Minnesota’s Treasured State Parks

Minnesota has a total of 67 State Parks and Recreation Areas, ranging alphabetically from Afton to Zippel Bay. Way back when we were young whippersnappers, Pat and I decided it would be fun to try to camp at (or at least visit) every one of them over the coming decades. Now that we’re both sexagenarians, accomplishing that goal seems very unlikely. But we did add two more new ones to the list and revisited another during the month of September in the course a trip that took us to Winkler, Manitoba, Canada, and back. That brought our totals up to 24 total State Parks visited, including 13 where we have camped.

The first State Park on the trip was Lake Vermilion-Soudan Underground Mine State Park, which we have visited in the past. The highlight of our visit was a tour of the retired underground iron mine, first established in 1884. We started by travelling a half mile underground in a cage lowered by a cable that unwrapped from a large drum driven by a 1920s-vintage motor. We then rode on an old ore train along one of the many branches to see where and how the ore was mined. Learning about the hard lives led by the old miners was fascinating, and the displays were interesting and informative. When our guide turned out the lights, it was so dark I literally could not see my hand in front of my face.


In its time, the mine was a critical source of iron for steel making, helping to build the railroads and supply the military through two world wars. It was shut down when its technology became outdated. There’s plenty of iron ore left, but it would be too costly to mine it any more. (Here’s a hint for the old coal miners waiting for their jobs to come back — the same thing is happening to your industry. Wake up and smell the coffee — or the coal dust.)

Our next park stop was Lake Bemidji. This was a new one for us, and we were very pleased with our campsite. Unfortunately, it rained all night and we awoke to the prospect of another rainy night. So we wimped out and traded the tent for a nice little Camper Cabin, in which we stayed cozy and dry the second night.

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The park had miles and miles of well-maintained hiking and biking trails through the woods and along the shore of Lake Bemidji. We especially enjoyed the bog trail.


On our return from Winkler, we were slotted to camp again at Zippel Bay, another new one for us, located alongside an inlet of Rainy Lake with a lovely sand beach. Unfortunately, it was still raining and getting colder by the hour, so we blew it off in favor of a motel in Baudette. We did at least stop and look at the park — it was very beautiful and had three large campgrounds with spacious sites nestled in the woods.


When we got back home, we had to admit that our tent camping days are most likely over. Which brings me to the reason for traveling to Winkler in the first place. Next spring, we will be the proud owners of a 24-foot RV from Leisure Travel Vans, located in (you guessed it) Winkler, MB. We went up there to tour the factory and confirmed that our selected model is a very high quality unit suitable for traveling about and camping at many more of our beautiful State Parks during the months they remain open. With the new vehicle, we can laugh at the rain and cold and just enjoy the parks. Hopefully there will be many more yet to visit, even if we don’t make it to each and every one.

We also plan to spend time in the winter months traveling to many of the fabulous National Parks. I’ll probably do a blog post about that in late 2018.

Adventure awaits.


A Tale of Three Wells

Living here above the shores of Lake Superior is truly wonderful. I get to look at the lake every day and live like the natural hermit I am (most of the time anyway), yet the wonderful town of Grand Marais is only a few minutes away by car (or 20 minutes by bike, or an hour walking if it comes to that), providing a convenient place to shop for necessities and get an occasional jolt from contact with other humans. Not to mention being close to a couple of nice golf courses, without which the place would be simply uninhabitable.

However, there is one interesting challenge associated with living outside of an actual city. Out here, one can’t just connect up to a city water system — one has to have a well to obtain water. Hermit though I may be, I can not live without running water.

Way back when we were planning to build our cabin, my father had a plan. We would build a long cable down to the shore, supported by pulleys, to which we could attach buckets. We would go down to the lake every day and fill said buckets with water, then crank them up to the cabin and store said water in a cistern. We would have an outhouse for our daily “excretionary” needs. I promptly vetoed that plan. He was a real hermit. I am only a fake hermit.

But, I digress.

At any rate, we had the local well driller out to drill a well for us. He used a divining rod to locate a likely spot, then set about drilling. Lo and behold, after only a few hours, he struck into a great source of water only 45 feet below the surface, in a sort of gravelly soil. That well has served us faithfully and faultlessly for thirty years now, with good, clean water.

