Green Hunter

Playing Golf on Acid with Hunter S. Thompson It worked wonders for his handicap. There was once a time in every serious editor's life when he had to play 18 holes zonked on acid with Hunter S. Thompson. An exclusive excerpt from The Accidental Life, by former Esquire editor in chief Terry McDonell. George Plimpton and I decided to visit Hunter after he sent me a photograph of himself sinking a 30-foot putt at the Aspen Golf Club. He signed it to me with Res Ipsa Loquitur across the image, and there was a message on the back: Come out and play golf with me sometime—bring George—and money; I will beat both of you like mules. Hunter's Owl Farm had seen numerous visitations far more exalted than ours. Jimmy Carter and Keith Richards, among dozens of others, had passed through, sometimes shooting clay pigeons and improvised targets in the meadow next to the house. After all, Owl Farm was designated a "Rod and Gun Club" on Hunter's stationery. Bill Murray had come close to moving in when he was preparing to play Hunter in Where the Buffalo Roam,and Johnny Depp actually did before he filmed Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Hunter liked to play host—even picking you up at the airport in the '71 Chevrolet Impala convertible he called the "Red Shark." When John Belushi died and there were rumors he had been visiting Hunter,the wires quoted him saying John was "welcome at Owl Farm dead or alive." "Friends of friends can't bring friends" was taped to the refrigerator; but they did. Hunter complained, but when you saw him playing his games with new guests you knew he loved it. They would tell him how much they were influenced by this or that in his work and he would ask them to read a little of it aloud. Just a paragraph to start, but it would become a page and then a chapter. "Slower," Hunter would say. "Slower." Some people wondered if they'd ever get out of there. I had visited Owl Farm before and told George there would be distractions, but we arrived hopeful about our connected missions. My plan was to get Hunter to write a piece for the premiere issue of Smart. George was there to interview him for what he planned to be the first interview for the "Art of Journalism" series for TheParis Review. Hunter said first we had to play golf. We played that first evening, in the dying light, at the municipal Aspen Golf Club, which was closed. Hunter just waved to a guy in the pro shop, who brought us a bucket of balls. Hunter had a 12-gauge shotgun in his golf bag and we had Heinekens in a cooler on the cart—also a fifth of Chivas, a fifth of Jose Cuervo, limes, a fifth of Dewar's (for George), and an extra cooler of ice. "Here," Hunter said, holding out three white tabs of blotter paper with an unfamiliar red symbol on them. "Eat these." He put one on his tongue and stuck it out at us. I took my tab and did the same back at him. When George said he wanted to concentrate on his golf, Hunter licked the third tab. "Ho ho … last of the batch!" Following Hunter's lead, we used the first tee as a driving range to warm up. His swing was explosive if not smooth and his third drive was solid and long. George had a fluid swing and drove each of his balls successively farther. I had never played but wasn't pathetic. Hunter accused me of sandbagging. After we had each hit five balls, Hunter said it was time to get serious and we rode the cart to his favorite hole, the 14th—a short par-3 straight shot over a large pond. The Aspen course is a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary and the pond was full of geese. "Goddamn geese," said Hunter. "Branta canadensis," said George. "You'd like George's bat trick," I said to Hunter, remembering how George once attracted bats in New Mexico by throwing his T-shirt in the air.  "No fucking bats!" Hunter said. "Alas," George said, and made himself a Dewar's and water. Hunter always said that his acid-eating experience was limited in terms of total consumption, but widely varied as to company and circumstances, and that he liked the electric atmosphere it put him in, especially when taking it with the Hell's Angels. They just swallowed the stuff and hung on … which is probably just as dangerous as the experts say, but a far, far nuttier trip than sitting in some sterile chamber with a condescending guide and a handful of nervous, would-be hipsters. We, on the other hand, were playing golf. And gambling. Each of us would hit five balls in a row off the tee and then proceed to the green to putt. Only our best ball would count. We were all in for $1,000, Hunter said. George put all five of his balls on the green, three close enough for makeable birdies. Hunter put three in the water and two on. I managed one on the green but didn't care. I didn't know golf, but I knew a little about acid. My college roommate for a year was Steve Lambrecht—Zonker of Ken Kesey's Merry Pranksters, the suave stoner portrayed in Tom Wolfe's The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test as getting "higher than any man alive." Zonker talked me into going to class on acid, which turned out fine. Tom had also written that LSD made the Hell's Angels strangely peaceful and sometimes catatonic, in contrast to the Pranksters and other intellectuals around, who soared on the stuff. I was now peacefully soaring. When we got to the green, George put two of his balls in for birdies. Hunter had one ball left to tie, if he could sink a 30-foot putt like the one he was celebrating in the photo he had sent. He walked back and forth between his ball and the hole several times. I was on the other side of the cup, holding the flag. It was dark now, as dark as it gets in Aspen on summer nights, and although the sky still had a glow, I could barely see his ball. George was by the cart, making another Dewar's and water. The ice tinkled in his glass. "Silence!" Hunter shouted. "I know your tricks." Hunter took at least another two minutes lining up his putt, then struck it quickly. He missed the putt by about a foot and, charging after it, let out a howl as he winged his putter into the pond. The geese started honking and Hunter ran back to the cart, pulled the 12-gauge from his golf bag and fired over the geese, and they lifted off the pond like a sparkling cloud of gray and white feathers. It occurred to me as I watched the glitter blend into the fading sky that having a story to tell about acid golf with Hunter and George was probably good for my career. Hunter looked at me and said, "You're higher than I am, goddamn it." I started laughing. Hunter seldom laughed, but he did then.   HUNTER LOOKED AT ME AND SAID, "YOU'RE HIGHER THAN I AM, GODDAMN IT." I STARTED LAUGHING. HUNTER SELDOM LAUGHED, BUT HE DID THEN.   "Maybe I should have, well, 'eaten' some myself," George said. On the way back to Owl Farm in the Red Shark, George told us that playing ahead of Arnold Palmer in the San Francisco pro-am had been like being chased by a migration. Of geese? I wondered. George also said that when he'd played in the Bob Hope Classic at Indian Wells, his ball had almost hit Hope and the popular comedian Phyllis Diller in their cart at the 14th. He remembered that both comics had been wearing "sullen frowns." "Fuck Bob Hope," Hunter said.   - Excerpt taken from the May 2016 issue of Esquire magazine.

