Category Archives: Disc Golfing

The bulk of my posts, about disc golf

Disc Golfing Up North

This weekend was Memorial Day weekend, and while it was a bit cold, we went up to Petoskey for some camping and….some disc golf!  And a great course was found and played while up there, Kiwanis Park in Harbor Springs.

At the top of a hill Arbor Springs dead ends into the park.  And that hill is a precursor to the hills you’ll find through the course.  It looks like the park is used for sledding in the winter, and maybe other park-like activities, but for the most part I imagine it is used for the great course there.  According to the Harbor Springs website, the course is taken care off by the city as well as local disc golfers, and you can tell.  The course is really clean, which is great because I don’t understand why people assume it’s okay to throw their trash anywhere while they play, and the signs for each hole are great.  I mean look at this…

 

You get an aerial view of the hole, out of bounds marked, a flight path (sometimes two…), and even an arrow pointing to where the other hole is.  They also had clear paths between each hole, some lined with tree limbs.

Having been about nine months since I’ve gone disc golfing, it was a good day for me.  The majority of the holes were in the woods, and were less than 200 feet, keeping us on a short game that focused on putting.  I was usually able to get up to the putting area within one or two, depending on the placement of trees and the choice of disc.

I found myself overthrowing my target and having to backtrack to get to the basket.  This came from misjudging my disc choice.  I have a Discraft Avenger driver, which is great for a long distance throw, I can cover a lot of ground with it and it flies extremely straight.  However, this can be bad when assuming that you won’t be able to make it to the basket because of trees.  Yet, when you throw, the disc whistles past the trees and the basket and ends up landing at the pad for a hole you’ve already done.

This happened a couple of times.  I need to not always assume I’m going to hit a tree.  I also need to know what my discs do.  I need to know that the Avenger flies straight, and the Starfire will turn toward the left.  I also need to be confident in my choice when I get the disc out of my bag.

Overall, I was pretty happy with my performance.  I only had one hole that I really screwed up, hitting multiple trees and letting go of the disc way too soon.  But, I was able to recover on the next hole with a score of two.  I ended up being only one behind my father-in-law, which I was pretty proud of.  I kept myself as close to par as I could.

There were only a couple of people at the course when we played.  There was a large group ahead of us, but we quickly overcame them by hole 11.  We did have to wait for this couple that randomly started at 10 and then jumped over to hole two.  I guess I could see getting confused because hole 10 is right next to the parking lot, and hole one is somewhat hidden.  It took us a couple of minutes to see that it was near the clubhouse but off in the shadow of some trees.  However, the holes are really obvious.  There is a pretty big sign stating what hole you are on.  So, I’m not sure if they just wanted to change up the course or felt like it would be too much to search for hole one(oh, there was a big map near the parking lot as well…), but we had to watch them.  It’s not a big deal except that the guy decided to be cool and throw a couple of discs.  And then we had to watch his girlfriend whiff a disc into the woods.

It’s great to be back outside disc golfing again, I’m hoping to get out more often.  There are some new courses around Kalamazoo I need to check out, and there are some great ones up in Grand Rapids I need to get back to.  Thanks for suffering through an extremely long drought of posts, but I’m going to try to get back on here more often.

Aim for the Chains

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The Joy of Disc Hunting…

There is one thing that we all love about disc golfing, the one thing that you can’t take out of disc golf, the one thing that makes disc golf disc golf…the hunting of your disc in the woods!

Let me set it up for you, you are on the pad looking down a 325 foot path that dogs to the left and has deep woods on both sides.  Your buddies are waiting for you and you know you have a tendency to go further to the left than you want.  You pull back, throw and listen as your buddies laugh at you because you now have to hike up your socks and put your head down as you dig through the brush to find your disc.

This is a scenario we are probably all familiar with.  And if you are not, I want to see it!  There is no way you never had to hunt for your disc at least once.  I simply don’t believe it.  Unless you go to some crazy course that doesn’t have any baskets with some woods near it.  Or at least some tall grass.   But, part of the joy of disc golf is going to some cool parks and taking the walk in nature.  I’ve been to some great courses that had me going through some nasty parts of the woods.  Especially in the middle of the summer.