Not long after our well was drilled, our neighbor, who shall remain nameless to protect the innocent, engaged the same driller for a well on her property. This time not bothering with a divining rod, he selected a site only about 25 yards away from our well and began drilling. Down and down went the drill, for several days, through gravel and rock and mud and more rock, until finally finding a dribble of water at about 320 feet. Over the next several years, the neighbor tried and tried to get more water to flow, finally resorting to hydraulic fracking. She did get more water, but it was often muddy, so she had to install a complex filtering system.

The neighbor sold her place a couple of years ago to some wonderful folks who shall also remain nameless, except to mention that they are my wife’s sister and her husband. Being on friendly terms, we were happy to accommodate them when they showed up with plastic jugs in hand, asking to collect a supply of our water for drinking and cooking. That has continued to happen whenever they come to stay at their cabin.

They finally grew tired of borrowing water and decided to have a new well put in. Out came the local driller again, now accompanied by his grown sons who are continuing the business into a second generation. Out came the diving rod again, presumably to make up for the previous error of their ways, and a third well locationwas selected, this time only about 15 yards from our successful site.


Hoping to find a good water source near the 45 foot level, they were disappointed when only a dribble of silty stuff appeared. So, they needed to go deeper. And deeper. And deeper. A couple of insufficient or silt-filled water spurts were encountered along the way, until finally they hit a gusher at 440 feet. As of yet, this new well has not been connected up to the cabin, but it certainly appears to be steady and clean. The neighboring property should soon, at long last, have a suitable water supply.

I find this all quite fascinating. In an area that could easily be covered by a large tent, three wells were drilled by the same company. One has great water at 45 feet, one has crummy water at 320 feet, and the most recent required 440 feet to get good water. This surely speaks to the complexity of the geology in our region, as well as the futility of the divining rod.

ADDENDUM: In an interesting twist, it turned out that drilling the new well caused the crummy old well to start flowing very clean water at a very high rate. So, the neighbors didn’t even need to hook up to the new well — it’s mere existence solved their water problem. Apparently the new well passed through or created an underground channel communicating with the old one. So the new well was capped and now stands as a silent reminder that drilling for water along the North Shore of Lake Superior is a mysterious art.

Grand Marais Author News Redux

A while ago, I posted a self-congratulatory piece about my books, explaining that they are now available for sale at a local bookstore here in Grand Marais. In that piece, I described a writer’s salon I had attended featuring Lorna Landvik. Ms. Landvik is not only an outstanding Minnesota author, but also a very entertaining speaker. In her remarks, she mentioned one of the things her mother had ingrained in her: “You don’t toot your own horn!” Getting past that well-meaning but not terribly helpful advice was one of Lorna’s struggles on the way to becoming a best selling author. Eventually, she decided that an appropriate response to that advice was something like this: “Well, what do you think a horn is for, ma?” Perhaps another one might be: “If I don’t toot it, who will?”

So, here I am, about to toot my own horn — yet AGAIN. It doesn’t feel right, but I’m doing it anyway.

Last night, I attended the monthly meeting of a local group known as the Grand Marais Writers Guild. This very supportive group holds meetings in a relaxed and informal setting at the Grand Marais Public Library. While there, I learned that my books have now been added to the Library catalog. How cool is that?


The photo above only shows one of the books since I didn’t see the other two, but here’s a screen snap from the on-line catalog showing that they truly are carrying all three books.

Library Catalog

So now, if you really want to read these books but can’t stomach the $2.99 each price for the Kindle editions or the $13.50 to $15.00 price for a print edition, you can travel to Grand Marais and read them FOR FREE!

(RELATED SPECIAL ALERT: All three books will be on sale as a Kindle Countdown Deal, starting at $0.99 each, from September 2 to 9 in the Kindle Store. They’re also free all the time for Kindle Unlimited members.)

When I got home from the meeting, I was thankful that I hadn’t worn my golf cap — my head was so swollen I may not have been able to get it off. What an emerging success story! All-time sales of my books have now exceeded two hundred (no, not two hundred thousand — let’s try to stay in the real world), they’re selling in a real bookstore, and now they’re IN THE LIBRARY!

Toot, toot!

Hoito House RULES!!

I just returned from our annual August visit to Thunder Bay, a venerable, sprawling city located in Ontario, Canada, along the north shore of Lake Superior. I say annual because various family members and I have been making a trip there sometime in August nearly every year for the past several decades. (Disclaimer: This was actually our fourth or fifth trip to Thunder Bay this year – since we now live so close, it’s no longer that big a deal to go.) There are many things we enjoy doing in Thunder Bay and surrounds: go to the great shops in the Bay and Algoma district (Finnport, Scandinavian Delicatessen, Finnish Bookstore, Cheese Encounter), explore the Marina Park, sweat away stress at the Kangas Sauna, ooh and aah at the Kakabeka Falls, immerse ourselves in history at Old Fort William, visit the amethyst mines, even an occasional round of golf. We usually do at least one of those things each time we visit.

