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The 15th club in my golf bag…

For those who don't know, the rules of golf only allow you to carry 14 clubs. But in my case, I do carry a 15th "club" in my bag: a ball retriever. If you don't, this little story might convince you that you should, too.

I don't know anyone who likes paying for golf balls. But most people do enjoy playing with nice, clean, new-looking balls. By carrying a 15th club that is a golf ball retriever, you can play with others people's nice new golf balls!

I carry JB's nine foot model, and its telescoping poles and simple head design have worked well for me. Expect to spend $15 to $50 for a retriever, depending on the length you desire, the design of the head unit, and the construction quality. Whatever you spend up front, with a dozen golf balls costing $20 to $60, your retriever will quickly pay for itself.

As an extreme example, I recently played at a course that features a creek that meanders between the last two holes. As I was playing alone, and way out in front of everyone, I took about 20 minutes to wander along this creek as I played the last two holes (see note below) I didn't walk the creek's entire length, nor did I retrieve every ball I saw. And my retriever is only nine feet long, so there were balls I could see but couldn't reach.

* Note: This is not something you could do during a normal round. During a normal round, I just walk near ponds and creeks, and if I see a ball, I'll quickly scoop it up while my partners are busy prepping for their shots. Using this technique, I can still collect up to 20 balls a round. If you're delaying the game due to ball collecting, you're doing it wrong.

So how many balls do you think I collected in that time, given those restrictions? Two holes, 20 minutes. 10? 20? 30? 50?

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Who will win the Masters this year?

If you're a golf fan, these are the greatest four days of the year; it's time for the 2014 Masters. With Tiger Woods out this year, who will win? I honestly have no idea, but here's some interesting history.

Tiger Woods has missed only four majors in his professional career (pretty amazing, given his injuries and personal issues, I'd guessed way more than that). Here's the full list, along with those events' winners:

  • 2008 British Open: Padraig Harrington
  • 2008 PGA Championship: Padraig Harrington
  • 2011 US Open: Rory McIlroy
  • 2011 British Open: Darren Clarke

See a trend there? Padraig Harrington is from Ireland; Darren Clarke and Rory McIlroy are both from Northern Ireland. So if you're the betting type, put your money this week on Rory, Darren, or Graeme McDowell, the only three golfers from those countries in this year's event.

If you want to extend things a bit, you could add David Lynn, Ian Poulter, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Garrick Porteous, Luke Donald, Justin Rose, or Lee Westwood (all from England). Or maybe Stephen Gallacher (Scotland) or Jamie Donaldson (Wales).

If you're into the long shots, but want to stay with the odds when Tiger's out, go with Ian Woosnam (Wales) or Sandy Lyle (Scotland).

Regardless of who wins, I'm certain we're going to see four days of the best players on the greatest course in the world. Related: You can keep the leaderboard onscreen if you'd like to keep one eye on the action (and you have the excess screen real estate).

How to use Safari to track The Masters leaderboard

In general, I don't use Safari—mainly because I'm addicted to the add-ons I get with Chrome and Firefox. (Yes, I know Safari has extensions…but they're underpowered and feature limited compared to what you can get in the other browsers.) However, during Masters week, Safari has a key role in my following the tournament, thanks to one key feature: web clip, i.e. Open in Dashboard.

While The Masters has an excellent iPad app, I don't like having the iPad locked into one app for hours at a time. So, to follow the leaderboard, I turn to Safari's Open in Dashboard feature, along with a favorite old Mac OS X Hints hint that allows me to drag widgets out of the Dashboard. Using these two things together, I can view the full Masters leaderboard, floating in a window all its own.

Best of all, the interactivity of the leaderboard is preserved, so I can re-sort the list, expand a player's scores, and do all the other things I can do on the actual leaderboard page.

Note that you'll need some spare monitor space for this trick: the dragged Widget floats over every other window, so it will get in the way if you're using, for instance, an 11" MacBook Air.

If you'd like to do the same, here's how…
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Trip report: Destin, Florida

Last week, we took the kids to a family reunion in Destin, Florida. For those who've never been (as I hadn't prior to last week), here are some observations from my experiences.

  • Highway 98, the main arterial road that runs up and down the peninsula, is seemingly always crowded. This is especially true on Saturday and Sunday. We sent some folks on a grocery run to a Sam's Club when we arrived on Saturday. It was 16 miles away, and it took them nearly an hour to get there. The rental office was five miles from the bridge where we crossed to the peninsula, and it took nearly 20 minutes to cover that distance.
  • The sand (at least on Crystal Beach, which is where we stayed) is simply astonishing. Pure white and very soft, with nary a hard shell to poke you in the foot.
  • The water temp near the surface was 80F+, and very pleasant. Waves are generally small, but large enough for the kids to enjoy some boogie boarding. We went scuba diving one day (though Destin isn't the greatest of dive destinations), doing two relatively short dives (as they were somewhat deep). One decent picture at right.
    The water temp was about 73F to 77F at 60 to 85 feet; we wore 3mm wet suits, which kept us warm enough for the two dives.

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