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    • The Costs of Selling Covid Fear. Covid vaccines are incredibly… | by James Surowiecki | Jul, 2021 | Elemental Covid vaccines are incredibly effective. The media’s overhyping of new research from the CDC is making people think otherwise. If you haven't already, get vaccinated.
    • Day 584 - August 3, 2021 Hit fifteen or twenty balls at Chautauqua between lessons. Wrists while I turn, 1/2 swing (or 3/4). Whatever it is, it's "less." Hit some good ones.
    • Hole 1 - Sand Valley (Par 4) A gentle handshake at Mammoth, a good handshake at Sand Valley, a blind tee shot and the first of many crazy greens at Lawsonia, and a blah start at Lac la Belle. The winner here is the first at Sand Valley. It's wide enough that you can hit anything from a 4I to a driver, and you can take a bunch of lines even with driver depending on how long you are and how much you want to bite off — it's almost like a quasi-cape hole. The resulting wedge isn't easy to a front pin, either. Hole 2 - Sand Valley (Par 4) Lac La Belle is an instant loser here. No need to talk about it more. Lawsonia is semi-blind, though preferring the right side will offer a better line to the green. Mammoth has a great near-center-line bunker that makes it seem as though you want to be left of it, but that's a bit of a trick: the shorter shot will be more blind than from right of the bunker. Sand Valley wins out here for its tremendous second hole: a driver or, depending on playing shorter tees, less than driver to the end of a fairway where you're better off farther right toward the sandy area for a shorter second and better visibility. The second green is one you'd really like to hit, too, without missing right more than you'd like missing left. It's a solid hole and one of the best at Sand Valley.  Hole 3 - Mammoth Dunes (Par 5) A par three at Sand Valley is solid. The third at Lac la Belle is a bit of a dumb hole with a blind 75% cross-hazard where your driver would end up (or a well-hit 3W). This one came down to Lawsonia versus Mammoth Dunes. In the end I went with the par-five at Mammoth Dunes. I think the green is a bit too big and a bit too contoured, and I don't like how blind it can play from the center of the fairway (yes, which is like 50 yards from the edges), but the third at Lawsonia is solid, good, but not-otherwise-spectacular par four. It is plenty reachable in two, but still leaves some options if you're not quite as long or if you somehow get in a little trouble. Hole 4 - Mammoth Dunes (Par 3) Lac la Belle's fourth stinks — the balls end up in the same three places, basically. Lawsonia's fourth is a long, tough par three that's solid, but also just that - a solid, long par three. It doesn't rev your motor, so to speak. Mammoth features a tough par three with a non-obvious way to get to the hole (play it up the left side, let it feed down) and an obvious bad miss (anything right). Sand Valley has a solid, good par five that's interesting off the tee and for the second shot, with one of the smaller but more interesting greens. I was going to flip a coin, but then I'd have three par fives in a row, so I went with Mammoth Dunes and the par three. Hole 5 - Lawsonia Links (Par 5) The fifth at LLB is a par five where you hit 3W off the tee, then almost lay up with the next shot because the trees on the right block you out. It's not long - I hit 3W, 4I to two-putt from the front fringe/fairway for a birdie. The fifth at Sand Valley is a good, exposed, tabletop par three with some good green movement and a tee on the back side which leads to spectators. This one was also a toss-up, though, as the fifth at Mammoth Dunes is a solid par four with some interesting strategy - you're better off leaving a longer shot by hitting the tee shot out to the right rather than the blind shot you're left with if you use the "speed slot" down to the left. I thought I'd hit it in the best medium spot… and my ball still kicked down to the left. (Not that I mind a blind shot much.) One of the few "tighter" holes at Lawsonia, the fifth is a reachable par four with some interesting great bunkers and mounds, and one of the best greens on the course. I two-putted safely from 25 feet for birdie. I went with Lawsonia here, because it is pretty unique, while there are a decent number of par fours with semi-blind short iron approaches at both Mammoth and Sand Valley, but it was close. Hole 6 - Lawsonia Links (Par 4) The worst sixth hole here is clearly the one at Mammoth Dunes. Don't get me started on how dumb the green is. I'm down for some crazy stuff, but since it's a resort course, and players may only play it once or twice in their lifetime, I didn't enjoy the green at all. Not one bit. Lawsonia's sixth is great. A great green, a great tee shot. Strategy abounds, and you've got to sac up and hit not one but two good shots. Sand Valley's sixth is great, though I wish the second bunker was more visible from the tee because you'd know a bit more what to do off the tee. Both are better than the good Lac la Belle's sixth. Hole 7 - Mammoth Dunes (Par 5) LLB's seventh is a 4I and a