But one thing reigns supreme and simply MUST happen every single time – we eat lunch at the Hoito Restaurant.


A sign at the corner of Bay Street and Algoma Street proclaims that the designated Bay and Algoma Historical District is the home of the “World Famous” Hoito Restaurant. The restaurant was founded in 1918 at the site of the Finnish Labour Temple, itself established in 1910. According to the Hoito web site, “The idea for the restaurant came about in a logging camp outside of Nipigon. Finnish bush workers at Kallio’s camp were concerned that, while they could find cheap lodging in Thunder Bay, they couldn’t find reasonably priced home-cooked meals. The request to open a co-operative restaurant was taken to the Board of Directors of the Finnish Labour Temple and was approved. Fifty-nine people pooled their money into $5.00 ‘Comrade loans’ and hired union organizer A.T. Hill as the restaurant’s first manager.” (My, my – those old Finns almost sound like Communists, eh?)

My parents always referred to the place as the Hoito House, though that’s not the official name. The restaurant is almost entirely lacking in ambience, but the food is authentic Finnish fare that always transports me back to my youth, sitting at my grandmother’s kitchen table. Here are the delectable eats we savored today.


Karjalan Piirakka (Karelian pie) – rice enclosed in a sort of pocket crust made from rye flour.


Suolakala voileipä (saltfish sandwich) –  salted cured salmon sandwich, served open faced on rye bread.


Hernekeitto (pea soup) – pea soup with ham.


Ice cream with salmiakki – a salted licorice concoction that most non- Finns or non-Scandinavians probably consider just plain weird.

Former Italian Prime minister Silvio Berlusconi once proclaimed Finnish food to be the most boring and the blandest in the entire world. He may be right, but to me it tastes like manna from heaven. And I don’t even need any Tums after eating.

Today, I salute the Hoito House – maybe the best place on earth for a good, cheap meal.

Grand Marais Author News

On June 26, I attended a Writer’s Salon at Drury Lane Books in Grand Marais. The speaker was Lorna Landvik, the well-known Minnesota author of best sellers such as Patty Jane’s House of Curl, Angry Housewives Eating Bonbons, and her latest, Once in a Blue Moon Lodge. Ms. Landvik was extremely engaging and entertaining — I highly recommend that any book reader or writer attend one of her presentations if opportunity arises.

Meanwhile, two and a half blocks to the east, at Birchbark Books and Gifts, a somewhat less famous Minnesota author is now featured on the bookshelves.


Yep, that’s right — Birchbark is now selling books by yours truly! At the time of the photo, they were only carrying Snowman and Slice. They initially purchased 3 copies of each as a trial. When they actually sold some of the initial allotment (perhaps to their amazement), they purchased three additional copies of Snowman, five additional copies of Slice, and four copies of Lateral Hazard. Each of them is personally signed and adorned with stickers that read “Local Author” and “Author-Signed Copy.” I realize these sales numbers are pitifully small, and Lorna Landvik probably sold more than that in one hour at Drury Lane, but still … she doesn’t actually live in Grand Marais.

So perhaps I now qualify as a best-selling Grand Marais author of books physically sold in Grand Marais? What fun!

Our Eagle Friends

About five years ago, when we were still only visiting our Lake Superior place occasionally during the summer, we began to see a family of eagles in the vicinity on a fairly regular basis. We would often see one or two of them perched in a tree overlooking Lake Superior, presumably watching for a juicy morsel of some sort to come along. Here’s a picture of one of them flying away from its perch after I blundered into the area.


It seemed clear that they had a nest somewhere nearby, but we couldn’t find it. Last year, after we moved here permanently, we continued to see the eagles throughout the fall, though we still had no luck finding their nest. Here are two of them perching on a tree in our front yard last September.


We stopped seeing the eagles once winter actually arrived, but we then made an exciting discovery while out snowshoeing – the great nest was located! No birds were in residence; presumably they had migrated south for the winter.


Our first eagle sighting of 2017 occurred on February 27. I was eating breakfast when I looked up to see a deer staring me in the face, and then I noticed an eagle in a tree in the background. The great birds were back!


