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Middle and Western Tennessee has been a mostly undiscovered area of the country for my golf travels.  I decided to remedy that in April and had a great time playing many of the best courses in Memphis and Nashville.  I added a couple courses from the Donald Ross list and played a soon to be World Golf Championship venue.


Day one began at the Hermitage Golf Course in Old Hickory and it's President's Reserve course.  Designed by Denis Griffiths in 2000, the course takes its name from the nearby Hermitage, home of President Andrew Jackson.
I can't figure out where they got the idea for the tee markers from.

7th Hole

10th & 11th Holes
18th Hole

Next up on the first day of the trip was the other high-end public course in the Nashville area, Gaylord Springs Golf Links.  Right around the corner from Opryland, this course was designed by Larry Nelson and Jeff Brauer in 1991 and hosted a Champions Tour event for several years.
3rd Hole

5th Hole

8th Hole

Rear view of 18th Hole with 14th Hole on the upper left
The third and fourth courses on day one were inspired by my quest to play every golf course designed by Donald Ross.  Vinnylinks is a nine hole par three course that was designed on top of an old Donald Ross course and retains some of the original greens so technically it's still a Ross course in some form.
7th (foreground) & 1st (background) Holes

3rd (right) & 5th (left) Holes
A mere two miles from Vinnylinks, Shelby golf course is a 1924 Ross design on a very up and down piece of property.
3rd Hole

7th Hole
Day two and three of my trip were spent in the Memphis area.  The long-time PGA Tour host, TPC Southwind was first up on day two.  This 1991 Ron Prichard design has hosted the St. Jude Classic for many years and this year will host a World Golf Championship in July.
1st Hole

8th Hole

14th Hole

16th Hole
The Donald Ross designed Memphis Country Club was next up on day two.  Although a relatively flat piece of property, the course makes tremendous use of the little undulation it has to provide exceptional variety.
2nd Hole
4th Hole-Memphis has a magnificent Volcano Par 3, but routine maintenance ruined my picture so see below for a better shot

4th Hole Stock photo.  Excellent volcano green.
18th Hole
A mere three miles from Memphis CC, my next destination on day two was Chickasaw Country Club.  This William Langford design was just restored by architect Bill Bergin.
2nd Hole

6th Hole

12th Hole

17th Hole
Day three began at the top hundred ranked Spring Creek Ranch in Collierville.  A modern masterpiece from Jack Nicklaus, Spring Creek has a very uniquely designed clubhouse with lots of glass and long rectangular spaces.  This National membership club is a great place to spend a long weekend.
9th Hole

13th Hole

14th Hole

18th Hole
The second course I played on Day three was perhaps the most famous course on the trip.  The South course at Colonial Country Club was where Al Geiberger shot the first 59 in PGA Tour History.  Colonial fully embraces its place in history and even went so far as to put Geiberger's round on the scorecard so you can see how you're doing compared to him. I overachieved and made it to 59 strokes in only 15 holes!
Very cool putting Geiberger's scorecard on the back of the scorecard at Colonial

1st Hole

12th Hole

14th Hole

16th Hole
I concluded day three with a pit stop on the drive back to Nashville to play Jackson Country Club.  A 1914 design that is a frequent of host of Tennessee Amateur events, Jackson is on a relatively flat piece of property but gets the most out of its space.
3rd Hole

7th Hole

17th Hole
On day four I stopped at Fairfield Glade where they have five outstanding public courses that are all part of the Fairfield Glade retirement community.  I played the highly ranked Stonehenge Golf Club designed by Joe Lee.

5th Hole
6th Hole

10th Hole

18th Hole
 FLAGS
It's very unusual that the courses use all one color of Flags on a trip.
 SCORECARDS

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When people think of golf in Alabama, they mainly think of two things: The Robert Trent Jones Trail and Shoal Creek Country Club.  The massive Robert Trent Jones Trail currently encompasses 11 facilities that includes a total of 26 courses.  Shoal Creek Country Club is a Jack Nicklaus design that is a frequent host of major championships on the PGA, LPGA, and Champions tours.  On this trip, I learned that Alabama has a lot more to offer in terms of top quality courses in beautiful settings.  I spent several days in the golf rich area of Birmingham and a day in the Northern part of the state checking out some courses that deserve more attention.

Ironically, my Alabama trip began with a stop in Villa Rica, Georgia at The Frog Golf Club designed by Tom Fazio.  This wonderfully undulating course just off Interstate 20 West of Atlanta has some beautiful scenery and very flowing Fazio bunkering.









4th Hole

8th Hole

11th Hole
After a relaxed morning round at The Frog, I headed to Birmingham and a round at the Legacy course at Greystone Golf & Country Club.  This Rees Jones course opened in 2000 and features all the things you see in a Rees design (finger bunkers and raised greens) although on a very good piece of property.  Periodic rainfall that day meant a very good pace of play because I was the only one on the course.
3rd Hole

7th Hole

12th Hole

17th Hole
The third course on day one was the massive 8000 yard Ross Bridge Golf Club, part of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail.  Of the eleven courses I have played on the trail, this is by far the biggest and most ambitious.  Greens, bunkers, and surrounds are all the largest I have seen on any of the Trail courses.
2nd Hole

4th Hole

7th Hole

9th & 18th Holes
Day two took me to the Northern part of Alabama and began with a round at the Fighting Joe course at The Shoals Golf Club.  This 36-hole facility is the Northernmost site on the Robert Trent Jones Trail. Like Ross Bridge, Fighting Joe features a set of tees at 8000+ yards.  I will refrain from making you read a long editorial about what a huge waste of resources that is!
5th & 9th Holes

6th Hole

18th Hole

After my early morning round at The Shoals, I headed around to the Northern shore of the Tennessee River to play the course directly across the river from Fighting Joe: Turtle Point Golf & Yacht Club, also designed by Robert Trent Jones.  As the crow flies, Turtle Point is 1.7 miles across the Tennessee River from The Shoals, but getting from one to the other by car takes about 30 minutes! Turtle Point is a 1961 RTJ design and is as different from the Trail courses as it can be because of when they were built, 1961 versus 1990's, and his level of involvement.