It adds to the challenge of the sport.  You want to stay out of it.  While you are standing on the pad, you are thinking about how to throw your disc.  What will keep you on the green and out of those lovely woods?  I know that I think about it.  I have a pretty wicked hook that gets me in trouble.  The woods are one of the things that stick out in my mind while I’m getting ready for my drive.  I don’t want to think about it, I need to concentrate on my throw, but I hate wasting time digging through the woods, and so it stands at the forefront of my concentration.  Hunting in the woods can kill your momentum.  You also stand in the way of others.  And god forbid you are throwing a green or yellow disc.  With the sun and the leaves, you are asking for a lost disc.  

I haven’t even mentioned the actual hunt.

Just thinking about it…thorny bushes, constant fake outs of leaves and sticks looking like your disc, repeatedly looking at the same spot thinking that you hadn’t looked at it yet, and the possibility that your disc might be up in the trees.  Good times.

Now that I have brought up all of the “fun” of disc hunting, what about the solutions?  Is there honestly a solution to this problem besides just keeping the disc out of the woods?  If I could keep my disc out of the woods, more than likely it means I have a pretty good throw and then that would mean I could probably make it in some tournaments and be a lot better than I am.  But, the purpose of this blog is to get better, so the answer is no, no I can’t keep my disc out of the woods.  I let the disc go too early or too late, or I don’t line up properly and the disc ends up in the garbage of the woods.

But, what I can offer is plenty of experience foraging for discs!

Here are some suggestions:

Get a spotter out there, I know that it helped a lot when I went out on the Wolverine Cup.  It’ll save you a ton of time, because they are out there checking on where the disc ended up.  You will be surprised on how much time is saved by having someone out there pointing to the tree that your disc is leaning against.

Throw a colorful disc.  I know this isn’t super practical, because you might have to purchase some new discs.  But, if you have a red, blue, purple, or orange disc out in the brush under the trees, it’ll be a lot easier to see than a green disc under green leaves.  Plus, the color might be a bit unique making it easier to distinguish between other people’s discs.

Stop and think.  Sometimes you need to stop and think about where it could be.  If you didn’t have someone out there as a spotter, it’s tougher to spot the exact spot, but you should have a good idea where it is.  Go there and think.  More than likely the disc is near the edge of the garbage area and it is probably just under some leaves.

But, don’t get frustrated.  Walk around and look.  Think about your usual path.  You should have a good idea on where you usually throw.  That should give you an idea where it might end up.  If you have someone with you, they can help cover more ground.

As a last resort, make sure your name and number are on the disc, so that if you do lose it someone can call you when they find it.

I’m sure you all have come up with your own techniques on disc hunting while in the woods.  Take a second and share with us what you do to find your disc.

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Nine holes of fun

I think I like a nine hole game of disc golf for a family event.  It’s not so long that you miss the actual event (a reunion in this case), but it is a great practice and taste for people new to the sport.  I got to experience this perfect mix the other week in Grand Rapids at Lamar Park.

The course is a nice little course with not much of a challenge, besides some water hazards, picnic areas, and baseball fields.  The majority of the holes are short, except for one, which makes up for the others.  The other hazard that you will run into is the that this park has a lot of picnic benches and picnic areas around, with some really close to the holes.  So, you have to look out for the people in these areas.  That part is annoying, considering hole number three has a creek on your left and a giant picnic area to the right of the basket.  When we were there, that area was full of people enjoying a birthday party with lots of kids.  Meaning that you had to make sure you had control of your disc.  You didn’t want to go fishing or piss off a bunch of parents.  The baseball fields also present a challenge, though not as bad as the moving hazard of children.  The baseball fields only presented you with the trouble of having to hop fences if your disc went over them.  Obviously not a problem if a game is not going on, but…you don’t really want to mess up a game by stopping the outfielder from catching a pop-fly.  Plus, if you are doing disc golf right, that is out-of-bounds.

Overall, it’s a great little place that I do recommend you checking out if you have some time up in the Grand Rapids area.  Just be prepared for the one hazard that really shouldn’t be a hazard, yet seems to be for my brother-in-law, Mario.

The pond.