Playing Golf on Acid with Hunter S. Thompson

It worked wonders for his handicap.

There was once a time in every serious editor's life when he had to play 18 holes zonked on acid with Hunter S. Thompson. An exclusive excerpt from The Accidental Life, by former Esquire editor in chief Terry McDonell.

George Plimpton and I decided to visit Hunter after he sent me a photograph of himself sinking a 30-foot putt at the Aspen Golf Club. He signed it to me with Res Ipsa Loquitur across the image, and there was a message on the back: Come out and play golf with me sometime—bring George—and money; I will beat both of you like mules.

Hunter's Owl Farm had seen numerous visitations far more exalted than ours. Jimmy Carter and Keith Richards, among dozens of others, had passed through, sometimes shooting clay pigeons and improvised targets in the meadow next to the house. After all, Owl Farm was designated a "Rod and Gun Club" on Hunter's stationery. Bill Murray had come close to moving in when he was preparing to play Hunter in Where the Buffalo Roam,and Johnny Depp actually did before he filmed Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Hunter liked to play host—even picking you up at the airport in the '71 Chevrolet Impala convertible he called the "Red Shark." When John Belushi died and there were rumors he had been visiting Hunter,the wires quoted him saying John was "welcome at Owl Farm dead or alive."

"Friends of friends can't bring friends" was taped to the refrigerator; but they did. Hunter complained, but when you saw him playing his games with new guests you knew he loved it. They would tell him how much they were influenced by this or that in his work and he would ask them to read a little of it aloud. Just a paragraph to start, but it would become a page and then a chapter. "Slower," Hunter would say. "Slower." Some people wondered if they'd ever get out of there.

