Golf Lessons: How to Fix a Slice

Benjamin Barrone is an accounting and finance professional in Chicago, Illinois.  Mr. Barone worked in public accounting as an auditor for nearly five years before continuing his career in the private sector.  Most recently, he served as Director of Finance for Vital Proteins, a startup in Chicago that sells ingestible collagen products.  In addition to his passion for helping startups Benjamin (Ben) Barrone also enjoys spending the summer months golfing.  Ben prefers a right-to-left shot shape (draw) and offers the following tips for fixing a slice.

The number one influence on the shape of a golf shot is the swing path coming into the golf ball on the downswing.  An outside-to-inside swing path, sometimes referred to as “coming over the top” promoted a left-to-right ballflight.  When it is pronounced, it produces the dreaded “slice”.  A slice not only causes the ball to move further from the intended target – it also takes away significant distance from the shot.

A golf swing with similar swing speeds but different swing paths can have enormous differences in distance.  For example, a slight draw with a driver at a swing speed of 100 mph may result in a drive of approximately 260 yards.  A drive with the same swing speed, but with a pronounced slice, may barely reach 200 yards if the slice is severe.

Benjamin Barone offers the following tips which may be useful in combating the dreaded slice.  Think of these as individual swing thoughts or tips to try, rather than trying all at once, and see what works:

  1. Take the club back on the outside, to allow room to “drop it down” to the inside on the downswing.
  2. Keep your head behind the ball at impact.
  3. Ensure you aren’t finishing your swing with your weight on your toes.
  4. Move the ball back in your stance – this makes it easier to avoid “reaching for the ball”
  5. Trust the loft of the club to get the ball airborne – no need to “lift” it up.
  6. Swing from the inside-out

Hope this is helpful – hit em’ straight!

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White Wines of Alsace

Benjamin Barrone is an accounting and finance professional in Chicago, IL.  He most recently served as Director of Finance for Vital Proteins.  In that capacity, he helped build the accounting and finance department and secure Series A financing.  Benjamin (Ben) Barrone is passionate about helping startup ventures grow and scale their business.  Another passion is food.  Mr. Barrone enjoys a wide variety of foods from around the world and is especially interested in the cross-cultural Alsace region located in France and sharing a border with Germany.  Alsace is also widely-recognized for their spectacular wines – mostly whites.  Riesling, in particular, thrives here.  Known for a dry style with racy acidity, some of the best examples worldwide hail from the Alsace region of France.

Riesling is one of the superstars of the world of white wine and one of the four finest varieties grown in the northeastern French region of Alsace. But what makes it so special?

In terms of flavour, Alsatian rieslings are mostly elegant and dry, with floral hints and plenty of fruitiness, and mildly spicy. They are always mouthwatering and remarkably food-friendly wines, and the finest are capable of developing great complexity.

In Alsace, it is the long, dry summers that bring out the citrus, stone-fruit and floral characters of the riesling grape, while the various soil types in and around the villages with the finest terroirs lend a distinct spicy and mineral freshness.

Age also influences the wine’s flavour and aroma. Over time, a sophisticated, complex and honeyed bouquet develops, unequalled by any other grape variety, drawing riesling aficionados like bees to pollen.

So what do you need to know about Alsace riesling? Here’s a primer.

AOC Alsace Riesling

The most accessible and affordable expressions of the grape are sold as AOC Alsace Riesling. These everyday wines go well with simple dishes such as charcuterie, goat cheeses, onion tart, smoked fish and poultry.

They are produced right across the region by family estates large and small as well as in co-operative wineries which rank among the finest in France. Try Le Côte de Rouffach de Muré, an organic wine from the hillsides of the Rouffach region made by  the Muré family, who have been wine producers for 12 generations.

AOC Alsace Grand Cru Riesling

The Vosges mountains to the east of the region provide shelter from moist west winds and it is here, on the higher protected slopes, that the classic examples of Alsatian rieslings are grown. These Grand Cru vineyards are subject to laws that stipulate higher levels of ripeness and lower yields (fewer grapes per vine) in order to ensure higher quality wines.

In the granite soils around the villages of Turckheim and Kientzheim, and in the clay soils around Riquewihr, you can find some really glorious Grand Cru rieslings.

These richer, more intense wines deserve to be matched with extra-special cuisine. In the summer months you could serve them with a smörgåsbord of dishes, from cold meats such as roast lamb and chicken to salad niçoise or tabbouleh. In winter, Alsace Grand Cru Riesling is a fine choice for roast chicken, turkey or goose. And it’s a terrific choice for the Christmas table and with seafood dishes.