This pond seems be a storm run-off, that just happens to always have water in it.  I guess there are fish, because there are usually people on the edges of it with fishing poles.  Well, this pond is on the far left of the ninth hole.  The way the hole is laid out, the pond really doesn’t seem to be in the way of anything.  You wouldn’t even really want to try to cut over it with a big throw, because the basket isn’t in place where it would make sense.  I could see it being a problem, because it is in your line of sight when you are getting ready to throw your disc.  And if you let the disc go too late when you are doing a backhand, it could fly in there.  But, for the most part it shouldn’t be an issue.

However, both times we have gone to this course, Mario has had to take a swim.  The first time was pretty bad, because the disc went into the middle of the pond.  The second time I didn’t get to see it, because he went around the course one more time than I did.  The funny thing was that as we stood around the pad for for the first round, we had joked about him doing it.  He said he had no idea why his disc went in the water.  So, he must have cursed himself, because sure enough, as we were sitting around the picnic area for the reunion he came back with wet shorts.  Moral of the story: be prepared for anything, and don’t mind getting wet.

Now on to my game…

I think I did a decent job.  The only hole I really had an issue with was hole number seven, which was the long one of the course.  My drive was good, as well as my second throw, however the third one that was suppose to get me to putting range bombed.  There is a step hill that follow the fairway on the right, and at the top of the hill is a street.  Well, my third throw took my way off course and almost on that street.

Otherwise, I actually kept on or just over par on the holes.  Now, I am starting to count par as three and not four.  Four is a safe bet, which is fine for me, but three makes me pretty happy.  I did this with my backhand and overhead throws.  These drives usually got me close enough that my next throw put me on top of the basket.  And I never really had to worry about my putts.

I’m feeling better for the Wolverine Cup 2010, not perfect, I need to practice a bit more.  I didn’t mention the dreaded forehand throw, because I didn’t even give it a thought.  I guess I chickened out a bit on that one.  I’m focusing on one thing a time, and that is definitely not it.  My putting and other drives have become priority right now.  I know those are my strong suits and I want to strengthen them up even more before the tour happens.

Have you been to this course?  Any thoughts on it that I missed?

GOAL

Hit par on more holes.  Increase my putting range

GOAL ACCOMPLISHED?

Yes on both!  It was a shorter course and that might have been the reason, but hey I’ll take a win.

PROBLEM

Biggest problem is the length of the drives.  I know most people say putting is the name of the game, but you need to be able to get to the basket to make those putts.  I want to do it in a shorter number of throws.

SOLUTION

Practice, practice, practice!  I should try to go back to the park and throw some more discs, work the arm muscle a bit.  Also, should probably go to the courses a bit more.  Since the move has been delayed, this might be possible.

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Another day in the sticky woods

The last couple of weeks it’s been really hot here in Michigan, if you haven’t noticed.  And humid.  And the combination of these two make it a great time when going disc golfing….

So, I went out to Osthemo with some friends last week and we got to climb through the heavy air to throw some disc.  It actually wasn’t that bad, though we all pretty much had to have a second set of clothes to wear after finishing the 18 holes.  Also, as fair warning to anyone going out there, it’s mosquito season and they are out in force.  It did rain earlier that day, so that might have been the reason for the humidity and the mosquito assault, but on the positive side, it kept the place pretty much open for us to go through it with out waiting or letting anyone pass.

We had a group of four, me, Josh, Paul and Lara (actually five, but Josh’s girlfriend Brandy came along to cheer us on).   I have gone with all of them before, and in fact have mentioned them previously, so I won’t go into much detail about them.  We all had a really good time out there and actually all did well.  I think Josh has only gone a handful of times and most of those with me, but I could see improvement in  his game.  And I think he is for me, what most friends of disc golfers are, a person to use those discs in your bag that you never use.  You know what I am talking about.  You buy a new disc and use it on every basket for a couple of months, and then you buy another one and that first disc gets relegated to the bag, just like those old toys in Toy Story.  But, when you have a friend tag along with you, you  have an excuse to bust out that disc and hand it to them.  Which, in the long run gives you a reason for owning so many discs and one of those big bags to carry them all in.  Because you have friends.

