite at Fred’s and bowling if your golf is washed out. No strip clubs. No good bars. No night life. Just you and your buddies hanging out at two great golf courses among the wildlife. Enjoy it.

Score: 4.5

Difficulty

From the back tee the Loop’s rating is just over 71 on a par 70 and it plays about 6700 yards. Unless the wind is really blowing, which it can, there’s nothing a 0-15 handicapper can’t handle off the tee. Your 2nd shot is where you start to think, and overthink, or not think at all. You’re figuring yardages to the front and playing to that number. Miss a green, now you’re in a pressure cooker. The severely undulating greens that are concrete hard put a lot of stress on anyone’s short game. I usually make my money from 100 yards and in and pitching around the green. Good luck with that at the Loop, especially seeing it for the first time.

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While I noted above that there’s no tee shot that should scare you here, you’ll find plenty that don’t exactly fit your eye. Because of the lack of framing or a true target you can have trouble getting aligned properly on the tee. There’s no mowed tee boxes. There’s just 3 sets of tees in large fairway areas. They can be placed almost anywhere. Some are not exactly put in flat spots. Now picture that kind of space, getting square to a target, and trying to rip your tee shot through the wind and keep it out of the long shit. All those factors will fuck with you.

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Per usual, this rating isn’t based on a 5 being “way too hard”. I’m rating a course a 5 when I’d say it’s playable and enjoyable, but not easy, for players of all levels. There are no forced carries and I don’t think anyone in my group had a penalty stroke. My dad who plays to about a 12 scored well from the middle tees. My FIL and myself were a little bit above our averages. The Loop gives players of all levels a chance to score, but it will make a good player earn a good score too. The only reason I didn’t give it a 5 here is for the concrete greens. Firm is good, but too firm is dangerous, and too difficult for the average player.

Score: 4.5

Composite

My expectations of the Loop were pretty high thanks to my trips around the original Forest Dunes course. The Loop mostly met my expectations and the composite score came out to the very same rating as its sibling. That being said, I’d probably play the original course 7 out of 10 times now that I’ve seen them both. I plan on coming back for another look at the Loop and the Black routing sometime in 2017. Perhaps that return trip will give me a different opinion and I’ll revise some ratings.

Score:  4.25 (out of 5)

That final score is nothing to sneeze at. I’ve given lower scores to higher ranked tracks. Anytime you have a chance to play either FD course you should do it, but I’d recommend playing the Loop 2nd to the original course only because the first course gives you the true Forest Dunes experience. Shit, just stay there for a long weekend and play them both twice. You can’t go wrong.

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Course Review: Erin Hills

Seems like the right time to reboot this.

Erin Hills – Erin, WI (Architects: Michael Hurdzan, Dana Fry, & Ron Whitten)

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Bob Lang made millions selling greeting cards and then turned his passion to golf later in life. More specifically, he wanted to build a golf course that would host a major tournament in central Wisconsin. Lang sought out experts like Ron Whitten and executives at the USGA to get opinions on his dream. After showing his consultants the Kettle Moraine land he planed to build on, they were sold, and the USGA had a new project that could be the newest belle of the U.S. Open ball.

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Construction on Lang’s new love began in 2004 and the course officially opened in 2006 in Erin, Wisconsin. Erin is roughly 40 minutes west of downtown Milwaukee, but nowhere near a major highway. The course was originally built with quirks that were meant to mimic famous design characteristics of Scottish…

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Nit Twits – Who Blocked Me And Why

Cock Blockers

I haven’t sat down and written a post in some time, nearly a month. Life happens. And I warned you that I’d have to dial it down this year because of the whole life balance thing. But in the midst of my down time I decided to write this post which details my 4+ years on Twitter interacting with the golf media, Tour pros, and bloggers who want to be something more than that, who have blocked me from following them and the why behind it (if I know why). I’ve got nothing to hide. I’d love for any of them to unblock me so that I can follow along again. I’ve never blocked anyone on Twitter without first being blocked by them. An eye for an eye, so to speak. So here we go on a roll coaster ride of Twitter blockers – and try to remember that as always this site is for entertainment purposes only. I questioned why I’d even write this but you guys asked for in a Twitter poll and I refuse to disappoint you.

