Tech That Will Change Your Life in 2024
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    HOUSE MEDIAN ASKING PRICES AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $1,635,570 (+0.09%)       Melbourne $990,779 (-0.14%)       Brisbane $1,002,534 (+0.89%)       Adelaide $899,189 (+1.63%)       Perth $853,385 (-0.01%)       Hobart $727,599 (-0.08%)       Darwin $665,330 (-2.24%)       Canberra $1,030,329 (+2.00%)       National $1,054,780 (+0.44%)                UNIT MEDIAN ASKING PRICES AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $758,114 (+0.56%)       Melbourne $494,774 (+0.21%)       Brisbane $562,776 (+0.42%)       Adelaide $448,109 (+2.19%)       Perth $451,267 (-0.77%)       Hobart $504,603 (-1.31%)       Darwin $357,621 (+2.79%)       Canberra $496,414 (-0.41%)       National $532,600 (+0.26%)                HOUSES FOR SALE AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 10,429 (+70)       Melbourne 14,915 (+41)       Brisbane 7,933 (-18)       Adelaide 2,089 (-116)       Perth 5,787 (-101)       Hobart 1,241 (+4)       Darwin 244 (-2)       Canberra 988 (+18)       National 43,626 (-104)                UNITS FOR SALE AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 8,586 (+58)       Melbourne 8,221 (+87)       Brisbane 1,635 (+21)       Adelaide 372 (-9)       Perth 1,517 (-36)       Hobart 198 (-10)       Darwin 404 (-2)       Canberra 1,028 (+31)       National 21,961 (+140)                HOUSE MEDIAN ASKING RENTS AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $820 (+$3)       Melbourne $600 (-$5)       Brisbane $650 ($0)       Adelaide $600 ($0)       Perth $680 ($0)       Hobart $550 ($0)       Darwin $750 ($0)       Canberra $680 (+$10)       National $676 (+$1)                UNIT MEDIAN ASKING RENTS AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $760 (-$10)       Melbourne $595 (-$5)       Brisbane $640 (-$3)       Adelaide $500 (+$5)       Perth $620 ($0)       Hobart $450 ($0)       Darwin $540 (-$10)       Canberra $550 (-$10)       National $596 (-$5)                HOUSES FOR RENT AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 5,832 (+125)       Melbourne 6,113 (+155)       Brisbane 4,426 (+39)       Adelaide 1,506 (+63)       Perth 2,727 (+138)       Hobart 431 (+13)       Darwin 95 (-3)       Canberra 602 (+6)       National 21,732 (+536)                UNITS FOR RENT AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 10,046 (+377)       Melbourne 6,071 (+301)       Brisbane 2,272 (+28)       Adelaide 373 (+1)       Perth 740 (-4)       Hobart 143 (+14)       Darwin 136 (+6)       Canberra 746 (+30)       National 20,527 (+753)                HOUSE ANNUAL GROSS YIELDS AND TREND       Sydney 2.61% (↑)        Melbourne 3.15% (↓)       Brisbane 3.37% (↓)       Adelaide 3.47% (↓)     Perth 4.14% (↑)      Hobart 3.93% (↑)      Darwin 5.86% (↑)        Canberra 3.43% (↓)       National 3.33% (↓)            UNIT ANNUAL GROSS YIELDS AND TREND         Sydney 5.21% (↓)       Melbourne 6.25% (↓)       Brisbane 5.91% (↓)       Adelaide 5.80% (↓)     Perth 7.14% (↑)      Hobart 4.64% (↑)        Darwin 7.85% (↓)       Canberra 5.76% (↓)       National 5.81% (↓)            HOUSE RENTAL VACANCY RATES AND TREND       Sydney 0.8% (↑)      Melbourne 0.7% (↑)      Brisbane 0.7% (↑)      Adelaide 0.4% (↑)      Perth 0.4% (↑)      Hobart 0.9% (↑)      Darwin 0.8% (↑)      Canberra 1.0% (↑)      National 0.7% (↑)             UNIT RENTAL VACANCY RATES AND TREND       Sydney 0.9% (↑)      Melbourne 1.1% (↑)      Brisbane 1.0% (↑)      Adelaide 0.5% (↑)      Perth 0.5% (↑)      Hobart 1.4% (↑)      Darwin 1.7% (↑)      Canberra 1.4% (↑)      National 1.1% (↑)             AVERAGE DAYS TO SELL HOUSES AND TREND         Sydney 28.9 (↓)     Melbourne 30.3 (↑)        Brisbane 30.8 (↓)       Adelaide 25.4 (↓)     Perth 36.1 (↑)      Hobart 37.8 (↑)      Darwin 35.1 (↑)        Canberra 28.5 (↓)     National 31.6 (↑)             AVERAGE DAYS TO SELL UNITS AND TREND         Sydney 29.6 (↓)       Melbourne 30.2 (↓)     Brisbane 29.6 (↑)        Adelaide 25.4 (↓)     Perth 38.3 (↑)      Hobart 30.1 (↑)        Darwin 46.7 (↓)       Canberra 38.0 (↓)     National 33.5 (↑)            
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Tech That Will Change Your Life in 2024

