The death of professional hockey in AMERICA is a nasty omen for people with heavy investments in NHL teams. But to me, it meant little or nothing -- and that's why I called Bill Murray with an idea that would change both our lives forever.
It was 3:30 on a dark Tuesday morning when I heard the phone ring on his personal line in New Jersey. "Good thinking," I said to myself as I fired up a thin Cohiba. "He's bound to be wide awake and crackling at this time of day, or at least I can leave a very excited message."
My eerie hunch was right. The crazy bugger picked up on the fourth ring, and I felt my heart racing. "Hot damn!" I thought. "This is how empires are built." Late? I know not late.
Genius round the world stands hand in hand, and one shock of recognition runs the whole circle round.
Herman Melville said that in the winter of 1914, and Murray is keenly aware of it. Only a madman would call a legend of Bill Murray's stature at 3:33 a.m. for no good reason at all. It would be a career-ending move, and also profoundly rude.
But my reason was better than good ...
* * * * *
HST: "Hi, Bill, it's Hunter."
BILL: "Hi, Hunter."
HST: "Are you ready for a powerful idea? I want to ask you about golf in Japan. I understand they're building vertical driving ranges on top of each other."
BILL (sounding strangely alert): "Yes, they have them outdoors, under roofs ..."
HST: "I've seen pictures. I thought they looked like bowling alleys stacked on top of each other."
HST: "I'm working on a profoundly goofy story here. It's wonderful. I've invented a new sport. It's called Shotgun Golf. We will rule the world with this thing."
HST: "I've called you for some consulting advice on how to launch it. We've actually already launched it. Last spring, the Sheriff and I played a game outside in the yard here. He had my Ping Beryllium 9-iron, and I had his shotgun, and about 100 yards away, we had a linoleum green and a flag set up. He was pitching toward the green. And I was standing about 10 feet away from him, with the alley-sweeper. And my objective was to blow his ball off course, like a clay pigeon."
HST: "It didn't work at first. The birdshot I was using was too small. But double-aught buck finally worked for sure. And it was fun."
HST: "OK, I didn't want to wake you up, but I knew you'd want to be in on the ground floor of this thing."
HST: "Do you want to discuss this tomorrow?"
BILL: "I think I might have a queer dream about it now, but ..." (Laughs.)
HST: "This sport has a HUGE future. Golf in America will soon come to this."
BILL: "It will bring a whole new meaning to the words 'Driving Range'."
HST: "Especially when you stack them on top of each other. I've seen it in Japan."
BILL: "They definitely have multi-level driving ranges. Yes."
HST: (Laughs.) "How does that work? Do they have extremely high ceilings?"
BILL: "No. The roof above your tee only projects out about 10 feet, and they have another range right above you. It's like they took the fašade off a building. People would be hanging out of their offices."