Author Colby Blanchard

A Quick Nine With Tiger Hood

Street photographer Patrick Barr, aka Tiger Hood, has become a local legend in NYC for bringing the game of golf to the streets. For the past twelve years, he’s been holding impromptu golf competitions throughout Manhattan with just a golf club, a newspaper-stuffed milk carton, and a crate. Team 5i is filled with fans and friends of Patrick’s so we caught up with him to see how he’s been doing and to learn more about his story. 

 

1 | Patrick! How are you doing?

I’m good. Doing alright. Been hanging down in Florida since March 7th but heading back up to NYC soon. I got out of New York just before the city shut down because I come down to Daytona for Bike Week every year. And man, when they shut Bike Week down on its busiest day, a Friday night! That’s when I knew things were getting serious. 

 

2 | Can you tell us how Patrick Barr, a street photographer, became NYC’s legendary Tiger Hood?

Photo courtesy of Patrick Barr.

It was back in, I think it was 2008. I had my photographs on display on the street when I saw a golf club in a garbage can. I had a tennis ball on me so I thought, I can hit this tennis ball into that garbage can. It was near a building down in SoHo that was under construction. I started hitting the tennis ball against the wall and it came back to me about ten or so times. I didn’t have a hard time hitting it right away. I just hit it straight, it went straight, and came right back to me. But after a few hits, it got stuck in the scaffolding and didn’t come back down. I was living on Bowery at the time and saw some milk cartons the next day and thought, these things will work. And as you know, the rest is history.

I’m just passing the time by amusing myself and bringing people together. When I first picked up that golf club, I didn’t say to myself, “Oh, let’s keep this thing for a while. I want to get into this game.” I had no clue this would become my lifestyle. But after the second or third day with that club, the name was instantaneous, pretty much. I didn’t even think about it really. I was just like, you know, Tiger Woods. And I’m the hood. 

The main thing about hitting on the streets is having fun while being careful. I mean, listen, if I saw a guy swinging a golf club in the streets, I would be like is this guy crazy? Does this guy know what he’s doing? Is he being careful? Is he watching who’s around him? So the main thing is just to be careful. ABC. Always be careful. And that’s why I hit something soft.  

 

3 | Nicholas ‘Nico’ Heller’s short documentary “Neighborhood Golf Association” highlights your lifestyle so beautifully. How did you two meet? 

Wow. Years ago. I tell you, man. He bought one of my photographs when I used to sell them on the street. It was a couple of years after that when he saw me playing golf. I’m embarrassed to say I don’t remember him buying one of my photos. That’s the beauty of it. He bought my photograph before and then recognized me as a golfer. I mean, that’s really cool. 

Then I was out there playing on Jersey Street one night and when I took a swing, these kids were like, “Hey, man, you’re cool, bro.” And I, you know, sarcastically, was like “Hey, man. Oh, you just figured that shit out.” You know, just being silly. But Nico videotaped that, sent it to NBC and ABC and they used it! They bleeped the “shit” out. But anyway, that was I think the first time he documented me on film. It’s amazing to see what’s happened with Nico, man. He’s my brother growing up from another mother.

Must have been 2010, ‘11 when I got on Instagram. All thanks to Nico. I’m not sure when my first post was but I was out there playing on Jersey Street and Nico said, “Hey man, you should get on Instagram.” And I said, “Ok, how do I do that?” He opened up my @tigerhoodnyc page right then and there.

 

4 | We saw you sent Nico one of your wedges to carry on your NYC legacy while you were away! Any other updates to share?

Oh my, yeah. Those Haywood clubs are beauties, too. You guys at Five Iron saw them straight out of the box. You know what’s so cool too? First of all, Mark Baldwin. He’s out in Arizona and plays on the Korn Ferry Tour. He interviewed me and they put it on the Korn Ferry Tour’s social, which is really cool because that’s all about professional golfers. All professional golfers and then Tiger Hood! And then the Golf Ball Gallery. I don’t know if you’re familiar with him but it’s @golfballgallery on Instagram. The page is nothing but golf balls and now has my milk container on it. My milk container is now a golf ball in a golf ball gallery! I’m telling you it’s crazy. It’s like I’m that square peg actually getting into the round role. And it’s so cool. 

