25-48 The Second Twenty-Four
49-72 The Third Twenty-Four
73-96 The Fourth Twenty-Four
97-120 The Fifth Twenty-Four
121-on The Sixth Set
49 Pure Michigan
50 Ah, Youth
51 Unlikely Friend
54 Before/After Squared
55 Hawaiiana 1
56 Hawaiiana 2
57 Hawaiiana 3
58 A New Outlook
59 Hawaiiana 4
60 Crash Dummy
61 Dogs, Boards, Kids...
62 Photographic Treasures
63 Hawaiiana 5
64 My Comb is Crooked
65 Call Me A Doctor
66 Hawaiiana 6
67 Home for Christmas
68 Led By Words
69 Pono Bowls
70 Poppy Tour
71 An Invitation
72 Wunderkammer I
I know what Iím talking about. This is not speculation, theory, hypothesis, or conjecture. This is empirical, first hand, authentic, scientific observation. I am a collector of golf balls, with more than 3000 unique specimens, and an expert (admittedly self-proclaimed) in golfballogy, the psychology of golf balls.
Golf balls wander. They are attracted by golf ball swimming holes, golf ball beaches, and especially by golf ball jungles. You see, golf balls far prefer safaris in golf ball jungles than being mis- (or is it mal-) treated by people professing to be golfers.
Conversely, golf balls WANT to be found by gentle, sensitive, loving, caring golf ball collectors, who will clean them, coddle them, protect them, and provide them with comfortable lodging and a life free from mistreatment. How do I know this? They beckon to me. They lead me. They wonít let me fail to see them. If I donít make visual contact, they get under my feet to make their presence known. I donít choose my path through the rough. They do, by letting me find them.
Golf balls congregate. When I find a golf ball, another ball is within 6í. They gather in pods of two or more, similar to humpback whales. Sometimes I fail to find the partner, but thatís MY fault. How do I know they congregate? Iíve seen them moving! Some days, I donít even bother to bend down unless they have done their part and I can see more than one within reach.
Occasionally I find a pod of ancient ones, tanned and wrinkled. Usually the tan is full-body, a feat that could NOT be achieved without movement. When the tan is one-sided, it is apparent that the ball has either been stuck or given up hope.
Golf balls of a feather flock together. As they congregate, golf balls discriminate. Finding a ball with a Japanese logo virtually assures that its 6í partner will also be Japanese. Finding a ball with no logo always starts a run of no logo friends.
Why donít golfers find their own misdirected drives? Golfers look where they think the ball went. Why do I succeed in finding them? Besides the fact that the balls want me to find them, I look where I know balls go. In my favorite golf ball jungle there is a row of trees and bushes that is to an errant drive what baleen is to krill. I could go there this minute and find balls. Golfers are SURE they hit it farther than that.
Now, I have a confession to make. In addition to being a collector, I used to play golf (note that I did NOT say Iím a golfer!) and so, when playing I was subject to all the known foibles of golfers. When collecting, however, I am careful to wear conservative clothing (loud colors, knickers, spikes, and Nike caps are OUT), refrain from drinking beer, and disdain the use of expletives. "Here little golf ball, come to a COLLECTOR!"
The first year I lived in Hawaii I got in the habit of walking right after work. Our offices were in a building located on the 18th tee of Silversword golf course (now Elleair). I would walk on the wide grassy area bordering Lipoa Street and occasionally find a golf ball. Being an active golfer at the time, I always picked up whatever offering I would find.
The balls were the result of errant shots from the 18th tee and/or fairway which was a dogleg that kind of followed the street with more or less rough separating the fairway from the street depending on where you were in the dogleg. After just a few days I started venturing into the rough to see if I could find more balls and I got hooked. Within a year I had found more than 3000 balls on that one hole!
One evening I guess I was frustrated or upset by my work and I just kept ranging and finding balls. The last golfers left the course so I crossed to the other side of the 18th fairway and just kept going. It started to drizzle just a little and I kept going. It started getting dark and I just kept going. The plastic bag I was filling got heavier and heavier and finally I could no longer see, so I went home. I checked the take and counted 99 golf balls!
That evening I covered areas well away from the typical destinations of errant hits. I found two deformed balls the likes of which I hadnít seen before and havenít seen again since. Iíve been told that this can happen if you bake a ball to a high temperature and then hit it, but I donít know. What do you think?
I met and became friends with an artist who modified golf balls and then returned them to the rough for others to enjoy. Here are samples of his work.
He somehow always knew just where I was in the rough and he would run up and give me a slobbery kiss when his person was walking him.
Golf ball collecting seems like an innocuous hobby, but it is not without peril. Kiawe thorns are a constant threat. I always wore long pants and real shoes (not my typical sandals). Even so, I got scratched up regularly and thorns actually penetrated the soles of my shoes.
Exposed lava was another problem. The danger is clear and because of that, tourist golfers who have spent thousands on their HI vacation simply abandon comparatively cheap balls in the rocks for all to see and be tempted thereby. Iíve been known to give in to the temptation and have been summarily punished therefor!
So, I collect golf balls (head bowed, eyes averted). I have acquired them mostly by my own searches, although I do accept donations and trade with others. I scrub and clean them and sort them into various collecting categories (more detail about the collection another time). Duplicates and balls that fail to fit into any of these categories are graded by condition. Virtual virgins (grade 1) go to people who contribute to my collection, 2s and 3s go to other friends, and 4s are fodder for practice on the driving range. The hobby is cheap, fun, good exercise, supportive of my former golf habit, conversation-provoking, and truly interesting (to me).