PARALYSIS BY ANALYSIS
Public hole of the week No. 7 @ Reading CC 
Trump is a comedian, and letís be done with Ted Bishop firing
Saturday, November 1, 2014
By Ron Romanik

Media topic you really don’t need to think about: The precise punishment that Ted Bishop deserves, after his Twitter catfight with Ian James Poulter. It was very unfortunate, he was justly fired, but now it’s time to move on already.

 

Speaking of attention seekers: Donald Trump claims  "TGCFKAPH" (The Golf Course Formerly Known as Pine Hill) rivals Pine Valley. He’s a comedian now; or maybe was all along. TGCFKAPF is a truly fabulous golf course, both challenging and fun—but c’mon. If that comment didn’t fuel your disgust for The Donald, you might want to check out the You’ve Been Trumped documentary, which details how he built his Scotland course with scant regard for local people, political offices, or ecosystems. The one redeeming thing about the movies is that it reminds one to re-watch Local Hero, a 1983 warm-hearted allegory of individuals protecting their community from invasive investors, also set in Scotland.

 

And while we’re talking movies: I feel guilty for not warning you about Seven Days in Utopia, which was showing in October on Golf Channel. The movie is an attempt at a warm-hearted golf parable starring Lucas Black and Robert Duvall. Lucas Black does a fine job as a golf pro, in a Mike Weir vein, but the proselytizing is heavy-handed. No matter how hard I try, I still can’t figure out why Robert Duvall signed up for this travesty.

 

In Medias Rant: "...and why is Matt Kuchar playing two of the first three events of the PGA Tour 2014-2015 season? Geez, Matt, you’re No. 9 in the world, give some Web.com guys a chance to make a living. If you need a little cash, it’s a good time to refinance your home and..."

 

Observation of the week: When you watch the "minor" tours, whether Euro, Web, or Asia, one can’t help but notice that the players are more fidgety in their behavior and less polished in their movement. Is it just because they’ve been playing longer at that level, or does conservation of motion and effort go hand-in-hand with golf success? A puzzler.

 

Word of the day: sangfroid (sang-fwah), noun; composure in the heat of competition.

 

In case you missed it:

 

Idle random thought: Isn’t everyone jealous of a guy named Jhonny Vegas. He has a pretty straightforward life philosophy, too: "...Always try your best, and be a happy guy."

 

Private Hole of the Week: Good straightaway, or "Freeway," par-four holes are often dismissed out of hand as boring, but they present unique challenges. For one, the drive is often awkward as there is less of a target and less of a suggested approach. The opening hole at Manufacturers Golf and CC is a great example of such an experience. The severely elevated tee with a prevailing crosswind adds substantially to the challenge of picking the shot to match the task at hand.

 

Public Hole of the Week: Another freeway hole with an elevated tee is the 7th at Reading Country Club. The best angel into the back-to-front sloped green is from the left side of the fairway, but a draw off the right edge of the fairway is the safe play. The tendency, however, is to not aim enough right, and end up in the left rough.

 

Just shh, Gary Player: Gary can fix Tiger in one hour.

 

ICYMI: Long drive competition between two pros...with putters. http://www.golfchannel.com/news/grill-room/kaymer-langer-do-long-drive-putter/

 

 

Twitter: @RonMyPhillyGolf.

 

Ron Romanik is principal of the brand, packaging and PR consultancy Romanik Communications (www.romanik.com), located in Elverson, PA. His full bio is here.


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Turtle Creekís 18th Bausch Collection 
Iím supposed to discount Tom Watsonís 60-plus years?
Friday, October 17, 2014
By Ron Romanik

Media topic you really don’t need to think about: The FedEx Cup format. It’s an imperfect game, there’s no perfect solution—just let ’em play.

 

In Medias Rant: "...and I’m supposed to discount Watson’s 60-plus years of respecting the traditions of the game just because some whiny, spoiled kids are too afraid to trash-talk Phil and too lily-livered to speak on the record about..."

 

Word of the day: metanoia; noun; change in one's way of life resulting from penitence or spiritual conversion.

 

In case you missed it: Bill Murray talks some golf with Howard Stern, including his early caddying days. The non-golf parts are also excellent, with the comedy legend speaking openly about a few movies and the finer elements of his craft.

