As if we didn't have enough trouble in the world, the winter people on Martha's Vineyard are almost at war with the summer people -- and it's over a golf course. A developer came along and wanted to build a fancy golf club. He was turned down by the Martha's Vineyard Commission because it would appeal only to the rich, who come there in the summer. Membership would cost $150,000 to $200,000.

The story was so newsworthy it shared the front section of the New York Times with stories on Iraq, Afghanistan and North Korea. I have never been to any of those countries, but I have been to Martha's Vineyard, so I can write about it with authority.

First of all, I don't hate golf. I hate the people who play it. Some of my best friends believe hitting a little ball across acres of God's green earth into a tiny hole is the most important thing in their lives. I am on the side of those who are against another golf course on the lovely island by the sea. If I had my way, I would take the same acreage and plant soybeans instead.

Martha's Vineyard has three golf courses now, and in the summer golfers complain they have to wait days for a tee time.

If the winter people on Martha's Vineyard (read all-year residents) had only been against another golf course, it would be one thing, but they have used the opportunity to complain that the rich and the celebrities are ruining the island.

I don't deny this, but it is not only the rich and famous vacationing in the summer.

Most of the people are middle class and have been going there for years -- many for generations.

The all-year residents say the island was ruined after President Clinton went there. What made it worse was that he was a golfer.

The summer non-golfing people claim they sailed, fished, clammed and played tennis. It wasn't until golf came to the island that the millionaires showed up.

Underneath the anti-golf feeling, there is a bitterness that the winter people do all the work, while the summer people have all the fun. There is probably some truth to this.

The all-year residents make their living off the summertime vacationers and they feel like indentured servants. This jealousy has been going on for years -- long before Clinton came to the island.

Anyone who lives there or visits in the summer feels he or she should be the last person allowed on the island. History tells us that the Indians resented the white people who landed there, and so on, ad infinitum.

So where are we now?

The tides will continue to wash in and out. The sun will set, the moon will come out, the fish will bite, and life will go on as it has for centuries.

The rich will make more money, and the once-rich will have to sell their Vineyard houses to survive.

I'll still go there no matter what anybody says, but I wish that there was something to go to the barricades for besides golf.

(c)2002, Tribune Media Services