Generative AI will remain huge, and we’ll also see big moves with electric vehicles, Apple’s mixed-reality headset, password security and regulation around social media

By JOANNA STERN, Nicole Nguyen and Christopher Mims
Tue, Jan 2, 2024 9:17amGrey Clock 9 min

It’s been a crazy year in tech:

• Artificial intelligence infiltrated everything.

• Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg agreed to a cage fight (which never happened).

• High-schoolers made pornographic clones of their classmates.

• A high-profile tech CEO was fired and rehired over a weekend.

• Oh, and Apple unveiled its least-mainstream product since the G4 Cube.

We could go on, but we’re here to look forward. That’s the best part about this annual exercise, where we all pile into an electric time-travel vehicle and set the Google Maps destination to The Future.

So what can we predict for 2024? AI as far as the…A-eye can see. We won’t even pretend to know all the things generative AI will do to our devices, our jobs, our lives—and our elections. But we promise you won’t be able to escape it. We’ll see other things too: the decline of the dreaded password, a boom in cleaner energy, increasing regulation around kids on social media, and more.

And yes, Apple will start selling a $3,500 face computer that aims to change how we see the world, or at least our living rooms.

Here are our predictions for the coming year in tech.

Is it real?

When photos of a bull walking on train tracks in New Jersey recently went viral, many people’s first thought was, “Did AI make this?” No, the photo was the real deal. (Don’t worry, the bull is safe now.)

This is the internet challenge of 2024: How do we tell the real from the AI? The generative-AI product flood will continue, but also expect more tools to help us pinpoint artificially generated text, photos, video and audio.

OpenAI, specifically, has promised a feature that will identify whether an image is created by its Dall-E 3 image generator. TikTok has said it is working on ways to detect and automatically label AI-generated content.

The Adobe-led Content Authenticity Initiative, which provides technology to embed information about the origin of an image or video into the file, will also continue to gain steam. Microsoft has said it will launch a tool for political candidates and campaigns that allows them to add credentials to media so people will know how it was created or edited. Camera maker Leica recently announced a new camera that automatically embeds such credentials in its photos.

At some point, we might just regard content without credentials as suspicious.

EVs struggle to accelerate

If you’re expecting 2024 to be the Year of the EV Boom, think again. “It’s not that EV sales are down, it’s that the pace of growth is slowing down,” said Barclays analyst Dan Levy.

That deceleration looks to continue but it marks a turning point: More mainstream car buyers are now catching their breath and beginning to assess their EV options. Two of the biggest consumer pain points—price and charging—will start to improve. Especially for people looking beyond Tesla.

Sometime in 2024, Ford, General Motors, Rivian and others will be able to charge at many of Tesla’s charging sites. That should significantly increase the number of places EV drivers can stop to charge on a long road trip. Additionally, we’ll see the launch of more fast-charging stations funded through the Biden administration’s National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure program. Here’s hoping they work—and actually accept credit cards.

Starting Jan. 1, if you’re buying an EV that’s eligible for a federal tax credit you can get that discount at the point of sale. You will no longer have to wait until you file your taxes. The bad news: Fewer EVs will qualify for the credit. But at least there are some sub-$40,000 EVs on the way, including the Chevy Equinox EV and Volvo EX30.