 

Private Hole of the Week: The long par-four 18th at Moselem Springs Golf Club. One of the great finishing holes in the region brings high drama to many amateur events held there, including the annual Hawley Quier Memorial. I’m usually "anti" water on finishing holes, but this is an undeniable classic, also overlooking the fact that out-of-bounds is almost absurdly close to the green on the right.

 

Public Hole of the Week: The par-five eighteenth at Turtle Creek Golf Club in Limerick, PA. Another water finishing hole, a pond guards the green. The thirds shot is often a pitching wedge off a downslope, which makes it dicey and fun.

 

Philly Insider: After birdieing the final hole at Turtle Creek, you might want to treat yourself to one of the awesome Prime Rib sandwiches at the Trappe Tavern just down the road (also a great place to watch some NFL).

 

Irony of the week: The slower you swing, the farther the ball goes.

 

"You Kids Get Off My Lawn" Comment: Golf in the Olympics? The Olympics...really, the Olympics? Do I even need to explain? (sigh)

 

Water Cooler Debate: Who is most to blame for bringing golf to the Olympics—Tom Meeks, Judge Elihu Smails, or Vladimir Putin? If this "experiment" lasts more than one Olympics, though, here are a few good ideas to fix it from Shane Ryan at Golf Digest.

 

Stats of the Week: Courtesy of Golf Digest’s year-end run-down, two mind-numbing putting stats. 1. Brian Stuard went 395 straight holes without a three-putt. Let that sink in. 2. Gary Woodland just finished his second straight season without missing a putt from inside of three feet. That’s 1,641 out of 1,641.

 

In case you missed it II: Rory McIlroy putts into a bunker. It’s forgivable—it was the Road Hole Bunker at St. Andrews.

 

In case you missed it III: Former Masters Champion Sandy Lyle wins the World Hickory Open.

 

Twitter: @RonMyPhillyGolf.

 

Ron Romanik is principal of the brand, packaging and PR consultancy Romanik Communications (www.romanik.com), located in Elverson, PA. His full bio is here.

 


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10th at Merion (Bausch Collection) 
Azinger: Iím the only guy who can solve this
Saturday, October 4, 2014
By Ron Romanik

Sneak peek: Chambers Bay is next year’s U.S. Open site, so the USGA posted some stunning pictures of the course. The links course on Puget Sound near Seattle reminds one of the Kohler courses in Wisconsin—Whistling Straits and Blackwolf Run—which run along Lake Michigan. Designed by Robert Trent Jones II, Chambers Bay is also Audubon Certified Silver Signature Sanctuary Courses. A brief history of the course and a good definition of a "links" course is here.

 

Prediction: The 2015 season will start this coming Thursday at the Frys.com Open at the Silverado Resort in Napa, CA. That beautiful location will hopefully lure some A-list talent, but wouldn’t it be hilarious if an earthquake aftershock affected the outcome, a la Danny Noonan’s final putt in Caddyshack?

 

Get-your-ego-in-check quote: "I think I’m the only guy that can solve this." (Paul Azinger in the New York Post)

 

Stat of the week: At the 2014 Ryder Cup, Europe had 110 birdies; USA, 78. That’s a blowout no matter how you slice it. But I’m sure "pods" is the answer. Just ask Phil and Zinger.

 

Water cooler debate: Phil Mickelson has a habit of airing out grievances publicly. The public seems to give him many verbal mulligans. Is it the "aw shucks" grin that makes him so endearing?

 

Word of the week: Inveterate; adjective, long-established, as a habit.

 

Lady golfer on the rise: Is she the women’s version of John Daly? No, she’s not a drinker and gambler, as far as we know, but she does have one of the longest swings you’ll ever see. She’s Sakura Yokomine, currently No. 44 in the Rolex Women's World Golf Rankings.

 

Media topic you really don’t need to think about: Rory. Anything Rory. His Twitter feed, wearing kilts, yadda yadda yadda. He’s a good kid. Just let him live his life for a spell.

 

Private hole of the week: The best short par-four in the region has to be No. 10 at Merion, a 300-yard dogleg left with a green that runs away. There are risk/reward calculations each step of the way no matter how you play it. The greatness of the design was evident at last year’s U.S. Open, where some players used five-iron off the tee, some used driver, and the rest used every other club in between those two. I’ll bet a few players even used a different club each day.