No scores were kept, mainly because I really need to warm up and get ready for my big Michigan tour, but also because we were just out there to have fun.  Though, having gone to Osthemo many times, I sort of have a feel when it’s a good day and when it’s a bad day.  This was a good day.  Not for my forehand throw, but my backhand and overhand throw rocked.  I used the overhand throw a lot, mostly because the leaves were out in force, really making it a narrow passage from the start of the pad.    It was easier to slice through this by doing the overhand, then trying to get the backhand around the trees.  I feel confident that this is going to be one of my go-tos from now on.  My backhand really helped once on the fairway, and usually placed me next to the basket for an easy putt.

And my putts.

Oh man, those really made me happy.  At almost every basket the putter was attracted to the chains.  It helped that I was close enough to the basket to have the easy putts.  But, there are no easy putts.  Meaning that the practice and the mantras have paid off.  I think there was maybe two putts that were a bit embarrassing, but the rest of them totally made up for it.

I actually felt really good about my whole game.  I only had a tough time on a couple of the holes.  And only almost lost a disc once.  Though it turns out the disc was not in the woods at all, but just on the outside of the woods.  I did over estimate some of my throws, but, a guy can dream right?  I do have one confession to make…I only did one forehand throw this time.  I know, I know.  I said I was going to do it more and try to get better at it.  But, the one time I did it, it slammed into the trunk of a tree, on the sixth pad.  It was nasty, and I didn’t want to do that again.  Sorry.  I’ll be better next time, I promise…maybe.

Overall, it was a great time.  It’s always a great time.  Even on my worst days and I’m cursing all of the discs I own, I still love it out there.

GOAL

Reach par, improve drives

GOAL ACCOMPLISHED?

I’m not sure on the par part.  But, the drives all seemed to have improved.  Except the forehand, that one has not improved.  Not at all.  Nope.

PROBLEM

Just not working on it.  I can’t get better at something when I don’t use.

SOLUTION

I have to come up with some sort of system forcing me to throw it forehand.  Hmm….I’m sure there is some sort of harness that can do this…

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Okay, so that’s it?

I asked people on the 2nd to help me come up with names for the Michigan Disc Golf tour that I am going on at the end of August.  And all I got was a couple of names…lame.

It’s cool though, the names I got were pretty good.  So, I’m going to make a little poll and see if we get any votes on them.  Just to remind you, I’m going to take this name and put it on some t-shirts I’m making for my brother-in-law and my father-in-law to wear while we tour some West Michigan Disc Golf courses and breweries.

Whatever title wins will get the person who suggested it a free disc.  I’ll take more names if you have any.  I’m going to shorten up the voting just for the sake of giving myself some time to create the shirts.  So, ten days.  Voting will close on Friday the 30th.  Vote away!

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Doing it Chicago Style…

I was in the Windy City this weekend and got to hit a nice little 9-hole course with the family.

This puts my weekly disc golfing count to two.  I”m hoping to be able to head out this weekend,  I need to warm up for the big West Michigan Disc Golf  tour (trying to think of a name).

My wife and I were in Chicago visiting some friends and then heading over to her sisters for Father’s Day.  While there, the boys all went over to Oak Brook Park to try out a course I’ve only been to in the dead of winter.  It was a lot different with out the snow but with leaves on the trees.  Being a 9-hole course it was perfect for the young ones and easy for us to leave early when it was time to start the BBQ.  The nice thing is that it wasn’t that easy of a course.  There were a lot varied holes, from some that were open to others in the trees, there was also a challenging one that had an out-of-bounds area.  I know that most courses have those areas, but this one was in a spot that forced you to ride the edge of the trees until you got to the basket.  Our first time around, my disc didn’t listen to me and it went straight into that area, but I made the stroke up by getting to the basket on the next throw.  The length of the holes weren’t short either, I believe the last hole reaches around 350 – 400 feet, with a little rain run-off running through the middle of it.  I think if you are in the Chicago area, and you have some time to kill, look it up.

As for my game… I did shorten up my warm up time, and usually did one over our par(which was three, for the kids it was four) on the majority of the holes.  But, the warm up time was horrible.  I have no excuse for it (though I am sure I could come up with quite a few of them…), I just wasn’t doing what I should.  On hole two and hole six (the second time around) particularly.  Both of those were pretty embarrassing.  So, I should probably share them with you so that I can see what I did and hopefully correct it in the future.