The clean-tech boom begins

Electric vehicles may seem like the embodiment of so-called “clean tech”—driven in no small part by a certain eccentric billionaire and his car company. But the EV supply chain is enabling hardware companies of all kinds to make use of really big batteries, and the critical “power electronics” that go with them.

For example, in Vermont, the biggest regional utility is turning batteries into a distributed energy-storage network it calls a “virtual power plant.” In-home batteries can recharge from the grid when energy is plentiful, and put it back into the grid when demand shoots up or there are outages, increasing reliability and saving customers money. Even electric vehicles can help in a similar way: Ford says its electric F-150 can power your home in a blackout.

And the relentless rollout of new sources of low-carbon and renewable energy is proceeding apace, including offshore wind, rooftop solar and geothermal power from the earth’s own heat. Startups—backed by big money—are looking to develop a generation of smaller, safer modular nuclear reactors, too.

AI + PC = ?

In 2024, every major manufacturer is aiming to give you access to AI on your devices, quickly and easily, even when they’re not connected to the internet, which current technology requires. Welcome to the age of the AI PC. (And, yes, the AI Mac.)

What’s coming is what engineers call “on-device AI.” Like our smartphones, our laptops will gain the ability to do the specialised computing required to perform AI-boosted tasks without connecting to the cloud. They will be able to understand our speech, search and summarise information, even generate images and text, all without the slow and costly round trip to a tech company’s server.

On Dec. 14, Intel announced its entrants into this race, chips with built-in neural-processing units. Qualcomm announced similar chips in late October. Both silicon giants will compete to power Windows laptops and Chromebooks. Look for more announcements of chips to enable on-device AI, possibly from Nvidia and AMD. Apple—which brought variations of its neural-engine-equipped mobile chips to laptops and desktops in 2020—will be making that specialised processing power available to software developers in new ways.

The hardware will show up before the compelling software applications do, but we’ve already seen some promising demos—like fast AI-powered photo-editing tools.

Longer life for older gadgets

Unlike milk and bread, there’s no expiration date printed on our gadgets’ packaging. That doesn’t mean they don’t have them. Modern, internet-connected devices remain tied to their makers after we buy them. And when the makers stop providing services and software updates, they die.

A growing number of manufacturers and brands are extending software support, however. Apple—which updates iPhones for about six years, and Macs for six to eight years depending on the model—was the gold standard, but it has fallen a bit behind Alphabet’s Google. For its new Pixel 8 phones, Google upped support to seven years. The company also said it will provide updates to Chromebooks for up to a decade starting in 2024.

Samsung previously updated phones for just two years, with four years of security patches. It recently committed to four years of system updates, with an additional year of security. Microsoft announced earlier this month that after support for Windows 10 machines ends in 2025, customers can continue receiving security updates for a fee.

By stretching devices’ lifespans, companies could reduce some of the 6.9 million tons of electronics waste we generate annually, according to nonprofit public-interest group U.S. PIRG.

Apple’s mixed reality meets the real world

Will Apple’s Vision Pro change the way we work by putting floating 3-D spreadsheets on our office walls? Will it make us all yearn to FaceTime with holo-grandma? Will it finally make 3-D movies cool? Or, at $3,499, will it be the world’s most expensive paperweight? We find out in early 2024.

In early trials, we’ve been impressed with just how natural it is to navigate the digital interface with just hand waves and finger taps. It still is quite a substantial piece of hardware you have to put on your head, however, battery pack and all.

Given its price tag and its first-generation status, the Vision Pro isn’t positioned to be a mainstream hit. Instead, Apple’s betting on early adopters and software developers to define the killer apps of spatial computing—the idea that we can blend our real lives and digital worlds in new ways. As Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook said during the Vision Pro’s introduction, it’s “the beginning of a journey.”

Cracks in Apple’s garden walls

Perhaps the president of the European Commission should just move her office to Cupertino, Calif. In 2023, EU legislation forced Apple to give up its proprietary Lightning port in favor of USB-C on the iPhone 15. Next year, EU regulation will push Apple to make additional changes.