8th Hole

9th Hole

18th Hole
Here's a photo collage of the very cool tee markers at Turtle Point:
Big fan of the Turtle Point Tee Markers!
I broke with the Robert Trent Jones theme for the third course on day two.  I drove to nearby Huntsville for a round at The Ledges, designed by Dr. Michael Hurdzan & Dana Fry.  The course was built in 2000 on top of a large hill that overlooks Huntsville.  The drive from the entrance is quite memorable as it takes you two miles straight up the hill to the club with breathtaking views of Huntsville and the valley below. Hurdzan & Fry did a great job routing many holes along ridge lines to take advantage of the magnificent views.
2nd Hole

5th Hole

16th Hole

17th Hole
On the third day of my trip I returned to the Birmingham area.  The day began with the course widely known as being the best conditioned in the state of Alabama: Old Overton Club.  Designed by Tom Fazio and Jerry Pate, the course had been aerated right before I played it so I didn't get to see the course at its peak but I still really enjoyed playing a top notch Fazio on a great piece of property.
3rd Hole

8th Hole

11th Hole
Next up on day three was my 176th Donald Ross course, Mountain Brook Club.  Typical for Ross, this course has an amazing routing that expertly uses a steep ridge that runs along most of the front nine.  A recent bunker renovation improved upon what was already a very good Ross design.
4th Hole

9th Hole

14th Hole
My last round on day three was the original Founders course at Greystone Golf & Country Club.  Built in 1991 by Bob Cupp, Founders is the current host of the Regions Tradition, a major championship on the Champions Tour.
3rd Hole
4th Hole


9th Hole
On day four, I had the pleasure of playing the recently renovated Vestavia Country Club in Birmingham.  Vestavia was very recently renovated by Lester George.  I am a big fan of Lester's work as he renovated one of the courses I worked at for several years.  Lester did a masterful job creating fun and interesting new holes including some wonderful short par-fours.
Alps Par 5 2nd Hole

Short Par 4 9th Hole

16th Hole

17th Hole
After a wonderful early morning round at the main course, I checked out the par-three course at Vestavia before I started my eight hour drive home.   This delightful short course was designed by George Cobb, who also designed the par-three course at Augusta National.  It was very impressive to see what could be done with a pretty severe site to create a fun and interesting short course.
1st Hole

4th Hole

5th & 6th Holes

SCORECARDS

 FLAGS
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My 2019 semi-annual trip to Florida was a little earlier in the season than in previous years.  I took advantage of this scheduling change to play PGA National, a course that I hadn't been able to play in previous years because of the PGA Tour tournament.  The experience at PGA was one of many highlights of the trip but the weather was the real star.  On my only day in Palm Beach Gardens the temperature reached 94 degrees.  Consistent temperatures in the high 70's and low 80's had me wondering why I left Florida to return home to the rain and cold.


First up on the trip after an eight hour drive was the National course at ChampionsGate Resort South of Orlando.  Both courses at ChampionsGate were designed by Greg Norman with the National being a more American style course and the International being more like a links course.  I have played several Norman designs and this is by far the most playable and least aggressive design I have seen.  Norman courses usually have bold bunkering and are very difficult, but that wasn't the case at ChampionsGate.  I'm sure it was a conscious decision because the clientele at the resort is more of the higher handicap variety.
15th Hole

16th Hole
18th Hole
Day two of the trip began at the Donald Ross designed Fort Myers Country Club.  I had some concern about the course when I heard that Steve Smyers recently did a renovation.  Smyers is not a Ross restoration expert and I feared that he had gotten rid of some of the Ross features.  I was happy to discover that besides a couple holes on the back, Smyers did a great job of restoring Ross features and recapturing lost green space.
9th Hole

11th Hole

18th Hole
My day in Fort Myers continued at Cypress Lake Country Club.  This Dick Wilson design was recently renovated by Ron Forse & Jim Nagle.  I have played many courses renovated by these guys and I know they always do great work.  That was further proven the following day at Country Club of Orlando!  Cypress Lake features the bunkering Wilson is known for and has a great set of par 3's.
5th Hole

11th Hole

12th Hole
On the drive back to Lakeland from Fort Myers we stopped in at Streamsong Resort to play a quick sunset round at The Roundabout.  This unique course is an exciting seven-hole par three course designed by Gil Hanse when he designed the Black course at Streamsong.  The genius of the design at The Roundabout is that it can also serve as an alternate 9th hole on the Black course since the Black doesn't return to the clubhouse after nine.  I really wanted to play this course because 2019 is setting up to be the year of the odd numbered golf course for me.  Plans are in place to play courses with 8, 11, 12, 21, and 22 holes to add to the courses I have played with 6, 9, 10, 18, 19, and 20 holes.  Obviously I play a lot of courses so I am always on the lookout for something unique and different.
4th Hole

7th(foreground) and 1st(background) greens
The third day of the trip brought a visit to the Orlando area and began at The Country Club of Orlando. CCO is another great renovation job by the aforementioned Forse & Nagle.  They renovated the course in a Donald Ross style.  There are no plans or proof that the course was designed by Ross and research from some Ross experts implies that the course was most likely designed by Tom Bendelow.  Forse & Nagle did a magnificent job and CCO is now the best course in the Orlando area in my opinion.
1st Hole

6th Hole

13th Hole

16th Hole
My day in Orlando continued at another Tom Bendelow design, Dubsdread Golf Club.  Designed in 1924, the course was renovated in 2008 by local Florida architect Mike Dasher.  I had an enjoyable walk despite the 85 degree temperature and the group behind us hitting into us, which made for an interesting confrontation between me and the guy who hit into me.  You never want to hit into somebody early in the round on a busy day because you're going to see them on practically every tee the rest of the day!
5th Hole

10th Hole

13th(background) and 14th(foreground) holes
Day four brought a long awaited visit to PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens.  The Champion course was hosting the PGA Tour's Honda Classic ten days after I played it.  This was the first time I have ever played a course that close to a tournament.  It was a very interesting experience.  Long rough and extremely firm greens took some getting used to but I managed to play pretty well when I started hitting fairways.
14th Hole
16th Hole

One interesting little side story about my morning round at PGA National.  I was paired with a twosome, father and son.  We were the fourth tee time that day.  Directly in front of us was a twosome of members and in front of them were two foursomes.  The twosome got through both foursomes by the fifth hole.  We were constantly pushing the foursome in front of us but they refused to let us through.  I was under a little of a time crunch so when we finished the ninth hole with both foursomes on ten, I decided to skip ten and head to eleven.

