Greetings from the beautiful Sandals Emerald Bay on the island of Exuma in the Bahamas. I’m here to review the resort, the on-site Greg Norman designed golf course, and to play in a two day tournament. Internet connectivity here is as consistent as my short game, meaning it works only about 25% of the time and even then it is sketchy.
Cue the cue the Pink Floyd
Yesterday marked an activity I’ve never done before and will never forget, swimming with the pigs. There’s an island here where pigs roam, and when traveling boats come by the pigs jump into the water hoping to get fed. Very fun, and entertaining experience. I’m uploading a video to YouTube now, but with the bad internet here, it could take 247 years to finish. So enjoy the photo above and tune back into this post for the video later.
I’m going to cover a non golf related subject today, but one which I think is very important: what to do if your smartphone is lost or stolen and how to recover it. I hope someone out there can benefit from what I learned and the tools needed pull off what I did. Here’s the story:
The last HOG World Tour trip was to Black Mesa Golf Club in New Mexico. It is a short flight from here in Salt Lake. While waiting at the gate for my flight, I utilized a cell phone charging station to charge up my Samsung Galaxy SIII. The Galaxy SIII phone is based on Google’s Android operating system.
In the rush to get to the gate when called, I apparently left my phone at the charging station. I didn’t realize I’d done so until I was on the rental car shuttle in New Mexico, some 2-3 hours later. I called my phone from a friend’s phone and even sent text messages to it, but there was no response. I immediately contacted Delta Airlines and also checked with the airport lost and found. Nothing.
When I arrived at my hotel in the evening I powered up my laptop and jumped online. I loaded up the Android Device Manager in my browser, which is located here: https://www.google.com/android/devicemanager. The device manager can also be loaded onto an Android unit and run as an application. I used the device manager to lock the phone with a password to prevent whoever had it from using it. I also put a message saying “Return this phone to its owner by calling…” and put the wife’s phone number. Of course, nobody called.
Device Manager located my phone on a Google map. It was in Jefferson City, Missouri. It should be noted that in order for Android Device Manager to actually locate your phone, the phone must be powered on. Fortunately for me, whoever had the phone left it turned on.
Android Device Manager – Phone Located
I zoomed the map in as far as it would go and noted the exact location and cross streets. I then loaded up Google maps in another browser window and navigated to that same location. I then switched the map view to Google Earth, where I could see that at my phone’s location was a single family home. This was good, rather than it being at a large apartment complex, or in an office building, or on the street somewhere. In Google Earth I was able to simply click the mouse on the home and it showed the home’s address. From there I punched in the address to a regular Google search. The information I was able to gather at that point was quite amazing, clear down to the yearly property taxes on that home.
My phone was here…
Armed with this information, I contacted the Jefferson City police department. Despite all the information I gave them, they were not willing to do anything because the phone was stolen from the Salt Lake International Airport. I had to first establish a case with Salt Lake, then they told me Salt Lake would have to contact them.
I called the Salt Lake International Airport Police and they were quite helpful. One officer asked me the exact time and location I was waiting for my flight. He cued up their surveillance footage and found me sitting there. He said he would have to scan to see when someone took the phone and would call me back. He gave me a case number. The officer did call back to tell me he found the video footage showing the thief taking the phone. A younger male, perhaps late teens, walked up to my phone and looked all around. He then unplugged it and put it in his shirt pocket and walked away.
The next morning I was golfing at Black Mesa golf club when I received a call from the Jefferson City police at about eight in the morning. “Sir we have recovered your phone.” I was thrilled. They told me they’d paid a visit on the home where my phone was located and recovered it at 7 a.m. local from an elderly lady. That seemed odd but I didn’t care. My phone was found.
Later I spoke with my wife who had received a call from the elderly lady. The lady told my wife she saw the phone at the airport and took it because she knew it was lost and did not trust that the airport lost and found would get the phone’s owner back his/her phone. She had intended to take it home to Missouri and mail it to the owner. She told my wife the police frightened her, pounding on her door at seven in the morning. My wife bought this BS story but that was until I told her that airport surveillance video showed a young male taking the phone. The stories didn’t jive.
It took eight days to get my phone back. I’m very glad to have it back because on it are some special photos and videos of my baby boy, and of course all the other things one digitally stores in a smartphone.
As for the case, I’ve heard nothing else. My theory is that a teenager stole the phone and his mother or grandmother made up the story of taking it to cover his ass and keep him out of trouble. I may never know the real story, but I do know how to recover a stolen Android phone now.
I hope this story helps someone who may end up in a similar situation with a lost or stolen Android device.
I could move to Michigan, at least during the warmer months. Winter? Not so much. The golf in Michigan is so astoundingly good and interesting. The topography and vegetation lend themselves to such fantastic golf which can compete and even crush competitive golf destinations like Florida, South Carolina, California, or the northwest. The terrain with its great rolling hills and elevation changes makes a great canvas for golf architects to paint their masterpieces.
Secluded is an understatement… click to zoom
One such masterpiece is the Arthur Hills designed Shepherd’s Hollow Golf Club, located northwest of Detroit about 45 minutes in Clarkston, Michigan. Shepherd’s Hollow is secluded in a densely wooded area, not near any kind of visible development. Each hole has its own space. Nothing shared. No side-by-side fairways.