I had visited Owl Farm before and told George there would be distractions, but we arrived hopeful about our connected missions. My plan was to get Hunter to write a piece for the premiere issue of Smart. George was there to interview him for what he planned to be the first interview for the "Art of Journalism" series for TheParis Review. Hunter said first we had to play golf.

We played that first evening, in the dying light, at the municipal Aspen Golf Club, which was closed. Hunter just waved to a guy in the pro shop, who brought us a bucket of balls. Hunter had a 12-gauge shotgun in his golf bag and we had Heinekens in a cooler on the cart—also a fifth of Chivas, a fifth of Jose Cuervo, limes, a fifth of Dewar's (for George), and an extra cooler of ice.

"Here," Hunter said, holding out three white tabs of blotter paper with an unfamiliar red symbol on them. "Eat these."

He put one on his tongue and stuck it out at us. I took my tab and did the same back at him. When George said he wanted to concentrate on his golf, Hunter licked the third tab. "Ho ho … last of the batch!"

Following Hunter's lead, we used the first tee as a driving range to warm up. His swing was explosive if not smooth and his third drive was solid and long. George had a fluid swing and drove each of his balls successively farther. I had never played but wasn't pathetic. Hunter accused me of sandbagging. After we had each hit five balls, Hunter said it was time to get serious and we rode the cart to his favorite hole, the 14th—a short par-3 straight shot over a large pond. The Aspen course is a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary and the pond was full of geese.

"Goddamn geese," said Hunter.

"Branta canadensis," said George.

"You'd like George's bat trick," I said to Hunter, remembering how George once attracted bats in New Mexico by throwing his T-shirt in the air. 

"No fucking bats!" Hunter said.

"Alas," George said, and made himself a Dewar's and water.

Hunter always said that his acid-eating experience was limited in terms of total consumption, but widely varied as to company and circumstances, and that he liked the electric atmosphere it put him in, especially when taking it with the Hell's Angels.

They just swallowed the stuff and hung on … which is probably just as dangerous as the experts say, but a far, far nuttier trip than sitting in some sterile chamber with a condescending guide and a handful of nervous, would-be hipsters.

We, on the other hand, were playing golf. And gambling. Each of us would hit five balls in a row off the tee and then proceed to the green to putt. Only our best ball would count. We were all in for $1,000, Hunter said.

George put all five of his balls on the green, three close enough for makeable birdies. Hunter put three in the water and two on. I managed one on the green but didn't care. I didn't know golf, but I knew a little about acid. My college roommate for a year was Steve Lambrecht—Zonker of Ken Kesey's Merry Pranksters, the suave stoner portrayed in Tom Wolfe's The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test as getting "higher than any man alive." Zonker talked me into going to class on acid, which turned out fine. Tom had also written that LSD made the Hell's Angels strangely peaceful and sometimes catatonic, in contrast to the Pranksters and other intellectuals around, who soared on the stuff. I was now peacefully soaring.

When we got to the green, George put two of his balls in for birdies. Hunter had one ball left to tie, if he could sink a 30-foot putt like the one he was celebrating in the photo he had sent. He walked back and forth between his ball and the hole several times. I was on the other side of the cup, holding the flag. It was dark now, as dark as it gets in Aspen on summer nights, and although the sky still had a glow, I could barely see his ball. George was by the cart, making another Dewar's and water. The ice tinkled in his glass.

"Silence!" Hunter shouted. "I know your tricks."

Hunter took at least another two minutes lining up his putt, then struck it quickly. He missed the putt by about a foot and, charging after it, let out a howl as he winged his putter into the pond. The geese started honking and Hunter ran back to the cart, pulled the 12-gauge from his golf bag and fired over the geese, and they lifted off the pond like a sparkling cloud of gray and white feathers. It occurred to me as I watched the glitter blend into the fading sky that having a story to tell about acid golf with Hunter and George was probably good for my career.

Hunter looked at me and said, "You're higher than I am, goddamn it." I started laughing. Hunter seldom laughed, but he did then.

 

HUNTER LOOKED AT ME AND SAID, "YOU'RE HIGHER THAN I AM, GODDAMN IT." I STARTED LAUGHING. HUNTER SELDOM LAUGHED, BUT HE DID THEN.