 

5 | Do you have a favorite memory or person you’ve played with?

Oh, man. I’ve had so many fun moments with people coming to swing. I’ve had total strangers get it in on the first try! Like what’s up with that, man?! I had this girl who didn’t know how to swing for beans. And oh my gosh, I showed her the basics and I tell you what, after about maybe five to ten minutes, she got one in! 

Justin Timberlake passed by once but he didn’t have time to take a swing. He walked back to take my picture though. I’d like to find out what he did with that picture. I think, Justin, you know if you take a picture of somebody the least you can do is send them a copy! You know what I mean? But Will Smith. Will is for sure my favorite. He just hit it and quit it. You know, he not only beat me, he beat Troy Mullins for crying out loud! C’mon now! Everyone lost it. 

 

6 | How about a dream playing partner?

Obama and Tiger Woods. Those two are easy picks off the top of my head. And maybe Justin Timberlake. He owes me at least a picture, if not a couple of swings. You know what I’m saying? C’mon, it’s only fair! He needs to do the Will Smith Challenge. He owes me that much, especially since he’s a golfer. If he’s really any good, he’d come out to NYC and try it. 

 

7 | What is the Will Smith Challenge?

Oh, it’s just three swings and that’s it. Will Smith got it in the basket in just three swings! I mean, listen, this is how it went down. This is how I look at how he did it, his thought process. His first swing was like reading a script as it comes in from the mail or is delivered to him. He reads the script so he knows what the show is about. Ok. His second swing was his dress rehearsal. And his third swing was his performance of a lifetime. He hit it and quit it. He won his award. He won his Neighborhood Golf Association Championship. He won his green jacket. He won a green jacket!

I don’t know if you know but the green jacket he gave me has a milk carton on the back! It’s not just an imitation of the real green jacket. It’s not a rip off of it. Well, of course, it is a ripoff. I am a ripoff. But it was specially made. Will had it made for me. So I only use it for special occasions. So I only use it for special occasions, like when I put it on Troy Mullins when she made one and then on Will when he did. I keep it nice and clean and only use it for special occasions. 

 

8 | Do you have a favorite Manhattan street to play on?

Right now it’s Minetta Lane, where the Will Smith Challenge happened. But there are so many places that are undiscovered. Just so many. Like how there are so many golf courses around the world to discover, there are so many neighborhoods and blocks in just Manhattan alone. But I like my little world down there in 

the village. Minetta Lane and Jersey Street are like a little oasis in the city. They’re in the middle of all this activity yet both blocks are kind of quiet sometimes. 

But I try to expand my horizons. That’s how I found you guys! I was down in the Financial District and saw your golf sign out front. I was by myself and walked in to check the place out and was like, wow! First of all, I love the colorful murals you guys have painted on your walls. Very nice. 

And then I was greeted by the brother with dreads and thought, this is my kind of place! Then one of the young ladies down there, a cheering machine, she recognized me and I was like, “WHAT? How?” And we made that little video together doing that dance.

But man, they treated me like royalty! I’m a nobody and they treated me like a celebrity. And right then, I knew I loved Five Iron. You guys treated me like gold from the very beginning and I just appreciate that so much. I mean, immensely, man. Every time I go to your Flatiron or Financial District location, I get treated like a celebrity. I told you, I’m a nobody! And you all are so awesome to me. You guys have really hooked me up with the swag. I love my pink Five Iron polo and carry it with me everywhere to represent. I love the texture and make of it because I also really love fashion. I used to collect fashion magazines in high school. Anyways, I always wear it and every time I do I think, real men wear pink.

 

9 | What motivates you to keep going? 

Well, you know, I enjoy my life. I enjoy the game of golf. I didn’t expect to be down in Florida so long but you know, I’m excited to get back to New York. But it’s going to be bittersweet. We’ve lost a lot of people. Some of them I hardly knew but they were really close with Nico and Nico’s friends are friends of mine too. I mean, Vinny Peanuts, I met him once but what a cool guy. Jimmy Webb, I knew him for a few years before I even started playing golf. As a street photographer, I met him at his clothing store on St. Marks. And Moe Albanese, I met him years back when I first started playing and was hitting just a few yards outside his meat shop. It’s going to be strange going back to a New York without them and so many others but I am excited to get back. I can’t wait to get some new projects going. 

