Golf by the light of the Aurora Borealis while caught up in an ancient Scottish myth, find out how the Civil War might have ended on a golf course, fly with an RAF pilot as he buzzes a golf course that no one else can see, come across a magical golf club that can change one’s entire life, have your bag carried by a clairvoyant caddie, play a round for the hand of a beautiful girl, find out what heaven’s really like, and get caught on a haunted links after dark. These are just a few of the adventures that await the reader in this collection of 14 tales for golfers of all ages about golf, life, death…and everything in-between.
Years ago I was rummaging around a bookstore when I came across a volume about Scotland. Inside I found a photograph of the Aurora Borealis blazing above the moorlands. Below the photo was a short blurb describing a bit of ancient Scottish folklore attributing the Northern Lights to a mythical tribe of creatures called the Nimble Men. What follows is the tale that myth inspired, one that weaves the colorful spirit of the game with the equally colorful legend.
Being a son of the Midwest, I am a big fan of the American farmer and his farm. For me there is nothing quite like strolling through a field of corn—a vast cloud-speckled sky overhead and fresh turned earth between my toes. I found the concept of a golf course weaving its way through cropland irresistible, regardless of how ridiculous the idea. The Girl with the Swing is a tale chock full of old-fashioned ideas and old-fashioned values—even the thought of competing for someone’s hand is a throwback to days gone by. Days, I for one, wish were still around.
Good versus evil. There is nothing I find quite as compelling as a tale pitting good against evil. For isn’t that the common thread of all history? The Flying Scotsman is the story of one man’s journey into the heart of darkness, lured there by the trappings of an unrighteous world. There he must make a choice. To fight or surrender. Win or lose. Do or die. Fear, apathy, courage, faith. All can be found here, with golf providing the path leading to freedom…or destruction. And the nattily-dressed antagonist? Well, surely the Bible warns us that the devil often comes clothed as an angel of light.
I have always had a certain amount of admiration (or is it envy?) for caddies, those constant companions of golfers at the highest of levels. Maybe it’s their access to golf’s most hallowed grounds, or their effortless displays of etiquette, or those spotless overalls they wear branded by the pro whose bag they carry. But I think what impresses me the most is their apparent omniscient knowledge of whatever course they’re on. This story takes that “local knowledge” to the next whimsical level as the reader meets a young lass by the name of Rachel — a clairvoyant caddie.
This story is inspired by a haunting Scottish folk song titled Glencoe. The song tells the sad tale of brother clans caught up in treachery, betrayal and murder. Not the most shining moment in the history of Scotland. Although I’ve turned it into a ghost story, I must confess that I do not believe in ghosts. I do, however, acknowledge the existence of something just as grim — revenge.
On the Fringe is a story about another dimension, one visible only to those bold enough to believe in its existence. Such a place is not as far-fetched as one might think since we, too, are surrounded by an unseen world and an unseen war. Ever the history buff, I use the tale to pay homage to Winston Churchill’s “few” and to those blessed souls who choose to walk by faith and not by sight.
The game of golf has many storied heroes. Jones, Hogan, Palmer and Nicklaus easily come to mind. Other greats can be found further back in the dim halls of golf’s pantheon, like Harry Vardon and Francis Ouimet. But there is one man whose shadow, in my humble opinion, eclipses them all — a larger than life Scotsman by the name of Old Tom Morris.
I am often awestruck by the power of Creation, particularly the kind of power revealed in storms. Tornados both terrify and fascinate me, haunting my dreams. On the other hand, thunderstorms have always been a source of delight and wonder. As a kid lightning once struck less than a dozen yards from where I stood, and I’ll never forget the way the air around me crackled and hummed for almost a full minute. The story that follows is about what might happen if that kind of incredible power was somehow channeled through a human body. It’s also the tale of an underdog who suddenly finds himself on top of the world when he comes face to face with a hurricane by the name of Big Bertha.
Those that know me well also know I’m a bit of a Civil War buff. Perhaps it’s because my father took me to all the famous battlefields on our yearly sojourns down to Florida when I was a lad. Gettysburg, Bull Run, Antietam, Shiloh, Chickamauga, Chancellorsville…wherever blue and gray armies once grappled, I would stand and ponder the conflict that spilt so much blood on the soil beneath my feet. So many heroes, so much bravery, so much tragedy. The story that follows, though admittedly far-fetched postulates a way in which that epic struggle might have come to an end earlier than it did, using a different kind of warfare — not one of guns and lead, but balls and clubs…A Gentlemen’s Game.
What will heaven be like? Will the streets really be paved in gold? Will there be no sun or moon — the only illumination provided by the radiance of God himself? We do know that it will be a place free from sin and sorrow and death, where the saints will revel in God’s holy presence and worship Him forever and ever. But what else will we do there? Afterall…forever is a very long time. So here’s a whimsical take on what the afterlife might be like for anyone who’s ever wondered if They Play Golf in Heaven.
Thanks to the foresight of astronaut Allan Sheppard, golf has already been introduced in space. I’ve just taken it the next logical step with this tongue-in-cheek look at what the game might be like in the far distant future. Fellow fans of Science Fiction are sure to note my humble tribute to the genre’s many heroes.
I have always been somewhat fascinated by mysteries. Are there really UFOs? What happened to Amelia Earhart? What were the final moments like at Custer’s Last Stand? As a teen I couldn’t get enough of the Bermuda Triangle or Area 51. What’s all this got to do with golf, you ask? Well, you won’t know the answer to that until you read this tale about love, destiny, and most of all…hope.
Regardless of the title of this story, I do not believe in magic. I do, however, believe in miracles, and there is no greater miracle than a changed life. Much of my writing is metaphor, and the magical club in this tale is a metaphor for the only thing can truly change hearts: the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
One of the most galvanizing events of the 20th century, at least for Americans of my generation, was the assassination of JFK. I can still remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when I heard the news. The tragedy has spawned much controversy and speculation and will probably always remain something of a dark mystery. It also spawned this story.