Brandel Chamblee, Golf Channel analyst – Brandel estimated in a recent Golf.com piece that he’s blocked 20,000+ people on Twitter. I’m just a number to him. Now I know how Wilt Chamberlin’s lovers felt. Why do I think he blocked me? I have no idea. I disagree with him plenty so it could have been anything. Or maybe I said he had a tiny prick and his Golf Channel anchor fiance is a dog face. Honestly, I don’t remember. I really don’t give a shit about ever reading a tweet he wrote again but if he unblocked me I’d go right back to giving him shit for being a dope again. Next.

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Geoff Shackleford, Golf Digest and Golf Channel contributor – Geoff is a bit of a golf traditionalist, which is a nice way to say he’s an uptight weenie. That being said, he’s a talented guy, I like his takes, and I probably agree with him more than I’d like to admit. Why did he block me? Because I posted a link to my site in the comments of his. How about just advising me not to do that? I was new to all of this crap. What do you gain by blocking someone who enjoys your work who didn’t say shit to you on Twitter? Thanks, Captain Douche Canoe.

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Ian James Poulter, Ferrari Enthusiast – Shank-o-potamus has to have blocked as many or more people than Chamblee and he also takes joy in doing it. How a guy who plays a professional sport for a living can pay attention to what any schmuck says about him on Twitter is beyond me. Ian brings it all upon himself. Somehow I  made it a few years without being blocked even though I told him he had sand in his vagina while he complained about the wind at Kapalua over four years ago. What’s more surprising is that he was even playing in the Tournament of Champions, meaning he actually won something. Who knew? What did he block me for? It may have been because I said his wife was a beard and he was really in love with a clone of himself that he keeps locked up in his Lake Nona home. Or it may have been several other insults I hurled his way. He’s annoying, he sucks. Good riddance.

Stephanie Wei, Golf Blogger – I guess she’s a blogger, I really don’t know because I have not read a post of hers in over 2 years. When she first started writing she had promise and was telling her readers interesting nuggets about tournaments and players. Then she became TMZ and her site started reading more like a teen pop magazine than it did a golf blog. I had the audacity to call Wei out once or twice for making the story about her more often than not so she blocked me. Yawn.

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Sergio Garcia, Masters Champion Are you sensing a theme here, that perhaps every European Ryder Cup stalwart has blocked me? It’s undeniable but apparently at some point in the last 4.5 years I’ve gone after the easy targets they roll out enough to get under their skin and then promptly get blocked. I despised Sergio for nearly a decade and have made countless comments about his homo-erotic love for Jose Maria Olazabal. Was that wrong of me? I don’t think so. I only said things about Garcia when he acted like the little punk bitch he often portrayed. Things have changed with him now, largely thanks to his wife to be and his green jacket. I kind of like the way he goes about his golf these days. Perhaps we can bury the hatchet and he’ll unblock me while I never say a bad word about him again. I promise.

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Lee Westwood, Best Player To Never Win A Major – Another blocker, another Euro Ryder Cupper. Again….this could have been anything. Remember when Lee used to get drunk and tweet. Those were fun times. Moving on.

No Laying Up, Website & Twitter Persona, Blogger, etc. – This one is interesting. I always liked Soly and still do. I read his work when I have time to open an incognito browser. NLU even followed me for most of my Twitter lifetime. Then one day out of the blue the least talented member of the fan boy network trolls me on a post I made 15 months prior to him tweeting at me. I never even followed him because he adds nothing to their fine site.

So homie doesn’t see the humor in my misogynistic post about the ladies of Golf Channel’s Morning Drive (it was the M/F/K post) and tries to make an example out of me to his followers because they’re adding a chick to their crew. He goes on some rant, unfollows me and then blocks me from NLU too. Good job cool guy, hopefully Chris lets you keep riding his coat tails.

Steve Elkington; Jason Gore; and Pat Perez, Tour Players – I’ll throw a blanket over all three of these fellas because they’re all related in some way. Just like 3/4 of the NLU crew I mentioned above I like all three of these guys and Elkington followed me for a while. I think things started downhill when Perez found my post about him getting married. From that and PGA Tour wife post linked within it the worst thing I said about Pat was that he out kicked his coverage and that he had a mullet. Really bro? You’re that sensitive? Apparently he is because he quit Twitter after his Tiger comments this year.

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A few months later I called Perez’ good buddy Jason Gore chubby, basically saying Gore plays into the “golfers aren’t athletes” stereotype. Gore blocked me almost instantly and I didn’t even tag him in my tweet. Elkington unfollowed and blocked me within hours of Gore’s action. Steve fucking Elkington….dude is a not stop Twitter gaffe and he blocked me for saying PP’s wife is hot, Pat has a mullet, and Jason is portly. What am I missing?