Troy and I have talked about doing more things to get kids in the game, like working with the East Harlem girls golf team again. There are a few others I want to work with that I feel can just be unstoppable at getting these rugrats into the game. I mean, the PGA cannot ignore the number of people we might be able to get into the game, starting with the rugrats. I’m telling you, it’s been a surprising part of playing as Tiger Hood. It’s the craziest thing. I didn’t get into this for the kids. And most of the kids I’ve played with just happened to be passing by on the streets. So you ain’t seen nothing yet. With real golfers wanting to get involved, we can go to these different schools and show kids how to make golf containers at first. You know, like an arts and crafts project where they recycle their milk containers by making golf containers. Then we teach them how to hit them safely. ABC. Always be careful. You never know, this could be the hunt for America’s next top golfer. We’ve just got to get them from the streets to the indoor driving ranges like Five Iron and out onto the course. 

Be on the lookout for Tiger Hood on the streets of NYC and in more collaborations with Five Iron. You can keep up with him on Instagram at @tigerhoodnyc

Cover image courtesy of Ray Neutron.

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Weekend Warmup

Weekend Warmup

The Weekend Warmup is a series of fun, ladies-only clinics held on Friday nights at Five Iron Golf’s Baltimore, Chicago, New York (Flatiron) and Philadelphia locations. Tickets include an hour and a half group lesson, two free drinks, and a bunch of new friends to play golf with or hit the town with!

Grueter Golf x Five Iron

Grueter Golf (GG) is on a mission to encourage more women to enter the golf world by creating lighthearted golf content and organizing beginner-friendly outings & female-driven, golf-centric social events for golfers of all skill levels. Whether the event is ladies-only or coed, the vibe is friendly and encourages all attendees to appreciate the game in a fun, non-competitive setting. 

Five Iron Golf is GG’s “home club,” where we take lessons, throw parties, and meet up with friends for a round of golf (or a round of drinks) any time of year. Being a golf nut in the middle of Manhattan is hard– the winters are long and cold, and it’s often tough to make it out to an outdoor golf course. Five Iron’s casual setting and convenient locations make it the ideal setting for beginner golfers and pros alike. 

 

The Grueter Golf Ladies Club

We want our girls to be golfing 24/7, so members of the Grueter Golf Ladies Club receive exclusive discounts at Five Iron Golf. Perks include 20% discount on all sim rentals, beverages and lessons as well as the opportunity to play on Grueter Golf’s league team every season. 

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Sip & Swing

Five Iron’s Women’s Golf Clinic

Whether you’ve never picked up a golf club or you’re an avid player, join us to work on your game while enjoying an open bar, food and giveaways! We’ll warm up with some beverages and instruction from PGA professionals who are ready to help you learn and improve your game.

Don’t have golf clubs? No problem. We have complimentary sets at each of our locations for right-handed and left-handed players.

Upcoming Events: 

  • Sunday, April 5 – 5-7 pm 
  • Friday, June 12 – 6-8pm  
  • Thursday, August 20 – 6-8pm 
  • Sunday, October 18 – 5-7pm 
  • Sunday, December 6 – 5-7pm
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Ball Position

Matt Brady – Chicago

Ball position is considered a fundamental for many instructors, including myself. But, there are conflicting schools of thought. Let’s clear the air and see which one works for you and why. I was taught as a kid that wedges through 7 iron are played in the middle of your stance, 6 iron through 3 wood is played a ball or two more towards our left foot and the driver is played just inside your left foot or left knee. Other instructors emphasize more of a singular ball position in line with your left ear or the logo on a golf shirt. There are benefits to doing either method. The first method is the variable ball position. Benefits would, this can help ensure more of a downward strike into the ball in the middle of your stance using shorter irons which could help create better and cleaner contact. On the other hand a stable ball position means its a constant in your swing and requires less thinking with one less variable to be conscious of. This could help if you’re still in the learning phase. Now my favorite method or way of thinking was made famous by Jack Nicklaus and republished in Golf Digest in 2010. He thinks about keeping the ball position just left of center with the only adjustment being the width of his stance. It may look like he’s playing the ball in different spots but it’s only because his feet are closer together for short irons and progressively wider as the club he’s using gets longer. These are three very distinct methods of ball position, all have pros and cons. I would encourage any new player or even scratch golfers to play around with these and see what you have the most success with. After all, it’s your golf game, your swing, and your puzzle to put together.