Since we now know where the nest was located, we would periodically trek into the woods to see how they were doing. Here’s a picture taken on March 24. One bird sat vigilantly in the nest while the other was presumably off hunting for food. I’m guessing that one or more eaglets had been hatched at the time of this photo, but I couldn’t tell for sure.


Here are my most recent photos, taken on May 31. With the increased vegetation, it was really hard to even see the nest, but again, one bird was standing guard. Based on the noise level coming from the nest, I’m quite sure there was at least one eaglet in there, though I wasn’t able to see it.

We’ve seen the birds flying and perching along the shore several times this spring, and we often see one flying past our house and into the back woods, heading home for the evening after a day of hunting. Pat even saw one scoop something out of the water and fly along the shore as we were driving back from town one day. Hopefully I’ll get some more eagle pictures during the summer and fall, and maybe we’ll see the juveniles when they get big enough to leave the nest.

I am so thankful for the wise people who decided that these magnificent birds were worth saving. Once nearing extinction, in the 1960’s, they have flourished since the government enacted much-needed protections. On August 9, 2007, the bald eagle was removed from the federal list of threatened and endangered species. I can only hope that the current crop of right-wing politicians who believe that nothing matters except jobs – even those that have become irrelevant in today’s economy – will be deposed before they cause irreparable harm to our environment and the many remaining endangered species. We are all diminished when we allow nature’s beautiful creatures to perish due to the constant pursuit of the almighty dollar and the cynical quest for votes.

Invasion of the Turkey Vultures

Spring is here, although it’s been a bit of a stuttering start so far. We had sleet and snow Wednesday and Thursday, but today is a beautiful, sunny day and the the new accumulations are nearly gone. What was really interesting this week was a sudden influx of birds, which unfortunately coincided with the brief winter-like storm. There were white-throated sparrows everywhere, scrabbling around on the ice trying to find food. I put out some bird seed and they devoured it like a starving mob. Along with the several dozen sparrows, I also saw what I think was a rose finch sneaking in to grab some seeds. There was also a fat robin walking very close to the cabin — apparently too cold to fly, just sort of stumbling around, who didn’t even have enough energy to go after the seeds. If a robin can shiver, that’s what he was doing. I could just imagine him saying, “What the #$%^^&, they told me it was springtime up here!”

Toward evening on Thursday, we started to notice some eagle-sized birds soaring around the place. I got out the binoculars and looked at one perched in a tree nearby, and it looked just like this, complete with the bald, red, wrinkled-up beak-face:

turkey vulture


I looked in our bird book and concluded that it was a turkey vulture. (My phone isn’t good enough to get a close-up so I copied that picture off the internet.) He flew off to the west and settled in another tree, and I then noticed that there were several of them gathered in the general vicinity.


You can see six of them in the picture above, but there were probably twice that many. They weren’t making any sounds at all, just sitting in the trees looking things over. They kept that up for ten or twenty minutes, and then they all flew off together toward the west and I didn’t see a single one again that day. I’ve seen a couple since, but not the big group. They fly very quietly and are graceful in an odd sort of way, kind of bobbing along on the air currents while barely moving their wings at all. The bird book says they are the champions of the bird world in terms of soaring ability. It also says that the bald beak-face is an adaptation for scavenging, since they are scavengers only and do not eat anything live.

So, it wasn’t actually an invasion, and I’m relieved to know that they won’t be attacking us up here as long as we remain alive and kicking. (I just called it an invasion to make the article seem more interesting. Sorry for the fake news — I must have been infected by our Tweeter-in-Chief.)

Anyway, I just though this sudden profusion of birds was interesting, especially the turkey vultures, which I don’t recall seeing before. Maybe they only hang around here in the early spring on their way to someplace else. In the past, we wouldn’t be up here this early, so this was just one more delight from our first full winter season on Lake Superior.

A Thousand Bingos! (Talk About a Dubious Accomplishment)

Way back in about 2011 or so, my son Brian invited me to play a new game called Words with Friends. I was immediately hooked on it, even though he lost interest after a few games. Since then, WWF has been a constant part of my daily routine – I constantly have something like 16 to 20 games ongoing. Here’s a tip of the hat to my family and friends who have done and continue to enable this addiction – the stalwarts, Matt, Mary, Ellie, Barb, Nick, Jerod, LeAnne, and John (also known as the evil Duckter J), as well as some random players I’ve connected with occasionally.