I caught the twosome in a few holes and was able to relax and enjoy the Bear Trap playing behind them.  I was surprised on the 15th hole when I saw that the guys I was playing with were now right behind me.  I talked to the father and apparently after I left, both foursomes let them through since they were now a twosome.  For some reason this really bothered me because as a threesome we were playing just as fast but they wouldn't let us through.  Slower groups should ALWAYS let faster groups through, regardless of how many players are in the group!!!
17th Hole

18th Hole
 My day in the Palm Beach Gardens area continued at the 54 hole Club at Ibis and the newly renovated Legend course.  This challenging layout was originally designed and renovated by Nicklaus Design.  The three members I played with were very helpful in telling me about the renovation.  It was clear the goal was to make the course more of a championship layout.  I was very impressed by the pace, and on a very busy day our foursome played in three and a half hours.  I noticed most groups, including ours, were leaving the pin in on almost every putt.  Further proof in my mind that it really does help with pace of play if an entire group is open to leaving it in.
6th Hole

13th Hole

16th Hole
In my quest to play every course designed by Donald Ross I made a stop on the way home at Keystone Golf & Country Club in Keystone Heights.  This nine-hole course is of the mom and pop variety and has a devoted local following.  I had a very enjoyable walk across a nice piece of property.


1st Hole

7th Hole
On my seven hour drive home from Keystone the temperature dropped 32 degrees and I was welcomed to NC by sleet and freezing rain.  The forecast for the next couple days in Florida was continued sun and warmth.  I was trying to figure out why I didn't stay a few more days!  I'm starting to realize that if I want to play some of the more high profile courses in South Florida I need to visit in May when some of the members are heading North.  I'm not sure when I will be able to do that, but it's on my agenda.

FLAGS
Flags from the Trip
 SCORECARDS
Scorecards from the Trip

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My annual January trip to warmer climates took me to Texas in 2019.  My route was essentially the big Texas triangle.  I landed in Dallas, then to Austin for a few days, over to Houston, and back to Dallas.  I saw a very nice variety of classic and modern architecture and had the treat of playing a historic municipal course that will hopefully be saved from extinction.  I played two courses that currently host the PGA Tour, which gave me an interesting perspective on just how good these guys are.


First up on the trip was historic Cedar Crest Golf Club which was designed by A.W. Tillinghast and hosted the PGA Championship in 1927.  What I was most impressed by at this course was the routing.  Tilly was somehow able to navigate the hilly terrain without losing any strategy or interest.  The course has so many fun holes and with a greens restoration could be one of the best public courses in Texas.
8th Hole

10th Hole

15th Hole

The second course I played on day one was Royal Oaks Country Club in Dallas.  The course opened in 1969 and was designed by Billy Martindale and Don January.  The White Rock Creek cuts through the course and is very effectively used in the design.
2nd(foreground) & 12th(background) holes
5th Hole

9th Hole
Day two of the trip began at the historic and possibly soon to be extinct Lions Municipal Golf Course in Austin.  Nearly a hundred years old, Lions Municipal is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.  The lease on the course expires in mid-2019 and I really hope they save it from development.
12th Hole

16th Hole

17th Hole
Up next on day two was the host of the PGA Tour's World Golf Championship Match Play, Austin Country Club.  Built by Pete Dye in 1984, this course was the home of Harvey Penick, one of the best teachers in the history of golf.  It is also where Tom Kite plays his golf, I actually just missed the chance to play with him as he teed off thirty minutes before me and was looking for somebody to join him.  As with most Pete Dye courses, this place is perfect for match play.
3rd Hole

8th Hole

13th Hole
The last stop on my day in Austin was Barton Creek Resort and it's Coore & Crenshaw Cliffside course.  This was one of the first C&C designs and as usual they did a great job laying the course over the land.  The course shows restraint in its bunkering and has a very strong set of greens.
4th Hole

10th Hole
17th Hole
The third day of my Texas adventure brought sunny skies and a morning round at Boot Ranch in Fredericksburg.  Designed by Hal Sutton, this wonderfully undulating course is full of multiple option holes and a very strong back nine.
10th Hole

14th Hole

15th Hole
On the drive back to Austin, I stopped in to play the quaint nine hole par 32 Blue Lake Golf Course in Horseshoe Bay.  I always love playing fun Mom & Pop courses like this one.  They always have great people in the shop, solid conditions and a better than average golf course.

1st Hole

6th Hole
After my day in Austin, I drove to the Houston area where I was staying with a friend in The Woodlands.  Day four of my trip was spent in the College Station area.  First up was The Traditions Club at Texas A&M.  Traditions was designed by Jack Nicklaus & Jack Nicklaus II.  The course features two very interesting double greens and a mostly solid routing through some rocky property.
1st Hole



6th Hole

16th Hole
My day in the College Station/Bryan area continued at Miramont Country Club.  With a ninety thousand square foot clubhouse that accompanies a Robert Trent Jones II designed golf course, Miramont has an extremely high standard for customer service.
6th Hole

13th Hole

17th Hole
Last up on my day in College Station was The Golf Club at Texas A&M.  Designed by Ralph Plummer in 1950, the course was recently renovated by local Texas architect Jeff Blum.  The course is quite literally in the middle of A&M and features views of the football stadium and the surrounding campus.  It was a new experience for me to check in at the golf shop and be given a post it note with tape on it to put on my car windshield so my car wouldn't get towed.  I always forget parking fees are a major source of revenue for most colleges.
1st Hole

6th Hole
The fifth day of the trip began with a short drive from where I was staying in The Woodlands to play the Nicklaus course at Carlton Woods.  I played the Fazio course at Carlton ten years ago and was finally getting to see the other course at this very high end private facility.
8th Hole

9th Hole

17th Hole
My golf continued with the highlight of the trip, the Tiger Woods and Beau Welling designed Bluejack National.  This 2016 course is Tiger Woods first design in the United States.  He did a very good job of keeping the course very playable for a facility that emphasizes family and fun.
6th Hole