You can book a lesson with Matt in Chicago by clicking here.

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Connection and Efficiency in the golf swing

Matt Brady – Chicago

Connection and Efficiency are hot button words when it comes to the golf swing. If you’ve ever taken a golf lesson or spent time browsing youtube videos, odds are you’ve heard one, if not both mentioned before. Lets define what these mean in very general terms then dive into how they apply to the golf swing.  

Connection is defined as a relationship in which a person, thing, or idea is linked or associated with something else, easy to understand right? In the golf swing this is most often referenced in the relationship between the players arms and their body. Meaning that for most players we would like to see the arms establish and maintain connection throughout the swing from static setup positions to the backswing and through the contact point with the golf ball. There are minor exceptions to this rule, but not as much as you might think. The player that comes to mind is Justin Thomas, he has very high hands at the top of his swing and it looks like his arms come away from his body and they do just a bit. But, one of his first moves to the downswing is to reconnect his arms to his body and maintain that connection through the hitting zone. So, the question begs itself, how do you get better connection through the swing? There are lots of ways and things you can focus on, whether it be the right elbow tucked into your rib cage at address and keeping it close to your body back and through the swing, or feeling your left arm across your chest at the top of the swing. The answer is, whatever helps you get the repeatable ball flight that you want is the correct way to do it. 

The second part of this post is about efficiency, its defined as, achieving maximum productivity with minimum wasted effort or preventing the wasteful use of a particular resource. This points us back to the first part of the post. Connection and efficiency, for my money, are very similar when it comes to the swing itself,and you cannot have one without the other. Yes, they can be referring to different portions of the golf swing, but start with the connection piece mentioned above and I hope this helps clear up any fuzzy thoughts you had about these. Lets keep it simple and find more fairways.

You can book a lesson with Matt in Chicago by clicking here.

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Tuning Up Your Tempo

Dan McCracken – NYC

Tuning Up Your Tempo 

Everyone wants a good tempo to their golf swing, but what are you doing to improve yours?  When it comes to playing good golf consistently, I would make the case that your tempo/timing is as important as your swing mechanics, maybe more.  Proper swing mechanics allows a golfer to generate their desired ball flight. Once a golfer is capable of hitting a good shot, the focus then shifts to the ability to repeat that good shot.  When it comes to putting something on repeat, it’s all about timing. If a golfer can improve the consistency of their timing, they can improve the consistency of their ball flight.

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “swing smooth” before.  I’m sure you’ve also been told to not rush the club back in the takeaway.  What you might be surprised to hear is that most people suffer from swinging the club back too slow.  Yes, when I see students struggle with tempo it is almost always a result of them swinging the club back much too slowly.  Allow me to explain. Club head speed creates ball speed and distance. The faster we swing the club, the farther we can hit the ball.  In most full swing golf shots, the player is looking to generate a considerable amount of club speed. So if you focus on taking the club back slowly, this puts all the speed generation responsibility on your downswing.  When this happens we create an inefficient tempo. Generally this is the culprit when a golfer mentions they felt rushed or quick during a swing.  A golfer who needs to work overtime to build speed in the downswing will almost always lose control over their arm and wrist structure.  This is how poor tempo can result in poor technique.

The phrase I like to use with students is this: “Free up the backswing.  There is no need to rush, but we want momentum built with our backswing. If we can build some momentum, this will allow us to transition smoothly and control our body through the ball.”  If you’re waiting until you get to the top of your backswing to crank up the speed, you’re most likely in trouble. Controlling your change of direction from backswing to downswing is vital to quality ball striking.  If you are working to create force at this moment, you’ve most likely lost control.

