Golf tee-time brokers, tiny homes and the 74 minute eclipse

In 1973, scientists extended totality eclipse to 74 minutes by flying almost as fast as the moon’s shadow was moving across Earth.

Photograph: Kai Nakamura/Unemori. In Tokyo, a city of 13 million, smaller plots of land mean architects have to come up with inventive solutions for small houses. Photograph: Kai Nakamura/Unemori

07 April 2024 | James Porteous | Clipper Media News

Photo: A golfer at the Wilson & Harding Golf Course in Griffith Park, one of seven 18-hole courses run by the city of Los Angeles. (Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)

To crack down on tee time brokers, L.A. golf courses will require $10 deposit

By Matt Hamilton Staff Writer | Los Angeles Times

April 5, 2024

Officials with the city of Los Angeles have approved a new measure to crack down on brokers who resell tee times at public golf courses: a non-refundable deposit.

The L.A. Board of Recreation and Park Commissioners — a five-member panel appointed by Mayor Karen Bass — unanimously approved on Thursday a “pilot program” in which each golfer will be charged $10 to reserve a tee time, with a foursome costing a total of $40.

The $10 will be credited toward a golfer’s greens fee.

For example, if a golfer typically paid a $35 greens fee at one of L.A.’s public courses, it would cost $10 to reserve their spot in advance. At check-in for the tee time, the golfer would pay the remainder, $25.

Those who cancel their tee time would not get a refund. And if a golfer fails to show up for their reservation, an additional $10 no-show penalty will be levied.

The new pilot program also requires using a credit card to secure a reservation — an added layer of verification.

Rick Reinschmidt, the head of L.A.’s municipal golf division, said at the parks commission meeting that the nonrefundable deposit would cut down on brokering by “significantly cutting into a broker’s profit.” Some brokers scoop up tee times, then later cancel and rebook them under their paying customer’s name.

With the deposit, Reinschmidt said, brokers would be forfeiting $40 for every foursome they canceled in order to execute a resale.

“We understand that this alone is not the silver bullet, but we strongly feel that this action will help deter brokering,” Reinschmidt said at the meeting.

The new pricing system comes after weeks of criticism from local golfers, community members, golf influencers on social media, and The Times’ editorial board over the prevalence of a black market in tee times.

A network of brokers, many in the Korean community, have managed to scoop up coveted times, particularly for popular city-run courses in Griffith Park and Rancho Park, and sell these slots for a fee.

One broker told The Times that he makes a couple thousand dollars a month selling tee times for L.A. city golf courses and other public courses across Southern California.

Dave Fink, a golf teaching pro with more than 200,000 followers on Instagram, kicked off a wave of awareness last month when he posted screenshots of brokers’ tee sheets listing available times and fees. Fink’s #FreeTheTee videos went viral among golfers, who’ve struggled to book slots on city courses and said they’d complained repeatedly to Reinschmidt and others.

“This is an issue that affects everybody who pays taxes in the city, and anybody who plays golf as well, so I just felt like it was my duty to say something,” Fink told The Times.

At the meeting, Reinschmidt said “the brokering and reselling of tee times is not a new issue and not unique to the city of L.A.’s golf courses.”

He highlighted some measures taken by his department, including suspending 151 user accounts and implementing enhanced security measures to cut down on the use of bots and other software to book precious tee times.

None of the city commissioners pressed staff at the Department of Recreation and Parks as to why the $10 deposit program was not introduced earlier. Reinschmidt pointed out that other cities have nonrefundable fees, including New York ($5), San Francisco ($15) and Pasadena ($4.95). Unlike L.A.’s pilot program, the other cities do not credit their booking fee toward a player’s greens fee.

Some golfers welcomed the reform. But Stephen Berens, an Eagle Rock resident who has golfed on city courses since 1990, said the deposit system doesn’t get to the heart of how brokers secure favorable tee times.

“They are doing something so that it looks like they are solving the problem, but it actually makes it more difficult for golfers to get a good tee time,” said Berens, who golfs about once a week but logs on to the city’s reservation system multiple times a day.