One really cool feature of the game is that it keeps track of your game stats. Thanks to that feature, I became aware that I was closing in on what I consider to be a fairly impressive accomplishment. As in Scrabble, the game that WWF was based on, there are bonus points awarded if a player uses all seven letters in a single turn. In players’ lingo, this is known as a Bingo. A while back, I noticed that my Bingo total had reached 900. Silly as it may seem, that really made my spine tingle as I began to dream of reaching 1000. After all, doing almost anything one thousand times seems like a really big deal, does it not? Well, maybe not, but if there is a sign or a web page that actually TELLS you you’ve done something a thousand times, that’s big, no?

OK, so most of you won’t get it. After all, what it really says is that I’ve wasted an incredible amount of time doing something really useless. But I don’t care. I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time and NOW I’VE DONE IT!!! A THOUSAND BINGOS!!!

WWF Screenshot

All you other WWFers out there, the gauntlet has been thrown down. Beat that, if you can! (I’m sure there are millions who already have, but I don’t really want to hear from you. I’m in dream land.)

I’ll post again when I get to two thousand. Three thousand may even get me into the Hall of Fame, if there is such a thing. If not, maybe I’ll invent it.

A Bridge to the Twentieth Century

For the last several weeks, I’ve been walking around in the front yard wondering what to do with the huge piles of logs and branches left behind by the men who cut down our unfortunate threat trees. Eventually, I hope to reuse as much of the debris as possible, either for firewood or some other useful things. As a start, I used some of the pieces as borders for footpaths while also collecting a lot of the brush into piles. Then I got the bright idea to use two of the leftover stumps as supports for a bench. I nailed three long pieces to the tops of the stumps to form the bench seat. As I continued to lay down borders in the newly open area created by the felling of the trees, the new path I was creating led itself directly to the west side of Paul’s Creek. Naturally, this led me to decide that I needed to build another bridge across the creek.



Those who didn’t know my father, Paul, might think that these creative tree recycling ideas were coming out of my own brain. In fact, all I was doing was channeling my dad. He did a whole bunch of things just like these, using fallen trees and branches to build stuff rather than buying lumber. (He also bought a ton of lumber to build stuff, and also often saved used lumber when he had to tear down some of his projects. Guess who has a bunch of used lumber stored in the garage for future projects?) In other words, I am becoming my father, just as the old adage goes. Every day I seem to be more like him.

But anyway, back to the story. Why did I need to build a bridge across the creek? To get to the other side, of course! As you’ll see in the photos, some of the logs were quite large and required a great deal of effort to move. In true Paul fashion I had to do it all completely by myself. The only tools I used were a pry bar, relying on the ancient inventions of the wheel and the lever to get the logs in position, a hand saw to cut the bridge deck pieces, and a hammer and nails to hold everything together. (I also downed a fair number of Ibuprofen tablets to deal with the resulting aches and pains and put on a few Band-Aids to cover various cuts.)


Once I built the bridge, I thought maybe I should give it a name. I just finished watching the Masters (congrats to champion Sergio Garcia!) and naturally enjoyed seeing the players walk across the famous Hogan and Sarazen bridges. I myself walked across the famous Swilcan Bridge at the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, as documented elsewhere on this site. My new bridge won’t be so famous, of course. I thought of a few ideas, including Bridge to Nowhere, Bridge to the Other Side, Paul’s Bridge, Dave’s Bridge, Saari Bridge, but none of those seemed to capture the spirit of the thing. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks – this bridge is a connection to my dad, who was born in 1913 and died in 1997. It’s a bridge to the past, a Bridge to the Twentieth Century.

I have three fine sons, Matt (not to be confused with Matt Davidson), Nick, and Brian. If any of them are reading this, I’m sure their eyes are rolling. I used to roll my eyes when my dad was building benches and bridges out of recycled trees, too. But I have some advice for the lads – you might as well embrace this silliness, because it just may be your future.

Now, on to the rest of those fallen trees and branches. Maybe another fifty paths, twenty benches, a dozen bridges …


Horror of Horrors — the Rules of Golf are Changing!

The two worldwide governing bodies of the game of golf are the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews (R&A) and the United States Golf Association (USGA). The two bodies have agreed on a proposed set of 100 changes intended to simplify the rules, and make them easier to apply, and update them to “meet the changing needs of the global game.” These changes, after a lengthy review period, are scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2019. I’m actually just joking with regard to the title – many of the rules as they currently stand are archaic, unwieldy, and confusing. Let’s face it, if the governing bodies can come up with 100 changes to the rules, the rules are too complicated.