For a long time, working on your tempo meant experimenting somewhat aimlessly with different feelings.  Now, with the help of technology like Blast Motion Golf, we can measure and quantify our tempo. Tempo is the ratio of your backswing time to your downswing time.  By placing these sensors on the best players in the world, Blast Motion learned the average tempo for a professional golfer is somewhere between 2:1 and 3:1 depending on whether they are holding a wedge or putter vs. a driver.  As we see people struggle with their tempo, that ratio usually grows 4:1 and above. Slower backswings resulting in worse shots.  

What we can take away from all this is that we are trying to achieve a balanced and efficient tempo.  If you plan on swinging down fast, don’t swing back slowly. Also, in your search for consistency allow your timing to take center stage.  Consistent tempo generally leads to consistent technique, this does not always prove true the other way around. Whatever comes the most naturally to you will always almost be the easiest thing to repeat.  So own your tempo, keep your transition smooth and have fun out there.

You can book a lesson with Dan in NYC by clicking here.

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The Five Iron Membership

Anyone and everyone can walk into a 5i and (availability permitting) be hitting balls in minutes; there are no membership requirements. That being said, we created what we like to call a “too-good-to-be-true” membership package giving players unlimited hitting time during our Off-Peak hours and discounts on other Five Iron offerings. Five Iron’s NYC Director of Membership Jeff Ferris has been with us since its inception and is largely to thank for growing our membership into what is now the Five Iron community. Our members play in our leagues, rep our swag on the course, and bring their company events to us. The membership allowed us to build something that others have come to love as a sanctuary and a reprieve from their busy day has been incredibly important to our growth so we caught up with Jeff to discuss what makes the 5i membership so unique.

 

Can you tell us about the 5i membership?

While membership is not required to enjoy all that Five Iron Golf has to offer… It is the first indication that you share our familial motivation, dedication, and appreciation for this silly and perplexing game. Our goal is to provide an inclusive urban golf experience that allows all walks of life the opportunity to “master” golf. As a Five Iron Golf Member, you are entitled to the following: Membership Perks

 

Does it benefit players of certain levels more than others? 

We are confident that golfers of every level can benefit from a Five Iron membership. Whether you intend to learn the basics, are seeking private instruction, want immediate data-driven feedback, or just a moment to escape the stressors of city living, Five Iron is there for you.

 

What are some memories that stick with you from your years of managing memberships? 

There are too many priceless memories to name. It’s the random introductions that magically evolve into friendships and on-course foursomes, the trials and tribulations of everyone’s pursuit of perfection, the excitement of a career round or individual achievement, the competitiveness, the ongoing inside jokes, the unexpected post-swing profanity, the non-golf networking, the HOLE-IN-ONES, the 6AM money matches, the laughs, the “I need a lesson NOW,” the Five Iron loyalty, the utter love of the game, our team’s dedication, and the fact that it’s all happening in the middle of Manhattan!

 

Is there anything that makes the Five Iron membership special to you? 

I whole-heartedly believe that our shared struggles are what bring us back day to day. Life in NYC will inevitably train you to persevere. And nothing is more inspiring to me than a packed house at 6AM in the middle of winter. This is a testament to the dedication that golf demands. This sport can provide a lifetime of emotion (fear, confidence, elation, disappointment, anger, and humor) in just 18 holes. Real or simulated, we are all searching for our next best shot.

 

Has managing the 5i membership taught you anything? 

Be a friend first. We all started somewhere and this game will drive you mad if you “go it alone.”

 

What can you say about the 5i members? 

LEGENDARY!!! 

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A Quick Nine With Dan McCracken

5i NYC’s Director of Instruction Dan McCracken shares his golf story, career, and influences. You can book a lesson with Dan at 5i FiDi through this link, by emailing lessons@fiveirongolf.com or in the Five Iron app!

 

1. Tell us about your career as a golf pro?
Golf is all I have ever really done.  I started washing carts and picking the range at a course called Willow Brook Country Club in South Jersey as soon as I was able to work. My Grandfather worked there in his retirement and I had been going up to Willow Brook since I could walk, it’s where I was introduced to the game.  In High School I began caddying and working the bag drop at Galloway National Golf Club. I attended Penn State University where I majored in Professional Golf Management. After becoming a PGA Professional I worked at various Golf and Country Clubs including: The Apawamis Club, Congressional Country Club, Siwanoy Country Club, Medalist Golf Club, The Philadelphia Cricket Club and Canoe Brook Country Club.  Through my time working at these various clubs I discovered my true passion for Teaching and Coaching, which helped lead me to Five Iron Golf.


