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Golf Cross

It's Got the Distance . . . It's a Par! - the game of GolfCross in New Zealand
Golf Digest,  August, 2002  by David Owen

My in-laws recently sent me a souvenir from New Zealand, where they were traveling: two football-shaped golf balls in a fake-velvet bag. At first, I assumed I was supposed to eat the balls. (My in-laws give me golf-themed edible novelties fairly often, because of my love for the game.) As I was about to throw them away, though, I realized I could hit them with a golf club. They flew straight, end over end, like kicked footballs.

The balls, it turns out, are part of a game called GolfCross, which was invented in New Zealand. I fired off an e-mail seeking information. About five seconds later, my phone rang, and I spent the next half-hour listening to Burton Silver, the game's creator and, possibly, the most enthusiastic person in the Southern Hemisphere.

The gist of his remarks (slowed down to aid comprehension): In GolfCross, the target is not a hole but a large net suspended above the ground. Oval balls are more stable in flight than round ones, and they are easier to control. You get to tee up every shot (on a tee that looks like a rubber thimble on a stick). Teeing the ball straight up makes it go straight; leaning the ball to the left makes it go left; and placing the ball on the ground in a certain way makes it curve right in the air, then bounce left when it lands--a shot called "the snake." GolfCross courses are easy to set up; New Zealand has four of them.

Silver sent me 30 balls and tees. I took them to my club and talked 13 friends into joining me for a two-hole tournament. We didn't have nets, so we used greenside bunkers as our targets. We discovered that oval balls don't fly as far as regular balls do, but they don't slice unless you want them to slice, and you can make them do tricks Phil Mickelson only dreams of. My friend Hacker (real last name) played the two holes in a total of four strokes.

All my friends loved GolfCross, so we declared Burton Silver's invention the official playoff ball of our Sunday morning group. You can learn more about the game at Think twice before giving Silver your phone number, though.

COPYRIGHT 2002 New York Times Company Magazine Group, Inc.
COPYRIGHT 2002 Gale Group

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