While Apple’s App Store has been the only way to install apps on the iPhone, the EU’s Digital Markets Act aims to change that. It requires the “gatekeepers”—specific tech companies—to stop restricting users from getting apps from outside its own app stores. The deadline to comply is March 7. A recent Securities and Exchange Commission filing from Apple stated that the company “expects to make further business changes in the future” to the App Store. (Google’s Android already allows users to install apps downloaded from outside its Google Play app store.)

It’s unclear if Apple would change the App Store only in the EU or around the globe. An Apple spokesperson declined to comment on the company’s plans.

Then there’s Apple’s tightly protected iMessage. Beeper, a new app that brings iMessage to Android devices, has regulators pressuring the giant to open up its exclusive iMessage chat platform. Separately, Apple has agreed to adopt RCS, a messaging standard that will make “green bubble” texting with Android phones a bit more like iMessage.

Passkeys in more places

Passwords are lousy. When hackers exposed information belonging to around 6.9 million customers of DNA test-kit company 23andMe, the company said the attackers tried credentials stolen from other websites. Because people often reuse their usernames and passwords, thousands of logins worked.

That’s why, in 2023, companies including Google, Apple and Amazon moved toward passkeys, a type of login that can replace passwords and two-factor authentication codes. Starting next year, Microsoft will roll out passkeys for businesses.

A passkey is more secure than a traditional login because each is unique, it won’t work on fake sites designed to trick us and it can’t be stolen from company servers. It’s stored inside password managers and can be accessed with a face or fingerprint scan.

Today, over eight billion accounts are passkey-enabled, according to Andrew Shikiar, executive director of FIDO Alliance, which oversees security standards for passkeys. Shikiar expects 20 billion passkey-capable accounts by the end of 2024.

Rocking the vote in 2024

Millions can now generate images and videos with AI—and potentially influence elections around the world. In 2024, an estimated two billion people will vote in 50 countries. While manipulated media isn’t new, the ability to create convincing AI-generated sounds and imagery on a dime is. The White House said generative-AI systems have the potential to “erode public trust and safety in democracy.”

Former President Donald Trump posted a parody of Republican Ron DeSantis’s campaign launch with a video featuring AI-generated voice clones. In turn, a pro-DeSantis super PAC ran a television ad attacking Trump, using an AI-generated version of his voice. Meta Platforms is requiring advertisers to disclose when political ads on its Facebook and Instagram contain digitally altered media.

AI-enabled content isn’t the only concern. We can expect just as much or more old-fashioned disinformation compared with the last presidential election, too, said Erik Nisbet, a professor of communication at Northwestern University. That’s because some social-media platforms have either changed their policies or pared back their content-moderation efforts, Nisbet said.

Research has shown a particular rise in malign content on X, he added. The company didn’t respond to a request for comment. Meta now allows ads to say past elections were “rigged” or “stolen,” a false claim often repeated by Trump. At a conference, Meta’s head of global affairs said private-sector companies shouldn’t arbitrate whether politicians can “make claims or counterclaims about the legitimacy of previous elections.” Google’s YouTube will also no longer remove content questioning the legitimacy of former elections, saying the action could “have the unintended effect of curtailing political speech.”

Ride in a self-driving car—no, really

Robotaxis and self-driving vehicles in general had a rough 2023. GM subsidiary Cruise lost its license to operate in California and subsequently laid off about a quarter of its workforce. Tesla faced lawsuits over its “full self-driving system” on account of its apparent reliance on human monitoring, despite the marketing. And residents of San Francisco, the self-driving-est city in the U.S., expressed doubts about this technology.

Yet amid the chaos, there have been winners—in particular Alphabet subsidiary Waymo, which is continuing to expand its robotaxi service to more cities. If you travel to Phoenix, San Francisco, Los Angeles or Austin, Texas, you can hop in one of the company’s driverless taxis today. And it’s…surprisingly normal?

Meanwhile, Mercedes-Benz gained approval to roll out the first hands-free, eyes-off-the-road autonomous driving system in the U.S. It only works on certain roads, under certain conditions. Jeep and Chrysler parent Stellantis is working on a version, which it says will arrive in 2024. Ford says it will have its version in 2025.

No surprise, then, that in Phoenix, you can now hail a Waymo robotaxi through Uber, thanks to a recently announced partnership. Yes, the future is here. You just might have to go to Phoenix to find it.

