Burton Silver, inventor of GolfCross
Fourth generation New Zealander Burton Silver is an inventor, writer and cartoonist. While best known for his parodies, in particular the international best seller Why Cats Paint, he is no stranger to innovation in sport. As the founder of the International Fringe Games, he had the Times of London wondering whether he is simply mad or a great sports visionary.
With more than ten books to his credit, he has invented and written about such diverse subjects as erotic Japanese paper sculpture and ornithological dejecta as well as inventing powered skis, a sheep buggy and the tee cup. He first started working on golfcross in 1989.
I wouldnt describe myself as a golfer, though Ive become a bit of a golfcross caddy. I dont have a handicap and I only play occasionally. You could say that I play with golf rather than playing golf. Essentially Im lousy at it which gives me a great respect for those who play the game well and in developing the oval ball and creating the game of golfcross Ive had a lot of help and advice from some very good golfers.
I think if I were a good golfer and was therefore imbued with all the wonderful golfing traditions I wouldnt have been removed enough from it to see how it could change. And I think those traditions would have inhibited me even if I could see another way of playing it. Being a New Zealander also helps because living in a new country means youre not so bound by convention and being isolated means we have a real do-it-yourself mentality.
It seems strange and sad to me that we dont do more to encourage a spirit of innovation in sport. Because inventing new activities and getting people to participate in them is so exciting and stimulating for all concerned. It always leads to new discoveries about our physical and mental capabilities and skills, and it presents us with new challenges, which is surely what sport should be about.
Its my belief that the creation of the new in sport is as important as the celebration of the old. That actively experimenting with sport and staging new events challenges human ingenuity and reinvigorates the human spirit and Id love to think that golfcross may in some way act as a kind of catalyst in encouraging us to explore all the other new sporting challenges that are just waiting to be discovered out there.