2. If you could go back in time and coach yourself, what would you work on?
Putting, Wedges, and Game Management.


3. Who have been major influences in your career?
There are many answers to this question.  First two answers would have to be my Grandfather who introduced me to the game, and Brian Feldschneider who was the first Golf Professional I met and worked for at Willow Brook.  Tiger Woods is who made golf cool and a true sport in my eyes, so he needs to be included. Lastly would be the other instructors who I’ve followed and learned from, including but not limited to: Mac O’Grady, Mike Hebron, George Gankas, Mike Bender, Stan Utley, Chuck Cook, Shauheen Nakhjavani, Scott Hamilton, and John Dunigan.


4. What have you learned from other instructors?
To answer as succinctly as possible: everything.  There is a lot that goes into giving a good golf lesson and I have seen lots of different styles that work effectively.  The common threads among all the best instructors in my opinion would be: 

  1. A full understanding of cause and effect as it pertains to the golf ball, club, and body.
  2. The passion to continue learning.  
  3. Always putting their students thoughts, needs, and opinions first.


5. How do you define success for a student?
The student is the only person who can determine our goals as a team.  My role on our team is to help determine a realistic road map/timeline for achieving those goals and providing the knowledge and resources to get us there.  Achieving those goals is success.


6. How has technology helped your teaching?
It has been game changing.  My instruction has gotten more and more efficient as I’ve adopted more and more technology.  Simply put: tech helps me take the guesswork out so we can identify the root cause of a golfers problems faster, and get to work on fixing them.


7. What are the best tools in your arsenal when it comes to creative instruction?
All over the map here.  Alignment Sticks, Swing Video, Impact Bag, Towel, BodiTrak Pressure Matt and Pool Noodles to name a few.  I also use chairs, resistance bands and the simulator wall for some specific drill work.


8. What’s your favorite golf movie?
Caddyshack


9. Who’s your favorite golfer and why?
Tiger.  He’s the GOAT and a big reason why I am a Golf Pro.

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A Quick Nine With Matt Brady

1. Tell us about your career as a golf pro?

My career as a golf pro began as a child, playing with my dad and grandfather that instilled my passion for the game, its been a lifelong journey. I had to opportunity to work at several private and public golf clubs as well as social golf experiences like TopGolf.

 

2. If you could go back in time and coach yourself, what would you work on?
If I could go back in time I would tell myself to be patient and trust the process. This game is a marathon, not a sprint, and we all need to enjoy the journey along the way.

 

3. Who have been major influences in your career.
My major influences have been my dad and grandfather but also many mentors along the way in many different areas of golf like operations, teaching, coaching and business development.

 

4. What have you learned from other instructors?
When you’re a new golf instructor a lot of us are eager to impart our knowledge too fast with too much information. The biggest lessons learned have been to slow down, keep the message simple and understandable. After all it’s only good help and advice if the student comprehends the message and can apply it.

 

5. How do you define success for a student?
I define success for my students with three basic themes, are they having fun, do they understand how to get better and have they achieved the goals they set out at the beginning of the process and along the way.

 

6. How has technology helped your teaching?
The technology present here at Five Iron is state-of-the-art, and has opened my eyes as an instructor. Now we can correlate a feeling in our swing with data present with every swing, this can really expedite the students understanding of why changes are made and how it can help their golf game.

 

7. What are the best tools in your arsenal when it comes to creative instruction?
Creatively I’m always trying to come up with new drills to enhance changes. However I find that simple changes and drills that can be done at home have the best retention with students. Wall drills are some of my favorites to create awareness of the club and the students physical movement.

 

8. What’s your favorite golf movie?
Favorite golf movie is Tin Cup, hands down!

 

9. Who’s your favorite golfer and why?
I have two favorite golfers, Jack Nicklaus, being that he’s from my home state and Ernie Els for his buttery smooth swing.

 

You can schedule a lesson with Matt in Chicago by clicking here.

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