They weren’t horrible, it’s not like my pants fell down or I couldn’t hold my bowels anymore, but in the world of disc golfing they weren’t great.

On hole two, about five feet to the right of the pad is this pretty nasty bush/tree thing that pretty much morphs into a mini forest that follows along with the hole.  Anyway, it should be easy to stay on the fairway, there is nothing directly in front of the pad.  But, I decided for some random reason that I wanted a challenge, so I threw my driver directly into the that nasty bush.  STRAIGHT INTO IT. I had to basically embark on an expedition into the woods to find the disc, and then come up with some sort of trick to get it out, because the limbs and branches above me created a better ceiling than being in a house.  By the way, I’m looking to coming up with a saw blade that you attach to a disc to help you get out of a wooded area, anyone interested in helping me with this?  I had to bowl the disc out and start from there.

On hole six it wasn’t anything as drastic as that, but just basic crappiness on the throws and where they ended up.  This hole had a giant pine tree near the beginning  of the hole and then the fairway was sorta like an ink spot with random bulges of tall grass and trees.  So, you really want to keep your disc straight, otherwise you end up in some bad spots.  Which is what happened to me.  First I did an overhand throw from the pad and it landed right in front of the pine tree, meaning I had to find my way around it.  Which I tried to do, yet the pine tree had some hands on it and it grabbed my disc and put it on the other side of the tree.  Again, not helpful.  The next throw ended up where I didn’t want it to, a result of letting the disc go too early, and I had to find my way out of a secret grotto that was no where near the basket.  Even the kids were staying in the fairway or landing in idea spots for some great shots.

Those were the really memorable shots from the weekend.  I only tried my forehand throw once, and that didn’t do anything special.  However, I did  use my overhand throw a lot more, with pretty good results.  I’m happy to say that those throws got just as far as my father-in-law’s throws.  I think they could go further, but it’s a good start.  My putting was a bit better this time around.  I was pulling off some of the average distance putts, meaning that they weren’t crazy putts, but the type of putts I should be getting.  This is good, because you don’t want to waste a stroke on a putt that should make it in.  And this also meant that a lot of my mid range throws were doing better, at least in the point that they were getting closer to the basket.  I still think I could improve the mid-range throws.  I’m still letting go at random times.

Another thing that I’m not sure I mentioned yet on this blog, is the choice of disc.  I do think there is some importance in what disc you pick for your throw.  I know earlier I mentioned my practice of going to the park and throwing my discs around, but I don’t think I went into detail about which disc did what.  I’m not sure if I’m at the exact point of being able to tell you which disc is best for you, but I’m getting close to the point of knowing why I pick certain discs.  For instance, I know that my Leopard and Shark will go really straight if I throw it right.  There is no fade with them, basically they will go where I point them, while others will fade left or right.

So, overall it was a great day out there and I think if I go out this weekend, I’m sure I will see some improvement.  Any advice on picking the right disc for the right throw?

GOAL

Reach that par

Improve my throws (forehand, backhand, overhand)

GOAL ACCOMPLISHED?

Yes and no.  I did get close to par and the majority of holes, and my overhand throw is improving.  However, I’m not sure my backhand or forehand throw has seen much improvement in the last couple of weeks.

PROBLEM

Again, being scared of trying to do a throw.  I think especially when going with a group of people, I get nervous and fall back on what I know.  When, I really should just be trying new things because nothing is riding on this.  And trying the new things obviously will mean improvement.

SOLUTION

Not being scared and just forcing myself to try and try and try.  Only way to do it.  Force myself to do six holes all right handed, and then the next time, nine holes (unless it just doesn’t make sense to do that).

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It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity…

I’m slowly getting back into a rhythm and I’ve been able to go disc golfing two Saturdays in a row.  It’s amazing, I know!  I can see how excited you are for me…

It did feel good, even though the first Saturday was extremely hot and sticky. But, anytime I am out on the course and I hear the chain rattle in the basket, I am happy I’m out there.

Let’s talk about that first Saturday now and then in my next post I’ll talk about the second Saturday.

My father-in-law and I headed down to Three Rivers to check out the north course  at Meyer Broadway.  We had gone to the original course a couple of times, but didn’t know about the north course until picking up the Disc Golf Michigan book and talking to people at the course.  The north course is a ton of fun, with a lot of open fields to test out some of your long throws.  Plus, some good wooded holes that gave it some nice spice.  I don’t have much to complain about that course, except maybe the lack of direction to find each hole.