pitch. Meh. It's a "birdie hole" where you feel kinda bad if you don't birdie. A good hole, but again… meh. Dime a dozen. The seventh at Lawsonia is the famous railroad car par three. Also good, but honestly, the trees pinch in a bit more than I'd like, and the mounding and grass well short of the green obscure your view of the green, so that takes it down a notch. The seventh at both Mammoth and Sand Valley are par fives, and I birdied them each of the three times I played them. At Mammoth I almost had an albatross, but settled for a two-putt birdie from 15 feet or so. At Sand Valley, I hit Driver, 5I, 5I on the first day and made the 25-footer. On the second day I was closer to the green in two and got up and down for birdie. The cross/crag bunker at Sand Valley complicates things, but I slightly prefer the par five strategy at Mammoth: it's a bit more honest and straightforward, with a bit more risk and reward and penalty involved. Though the tee shot is blind, it's got a big hill that will add 50 yards to your tee shot and give you a good chance at getting up near the green. It's more thrilling than the seventh at SV, so that's how it wins out by a hair for me. Hole 8 - Lawsonia Links (Par 4) Par threes all over the place! LLB's is a good mid-length par three vaguely similar to Lawsonia's seventh. Mammoth has a longer par three at 209 that plays with some kickers but downhill, so it's not quite as long as it looks. It has areas to miss, too, that aren't too bad. Sand Valley's eighth is a mid-length hole as well, with a narrow, pear shaped green that really requires some precision. In the end I enjoyed Lawsonia's par-four eighth the most. You can hit anything from a 5I to a driver off the tee, and the smaller perched green offers a good chance at birdie if you can get it close enough, but will punish a shot played too aggressively toward an edge hole location. Hole 9 - Mammoth Dunes (Par 4) The only remaining original hole at LLB is a hybrid/pitch par four. The ninth at Sand Valley is a pretty blah hole as well: 4I/wedge as well. Some will attempt to drive it, but that's really not the ideal strategy. Lawsonia has a good par five played from an elevated tee down to a fairway that angles up and to your right. You can go for it in two, or you can play it as a three-shot hole. It's a thrilling tee shot, but not every par five is great. The ninth at Mammoth Dunes is a solid hole with a center bunker and a reasonable mid-iron to a green that, yes, funnels balls toward the middle, but which plays with a high bank to the right so any shot right of the centerline bunker plays blind to the hole locations on the right. It's a solid good test that tempts you to swing a bit too hard with the wide fairway… but the straight line to the hole is fraught with danger, and chickening out too far left brings that center bunker into play. Hole 10 - Sand Valley (Par 5) 10 at Lawsonia, meh. I'll pass. It's either too long for the green it's got, or it's too undulating for the length of the hole. The tenth at LLB is a good, if not boring, golf hole. 10 at Mammoth is a good par four that winds up the hill. You can miss pretty far right and have a wedge in, and Dan pulled his driver but was left with a little pitch. It didn't feel all that challenging, really. The tenth at Sand Valley is a good par five with a centerline bunker that forces a strategic choice off the tee, which may change depending on the wind and tees and the day. The green has good contours, and scores from albatross when the ball is in the bowl to bogey even with a well played hole are possible. Hole 11 - Sand Valley (Par 4) A redan-style hole at LLB (minus the green falling away to the left). The 11th at Mammoth is a par five that has some of the most deceiving distances I'd seen in years. Despite being greenside in two, a large bump made two-putting from just short pretty difficult. Lawsonia's par five is very good. I may have taken a bit of a shortcut, because I hit a hybrid to a greenside bunker and made birdie. Sand Valley's 11th is a good par four playing to a green with a big fall-off to the right. It takes two good, solid golf shots to play, even if it's not the most riské hole. I'm in danger of picking too many par fives, so I'm going with Sand Valley's. Hole 12 - Mammoth Dunes (Par 4) LLB's 12th, blah. The hole is too long, with ponds that just feel out of place. Make the hole 30 to 40 yards shorter and you've got something. As it was, meh. Lawsonia is just a par three. A good one, but a par three that's… just a par three. Many will like Sand Valley's 12th for reasons already stated, but I'm going with Mammoth Dunes again here. It's a good par four that has a BIG center bunker that you have to work to avoid playing the proper tees. From there, a partially blind shot (the front half of the green is obscured) off an interesting lie will challenge you, though a backstop exists to help you stop a short- to mid-iron. Sand Valley's 12th is great, but I like a good par four that's in the sweet spot: enough challenge to keep your interest without being unfair or overly harsh. Hole 13 - Sand Valley (Par 4) Man, Lac la Belle's not going to have much luck. It's a good par four, though a bit of an annoying one with a creek running straight down the middle of the hole. The 13th at Lawsonia is meh, and would be really good if it was 30 yards shorter. Maybe even just 20. Or maybe even if you could just see the second flat landing area at about 130 yards. 