Perversely, some of the very finest Alsace rieslings are sold not as Grand Cru but under the name of the specific vineyard or “clos” in which they grow. In such cases, the price usually reflects the wine’s exquisite quality. Again, from the Muré family of Rouufach, the Clos Saint Landelin de Muré is a biodynamic wine a delicate nose, fresh palate and strong fruit flavours of lime and apricot.

Chemex Coffee Brewing

Benjamin Barrone is a Finance and Accounting Professional located in Chicago, IL.  Mr. Barrone recently helped Vital Proteins, a Chicago-based startup, secure a Series A financing round.  Recently, Benjamin (Ben) Barrone has became interested in brewing great coffee.  Here are some tips and tricks Ben has found to start your day off right with an excellent cup.

First, it is important to have the right tools.  Ben recommends using a scale, burr grinder, Chemex, and a proper filter such as these:

Next, freshness of the roasted coffee beans is of the utmost importance.  It is ideal to brew your coffee within one week of roasting.  However, if that is not possible – the fresher the better.  Mr. Barrone recently began ordering from a subscription service such as Craft Coffee (https://www.craftcoffee.com).  However, Ben also likes to purchase freshly ground coffee at local Chicago roasters such as Intelligentsia (https://www.intelligentsiacoffee.com) and Dark Matter (https://www.darkmattercoffee.com).

Brewing strength is a matter of personal taste. Generally, sticking to a water-to-coffee ratio of 15:1 to 18:1 will yield good results.  Benjamin Barrone’s preference is 16:1.  

Step One: Heat the water in your 1.2 liter kettle and bring to a boil.

Step Two: Grind your coffee with a burr grinder and determine how much coffee you’ll use based on how many cups of coffee you’re making. For a full container (on the eight cup model), try starting with 4 coffee scoops and adjust as necessary.

Step Three: Place a filter in your Chemex (with the three layer side of the filter facing the spout) and pour a little hot water to wet the filter. This warms the glass and removes any paper taste from the filter. Dump out this water. Note: because you just used water from your kettle, you’ll have less than 40 ounces to brew. If you’d like, you can fill the kettle back up and bring to a quick boil again. Or, you’ll have just slightly less coffee if you don’t refill. 

Step Four: Add your coffee grounds onto the pre-moistened filter.

Step Five: Pour just enough water to fully saturate the grounds and let the coffee expand and bloom for 30-45 seconds.

Step Six: Pour your water in a slow, circular fashion until you’ve filled the top nearly full (about a half inch below the top). As the water starts to drain, continue adding more water until your kettle is empty (if you’re using an eight cup Chemex), or until you’ve reached just below the wood handle.

Step Seven: Once your Chemex is full, remove the filter and grounds and enjoy your freshly brewed cup of coffee.

Series A Financing

Benjamin Barrone is a Finance and Accounting Professional located in Chicago, IL.  Mr. Barrone recently helped Vital Proteins, a Chicago-based startup, secure a Series A financing round.  In his capacity as Director of Finance Benjamin (Ben) Barrone led the efforts from Vital Proteins from start-to-finish in the venture capital funding process including:
  • Strategic Partner Selection – engaged in company pitch, bid solicitation thru term sheets, and final selection based on qualitative and quantitative factors
  • Term Sheet Negotiation – including favorable valuation, waterfall distribution, board control, investor blocking rights, and incentive equity plan
  • Due Diligence – primary contact for anything finance-related including Quality of Earnings review by independent CPA firm and complete dataroom ownership
  • Disclosure Schedule – led coordination, compilation, drafting, editing, for all company disclosures with respect to representation and warranties in final purchase agreement including dataroom maintenance
  • Legal Review – including fine points of final agreements such as definition of “knowledge”, materiality qualifiers and threshold(s), distribution rights, and budget approval/control
  • Closing – tirelessly pushed deal to finish line, coordinating resources of CEO, attorneys (both sides), Senior Leadership Team, VC Investors, accountants, bankers, and consultants.