12th Hole

15th Hole
After a wonderful round on the big course I took a few wedges and a putter and had a nice walk around the Par three Playgrounds course at Bluejack National.
10th Hole

1st and 4th holes
The last day of my trip saw a return to the Dallas area and a round at the newly opened Trinity Forest Golf Club.  Designed by Coore & Crenshaw, and home of the PGA Tour's Byron Nelson Classic, Trinity was built on top of a landfill.  C&C had to use maximum creativity to build a course that is fun for amateurs yet challenging for the best in the game.  I really thought they succeeded and was very impressed with the emphasis on the ground game.
2nd Hole

8th Hole

18th Hole
Before heading to the airport, I took a pleasant stroll around the nine hole par three Horse course at Trinity Forest, also designed by Coore & Crenshaw.  I have played four short courses designed by C&C and I am always impressed with how much fun they are to play.
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2018 was a banner year for me.  I played 160 new golf courses, destroying my previous best of 129 in 2009.  Early in the year I started thinking about the possibility of playing 150+ because of a great start to the year that I hadn't had in previous years.
The 3rd & 4th Holes at Misquamicut, my favorite course played in 2018
The over-ridding theme for this year was Donald Ross.  At some point during the year I decided that playing every course designed by Ross would be a great lifetime goal.  The current Ross Society listing has 360ish active courses designed or re-designed by Donald Ross.  Even with adding 40 this year I am still not even at 50%, current count 172.  I will be making several trips to the Northeast, Ohio, and Michigan over the next several years to accomplish this goal.  This year I made a wonderful trip to New England where I played nine Ross courses in four days.  I also finished up playing every Ross course in NC.  So with that being said, let's begin at the beginning:

SNOW
The Cradle at Pinehurst
The year started, quite literally, with snow.  The Pinehurst area saw a rare major snowstorm on January 3rd and another one two weeks later.  We never get snow in Pinehurst and significant accumulation is unheard of.  My boss gave me the day off because of the snow so with cabin fever majorly creeping on me, I decided to do something fun.  I took a walk around Pinehurst photographing the snow and used stock photos to do a compare and contrast.  Above and below are two examples.
Pinehurst #3
  CALIFORNIA
Stone Eagle
In the past few years, I have taken a trip to the Hilton Head area in January with friends.  This year that trip didn't happen so I started exploring possible destinations for a January trip.  I was going to Florida in March, so that was out.  I wanted to stay in the US, so that left me with Arizona, California, and Texas as possible destinations.  I chose Southern California as my destination because a friend told me that he could get me on the North course at Los Angeles Country Club.  Ultimately that didn't work out and LACC continues to elude me, but the trip was still amazing.  Highlights were a round at Wilshire with a friend of mine I hadn't seen in a few years and a trip around Stone Eagle, a Tom Doak wonder carved out of mountainous rock.  Profile of that trip is here:  California Trip Review
Wilshire
BLOG
After thinking about it for a couple years, I finally took the leap and started this blog in February.  Creating the blog was a natural progression from joining Instagram in 2015 and posting photos of every course I play.  Because of my desire to produce a quality photo for Instagram, I was now taking very comprehensive photos of every course I played and felt that I finally had enough content to use for a blog.

I have really enjoyed doing the blog.  It's an opportunity to look back at some wonderful trips I have taken over the years, and my motivation to take good photos makes me "stop and smell the roses" when I play.  Those of you who have played with me understand why that is important (I'm a little fast).  Thank you to everybody reading this for taking time out of your lives to read about my golf adventures.
FLORIDA SPRING TRIP
Hawk's Nest
I made my semi-annual trip to Florida in March.  With my newfound Ross goal, my first, second, and last stops were all Donald Ross courses.  The highlight of the trip was a wonderful 54-hole day in Vero Beach, playing the Pete Dye designed North & South courses at John's Island and the Jim Fazio designed Hawk's Nest Club.  Trip review is here:  Florida Spring Trip Review
San Jose
NEW ORLEANS
CC of Louisiana
My parents decided we should take a vacation as a family in 2018.  We hadn't taken a vacation together in over ten years.  Originally we had planned on going to Key West but with the damage sustained from Hurricane Irma, we decided to look elsewhere.  My family decided to make New Orleans our destination.  I had never planned on visiting New Orleans in my life because as a quiet and shy non-drinker it didn't really have much appeal to me.  We made the best of it though and had a good time checking out the city and playing golf on the way down and back.  Profile of that trip is here:  New Orleans Trip Review
Kiva Dunes
WEEKEND TRIPS
Bald Head Island on the coast of NC
Early on in the year I made a decision that my wife and I should start taking weekend trips together.  My wife loves playing golf, we met through golf, but because of her work schedule she is not able to play as much as she likes.  I decided to change that.  Our first trip was in February to Bald Head Island, and we made subsequent trips to the Georgia mountains, the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, the North Carolina Mountains a few times, Tennessee, and Charleston.
Hendersonville in the mountains of NC
Highlights were meeting a certain celebrity in Georgia, more on that later, playing golf in the rain at Hendersonville because we were both hitting the ball well and didn't want to quit, and a lovely ferry ride on a beautiful Sunday morning at Bald Head.  My wife played 35 new golf courses this year and reached 200 total golf courses played.  I can't begin to tell you how proud I am of her and how lucky I am to have such a wonderful wife.
Cateechee in GA
DONALD ROSS TRIP
Longmeadow
As I said earlier, my new goal is to play every golf course designed by Donald Ross, so a quick trip to New England to play as many Ross courses as I could in four days was a necessity.  The trip began in Massachusetts at Longmeadow, ended at Knickerbocker in New Jersey, and in between saw several rounds in Rhode Island and Connecticut, including my favorite new course played this year, The Misquamicut Club.  Trip review for that journey is here:  Donald Ross Trip Review
Misquamicut
MISCELLANEOUS STATS
Now that we're almost halfway through my year, it's time for the part that only I care about, the Miscellaneous Statistics!!!