 

Public hole of the week: Another devilish short dogleg par-four in the region is No. 5 at Bella Vista Golf Club in Gilbertsville, PA. At just over 300 yards, a creek running across the hole forces a tough decision. Who wants to lay up with an eight-iron, after all? If you go bold, you’ll often end up one of the large, deep bunkers fronting the green. So swallow your pride, and pull the eight-iron.

 

Twitter: @RonMyPhillyGolf.

 

Ron Romanik is principal of the brand, packaging and PR consultancy Romanik Communications (www.romanik.com), located in Elverson, PA. His full bio is here.

 


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14th at Rolling Green. Thereís just no chance... 
Friday Flops and Fliers
Friday, September 26, 2014
By Ron Romanik

Prediction: Europe wins 15-13. Do I need reasons? If I do, then I’ll go with experience, vitality, and verve. And home field advantage. And they are better.

 

Media topic you really don’t need to think about: Rory and Graeme and their lawsuit. I fear it will come up once an hour on the telecasts. Yawn.

 

Word of the day: Omphaloskepsis – noun; contemplation of one's navel. Navel-gazing, used as a criticism, means overly self-absorbed focus on a topic. Example: "Media Wonders Why Media Over-Hypes Ryder Cup Rivalries."

 

In case you missed it: Michelle Wie won the prestigious, inaugural Annika Major Award.

 

In Medias Rant: "...and how can the first time an award is given already be ‘prestigious.’ Wie only played four rounds in two of the five majors! And five majors is an abomination to all that is natural and good..."

 

Private Hole of the Week: The 14th at Rolling Green (Bausch Collection/Rolling Green). One of the most intimidating tee shots on a par-three you’ll ever see. Uphill, an angled green, deep bunkers, and a steep drop-off on the right. It feels like your best shot will also need some luck to find the dance floor, and if you don’t hit the green, you’ll be lucky to make bogey.

 

Public Hole of the Week: The 15th at Galen Hall. More infamously known as "The Moat Hole," famed architect A.W. Tillinghast may have had a hand in this unique par-three. Also extremely intimidating, top amateurs in competition have been known to lay up for a better chance at par, on average.

 

Irony of the week: The less time you have, the more you get done.

 

"You Kids Get Off My Lawn" Comment: The Ryder Cup competition was established to promote sportsmanship and camaraderie. They should change the name. It now promotes gamesmanship and jingoism.

 

Stat of the Week: Billy Horschel was ranked 1st in putts from 15 to 20 feet for the 2014 season. In all other putting distance ranges, he ranked worse than 50th. Does not compute.

 

Water Cooler Debate: Michael Jordan caused the USA team to lose the last Ryder Cup, in Chicago. Because, in trying to get into Ian Poulter’s head, he managed to achieve the opposite of the intended result. Poulter’s defiant passion fueled the European team on to victory.

 

Twitter: @RonMyPhillyGolf.

 

Ron Romanik is principal of the brand, packaging and PR consultancy Romanik Communications (www.romanik.com), located in Elverson, PA. His full bio is here.

 

 

 


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Ron Romanik 
What are your biases in golf?
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
By Ron Romanik

 

The last part of the season just flew by, with 16 days of competitive rounds in 25 days. That’s 64 percent of the days of the FedEx Cup in the heat of competition. It’s perfectly fine for football and hockey be battles of attrition—not golf.

 

But why is that a knee jerk reaction? Do I have latent biases that prevent objective reporting? Of course I do.

 

One of my biases that I’m getting over is the resistance to the rise of the golfer/athlete. Somehow, in a traditionalist’s mind, the delicate touch of a golfer would be inversely proportional to their brawn. This turns out to be not so true.

Regardless of what you think of the politics of Glenn Greenwald (bias: I admire constitutional lawyers who don’t pull punches) and the whole Edward Snowden affair, Mr. Greenwald has no qualms decrying the fake objectivity of "traditional" journalism. In fact, he posits, true objectivity is pretty much impossible. We all have biases, we all interpret events through our own lenses, so let’s put them on the table and be honest about it.