This was the first external financing for Vital Proteins, having bypassed earlier needs through cash flow generated from operations and internal funding.  A Series A financing round can be summarized as follows:

Series A: Scaling the product and getting to a business model. (AKA getting to true product/market fit)

  • Purpose: With a series A you typically have figured out your product/userbase, and need capital to:
  • Figure out or scale distribution. Your users may love your product, but you have not yet optimized all the ways to build a userbase.
  • Scale geographically or across verticals. You have a product that works in one market (e.g. it works in the Bay Area), and you want to adapt it to other markets (lets launch it across the US or globally).
  • Figure out a business model. If you are a consumer internet company, you may be getting lots of users, but may not have a clear business model that is working at this point (see e.g. Instagram).
  • Amounts: Used to be $2m-$15million with a median of $3-$7 million.  Series A amounts have gone up dramatically recently to more of a $7-15million raise being typical.
  • Recent examples: Uber(cab) raising from Benchmark, Instagram’s raise from Benchmark
  • Who invests: Your traditional venture funds (Sequoia, A16Z, Benchmark, Accel, Greylock, Battery, CRV, Matrix etc etc.). lead these rounds, leading to a pretty different dynamic relative to a seed round (more on this in another post).  Angels may co-invest with VCs in the A, but they have no power to set the pricing or impact any aspect of the round.

A Look at the Finest Golf Courses in Chicago

 

Chicago Golf Club pic

Chicago Golf Club
Image: golfdigest.com

Benjamin Barrone serves Vital Proteins in Chicago, Illinois, as Director of Finance. When he is not overseeing the company’s accounting and financial activities, Benjamin Barrone is an avid golfer. He has played since age 4, and frequently enjoys a number of Chicago-area courses.

Golf Digest has announced The Best Golf Courses in Illinois for 2017-2018, and once again the top honor belongs to Chicago Golf Club in Wheaton. The club, ranked No. 14 in the United States, was first designed by C.B. Macdonald in 1897 and has required only two renovations over the course of 120 years. In fact, Macdonald’s course in Wheaton and a similarly titled course in Downers Grove both lay claim to the title of America’s first 18-hole golf course.

In 1923, longtime Macdonald associate Seth Raynor updated the Wheaton course, with each of the 18 holes drawing inspiration from famous holes at other notable courses. Raynor maintained aspects of Macdonald’s original vision, including a unique routing system that features all out-of-bounds areas to the left of the holes.

Other top-ranking courses in Illinois include Butler National Golf Club in Oak Brook, Medinah Country Club, Marshall’s Canyata Country Club, and Shoreacres at Lake Bluff.

How to Calculate Your Golf Handicap

 

Golf Handicap pic

Golf Handicap
Image: thoughtco.com

Leveraging over eight years of experience as an auditor and accounting professional, Benjamin Barrone serves as Director of Finance at Chicago’s Vital Proteins. Outside of his professional responsibilities, Benjamin Barrone is an avid golfer who regularly plays at Heritage Bluffs, which is just outside of Chicago. His official handicap is 5.3 and he hopes to improve it to under five in the next year.

A golfer’s handicap is an approximate measure of the number of strokes he or she shoots above or below par on an average round of golf. The purpose of a handicap is to allow players of varying skill levels to play together in a competitive manner. By knowing your handicap index (your average handicap), you can determine your handicap for a specific course based on its degree of difficulty. To determine your handicap, you need to collect your overall scores from recent rounds. Five rounds should be enough, but using scores from the past 20 rounds will generate a more accurate handicap.

For each round played, subtract the course rating from your score and multiply the resulting figure by 113, and then take that number and divide it by the slope rating. This will give you your handicap differential. For instance, if you scored a 90 on a course with a difficulty rating of 73.2 and a slope rating of 112, your resulting handicap differential from that one round would be 16.95. Complete the same equation for at least five rounds and multiply your lowest handicap differential by 0.96 to produce your handicap. A 16.95 handicap differential, for example, results in a handicap of 16.3.

Top-Rated Golf Courses in the Chicagoland Region

 

Cog Hill Golf and Country Club pic

Cog Hill Golf and Country Club
Image: coghillgolf.com

As Director of Finance with Vital Proteins, Benjamin Barrone enjoys playing golf in his free time. As a resident of Chicago, Benjamin Barrone lives in close proximity to a number of highly rated courses. Below are three of the best.

1. Chicago Golf Club: Some say the Chicago Golf Club opened the first 18-hole course in the United States. Actually located in nearby Wheaton, the historic 6,846-yard, par-70 venue garnered recognition as both the top-rated course in Illinois and the 14th-best course in the United States in Golf Digest’s 2017-2018 rankings.

2. Cog Hill Golf and Country Club, No. 4: The fourth course at this public-access club challenges golfers with tight landing areas and a heavily bunkered green. Located southwest of downtown Chicago in Lemont, “Dubsdread,” as it is known, has hosted 19 PGA Tour events, including several in the last decade.

3. Medinah Country Club, No. 3: Most recently the host of the 2012 Ryder Cup, the third course at Medinah has undergone significant renovations since opening in 1928. Today, it welcomes golfers who are willing to navigate vicious doglegs while avoiding such water hazards as Lake Kadijah.