Another social-media reckoning

As they seem to every year, Meta and TikTok face massive lawsuits, new laws, curbs from regulators, and the possibility of huge fines.

In 2024, Meta will have to contend with a grab bag of suits from more than 40 state attorneys general trying to force the company to change features of its products that the AGs allege harm minors. These include features that attempt to maximise teens’ and adolescents’ time spent on Meta subsidiary Instagram.

The company said: “We share the attorneys general’s commitment to providing teens with safe, positive experiences online, and have already introduced over 30 tools to support teens and their families.”

In December, the New Mexico attorney general filed a suit alleging the company steers predators to the accounts of children on Instagram. In a statement, Meta said it uses technology, industry protocols and partners in law enforcement, including state attorneys general, “to help root out predators.”

Should the suits somehow force Meta to make its products less appealing, they may accelerate users’ flight to TikTok. That could reignite the long-smouldering fire in Congress to ban the TikTok app outright. The initiative has won bipartisan support, but not enough to make it law. States have attempted their own remedies, but in November a federal judge blocked Montana’s TikTok ban, signalling that such state-level laws are unlikely to stand.

Meanwhile, age verification sounded like a promising move to protect kids on social media. But doing it effectively means clearing some high technical and administrative hurdles. It’s not likely you’ll see that in 2024.

Beyond heartbeats and nighttime Zs

Wearable gadgets have long tracked heart rate and sleep. Soon, they’ll be out for blood.

The Wall Street Journal previously reported that Apple is studying a way to track blood pressure through sensors in the Apple Watch. Next year—when Apple is expected to commemorate the watch’s 10th anniversary with a new design—the company might finally release the feature, which can notify a watch wearer when blood pressure is trending upward and direct the user to verify the measurement with a traditional inflatable cuff, according to a report in Bloomberg.

Other wearables may not be far behind. Fitbit filed a patent application for a display that could estimate blood pressure when pressed. Samsung has offered blood-pressure measurement on its Galaxy Watches for several years, though the feature isn’t available in the U.S. for regulatory reasons. Aktiia is a wrist-based wearable with an optical sensor that can capture 24/7 blood-pressure data. It’s currently only available in Europe, and is awaiting authorisation from the Food and Drug Administration for commercial availability in the U.S. Omron has a larger wearable device available in the U.S. now.

There’s certainly a market for this metric. The devices could make it easier to manage high blood pressure (aka hypertension), which affects as many as 119 million American adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.



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A Killer Golf Swing Is a Hot Job Skill Now

Companies are eager to hire strong players who use hybrid work schedules to schmooze clients on the course

By CALLUM BORCHERS
Fri, Jun 14, 2024 5 min

Standout golfers who aren’t quite PGA Tour material now have somewhere else to play professionally: Corporate America.

People who can smash 300-yard drives and sink birdie putts are sought-after hires in finance, consulting, sales and other industries, recruiters say. In the hybrid work era, the business golf outing is back in a big way.

Executive recruiter Shawn Cole says he gets so many requests to find ace golfers that he records candidates’ handicaps, an index based on average number of strokes over par, in the information packets he submits to clients. Golf alone can’t get you a plum job, he says—but not playing could cost you one.

“I know a guy that literally flies around the world in a private jet loaded with French wine, and he golfs and lands hundred-million-dollar deals,” Cole says.

Tee times and networking sessions have long gone hand-in-golf-glove. Despite criticism that doing business on the course undermines diversity, equity and inclusion efforts—and the fact that golf clubs haven’t always been open to women and minorities —people who mix golf and work say the outings are one of the last reprieves from 30-minute calendar blocks

Stars like Tiger Woods and Michelle Wie West helped expand participation in the sport. Still, just 22% of golfers are nonwhite and 26% are women, according to the National Golf Foundation.

To lure more people, clubs have relaxed rules against mobile-phone use on the course, embracing white-collar professionals who want to entertain clients on the links without disconnecting from the office. It’s no longer taboo to check email from your cart or take a quick call at the halfway turn.

With so much other business conducted virtually, shaking hands on the green and schmoozing over clubhouse beers is now seen as making an extra effort, not slacking off.