 

But, no matter how obvious a media outlet bias is, the tone of its "reporting" or opinionating can define the media conversation more broadly. I’m not sure what media conversations that Golf Digest is trying to introduce these days, but I guess all is right in the golf world again now that actual professional golfers are back on the cover of Golf Digest (bias: I feel betrayed by new magazine redesign).

 

Yes, Michelle Wie is on the cover, the epitome of golfer/athlete, and my pick, earlier this year, for having a breakout year (biases: Leadbetter fan and defender of the persecuted—I’m looking at you, Michael Bamberger). Wie was just recognized with the Rolex Annika Major Award for best performance across all five majors. If you didn’t know what that was, don’t worry—it’s new.

 

And another superfit golfer of note is Suzann Pettersen (bias: I love a woman who drops the F-bomb on live TV). I believe her best days are still ahead, and she had 10 top-10 finishes in 18 tournaments this year.

 

Speaking of athletes, javelin-thrower turned golfer Keegan Bradley (bias: Keegan is a cool name) has demonstrated that he’s no flash in the pan. If you get to spectate a PGA event next year, check out Keegan’s ball rainmaker ball flight. It’s impressive.

 

And Bernhard Langer (bias: my maternal grandfather was German; Mercedes-Benz; Altbier) was just unbelievable in the Senior Open Championship this summer. In case you missed it, Mr. Langer topped off his victory with whipped cream and cherry on top, with the classiest of finishes. On the impossibly hard and fast Royal Porthcawl Golf Club links in Wales, no one in the field had been able to get close to the 18th pin on the approach—even with a wedge in hand (bias: links-style golf is more fun to watch).

 

Already having lapped the field, there was no need for theatrics. Nevertheless, he hit a perfect 9-iron approach, landing just over a fairway bunker and releasing to about 20 feet from the pin. An eagle might have been too much to ask for, but a tap-in birdie seemed the right level of "I make this game look easy."

 

But I digress. Many have biases about Golf Channel personalities, and for good reason. There is much room for improvement, and sometimes a pretty face is just a pretty face. As for Brandel and Frank, my bias is in favor of first-hand expertise. For all their faults, they still bring a lot of knowledge to the table. Steve Flesch and Charlie Rymer, on the other hand, don’t seem to remember what playing professionally was like.

 

The Golf Channel dropped a few notches in my esteem when I was looking for wrap-up analysis of the Women's U.S. Open this summer—and found almost none. I imagine this was the result of some television network executive bickering, but disappointing nonetheless.

 

Which brings us to the golfer/athlete of the moment—Billy Horschel. His phenomenal performance of back-to-back wins and 12 consecutive rounds in the 60s was surely do in no small part to his fitness. So, the golfer/athlete is here to stay, especially if the FedEx Cup system survives the critics. Even Rory (bias: red hair like me/Ireland connection) is looking ripped these days (bias: he’s shorter than you think).

 

And let’s give Billy a pass on his loss of decorum when he did seven full Gator Chomps on the 18th green after his FedEx Cup win. Oh yes, my bias is clear on Horschel: My wife is a University of Florida alum. I deserve your sympathy, but for the grace of God go you. In our house, patriotism for your country plays second fiddle to allegiance to the Gator Nation. Chomp Chomp.

 

Ron Romanik is principal of the brand, marketing, and packaging consultancy Romanik Communications (www.romanik.com), located in Elverson, PA. His full bio is here.

 


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Ron Romanik 
Tom Watson: The greatest Open champion ever
Monday, July 21, 2014
By Ron Romanik

 

The irony of my argument here is that the Greatest Open Champion Ever (G.O.C.E., if you will) earned that title by not becoming the "Champion Golfer" of 2009. He lost, instead, in an illegitimate playoff format.

 

(18 holes on Monday is the proper way to decide a Champion, and I am confident he would have fared much better there).

 

This man’s second place finish, though, should still be considered one of the greatest sporting achievements of all time. To some, though, that "loss" five years ago was very disappointing. I don’t quite understand this. Even Tom Watson himself bemoans his fate: "It was in my grasp, and it hurts, it really hurts. It was a huge disappointment."