 

HashTag Chad, Social Media guy at Callaway Golf – Of the 12 Twitter accounts I’ve noted in this post, 6 of them are people I like and wouldn’t mind being able to read their tweets again. Chad is one of them. And again, here’s another guy that blocked me for a reason I don’t know. I recall him exuberantly tweeting about his beloved Arkansas Razorbacks once and I may have insulted the hogs, their coach, or said something about hill billies. I’ve disparaged Callaway products a few times but didn’t do so by tweeting at him. So this one leaves me scratching my head again. I even offered to donate to his GoFundMe for his dog’s illness if he unblocked me but that fell on deaf ears. Sad face.

All in all, if there’s only 6 people on Twitter that I’ve blocked me that matter in 4 years then I guess I’m not the most terrible human being some of the above seem to think I am. Sure I deserved a few of those. I’ll own that. And quite frankly I expected them from guys like Chamblee, Poulter, Westwood, etc. I wear them all like a badge of honor and hope perhaps the others will some day unblock me for the greater good. Its happened before, it could happen again, but I won’t expect it.

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Forever A Bridesmaid, Sergio Garcia Is Now A Masters Champion

Let That Sink In For A Minute

I never thought I’d type that title, even if it were for a joke. But come Monday morning hell hadn’t frozen over and pigs weren’t flying, that is unless Rosie O’Donnell was on an airplane somewhere. Dadgummit nearly a week later and I still don’t believe it…..Sergio Garcia, 2017 Masters Champion. Of course he did it in a way only fitting of Sergio. Epic ball striking, struggles under pressure, a balky putter, and a slow tantalizing putt to win that curled in the side of the 1st playoff hole to give the former boy wonder his long awaited major championship.

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That’s the look of a man who either just let out a fart he’d been holding in for 4 hours or a guy who won his first major in 73 tries. Or both. The feeling is probably similar. For Garcia to be paired with Rose and watch him make consecutive birdies at 6, 7, and 8 and pass him by to only then have his worst stretch of holes for the week at 10, 11, and 13….well, the Sergio we’ve known for 18 years would have melted like a crayon in your couch cushions. What we saw at Amen Corner on Sunday at the Masters was a new man. A man who started taking the blame instead of passing it. A man who took the blame and made the best of it. A man who looked in the mirror and decided to fix what he saw. When his putt dropped his head was finally removed from under the Best Player to Never Win a Major guillotine.

ESPN’s Jason Sobel felt it too.

I’ve hated Sergio for nearly a decade. I’ve taken joy in his mishaps and mocked him relentlessly. Then a funny thing happened during the 3rd round of the Masters. I started rooting for him because I saw the new Sergio. Gone was the punk-ass who spit in a hole at Doral, flipped the bird to fans at Bethpage, and threw his club in the pond in Ireland. Have a funeral for that guy because he’s dead and gone. Pre-2017 Sergio would have made double at the 10th after hitting it in the greenside pine straw. He would have made another double or worse having hit his tee ball at the 13th left of the hazard and into a bush. And he sure as shit couldn’t have risen to the occasion to hit one of the greatest shots in the history of the Masters:

Thank god he made the putt to back it up.

Why Garcia is different appears to have a lot to do with his future bride. Her name is Angela Atkins. They’re getting married after the Open Championship in July. We’ve talked about her a bit before while taking past shots at Garcia. There’s not a doubt in my mind he’s now a major champion because of her. She’s completely reset his mindset, his confidence, and 18 years of mental scar tissue is now gone. She could make millions if she wanted to write a book about it as a self help guide. Her family has had a lot to do with it too.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the other side of the great Masters duel we were treated to – Justin Rose. Rose was phenomenal on the course and all class in defeat off it. He obviously has a major on his resume and he appeared to be genuinely happy for his friend Sergio, but this one will sting until he gets his own green jacket. I believe him when he says he thinks he’ll get one some day. His high finishes at the Masters give him that belief. Don’t let him talk to Ernie Els about that way of thinking. After Augusta he went to the Bahamas for vacation probably felt good about where his game was and how he played, and then he sat down and had a beer and felt like shit because there wasn’t a green jacket in his closet. Shit, I’m sad knowing the Masters is 51 week away again, I can’t imagine how Rose really feels.

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