Monday, September 1, 2008

This Land is Your Land, But This Land is Not My Land

Over the last couple of years I have developed the habit of going on walks in the vicinity of my home. On many instances, my steps have led me onto the local golf course that abuts my neighborhood, known as Pebble Creek (not to be confused with Pebble Beach in name or quality). Never have these meanderings caused any problems - until recently.
Last week, as I strolled along the cart path, I was intercepted by the Marshall, a gentleman whose main tasks normally include making sure that golfers have paid and that they maintain a steady pace of play once they begin their round. Marshalls are generally fairly old and cantankerous by nature, and this fellow was no exception. I was informed that I could not walk on the golf course, non-members could not walk on the golf course because members payed a lot of money, and people who were not wearing a t-shirt could not walk on the golf course. The manner in which I was told directly resembles the monotony and lack of thought you just witnessed in the previous sentence. If my presence there was considered trespassing perhaps just telling me once would suffice. The man's verbal diarrhea continued, but I put on my headphones and proceeded off the grounds, resolving never again to play either of the Pebble Creek courses.
So am I overreacting? Sure you may say, they have a right to kick anyone off their land they see fit to, America is a country founded on the sanctity of private property and I was in the wrong. Perhaps, but allow me to humor you, the patient reader, with my point of view.
First off, I have to confess that at the time of my apprehension, I had been walking on the property for a decent stretch of minutes. In fact, about nine separate holes had been graced with my presence. During this period I gazed upon the faces of a grand total of zero golfers. You are correct in assuming that is not very many. I must have been bothering quite a lot of folks, like maybe the ghosts of former members, who knows? The Marshall sure wasn't lying when he mentioned during his interminable spiel that Pebble Creek was an exclusive club.
So I wasn't bothering anyone that particular day, what if there had been actual people occupying the fairways and greens, would I not have caused them difficulty. Highly unlikely - as I mentioned earlier this was not my first rodeo, so to speak. On many previous occasions my destiny has crossed that of golfers. I am, believe it or not, a duffer of some quality myself, with a handicap easily below fifty. With my vast experience and expertise I am aware that golf is a game requiring an intense amount of concentration, not to mention mental focus and brain wave function of some sort. As a result, when I come upon a portion of the links inhabited by fellow hackers, I turn my wheels in a different direction. There are myriad spots to exit the course or move to a different portion.
Why not walk an alternate route? Give Pebble Creek a miss and avoid the hassle completely. I could and I have and it seems I will do so again in the future. When I have the time, I steer my car over towards Furman and use the many trails that dot the campus. The university is a decent drive from my house, however, and the recent rise in gas prices has made repeated trips there prohibitively expensive. Instead, I choose to stay in the vicinity of my residence. The majority of my sorties take me along the roads adjacent to my neighborhood. These streets include major thoroughfares such as Stallings and Rutherford. Travelling here adds not a small bit of risk to my journey, with speeding vehicles passing within feet of my fragile human anatomy. Blind curves on several sections do nothing to increase the safety rating of this area. One of my favorite authors during the foolish days of my youth, Stephen King, was nearly killed when he was hit by a van coming around a turn similar to several I encounter while traipsing along my way.
I suppose none of that really matters to some folks. I was on someone else's property, therefore I was not on the side of the angels. Perhaps I am on to something with the heavenly reference, though - would a higher power not be on my side in this matter? God, Allah, Zarathustra, Bob or whatever you want to call him or her gave us this Earth as our home. The idea of fencing off and dividing the land into pieces is a human invention, not a divine one. Are we not insulting our maker when we banish and punish people who are doing no harm? Just a thought, feel free to let it simmer in your skull.

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