 

"Maybe I should have, well, 'eaten' some myself," George said.

On the way back to Owl Farm in the Red Shark, George told us that playing ahead of Arnold Palmer in the San Francisco pro-am had been like being chased by a migration. Of geese? I wondered. George also said that when he'd played in the Bob Hope Classic at Indian Wells, his ball had almost hit Hope and the popular comedian Phyllis Diller in their cart at the 14th. He remembered that both comics had been wearing "sullen frowns."

"Fuck Bob Hope," Hunter said.

 

- Excerpt taken from the May 2016 issue of Esquire magazine.

Barnsey, beating down the Bear.

In the 1975 matches, Jack Nicklaus was imperious and USA were giving GB&I their routine thrashing. Then along came enigmatic Brian Barnes. This is his story... I didn’t think the team stood a chance going into the 1975 Ryder Cup at Laurel Valley. We didn’t have any strength in depth. In those days, the closest we came to winning was in 1969, the famous tie at Royal Birkdale. Another point and we would have beaten them, but I lost every single one of my three matches! The Americans had great depth and could allow people to have rests. Of course, in those days there were six rounds. We had the two single rounds on the last day as well. It finished up with people like myself playing all six rounds and when Sunday afternoon came around, we were knackered. Arnold (Palmer) had gone to Bernard Hunt the night before and said, “who have you got in your side who might give Jack a game?” Bernard replied, “I know Jack and Barnesy have fished together and played a few tournaments together so maybe he is not so much in awe as the other guys would be.” I agreed; I thought that because I had known Jack for so many years, I wouldn’t have been affected by him standing on the 1st tee. Of course, I was s******g myself when the time came round, but not as badly as some of the other guys would have been. So we played together and I won 4&2. Very nice indeed. I felt comfortable because I have always been a good driver of the golf ball and not a bad putter. I knew full well I could keep up with Jack off the tee; there was no difficulty there. I was a good iron player so I didn’t miss too many greens and I didn’t have to rely on somebody else. It was just me against Jack – that was it. Although I played the fourballs and foursomes and lost, the singles is a different game. So I didn’t even think or worry about being beaten 5&4 again, the score which Nicklaus and Tom Weiskopf had defeated myself and Bernard Gallacher by in the Friday foursomes. Jack was always friendly. The one thing Jack would never do was gamesmanship. He believed that the only way you beat anybody is with your game. Walking round the golf course, the only thing we talked about was fishing. He did a lot of fly fishing just like I did. It was just a friendly round of golf. When we went to the press tent after the morning round everybody acted as if I’d beaten Jesus Christ. He was Jesus Christ as far as golf was concerned, but he was still beatable. The Yanks only needed one or two more points to win and while I was still continuing with the interviews, Jack had gone to Arnold and said, “look, there is only one match the punters want to see, and that’s Barnesy and I.” That was the only time in the history of the Ryder Cup that the match order was changed at that late stage. While that was going on, I was asked “would you like the opportunity to play ‘The Bear’ again this afternoon?” I replied, “well, lightning doesn’t strike the same place twice.” Jack walked onto the 1st tee for the afternoon singles with a beaming smile on his face and said, “Barnesy, well done this morning but there is no way you are going to beat me this afternoon.” He started birdie, birdie but as luck would have it, he went off the boil and I beat him 2&1. Poor old Jack got it in the neck and when Arnold was making his speech, he said he didn’t realise the Europeans had a 13-man team; inferring that Jack was on our side, rather than theirs. Jack’s a sportsman; he knew what it was all about. I’m more than capable of shooting a 65. Not as many times as him but on that day, I needed pars in the morning round on the last two holes we didn’t play for a 68 and a birdie on the last hole in the afternoon for a 67. So I was playing pretty good golf on a wet golf course. Eighteen holes of matchplay is a sudden-death situation, it’s like Russian roulette. If you hole a couple of putts at the right time, you can beat anybody and that was the situation. He never showed his disappointment publicly. He is a wonderful sportsman and a gentleman. Jack realised the most important thing were the spectators who were there. The most important thing at the Ryder Cup in those days was making sure the spectators stayed and enjoyed it. But there was a partition between the America side and ours in the locker room and I was sitting there with a couple of beers and I hear this ‘bang’ the other side of the partition so I look over and there’s Jack with his locker open having just thrown his shoe into it. He was just about to throw his second shoe, so I said, “hey Jack, is there anything wrong?” He looks at me and then we went and had a beer. I was lucky enough to play the greatest golfer that ever lived and beat him twice in one day. The only reason everybody is still interested in it is because of the s**t we played as a team. We lost 21-11. In those days, we didn’t have the team to be able to beat them. If it was now, people wouldn’t be talking about it. The best thing that came out of it was when I went over to the States to play on the Champions Tour I got a lot of invitations due to the fact I’d beaten Jack twice in one day. But I also got a lot of invitations because I played golf with Arnold and Jack and they got me invitations. They also felt that I would enhance the tournaments reasonably well because of the sort of guy I am; a fairly gregarious individual! The day I beat Jack... Twice in one day.                                                                                     Extract from Todays Golfer Sept 2012