New Courses Played:       160
States Played in:               21
9 Hole Courses played:    12

Top 10 Courses by Architect

40   Donald Ross
6     Tom Fazio
5     Jack Nicklaus
5     Arnold Palmer
5     Russell Breeden
4     Pete Dye
4     George Cobb
4     Arthur Hills
3     Tom Doak
3     Wayne Stiles
3     Rees Jones

Top 10 Courses by State

29    North Carolina
19    South Carolina
18    Florida
14    Maine
12    California
12    Georgia
11    Virginia
10    New Hampshire
6      Rhode Island
5      Michigan

Milestones Reached

1.  State #48 played in - Maine
2.  250 golf courses played in NC
3.  100 golf courses played in SC, 5th state to get to 100
4.  200 golf courses played by my wife

Favorite Course:                 Misquamicut   
Least Favorite Course:       Maderas
Most Overrated:                 Old Corkscrew
Most Underrated:               Cape Arundel

Favorite Par 3:  12th Hole-Bald Peak Colony
Favorite Par 4:  18th hole-Stone Eagle   
Favorite Par 5:  11th hole-Ram's Hill       

What's in a name

A fun breakdown of golf course names from 2018
(47)Landforms: Bluff, Canyon, Cape, Castle, Cliff, Desert, Dune, Farm, Field, Foothills, Forest, Garden, Hill, Island, Meadow, Mesa, Mound, Mountain, Orchard, Park, Peak, Plantation, Pointe, Quarry, Ranch, Ridge, Rock, Shore, Trail, Valley, Vineyards, Vista
(29)Water: Bay, Beach, Brook, Creek, Fountain, Harbor, Lake, Ocean, Rain, River, Sea, Waterfall
(14)Directions: East, North, South, West
(12)Trees: Cedar, Dogwood, Maple, Oak, Pine, Willow
(7)Animals: Bear, Eagle, Hawk, Mallard, Pelican, Ram
(4)The word "Old"
(3)States:  Florida, Georgia, Louisiana
(3)Colors: Black, Red, White
(3)Food: Bacon, Oyster, Strawberry
(2)The word "Links"
(1)The word "National"
Alphabet-All letters except Q,X,Z

Best Scores

66- Bethlehem
67- Hyde Park, Northeast Harbor, McCanless
68- Stone Eagle, Shady Canyon, Daytona Beach (South), Winding Creek, Waynesville Inn, Wentworth by the Sea, Corbin Hills, Olde Atlanta, Mountain Glen (on my B-Day!)

Worst Scores

81-Portland
79-Exmoor

MAINE/NEW HAMPSHIRE
Lake Winnipasukee
My wife and I take a big vacation every year and this year we planned the trip around playing golf in Maine, the last state in the continental 48 I had yet to play in.  The trip was beyond amazing and it provided us with so many wonderful memories including another very interesting celebrity encounter, see below.  I played 24 golf courses in nine days on the trip and experienced the best of mountain and coastal golf.  Part one of the trip is here:  Maine Trip Part 1 and part two is here: Maine Trip Part 2
Bald Peak Colony
CELEBRITY ENCOUNTERS
I've teased it twice so let's talk about the celebrity encounters we had in 2018.  I have met and played golf with several PGA Tour members in my life and I don't really see them as celebrities but the two people we met this year are definitely in the celebrity camp:

1.  My wife and I were playing The Waterfall Club in the mountains of Georgia on a glorious May afternoon.  The putting green at Waterfall is located right above the 18th green.  I was up on the putting green and my wife was sitting in the cart when a group finished out on 18 and drove up towards the clubhouse.  They parked right next to our cart and a gentlemen got out of the cart and started talking to my wife.  They chatted for a couple minutes about the course, weather, usual stuff.
The VERY downhill Par 3 2nd hole at Waterfall
 I look down and realize my wife is talking to Nick Saban.  He was wearing his Alabama straw hat and an Alabama golf shirt.  I couldn't exactly walk down from the putting green and say "Hey Coach, big fan!" So I stayed on the putting green and watched my wife talk to him.  He was very nice and after a couple minutes, headed up to the clubhouse . As soon as he left I immediately went down the hill and said to my wife "You just talked to the greatest college football coach in history!"  To which she replied, "Okay."  She didn't care one bit. 
5th and 6th holes at Waterfall
2.  One of the last rounds on our trip to Maine was at Cape Arundel.  Those of you who have played it or heard of it already know who we met.  We had the first tee time of the day on a beautiful Saturday morning.  When we arrived at 6:25, the guy in the golf shop told us that President George W. Bush would be playing in front of us.  The guy in the shop assured us that he wouldn't hold us up, naturally I thought, "Yeah, right" as I am one of the fastest players on planet earth and my wife isn't exactly slow either.   They put his golf cart right in front of ours.
1st Hole at Cape Arundel
We were sitting in our cart when the two big SUV's pulled up.  As they pulled up my wife leaned over to me and said "Should we be standing at attention or something?"  To which I replied, "No idea." He got out of the car and immediately came over to say hi to us.  He shook both our hands and was very nice.  He also assured us that he wouldn't hold us up.  One other guy was playing with him and they headed to the first tee at 6:55 along with three carts of Secret Service, including one cart with a guy with a large duffel bag full of "something."  
Par 3 6th hole at Cape Arundel, entrance road is literally 2 steps from the left edge of the green
To my shock, President Bush was 100% correct, we never caught them.  Once the trailing cart was in our way because he was hanging back too far but the President said something to him and he closed his gap.  After four holes, they were two holes ahead of us.  We only really interacted with them on the course once, when they were looking for a ball in an adjoining fairway.  It was pretty funny to see two golfers and six Secret Service Agents looking for a golf ball in the trees!  The 10th green at Cape Arundel is right next to the thirteenth green and while we were on ten they were on thirteen, that was my best opportunity to get a picture, but the Secret Service were staring daggers at me so all my pictures of the experience are from afar.
President and entourage on the back nine
The entrance drive to Cape Arundel cuts right through the 18th fairway.  As we were driving up 18 we saw the SUV's getting ready to leave so we parked and watched them leave.  We waved to the president as he drove by.  He blew my wife a kiss and she "caught it"  That made him smile.  Meeting a..
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Just returned from my semi-annual trip to Florida.  This trip was noteworthy because I played my 1500th golf course and I was also privileged to see the new holes at Augusta Country Club on the drive down.  The weather was ideal and the golf was fun as always.