13 at Mammoth is a shorter par three with a green that's a bit too narrow and severe. You can bank a ball off the mound back right, but if it gathers too much speed it can roll off. It's just a bit too narrow. 13 at Sand Valley is again a solid par four, with trouble up the right and a sort of infinity green that still has a false front and a bit more generous landing area than you think. The smarter play is out to the right, but that makes for a longer approach shot. A good test. Hole 14 - Mammoth Dunes (Par 4) Lawsonia has a short-ish down-hill par three. No. LLB's 14th is a layup and a wedge. Pass. Sand Valley's 14th tees off from back-right of its 13th, and is a good length par three with an interesting green. Almost. I'm going with the downhill roller-coaster that is Mammoth's 14th. It's nearly drivable, and even tee shots well right will funnel well left. A shot down the left side, though, may end up in a 50-yard bunker shot (like I found). The green slopes away, too, front to back, making getting up and down from anywhere (as I did from the fairway/greenside bunker, natch!) a difficult proposition. Hole 15 - Sand Valley (Par 4) LLB has a pretty typical par four. Meh. Lawsonia has a more interesting uphill par four which tempts you to play it up the tighter right side. Both good holes (with Lawsonia being the better one). Mammoth has a really good par five with one of the smaller greens. It's long but not all that wide. The par four at Sand Valley wins, though: play is out to the right so as not to find many sandy areas to the left, and the green has enough contours to make it interesting, even though you'll approach with a 7I or so. Hole 16 - Sand Valley (Par 4) 16 is a blind downhill par three with no way to get the ball close to some hole locations at Mammoth Dunes. Pass. At Sand Valley, the hole winds up and left with a center-line bunker that really forces a decision. It's a good par four at Lawsonia, with a mid-iron approach. At Lac la Belle, it's a par five that plays to a winding fairway that cants toward the right. I'm going with the 16th at Sand Valley. It's a good, tough, solid par four that presents a challenge that you either take on off the tee or with your second shot. Everything else except Mammoth Dunes was a close second. Hole 17 - Mammoth Dunes (Par 4) LLB has a blah par three (nearly made par with a bunker rake). Lawsonia has a short-ish par four (hit a partial wedge to two feet). Mammoth has a good par four. Sand Valley has the controversial par three (that really shouldn't be all that controversial). I'm going with Mammoth Dunes here — it's the best of the bunch, though I could be talked into Sand Valley as I almost made an ace. My birdie putt there was six inches, or about 1/4 as long as my birdie putt on the 17th at Mammoth. 😄 Hole 18 - Lawsonia Links (Par 5) LLB, sorry, nah. Good, solid, tough par four that requires a good tee shot and a good approach. It doesn't play nearly as long as the yardage indicates. Mammoth's 18th is a good par five, as is Sand Valley's. SV's is a bit gimmicky when the hole is in the back right, but it's tough to nit-pick. In the end, I'm going with… Lawsonia's 18th is a very good par five at 580 yards, with some partial-cross and angled bunkers that force some interesting lines. Totals Par Fives: 5 Par Fours: 12 Par Threes: 1 (Par 76 total) LLB: 0 Lawsonia Links: 4 Mammoth Dunes: 7 Sand Valley: 7 I could have gone a few different ways on a number of the holes. The list above may be different if I wrote it on a different day, or if I had to choose at least four par threes or something.
    • I've had between a half dozen and a dozen rounds at my home course this year;  part of that is I moved an hour away in 2019 and hadn't really explored the area.  I'll probably maintain club membership there because I like the group, and I'll look for one around my new home too. I say that because in those 6+ rounds, I've yet to par holes 7, 9, or 12;  I have yet to make a birdie at the course either.  Best-ball score at the course so far in 2021:  74. Earlier today, I played my third round at a course that might become my new home course, or at least my most commonly played course starting soon.  It's the second-closest (not including super expensive or private courses) to my house, an easy drive, and well within my price range.  After three rounds, I have a composite score there of 74, with two birdies in there. On one hand, the new course is easier (lower CR/SR) and a bit shorter, but on the other hand, that's interesting.
    • No new birdies tonight however closed out my league 9 with back to back birdies at 8 and 9. Lipped out the birdie at 7 I thought was in. Didn’t hit a GIR until 7.... took advantage of them tho. Took me a bit to get going after 2 weeks away from golf.
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