Americans played a record 531 million rounds last year. Weekday play has nearly doubled since 2019, with much of the action during business hours , according to research by Stanford University economist Nicholas Bloom .

“It would’ve been scandalous in 2019 to be having multiple meetings a week on the golf course,” Bloom says. “In 2024, if you’re producing results, no one’s going to see anything wrong with it.”

A financial adviser at a major Wall Street bank who competes on the amateur circuit told me he completes 90% of his tasks by 10 a.m. because he manages long-term investment plans that change infrequently. The rest of his workday often involves golfing with clients and prospects. He’s a member of a private club with a multiyear waiting list, and people jump at the chance to join him on a course they normally can’t access.

There is an art to bringing in business this way. He never initiates shoptalk, telling his playing partners the round is about having fun and getting to know each other. They can’t resist asking about investment strategies by the back nine, he says.

Work hard, play hard

Matt Parziale golfed professionally on minor-league tours for several years, but when his dream of making the big time ended, he had to get a regular job. He became a firefighter, like his dad.

A few years later he won one of the biggest amateur tournaments in the country, earning spots in the 2018 Masters and U.S. Open, where he tied for first among non-pros.

The brush with celebrity brought introductions to business types that Parziale, 35 years old, says he wouldn’t have met otherwise. One connection led to a job with a large insurance broker. In 2022 he jumped to Deland, Gibson Insurance Associates in Wellesley, Mass., which recognised his golf game as a tool to help win large accounts.

He rescheduled our interview because he was hosting clients at a private club on Cape Cod, and squeezed me in the next morning, before teeing off with a business group in Newport, R.I.

A short time ago, Parziale couldn’t imagine making a living this way. Now he’s the norm in elite amateur golf circles.

“I look around at the guys at the events I play, and they all have these jobs ,” he says.

His boss, Chief Executive Chip Gibson, says Parziale is good at bringing in business because he puts as much effort into building relationships as honing his game. A golf outing is merely an opportunity to build trust that can eventually lead to a deal, and it’s a misconception that people who golf during work hours don’t work hard, he says.

Barry Allison’s single-digit handicap is an asset in his role as a management consultant at Accenture , where he specialises in travel and hospitality. He splits time between Washington, D.C., and The Villages, Fla., a golf mecca that boasts more than 50 courses.

It can be hard to get to know people in distributed work environments, he says. Go golfing and you’ll learn a lot about someone’s temperament—especially after a bad shot.

“If you see a guy snap a club over his knee, you don’t know what he’s going to snap next,” Allison says.

Special access

On a recent afternoon I was a lunch guest at Brae Burn Country Club, a private enclave outside Boston that was the site of U.S. Golf Association championships won by legends like Walter Hagen and Bobby Jones. I parked in the second lot because the first one was full—on a Wednesday.

My host was Cullen Onstott, managing director of the Onstott Group executive search firm and a former collegiate golfer at Fairfield University. He explained one reason companies prize excellent golfers is they can put well-practiced swings on autopilot and devote most of their attention to chitchat.

It’s hard to talk with potential customers about their needs and interests when you’re hunting for errant shots in the woods. It’s also challenging if you show off.

The first hole at Brae Burn is a 318-yard par 4 that slopes down, enabling big hitters like Onstott to reach the putting green in a single stroke. But to stay close to his playing partners and keep the conversation flowing, he sometimes hits a shorter shot.

Having an “in” at an exclusive club can make you a catch. Bo Burch, an executive recruiter in North Carolina, says clubs in his region tend to attract members according to their business sectors. One might be chock-full of real-estate investors while another has potential buyers of industrial manufacturing equipment.

Burch looks for candidates who are members of clubs that align with his clients’ industries, though he stresses that business acumen comes first when filling positions.

Tami McQueen, a former Division I tennis player and current chief marketing officer at Atlanta investment firm BIP Capital, signed up for private golf lessons this year. She had noticed colleagues were wearing polos with course logos and bringing their clubs to work. She wanted in.

McQueen joined business associates on the golf course for the first time in March at the PGA National Resort in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. She has lowered her handicap to a respectable 26 and says her new skill lends a professional edge.

“To be able to say, ‘I can play with you and we can have those business meetings on the course’ definitely opens a lot more doors,” she says.

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