U.S. Open - Round Three

Moving loose impediments in a sand trap will be allowed

Hero World Challenge - Final Round

The procedure for dropping a ball is changing

I expect the true motivation for these changes is the fact that golf’s popularity among the masses has fallen off a cliff. Contrary to predictions of an explosion in the number of new players and the subsequent worldwide expansion of golf courses, it turns out the millennial generation just isn’t interested. Apparently, the youngsters would rather play golf video games than actually play golf. On the heels of the recent golf course construction boom, courses are now closing at an unprecedented rate.

Many theories have been put forth to explain this decline of the venerable old game. Some people decry the supposed exclusivity of the game and celebrate its demise as an overdue victory for egalitarianism. The historical and shameful exclusion of minorities by golf clubs supports this argument. I would argue that this aspect of the game is primarily an artifact of the private clubs preferred by the very wealthy, such as Tweeter in Chief’s Mar-a-Lago, and that the decline has more significantly impacted the public courses preferred by ordinary Joes like myself. Others point to the vast and wasteful amounts of land and water devoted to golf courses, along with hidden public funding in the form of tax policies. Yet the same critics frequently celebrate other methods for preservation of green space that are often no better in terms of resource allocation. Many argue that the monetary cost for playing the game has become too high, even as they spend far more money attending football games and concerts, dining out far more frequently than they used to, and buying expensive smartphones and other gadgets. There’s also a sizable contingent that believes the game is just too complicated – hence the proposed rules changes.

To me, the obvious reason for the decline in popularity is that the game is too slow, not that it’s too expensive or too complicated. Put another way, people now value their time far more than they used to. To play eighteen holes on a weekend can take an excruciating five hours on a typical course, or even six hours at the more difficult venues. That doesn’t even include the time for transportation to and from the course. Think of all the things a modern man or woman could do with those precious hours – countless tweets, posts, on-line games, a couple of movies, bringing the kids to several soccer matches or school activities, etc. etc. etc. Twenty years ago, we wouldn’t even have imagined there could be so many more important things to do with those hours. I think it may not have been so slow in the old days also, but I can’t be sure of that due to my failing memory. Older and retired folks like me have more time to spend on a game like golf, so older and retired folks like me are the ones still playing the game, while the younger crowd is abandoning it in droves.

I don’t play often during weekend prime time myself because I can’t abide the slow pace of play. I try to go on weekdays or off-times, and I can usually manage to play eighteen holes in three hours or less. If I get lucky and no one else is on the course, I can do eighteen in an hour and a half with a cart or two to two and a half walking. So why does it take everybody else so long? The typical player takes five or six practice strokes before every shot. He or she then stands at address, sometimes motionless, sometimes twitching and waggling, for a virtual eternity, before endeavoring to actually hit the ball. Meanwhile, the player’s companions stand together in a knot, offering sage advice or off-color jokes but making no effort to move toward their own balls. Finally, our erstwhile champion strikes the ball. The group then watches en masse until they think they know where the ball ended up, then moves off in a herd to the next player’s ball, where the scene is repeated. The wily Scottish sheep farmers who invented the game didn’t play that way. They simply hit the ball, went to find it, and then hit it again.

Mercifully, many of the new rules actually may actually result in a faster pace of play. For example, the time allotted to searching for a lost ball is shortened from five minutes to three. “Ready golf” is encouraged “when it can be done in a safe and responsible way” rather than strict adherence to an order dictated by distance from the pin. The penalty for striking the flagstick when putting is eliminated, so there will no longer be a need for the rigmarole associated with attending the pin. Do I think the changes will result in rounds being played in less than four hours? I doubt it. After all, hardly anyone actually follows the rules now, so why would I expect they’ll change their behavior after the new rules take effect?

At any rate, I’m fine with the rules changes. I think the net result will be a slight lowering of scores since several penalties have been eliminated, and possibly a quicker pace of play. However, there is one change that makes me very sad, indeed. As some of you know, I am the author of several golf-themed mystery novels with catchy names based on time-honored jargon of the game. My most recent effort is titled Lateral Hazard, just released in February 2017. Under the new rules, terms for some of the areas on the golf course are being changed. In keeping with those changes, I would need to retitle my book Penalty Area Allowing Lateral Relief. Somehow that doesn’t work for me. Wouldn’t you know it – I write a new book and the rules of golf, which haven’t changed in decades, have already made it non-compliant. Unless, of course, everyone buys it before January 1, 2019!