Shepherd’s Hollow features 27 holes. Unfortunately I was only able to play 18 of the 27 during the HOG World Tour stop. I MUST get back there soon to play those again and experience the nine I missed.
There are five sets of tees at Shepherd’s Hollow, allowing the course to accommodate players of all ability levels. The tips for each set of 18 runs roughly 7,100 yards. The primary 18 is an absolute beast of a golf course, rating at 76.0 with a slope of 147. A scratch player would do well to break 80 from the tips.
Tee shots at Shepherd’s are impressive. The view from each tee is of a hole lined by trees on each side and landing areas which are anything but flat. Tee placement is crucial to have a chance at par, and on this course pars are good. Nearly every tee shot features some kind of elevation change, requiring good strategy and calculation from the golfer.
I really like the different tee sets at Shepherd’s. Different tees don’t just mean a change in yardage. The angle and even elevation of each tee shot is different based on the play of the day.
A very unique feature with regards to the tees is how they are marked. Rather than having two tee markers sitting on the ground which the player must tee off between, one pole on the side marks the teeing area. See image below:
Tee marker above left, working the tee shot right-to-left above right!
If you manage to hit the fabulous fairways at Shepherd’s Hollow, you’ll be presented with challenging lies and approaches.
The stance may promote a draw but the approach may require a fade. One other course does that very well, Augusta National Golf Club.
Ah the greens. What lovely surfaces these are. Such great conditioning and such fun to putt. Tiers, slopes, and swells make putting a fun (but fair) challenge.
A challenging two-putt prospect…
Hitting the proper area of the green on approach is as challenging, for finding the wrong spot makes two-putting an accomplishment. Once again, not unfair, but very challenging.
The clubhouse and its setting are tremendous. The clubhouse’s classy architecture perfectly fits in with the environment.
I was just entering the 2014 college football schedule into my calendar for my Utah Utes. Tough go for us being fairly new in the Pac-12, but I digress. The 3rd game on the schedule this season is at the “Big House,” also known as the University of Michigan’s football stadium. The place holds something like 12.2 million fans. A few weeks ago I was across the street from the big house playing golf at the University of Michigan Golf Course. What a fantastic place. The course is not quite publicly accessible, but there are several ways one can get a round in on this wonderful layout. If you get the chance, do it.
The course is the home of the Michigan golf teams and is closed for play during competitions. The course is also closed on football days, where it doubles as a parking lot.
Ever heard of Alister MacKenzie? He designed the University of Michigan Golf Course, which opened in 1931. He’s the same golf course architect who designed Augusta National Golf Club (home of the Masters Tournament) with the help of Bobby Jones. One other highly ranked architectural masterpiece he created was Cypress Point.
Having visited Augusta National many times, I could definitely get the feel of MacKenzie’s style and creativity at the University of Michigan course. The way he utilized the rolling hills, angles, and elevation changes on the property is magnificent.
Arthur Hills performed a restoration on the course in 1994, which according to the University of Michigan, “restored the grandeur of the University Golf Course to the ranks of MacKenzie’s other classics.”
Total yardage for the golf course from the tips, also known as the Wolverine Tee, is 6687 yards. The course rating is 72.0 and slopes at 135. These numbers translate to a strong challenge, but not over the top in terms of difficulty. There are three other tee sets for players of varying age, gender, and ability level.
I’m not sure which club I prefer the most on the tees at the University of Michigan Golf Course, my driver or my Nikon. The framing of the holes from the tees is fabulous.
Tee – click to zoom
Tee shots are not extremely difficult, but with the movement of the course, trees lining the fairways, and some deep native grass areas, errant tee shots are one-way tickets to bogey land.
Like Augusta National, the fairways at U of M roll with the hilly terrain. Challenging lies await, producing approaches which are a fine test of shotmaking. The fairways are not overly narrow, but due to the movement of the holes, proper placement is a big advantage on approach shots.
Fairway – click to zoom
There are many “course management” scenarios. On some par-4 holes and even one particular par-5 (3rd hole) driver may not be the perfect club to hit off the tee, but is still an option.
The greens are very fun and unique at the U of M course. First, they are not terribly large so hitting them in regulation is a solid accomplishment.
Green – click to zoom
There are very large undulations and tiers in the greens which can break those medium to small sized greens into even smaller areas. If an approach finds the wrong one, two-putting is a challenge but not impossible.
The shaping and framing of the greens on this course is very pleasing to the eye.
Full supporting facilities in the form of practice areas, pro shop, and dining are offered at U of M.
Playing the U of M golf course was a fantastic experience. I loved the layout, the flow, routing, scenery, and especially the conditioning. I strongly recommend playing the course if you get the chance. I cannot wait to get back and take another shot at it.
Below is a video I captured at the HOG World Tour stop last week in New Mexico at Black Mesa Golf Club. This is a flyover of the fun par-4 14th hole. I call this hole “Island Drive” because it is a risk/reward driveable par-4 with an island of New Mexico desert in the middle of the fairway.