In the 1975 matches, Jack Nicklaus was imperious and USA were giving GB&I their routine thrashing. Then along came enigmatic Brian Barnes. This is his story...

I didn’t think the team stood a chance going into the 1975 Ryder Cup at Laurel Valley. We didn’t have any strength in depth. In those days, the closest we came to winning was in 1969, the famous tie at Royal Birkdale. Another point and we would have beaten them, but I lost every single one of my three matches! The Americans had great depth and could allow people to have rests. Of course, in those days there were six rounds. We had the two single rounds on the last day as well. It finished up with people like myself playing all six rounds and when Sunday afternoon came around, we were knackered.

Arnold (Palmer) had gone to Bernard Hunt the night before and said, “who have you got in your side who might give Jack a game?” Bernard replied, “I know Jack and Barnesy have fished together and played a few tournaments together so maybe he is not so much in awe as the other guys would be.”

I agreed; I thought that because I had known Jack for so many years, I wouldn’t have been affected by him standing on the 1st tee. Of course, I was s******g myself when the time came round, but not as badly as some of the other guys would have been. So we played together and I won 4&2. Very nice indeed.

I felt comfortable because I have always been a good driver of the golf ball and not a bad putter. I knew full well I could keep up with Jack off the tee; there was no difficulty there. I was a good iron player so I didn’t miss too many greens and I didn’t have to rely on somebody else. It was just me against Jack – that was it. Although I played the fourballs and foursomes and lost, the singles is a different game. So I didn’t even think or worry about being beaten 5&4 again, the score which Nicklaus and Tom Weiskopf had defeated myself and Bernard Gallacher by in the Friday foursomes.

Jack was always friendly. The one thing Jack would never do was gamesmanship. He believed that the only way you beat anybody is with your game. Walking round the golf course, the only thing we talked about was fishing. He did a lot of fly fishing just like I did. It was just a friendly round of golf.

When we went to the press tent after the morning round everybody acted as if I’d beaten Jesus Christ. He was Jesus Christ as far as golf was concerned, but he was still beatable. The Yanks only needed one or two more points to win and while I was still continuing with the interviews, Jack had gone to Arnold and said, “look, there is only one match the punters want to see, and that’s Barnesy and I.”

That was the only time in the history of the Ryder Cup that the match order was changed at that late stage. While that was going on, I was asked “would you like the opportunity to play ‘The Bear’ again this afternoon?” I replied, “well, lightning doesn’t strike the same place twice.”

Jack walked onto the 1st tee for the afternoon singles with a beaming smile on his face and said, “Barnesy, well done this morning but there is no way you are going to beat me this afternoon.” He started birdie, birdie but as luck would have it, he went off the boil and I beat him 2&1. Poor old Jack got it in the neck and when Arnold was making his speech, he said he didn’t realise the Europeans had a 13-man team; inferring that Jack was on our side, rather than theirs.