Each week, he attempts to get a morning tee time at Griffith Park but rarely sees anything earlier than 2 p.m. He usually books a foursome elsewhere, such as Woodley Lakes, while continuing to refresh the site in hopes of landing something better.

Under the new system, he’d have to pay another $40 to cancel his Woodley Lakes reservation and book his preferred slot.

“With the new system, you can’t move course to course. I can only improve my time at Woodley,” Berens said.

Deputy Mayor Jacqueline Hamilton conveyed Mayor Karen Bass’ support for the new reservation fee and expressed appreciation that city staff moved “very quickly” with the pilot program.

“We … are looking forward to the results of this and other measures that are being planned,” Hamilton said, “so that we can address [tee time brokering] and make sure that the residents of Los Angeles are able to make use of this public resource.”

The “pilot program” has no sunset date, and it appeared to be active as of Thursday afternoon, with the reservation system requiring a $10-a-person fee, payable via credit card.

Matthew Rudnick, executive officer of the Department of Recreation and Parks, said Thursday at the commission meeting that the nonrefundable deposit, along with other unspecified measures to crack down on brokering, would be discussed at future meetings.

“We’ll probably be giving regular updates to the board on this topic,” he said.

‘We live in the best house in the world’: five design experts on how to live better in small homes

Photograph: Kai Nakamura/Unemori

Photograph: Kai Nakamura/Unemori. In Tokyo, a city of 13 million, smaller plots of land mean architects have to come up with inventive solutions for small houses. Photograph: Kai Nakamura/Unemorih: Kai Nakamura/Unemori. In Tokyo, a city of 13 million, smaller plots of land mean architects have to come up with inventive solutions for small houses. Photograph: Kai Nakamura/Unemori

Maddie Thomas | THe Guardian

From Ikea storage to the benefits of a solidly built table, architects from Paris to Tokyo share their tips and philosophy for living beautifully in smaller spaces

ustralia has some of the largest homes in the world. Many who do live small aspire to one day live big. But around the world, limited space is not always seen as a sacrifice.

From Sweden, where the average size of an apartment is 68 sq metres, to Hong Kong’s micro flats
as small as 18 sq metres, globally architects are used to getting
creative with tight spaces – they must let as much light in and offer
individuals and families the same flexibility as a larger home.

Demands for affordable housing in Australia, and the rising cost of living and building globally, has seen an increase in alternate living arrangements from granny flats, to van life to the tiny home movement. But small living doesn’t have to be microscopic. So how does the world live small well?


On June 30, 1973, the supersonic plane Concorde raced the moon’s shadow along the Tropic of Cancer during a total solar eclipse. (Image credit: Grant Faint via Getty Images)

How the supersonic Concorde jet broke the record for the longest total solar eclipse in history

By Jamie Carter | 05 April 2024 |

On June 30, 1973, the supersonic plane Concorde raced the moon’s shadow along the Tropic of Cancer during a total solar eclipse. (Image credit: Grant Faint via Getty Images)

Flying a plane into the moon’s shadow during a total solar eclipse is a hot topic thanks to the upcoming solar eclipse. JSX has a dedicated eclipse flight over Dallas, and both United Airlines and Delta have long sold out tickets for scheduled flights through the path of totality on journeys from Texas to the Northeast. 

But none will come close to achieving what Concorde 001 did on June 30, 1973, when it raced the moon’s shadow along the Tropic of Cancer during a total solar eclipse

Flying at 55,000 feet (17,000 meters), the world’s fastest supersonic jet extended the duration of totality from a maximum of 7 minutes, 4 seconds on the ground to a stunning 74 minutes.

Related: How fast will April’s total solar eclipse travel?

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0 of 1 minute, 9 secondsVolume 0%

For the seven observers from France, Britain and the U.S., the flight broke the record for the longest total solar eclipse in human history. With the supersonic jet long retired from service, Concorde’s historic 1973 flight remains legendary for eclipse chasers. 

