Golf & the Snow White Ball
Part I
Five-hundred Years Ago
    Upon the rocky shores of the British Isles the poorest of the teenage boys are
ordered by the law of the land to be foot-soldiers in His Majesty's Selective Service.
In all sorts of nasty weather these impoverished imps are herded outside
onto the links and ordered to tend the Crown's bloody fields of war.
    The deadly missiles of the longbow archers have long-since replaced the armored
swordsmen as our planet's most effective killing-machine. In less than a minute's
time a few dozen professional archers can rain down upon the enemy a thousand steeled lances
at the distance of a thousand feet and more. The boys watch safely from a distance.
    These down-trodden and penniless whippersnappers with barely the clothes upon their
bent and laced backs are made to lug the archer's heavy leather quivers all over hill and
stream and into the treacherous artillery fields-- constantly on the lookout for errant missiles,
puffs of wind, and, perhaps most of all, for the only chance they may ever have
in their seemingly meager and meaningless lives of being somebody. With a rawhide
bag full of steel-tipped arrows, all fletched with goose or peacock feathers, a bow, crafted from
the ash or yew tree, hung with an unbreakable drawstring made of twisted hemp, and with
a target flag a few hundred yards away, the professional and the amateur archers make sport of
this game called war. A deadly serious game, though. This mandatory archery practice,
"Go to the links or go to the locks!" is a combination of work and of fun-- with sharp elements of
competition for keen-edged challenges. Here, on the links, is the solitary setting whereby the lowly
sodbuster can ever dream of lifting himself from obscurity and poverty to fame and fortune.
A champion archer out-trumps a king's-knight anytime, anywhere. Sunday mornings bring
the guys together beneath the shade of the arrow-maker's tent. Inside are the popping sounds
of the bubbling horse-glue pot, the musty and acrid steaming stench of the fouled feather-waters,
and the rhythmic wheezing of the bellows as the heavy metal kiln comes alive with color.
Outside, beneath the barren sky, poor kids of every description are passing time in muffled
boredom until their lottery number is pulled and they are once again ordered to present arms.
    This war game is conducted in Freeman's territory-- that singular chunk of land in the whole
of England on which the commoner, at least momentarily, can call their own. Kids fly kites,
dogs piddle, lovers court, women scrub, and arrows are called to gravity's rainbow.
All of this is played-out on the links, this common ground where the water
and the land and the sky are all linked together--where all landholders are
commoners and all of commoners would be kings. Heaven on earth.
Thus the game of golf was born upon the freeman's links.
  Part II
Knocking on Heaven's Door
Fifty Years Ago
Pool Hall

        Heaven is just down the alley-- around the corner-- and up that dark-lit flight of stairs.
    There are no clocks upon the walls, there are no walls to see. No ceilings, no floors,
no windows or opened doors. No scented girls. A whiff of green.
A hooded-light dangling from the midst of a surrealistically empty sky.
    Sailing into sight, riding waist-high on a bluish waves of smoke I see that my
ship has now come in. Halleluiah! Praise the lord and pass the hat.
    Upon its deck all carpeted in green, sets a loose-knit diamond tray.
Seven precious stones to be strung, the deadly black pearl to overcome.
To steal that golden snow-white crown away. Aye, matey? Some swashbuckling booty perhaps?
Grab your sword and hone its tip, sell your soul to lady luck and then hang on for dear
life as the deck falls far below you and you fight your way onward, upward toward
heaven's almighty promises and happiness's everafter. At night's end you are either
washed overboard into the depths of despair, or raised upon the throne of the heavenly
kingdom where you reign from land to sea as crowned Prince of the snow-white ball.
Fists full of dead Presidents, cigars and free drinks for all.
    "Nice shot, my friend, you win the break."
    Baby needs a new pair...


Adventure Travel