Jack’s a sportsman; he knew what it was all about. I’m more than capable of shooting a 65. Not as many times as him but on that day, I needed pars in the morning round on the last two holes we didn’t play for a 68 and a birdie on the last hole in the afternoon for a 67. So I was playing pretty good golf on a wet golf course. Eighteen holes of matchplay is a sudden-death situation, it’s like Russian roulette. If you hole a couple of putts at the right time, you can beat anybody and that was the situation.

He never showed his disappointment publicly. He is a wonderful sportsman and a gentleman. Jack realised the most important thing were the spectators who were there. The most important thing at the Ryder Cup in those days was making sure the spectators stayed and enjoyed it. But there was a partition between the America side and ours in the locker room and I was sitting there with a couple of beers and I hear this ‘bang’ the other side of the partition so I look over and there’s Jack with his locker open having just thrown his shoe into it. He was just about to throw his second shoe, so I said, “hey Jack, is there anything wrong?” He looks at me and then we went and had a beer.

I was lucky enough to play the greatest golfer that ever lived and beat him twice in one day. The only reason everybody is still interested in it is because of the s**t we played as a team. We lost 21-11. In those days, we didn’t have the team to be able to beat them. If it was now, people wouldn’t be talking about it.

The best thing that came out of it was when I went over to the States to play on the Champions Tour I got a lot of invitations due to the fact I’d beaten Jack twice in one day. But I also got a lot of invitations because I played golf with Arnold and Jack and they got me invitations. They also felt that I would enhance the tournaments reasonably well because of the sort of guy I am; a fairly gregarious individual!

The day I beat Jack... Twice in one day.                                                                                     Extract from Todays Golfer Sept 2012

[play with shapes]

GOWF Pattern

The Gowf branding is a simple play with shapes. Every time you strike a ball into motion it produces a shape. You are playing with shapes, creating a reaction towards a target, you are playing with your golf balls flight. For the committed few, through hard work and dedication, you soon begin to see a pattern emerge. Learn to embrace your pattern and you will soon be enjoying the game of your life. 

Play with shapes, create a pattern, then go express it.

Improvisation

Bitches Brew Cover

The extreme volume of the group] referred to the passions that were involved—which I’m an advocate for, to this day. This smooth-jazz is not jazz to me, because I grew up listening to men with really deep passions. Without the depth of the passion, you’re missing the blood and the guts in the music. Because it’s not just notes—it’s like, what are you saying when you play? What can anyone talk about when they improvise? The only thing they can talk about is their life and how strongly they feel about the people around them and themselves—their whole relationship with everything. Those days were sociologically in upheaval, and we all felt that a better world was coming

 

- John McLaughlin

Pattern & Repetition

What kind of behind the scenes mental gymnastics is the brain doing to help us understand what we're seeing when we recognise a pattern?

When we see pretty much any scene - natural or otherwise - we're getting an overwhelming amount of visual information in order to navigate our way around the world. So our minds unconsciously make a best guess. This means, for example, that we assume that there's continuity even when we can't actually see it - that the airplane that disappeared into a cloud is the same one that came out the other side, and that it travelled in a straight line in between. This sounds trivially obvious, but we have to do a lot of it - not least because our view of some objects is always partial, blocked by bits of others. Our brains very quickly learn rules for grouping objects together in our visual field. These rules were deduced in the early 20th century by a group of psychologists in Vienna who were called the Gestalt psychologists. They found that we group objects if they are the same shape, or the same colour, or close together, or the same size. It's in this way that we see a series of stripes, not just as "one stripe...and another one....uh, and another..." but as a "striped pattern."  

 

- Science writer Philip Ball

KINFOLK MAG

Absorbed in action

How many times does a motif have to repeat for the eye to recognise it as a pattern?

This is a fundamental question for science. How many times does something have to recur before we suspect that we're seeing a law of nature and not just a coincidence? There's no definitive answer to the question because it has to do with our intuition about what we see- the impression that there's some order to the world around us. That intuition is so strong that we're prone to seeing pattern even when there is none. And we can discern genuine order even in shapes that have no repeating pattern at all, like a tree. It may look sort of random, but I suspect we sense the deeper regularity whereby the same basic form repeats at increasingly smaller scales as we go from trunk to branch tip.

 

Philip Ball

KINFOLK vol.22