Record-breaking flight

An engineer checks devices inside the Concorde 001 prototype on June 25, 1973 before a special trip over Atlantic for verifications of scientific installations used for solar eclipse aboard Concorde 001 which will be ssen over Africa. (Photo credit should read -/AFP via Getty Images)

On June 30, 1973, Concorde took off from Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, in the Spanish Canary Islands.

The path of totality that day was about 156 miles (251 kilometers) wide where Concorde intercepted it, with the moon’s shadow moving at about 1,500 mph (2,400 km/h). Concorde flew at 1,350 mph (2,200 km/h)  — Mach 2 — along the path of totality in the same direction as the moon’s shadow, thereby keeping up with it as long as possible.

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The scientists on board came from Los Alamos National Laboratory, the Paris Observatory, the Kitt Peak National Observatory, Queen Mary University of London, the University of Aberdeen, and the French National Center for Scientific Research. 

Concorde 001 was modified just for them, with rooftop portholes created for observation equipment. The extra-long totality allowed these scientists to study the sun’s corona, its chromosphere and the intensity of the sun’s light from above much of Earth’s atmosphere.  

Concorde prototype 001 flies for the first time, at Toulouse Airport, France, Sunday 2nd March 1969. Maiden flight with test pilot Andre Turcat at the controls, who flew the aircraft to 10, 000ft at speeds of up to 300 m.p.h. during a 28 minute flight. Our Picture Shows Concorde lands after successful flight, with mechanism in tail showing parachute has been deployed and released from rear of aircraft. (Photo Tony Eyles/Mirrorpix/Getty Images)

“We intercepted the totality and stayed within it for 74 minutes before descending and landing in the African nation of Chad,” Donald Liebenberg, a scientist from Los Alamos National Laboratory who was on board the flight, wrote for NBC News. “At 74 minutes, our group aboard the Concorde set a record for the amount of time spent in totality that has never been broken. It was an experience I will never forget.”

Concorde took off at 1008 GMT and raced above Mauritania as the moon’s shadow caught up with it. Over the next four minutes, it flew across the Sahara in Mali, Nigeria and Niger before the moon’s shadow overtook it. It landed in Chad. 

In addition to experiencing the long totality, the scientists saw a seven-minute “first contact” and a 12-minute “third contact” — the beginning and end of the eclipse when viewers on the ground see a brief display of Baily’s beads and the “diamond ring effect.” 

The 1973 flight wasn’t the last time Concorde entered the moon’s shadow during a total solar eclipse. Twenty-six years later, on Aug. 11, 1999, three Concordes — one from France and two from the U.K. — entered the moon’s shadow, carrying tourists, as documented by French eclipse expert Xavier Jubier. Each paid $2,400 ($4,457 in today’s dollars), though totality lasted only four or five minutes, compared with about two minutes on the ground. However, the passengers had problems seeing totality for more than 30 seconds because of the small windows and the sun’s height. 

It’s a reminder that intercepting the moon’s shadow in a plane isn’t easy.

Final trip

The 1999 trips were Concorde’s last into the path of totality. After the fatal crash of Air France Flight 4590 on July 25, 2000, just after takeoff, a planned eclipse flight on June 21, 2001, was canceled. 

The most successful eclipse flight in recent years was E-Flight 2019-MAX, which on July 2, 2019, doubled the totality duration from 4 minutes, 32 seconds to 9 minutes. On board the LATAM Airlines Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner were 43 eclipse chasers, each of whom had paid $6,750.

Eclipse flights continue to spark the imagination, but it will be a long time until it’s possible to surpass Concorde 001’s 1973 achievement. 

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Jamie is an experienced science, technology and travel journalist and stargazer who writes about exploring the night sky, solar and lunar eclipses, moon-gazing, astro-travel, astronomy and space exploration. He is the editor of and author of A Stargazing Program For Beginners, and is a senior contributor at Forbes. His special skill is turning tech-babble into plain English.


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