 

But I ask you, how many golfers on this planet would not have gladly exchanged places with Mr. Watson at that moment? He had a glorious run that week, and at age 59! This week, at 64, he made the Open cut again at Royal Liverpool. 

 

And what was the final obstacle the thwarted his sixth Open title? A two-foot diameter "nose" on the front of the 18th green that deflected an otherwise perfect approach, and sent it careening off the back of the green.

 

But my real question is: Why would he, or anyone, now look back on that week with sadness or disappointment? Why not instead admire his performance in isolation and wonder at the amazing athletic and sporting feat that it was and always will be?

 

Watson does admit that he was comforted by the outpouring of support and notes thanking him for his inspiring performance. By why isn’t that the rule, rather than the exception in fans’ hearts and the media’s recollections? For many, he "lost."

 

Not to be melodramatic, but is this damning evidence of our societies’ ill-founded emphasis on "winning is the only thing"? (Thanks a lot, Red Sanders.) I, for one, don’t think it is human nature to look at the runner-up as the "first loser."

 

On this past Thursday evening, GolfChannel’ Kelly Tilghman introduced a segment on Tom Watson’s run in 2009 with a "sad face" grimace, saying: "It’s no exaggeration to say that he was on the verge of producing what could have perhaps been known as the greatest sporting accomplishment of all time." I posit that—win or lose—his accomplishment was equally as impressive—and great.

 

Other circumstances or facts could have made it truly tragic. If he hadn’t already won five Opens, for instance. If his career might be defined by this single losing event. Or if this loss irrevocably damaged his psyche in the prime of his career. But none of these scenarios apply.

 

I would prefer to look back on Watson’s performance as a crowning coda to a full and rewarding career. Or a swan song, victory lap, or farewell tour.

 

If you want golf drama that is truly tragic, I invite you to look back on the 1939 U.S. Open in Philadelphia. Sam Snead, by all reasonable estimations, should have won several U.S. Opens. He had the perfect opportunity to close out the deal on the final hole of the Philadelphia Country Club in 1939. A miscommunication may have caused Snead to be more aggressive than the situation required, and the snowman he carded on that hole took him out of contention. (Here’s a subjective list of the top 10 real U.S. Open disappointments.)

 

Perceptive readers will no doubt suspect that I have a soft spot for Mr. Watson. Watching him win his Opens as an adolescent, I was both fascinated by the traditions of the game and intrigued by the way the Scottish and English fans embraced their likeable American Champion. Too bad fans don’t raise golf champions on their shoulders anymore like they used to in Bobby Jones’ era. That would have been a fitting tribute for Mr. Watson.

 

I admired Watson for categorically conquering the quirky and whimsical nuances of the game in its original form that is, in many ways, foreign to the American style of play. And I always liked how the knowledgeable golf fans across the pond reacted to action with the right amount respect and gravity correspondent to the situation.

 

Of course, the crowd energy instantly deflated when they saw Watson’s approach to 18 skip through the green in 2009. The faithful had been pulling for him to win the whole week. And I won’t begrudge anyone for questioning his decision to use putter for his third shot. I might defer to the caddie, though, who believes 100% that the putter was the right choice.

 

But the larger begrudgement still remains. In my rewriting of history, the R&A never adopts the abomination of a four-hole playoff, allowing Watson glory on Monday. For the record, the R&A only abandoned the 18-hole playoff in 1985, two years after Watson won his fifth Open Championship. I’m sure he would have prevailed in a "real" playoff.

 

By the way, the ageless 64-year-old wonder shot 68 today at the Open in Liverpool, and finished at +1, three better than Stewart Cink. But Cink will always be able to brag about the crowning achievement of his career, the day he stared down a man 23 years his senior and trounced him fairly and squarely—for four holes.

 

Ron Romanik is principal of the brand, marketing, and packaging consultancy Romanik Communications (www.romanik.com), located in Elverson, PA. His full bio is here.

 


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The perfect finishing position? 
Hubba Bubba for the win
Friday, June 13, 2014
By Ron Romanik

There are many reasons to pull for Bubba Watson as a favorite to win the U.S. Open. And there are a few reasons that I can understand that he might not be everyone's cup of "T," if you know what I'm getting at. His limited range of beverage choices aside, and his occasional temper tantrums aside, the best reason to love Bubba is his utter uniqueness. He is the John Daly of this era, a sort of anti- anti-hero.