I was very honored to be invited to a small gathering at Augusta Country Club to see the two new holes they recently built along with the other recent renovations to the course.  The tee time was in the afternoon so I made the most of the morning by playing another Donald Ross design in Augusta, Forest Hills Golf Club.
13th(left) and 15(right) greens
16th Hole
After a fun morning round at Forest Hills I made the three mile drive to Augusta for a wonderful afternoon of golf.  For those of you who don't know, the renovation of Augusta Country Club was brought about because they sold the property where the old 8th and 9th holes were to Augusta National.  ACC brought in the architect that did their most recent restoration, Brian Silva, to design the new holes.  The club also took the opportunity to re-grass the entire course in Zoysia, remove hundreds of trees, and renovate the bunkers.  The results are spectacular.  The new holes are great and the tree removal has opened up many vistas including a view of the clubhouse of their famous neighbors.
3rd Hole

Recent tree removal has resulted in a view of the clubhouse at Augusta National

New 8th Hole

New 9th Hole
The second day of the trip had a Donald Ross theme.  The morning started with a round at Bacon Park Golf Course in Savannah, Georgia.  A Ross course recently restored by Richard Mandell.
4th Hole

11th Hole
A quick round at Bacon Park and a three and a half hour drive brought me to The University of Florida in Gainesville for an afternoon round at the Donald Ross designed Mark Bostick golf course.  I was pleasantly surprised by this course, not knowing very much about it.  Excellent routing and a very cool short par three, #11.
2nd Hole

4th Hole

11th Hole
Day three of the trip brought golf in the St. Petersburg area.  First up was a round at Bardmoor Golf & Tennis Club.  Originally designed by Bill Diddel, the course was renovated by Gary Koch in 2001.  The club is the former host of the JC Penny Classic, a team event that saw PGA Tour Players teaming with LPGA players.  Tiger Woods played with Kelli Kuehne in the event in the late nineties.
8th Hole

13th Hole
The day continued with a round at St. Petersburg Country Club designed by Herbert Strong.  Formerly Lakewood Country Club, this 1924 course has a routing that has remained intact over the years.  Having played several Strong courses, I was somewhat underwhelmed by this course.  The features Strong is known for, bold greens and bunkers, were nowhere to be seen on this course.  The course is still very good but I was hoping for something more.
2nd Hole

6th Hole

17th Hole
We had several hours of daylight left after our round so we made our way back to Lakeland for a sunset nine hole walk at the William Flynn designed Cleveland Heights Golf Course.  Cleveland Heights has roughly fourteen holes left from the original Flynn design and because of current drainage work, those holes can be played in order right now.  Normally this 27 hole course mixes in nine holes designed by Ron Garl.  We played the Flynn back nine.  Cleveland Heights is one of those courses with enormous potential if given a proper restoration.
10th Hole
Sunrise is my favorite time to play golf so a sunrise round to begin day four at the Red course at Streamsong Resort was pretty much my version of heaven.  The Red was designed by Coore & Crenshaw and has benefited from some recent in-house work by their amazing superintendent and his staff.
5th Hole

16th Hole
After a perfect morning at Streamsong we headed to the Orlando area for my 1500th golf course, Isleworth Golf & Country Club.  Home to many PGA & LPGA Professionals including most famously Tiger Woods until an unfortunate incident with a fire hydrant (still there).  Isleworth is the highest rated course in the state of Florida I had yet to play so it seemed like an appropriate course for #1500.  The course was originally designed by Arnold Palmer but a recent renovation by Steve Smyers has made the course much more difficult.
2nd Hole

6th Hole

18th Hole
The fifth day of my Florida adventure saw 54 holes of golf that began at Hawk's Landing Golf Club in Orlando. Part of the World Marriott Orlando, this course was renovated by Bob Cupp in the 90's.
4th Hole

6th Hole

11th(left) and 12th(right) Holes
A short drive through some Disney property brought us to our second course of the day, Tranquilo Golf Club.  Renovated by Tom Fazio in the last few years, Tranquilo used to be the Osprey Ridge course at Disney World before it was bought by Four Seasons and renovated by its original designer.
3rd Hole

8th Hole

17th Hole
The last course we played on day five was a favorite of my buddy, the Mike Dasher designed Highlands Reserve Golf Club in Davenport.  While not having the budget of the more high profile courses, Dasher managed to cram a ton of interesting architecture into a very unremarkable piece of property.
3rd Hole

5th Hole
On the final day of my trip I played a quick early morning round at Palatka Golf Course to break up the drive home.  This Donald Ross designed gem packs a big punch for such a short and tight golf course.  As usual the routing and greens are the stars.  This course is a great option if you are looking for a fun course to play not far off I-95.
3rd Hole
13th Hole
So that concludes another wonderful visit to the Sunshine state.  I am already starting to think about courses I want to play when I return in March.  There are still a handful of Ross courses in the state I have yet to play and plenty of courses in South Florida that I haven't seen.
Flags from 12 of the 13 courses I played on the trip

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I have been a devoted baseball fan my entire life and for as long as I can remember I have wanted to see Fenway Park in Boston.  Any self-respecting baseball fan should see Fenway at some point in their lives as it is one of the greatest stadiums in professional sports.  I decided to plan a golf trip around a visit to Fenway back in 2013.  We made the trip in the late Spring knowing the weather would be a wild card but overall we had a great time and lots of fond memories.  The Boston area is bursting with great golf courses and my many trips to the area have only scratched the surface.

The first stop on our trip was Black Rock Country Club in Hingham.  This wonderful course just south of Boston was designed by local Boston architect Brian Silva in 2002.  I enjoy Silva's courses because he takes inspiration from MacDonald/Raynor architecture.
8th Hole

12th Hole

15th Hole
Day two of our trip was spent in Boston.  After a wonderful morning at the Museum of Fine Art, we walked through the Back Bay Fens and arrived for a Sunday afternoon game at Fenway Park.  I was very excited to see Fenway and I was not disappointed.  The feeling of history is all around you.



With our great day in Boston in the books, we headed West to Worcester where day three of our trip began at Worcester Country Club.  This 1913 Donald Ross design is one of the few courses that has held the Ryder Cup and the US Open.


10th Hole

13th Hole

Our second course on day three of the trip was another great Donald Ross course, Vesper Country Club in Tyngsborough.  In 1914, Ross added nine holes on the mainland and re-designed the existing nine holes that were located on an island in the Merrimack River.