Some of the holes were pretty obvious, but the middle nine were a little difficult to track down.  Two of the wooded holes, I believe seven and eight, were laid out in a way where it looked like you were shooting for the seventh basket yet that was really the eight one.  Basically, hole seven’s fairway was the same fairway for hole eight.  The basket of hole seven was to the right of the fairway, in a little clearing next to a wicked little swamp.  Which was really nasty considering it had rained the day before, you had to be real careful with your putt, otherwise that putter was gone.  The basket for hole eight was at the top of the fairway and a hill.  But standing at the pad on hole seven, it looked like the basket on hole eight was your basket.  Would have cost me a shot if we were playing in a tournament.

Besides that little issue, I highly recommend the course.  In fact, the entire 36 holes at Meyer Broadway would make a great day.  With a nice little pavilion in between the two courses you could have a fun little tournament with some friends.

Now, I guess I should talk about how I did.  I was worried about my game, because I haven’t gone out that much, it was a new course, and the heat was horrible.  However, I want to say I was about fifty percent on.  Which means I kept myself at about average.  I didn’t go down in skill, but I certainly haven’t improved either.  It is still taking me about nine holes to warm up and get a good throwing arm, but that’s not to say the nine holes are consecutive.  A couple of the early holes on the north course worked out in my favor, giving me par and excellent throws.  And some of the later holes gave me a horrible case of random throws to the middle of nowhere that cost me any stroke advantage I could of had.  What this really means to me and my progress is stamina and being able to keep my energy up for all 18 holes, as well as being able to get out of the gate at a good speed.  Those first couple of holes could cost me the entire game.  Unless I can really catch up on the back nine, I would be behind the entire game and never be able to catch up.  Any golfing advice on starting strong?

One thing that I believe ties into the dip in my game is the stopping and hunting for discs.  Here at Meyer Broadway all of the holes that are in the fields have thick tall grass around the fairway, making it difficult to find a disc, that might have flown in there.   We spent a lot of that day trekking through the grass trying to find our discs.  This stops any momentum you might of had, and causes you to throw from a position that might not be that great to start from, as well as possibly lose a disc.  I feel like it would almost be worth throwing a shorter distance that you know will land in the fairway, then to go all out and have to spend 10 minutes digging in the grass.  Which also would save you from having wet discs.  With the humidity the way it was, every time it went into the grass, the disc came out slick and difficult to hold on to.  Make sure to have a towel with you when you are playing there.

I tried the overhand throw a bit more this time around, with positive results.  Especially in the wooded sections of the course.  I was lucky enough to find the corridor between the trees and have my disc go it’s entire distance with out hitting a tree.  That made me feel good on a number of holes where my father-in-law’s disc smacked into a tree trunk.  My forehand throw is still not where it should be, though sometimes it looks pretty.  I do love the flight path of the forehand throw, when it’s thrown properly.  I think too, if you aim for the pretty throw, it will probably go further and do what you want.  You don’t want a lame floppy disc flying out of your hand, that is bound to end poorly.

Overall, I’m happy to be able to semi-regularly get out to the course, and happy that my game didn’t go completely down the crapper.  I wish it would be a bit more regular… but I have a strong feeling that most people won’t be able to get out all the time, with life happening.  I plan on heading out there again, which I feel is only necessary to get a good idea on a course.  Have you had a chance to hit the course in the last couple of weeks?

GOAL

Hit par

Keep my disc in the fairway

Improve forehand throw

GOAL ACCOMPLISHED?

No.

I didn’t do any of these things.  I think I might have hit par on one or two holes, but not enough to justify it being a reached goal

PROBLEM

I will say that with a new course, comes the added challenge of figuring out each hole, therefore taking away from the ability to improve.  You are forced to focus on finding the basket, understanding the hole, and knowing where not to throw.

SOLUTION

Try to get past the new course challenge.  Considering that I want to try new courses, I should be able to easily adapt.  Therefore, I need to work on varying the courses I go to around here in Kalamazoo, keeping myself guessing on the holes.

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