 

Bubba's swing is an affront to all that the established golf elite wants to convince you about the golf swing. It's a self-made wonder that defies a great deal of logic, tradition, and physics. That is also effective at winning majors is an amazing bonus.

 

Winning the U.S. Open at Pinehurst would be the equivalent of a thumbed nose to tradition in a way that John Daly didn't even achieve at The Open Championship at St. Andrews, though Daly deserves all the kudos he receives. Some call Pinehurst the St. Andrews of America, and for good reason. The resort represents some of the best qualities of American golf. What a perfect place to throw shade over the stuffy ideals of the establishment. Instead of Waffle House for a victory breakfast the morning after, after a U.S. Open win, he should order Dominos delivered to the pressroom.

 

And Pinehurst just might be the ideal venue for a Bubba U.S. Open win. No rough at Pinehurst means it's possible to get lucky and find a few good lies in the waste areas the line the fairways. Bubba will also be able to hit less club off par-four tees to keep the ball in play.

 

But again, the fact that no golf teaching pro in the known universe would teach a swing like Bubba's is enough reason to root for him. And several corollary sub-reasons: 1) Bubba proves that established and fashionable teaching philosophies of the current and past ages are not the answer for everyone; 2) golf needs more personalities; 3) golf needs more creatively played shots; 4) he's not afraid to be whoever he wants to be; 5) he’s a lot more fun to watch than Adam Scott.

 

It was easy to shrug off Bubba before his second Masters win this year. Many, many top golfers have only one major. But now that he's got two under his white belt, and now that he's within striking distance of No. 1 in the world, he can no longer be dismissed so easily.

 

Simply said, I'm pulling for Bubba because he doesn't fit anyone's definition of a pro golfer. I like to pull for the underdog, the outsider, the misunderstood. He is all of those, and he has no reason to apologize.

 

In the picture here, Bubba has just hit one of the defining shots of his career. A shot only he would attempt. A shot only he could pull off in that situation. Okay, maybe Tiger and maybe Dustin Johnson could pull it off.

 

Nevertheless, Bubba’s follow-through at 13 at Augusta on Sunday epitomizes his appeal. After carving a high, controlled slice over the corner trees of the dogleg, his right foot has moved a full foot from its starting position. Just amazing. The shot came off, and Bubba was on his way to his second green jacket.

 

I'm rooting for Bubba because if he bucks tradition and wins the U.S. Open with his wild style, I can't wait to see the look on the faces of the USGA elite hell bound to protect an unnecessary level of decorum and tradition that can put casual golf fans off.

 

Which brings us to the idea of tradition and Pinehurst and the USGA. I hope this experiment in a "no-rough" open is not a one-off. The fact is, preparing U.S. Open courses with thick, high rough is a tradition that is not traditional. Well, that depends on your definition of tradition, I suppose, and how many years it take before something becomes traditional.

 

I believe the impossibly high rough trend took hold mid-20th century, when Hogan was at one of his peaks. He remarked after one U.S. Open round that he didn’t miss one fairway, but his shoes and pant cuffs were still soaking wet. This side anecdote illustrates the newness of the high rough concept, because they hadn’t yet realized that a walking path through the rough from tee to fairway made more than a little sense.

 

But tradition is, of course, not only a matter of years. If it were, major championship courses should be set up more rough-hewn and natural, like Scottish links courses. But if you believe that the USGA has started a valid new tradition with impossibly high and thick rough, I can grant you that as well, and that is their right.

 

Tradition is as much a consensus of "what is right." It would be quite a dramatic turnaround if the USGA would adopt a new Pinehurst-inspired model for most future U.S. Opens, but anything is possible. More likely, with the tanker-steering agility of the USGA, the tournament committee will gradually introduce more and more variety in their concept of rough in future venues.

 

And that bodes well for a future U.S. Open win for Bubba, that is, if he doesn’t win a British Open first and celebrate with a breakfast of haggis—or a KFC Double Down.

 

Ron Romanik is principal of the brand and PR consultancy Romanik Communications (www.romanik.com), located in Elverson, PA. His full bio is here.

 


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