After our round at Vesper, we headed south to Providence, Rhode Island.  Day four of our trip began at Metacomet Country Club in East Providence, Rhode Island.  Metacomet was redesigned by Donald Ross in the 1920's and was in the process of a restoration when I played it.
Metacomet
The second round on day four was another wonderful Donald Ross course, Rhode Island Country Club in Barrington, Rhode Island.  Ross designed the course in 1911 and as usual he was able to get the most out of a unique piece of property that features several holes overlooking Narragansett Bay.
5th Hole

17th Hole

18th Hole looking back, 15th green to the left

After our round at Rhode Island, we headed down to Cape Cod for a few days around the Cape.  Day five of our trip began at Oyster Harbors Club in Osterville. This 1926 Donald Ross design has a very laid back atmosphere.
3rd Hole

5th Hole

18th Hole
My second course on day five was Hyannisport Club in Hyannis.  This scenic course was re-designed by Ross in the 1930's and is very close to the Kennedy compound.
8th Hole

13th Hole
16th Hole

18th Hole
On day six of our trip, we took the ferry to Nantucket Island for a round at Sankaty Head Golf Club.  Sankaty was designed by Emerson Armstrong in 1923 and is one of the most beautiful golf courses on the East coast.
5th Hole
7th Hole

9th Hole
The final day of our Boston trip featured plentiful sunshine and a round at Shelter Harbor Golf Club in Charlestown, Rhode Island.  This modern course was designed by Hurdzan and Fry in 2005.
1st Hole
7th Hole

18th Hole
After our wonderful walk around the main course at Shelter Harbor, I took a few minutes to play the par 3 course.

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A few years ago I decided to make my maiden voyage to visit our northern neighbors.  Toronto was my chosen destination and on the drive to and from I also managed to play a couple very nice Ross courses in Upstate New York.

After a seven hour drive from my parents house in Northern Virginia, my trip began with the Donald Ross designed Country Club of Buffalo.  I really enjoyed playing this course and have it ranked in the top 20 of the 160+ Ross courses I have played.  Outstanding greens on a very cool site.
6th Hole

12th Hole

14th Hole

After my round at CC of Buffalo I crossed the border into Canada.  Day two of the trip began with Westmount Golf & Country Club in Kitchener, Ontario.  This wonderful parkland course was designed by Canada's most renowned designer, Stanley Thompson.
3rd Hole

17th Hole

The afternoon of day two brought me to Hamilton Golf & Country Club in Ancaster, Ontario. I started out with the fun Par 3 course at Hamilton.

The main course at Hamilton has three nines.  The West & South nines make up the original course designed by Harry Colt that is consistently ranked as one of the top five courses in Canada.  This was the course that I played.
West 3rd Hole

West 4th Hole with 3 green in foreground

South 9th Hole

Day three of my Canadian adventure saw massive amounts of fog for a day of golf with the Devil!  First up was Devil's Pulpit in Caledon Village, Ontario.  Both Pulpit and Paintbrush were designed by the team of Dr. Michael Hurzdan and Dana Fry.  Pulpit is a little more quirky than Paintbrush and the dense fog made it tougher to navigate.
3rd Hole

9th Hole

The day and the fog continued at Devil's Paintbrush which is about five miles from Pulpit.  This course was more traditional but still featured many interesting holes with lots of pot bunkers and a green with a tree in the middle of it!
7th Hole

11th and 14th greens with tree in the middle

The fourth day of the trip began with the perennially #1 ranked course in Canada, St. George's Golf & Country Club in Etobicoke, Ontario.  This amazing course is considered by many to be Stanley Thompson's masterpiece.  It is definitely in my personal top 100.
6th Hole


11th Hole
13th Hole

Day four of the trip continued at Toronto Golf Club in Mississauga, Ontario. Designed by Harry Colt in 1912, Toronto was recently renovated by Martin Hawtree.


The last day of my maiden trip to Canada began at The National Golf Club of Canada in Woodbridge, Ontario.  This very scenic course was designed by George and Tom Fazio in 1976.
5th Hole

10th Hole

12th Hole
After the round, I headed back stateside for a round on the West course at Oak Hill Country Club.  Before I could do that I had to cross the border, which resulted in this memorable exchange with the US Border patrol agent:
Border Agent:  "Why did you travel to Canada"
Me;                   "To play golf for a few days"
Border Agent:  "Were you playing with friends?"
Me:                   "No, by myself mostly"
Border Agent:   "Why would anybody want to do that?"
Me:                   "I do it all the time, golf is great in that way, you can play it alone"
Border Agent:   Shakes head, "Have a nice day"

The West course at Oak Hill Country Club is located in Rochester, New York and like the East, was designed by Donald Ross.  The East course is the one that gets all the attention, having hosted many major championships, most recently the PGA Championship in 2013.  The West course is more of a pure Ross course and as a result, I enjoyed it much more than the East.
7th Hole

9th Hole

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A few years ago I took my maiden voyage to the great state of Minnesota.  I played every single noteworthy course I could in six days.  It was one of the best trips I've ever taken in terms of overall quality.  Every course was unique, fun, and had excellent architecture.

The trip began right off the airplane with perhaps the most famous course in Minnesota, the Donald Ross designed Interlachen Country Club in Edina.  Re-designed by Ross in 1921, the course recently had some restoration work done and the results were spectacular.

5th hole
10th hole

13th hole
The second course I played on my first day in Minnesota was the Seth Raynor designed Midland Hills Country Club.  This is one of those courses that falls into the "good bones" category.  There is not a whole lot of Raynor left in the course but I have heard that they recently discovered the original routing plan and a significant restoration is being discussed.
8th hole
Day two of the trip began with another lovely Ross course, The Minikahda Club in Minneapolis.  Another Ross re-design, this one in 1917, the club was recently given a proper restoration by the Ross restoration expert Ron Pritchard.  As usual, Ron's work was excellent, thought I would like to see them go a little farther with tree clearing.
3rd hole

10th hole

13th hole
The day continued at the Seth Raynor designed Somerset Country Club in Mendota Heights.  Many of the Raynor templates exist at Somerset but they have been modified over the years to the point that they are shells of their former selves.  It was still great fun to play the template par threes.
5th hole

6th hole
The last course I played on day two was the Town & Country Club in St. Paul.  One of the oldest clubs in the country, Town & Country has been at its current location since 1890.  The club credits E.J. Frost with the design of the first nine holes in 1895.  Back to back par threes and fives make this a very unusual routing on a tight piece of property.
2nd hole

11th hole
The third day of the trip began at the very highly ranked Spring Hill Golf Club in Wayzata.  Designed by Tom Fazio, the course is surprisingly hilly.  I applaud Fazio for utilizing the existing topography in his design.  That decision is what makes this course one of the best Fazio designs in my opinion.
3rd hole
6th hole

16th hole
The second round of day four was with my friend and host for the week at his club, Windsong Farm in Independence.  Opened in 2003, Windsong is a John Fought design, that like Spring Hill, utilized the excellent rolling topography to create a challenging and fun golf course.
4th hole

18th hole
Day four was one of my more extraordinary 54 hole days of golf.  I spent eight hours in the car round trip from where I was staying in Minnetonka.  The drive was worth it and I would do it again in a heartbeat.  The day started with a two-and-a-half-hour drive to Duluth for an early morning round at the Donald Ross designed Northland Country Club.  This course was everything I love about Donald Ross designs and had amazing views of Lake Superior.
14th hole

16th hole

18th hole
After a wonderful morning at Northland, I made the drive north to the town of Biwabik and the Quarry at Giant's Ridge Resort.  Designed by Jeff Brauer and considered by many to be his best course, The Quarry is a tremendous course on an exceptional piece of property.  I particularly enjoy Brauer's artful bunkering.
1st hole

7th hole
The last course I played on this exceptional 54 hole day of golf was The Wilderness at Fortune Bay in Tower.  Also designed by Jeff Brauer, this casino resort course is similar to The Quarry but unique enough that it holds its own.
3rd hole

7th hole
Day five of the trip began with the highlight of the trip and one of the most fun golf courses on the planet, White Bear Golf & Yacht Club in White Bear Lake.  Donald Ross is credited with the design of the course though there are those that say it was Willie Watson that laid out the original course.  No matter who designed the course, it is one of the most original and wild golf courses I have ever seen.  The dramatic fairways were laid upon the land without much earth moving and the result is a course with no flat lies that is much more challenging than it appears.
9th hole

10th hole

15th hole
The afternoon on day five presented me with a very pleasant walk around the Donald Ross designed Woodhill Country Club in Wayzata.  The course would really benefit from a chainsaw, but overall it is a very solid Ross design.
8th hole
16th hole
The last day of my trip began at the major championship hosting Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska.  This 1961 Robert Trent Jones design was getting ready to host the Ryder Cup the following year.  I was privileged to play with the head professional at Hazeltine who I actually went to college with.  He was a tremendous host and I really enjoyed him telling me all about what was being done in preparation for the Ryder Cup and all the different decisions that went into presenting the course for match play, such as re-routing some of the holes for the benefit of match play drama.
8th hole

10th hole

17th hole

The last course I played on the trip was Golden Valley Golf and Country Club.  Designed by A.W. Tillinghast, this course is unique in that it has five par fives and plays to a par of 73.


17th hole
The Minneapolis area has one of the strongest collection of great golf courses in the country.  I played the great majority of the highlights but there are still great courses like Minnesota Valley, Minneapolis, and Rochester that I need to get back to play!
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A couple years ago I took a trip to the Cleveland area to play some of the best golf courses in Ohio that I hadn't yet played.  I was pleasantly surprised by what I found.  I played a couple hidden gems and some very high profile public and private courses.  Ohio is one of the hotbeds of great golf, especially on the private side, and I am still not done with seeing everything it has to offer.

The trip began at the Donald Ross designed Shaker Heights Country Club in Shaker Heights with my friend Rick Phoenix who I hadn't seen in a couple years.  It was great to catch up with him and play a wonderful Ross course.

10th Hole

11th Hole

16th Hole
Our pace at Shaker Heights was very good for a Friday afternoon so I started thinking about playing somewhere else that afternoon.  Rick insisted I try to play Mayfield Country Club.  I hadn't heard of it, but he said I wouldn't be disappointed.  I called them and they were nice enough to let me come play.  I was very glad I took his advice.  A very cool, fun course with lots of great, quirky holes. Mayfield is located in South Euclid and was designed by their first head professional, W.H. "Bertie" Way in 1911.  Mr. Way famously went on to design the original South course at Firestone Country Club.
2nd Hole

4th Hole
Day two of the trip began at another big surprise, Elyria Country Club designed by William Flynn.  I have played most of the courses designed by William Flynn from living in the Philadelphia area for many years, but I wasn't expecting to see this level of variety and creative bunkering on a surprisingly undulating piece of property.
2nd Hole

11th Hole

13th Hole
After my round at Elyria, I made the drive to the town of Chardon for a round at Sand Ridge Golf Club designed by Tom Fazio in 1998.  The course is a solid high end Fazio course with lots of very pretty and pleasant holes.
8th Hole

14th Hole

17th Hole
Day three of my trip saw a tremendous 54 hole day of golf that began at the Pete Dye designed Avalon Lakes Golf Club in Warren.  
4th Hole

12th Hole

The Pete Dye theme continued with a round at Fowler's Mill in Chesterland.  This highly ranked public course is a 1971 Pete Dye design.  In his early years, Dye relied more on contour and creativity to create challenge instead of the bunkering we see in his later designs.  I was very impressed by the simplicity of the course. 
3rd Hole

7th Hole
My final round on day three was Stonewater Golf Club in Highland Heights.  This 1996 Hurzdan/Fry design has appeared in the various top 100 public course lists over the years.  The large cloverleaf shaped bunkers we often see from Hurzdan/Fry are very prominent at this course.
6th Hole

10th Hole
The final day of my Ohio trip brought a round at one of the most fun golf courses I have ever played, Congress Lake Club in Hartville.  The original course here was designed by Willie Park Jr in 1919.  Donald Ross re-designed the course in 1926 using Park's holes from eight to eighteen and creating several new holes by the lake.  I can not emphasize enough just how much fun this course is to play.  It has lots of dramatic elevation changes, interesting angles and some amazing small contoured greens.
5th Hole in foreground with 2nd in background

16th Hole

18th Hole

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