Featherbowling was born from that medieval family of games that endure in no small part because they can be played with a beverage in the shooter's free hand. It's Belgian shuffleboard. It's horseshoes with a pigeon feather target. It's bocce, except you roll discs that have been slightly weighted to rotate unevenly across the earth, exposing the shooter's secret divine grace. It's pétanque, kubb, mölkky, curling, Cherokee marbles, Irish road bowls — the variations are endless — but none has the otherworldly mystery of this thing they play at the Cadieux Cafe on the east side of Detroit. That 60-foot downhill triple breaker Tiger Woods nailed on the 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass in 2001, which sucked every last atom of karma out of the air around it — that's every sixth shot in featherbowling. You shout op de pluim when your ball snakes through the gantlet of other fallen wheels, wobbling like a wounded buffalo nickel, before settling on the feather.
That's a sample passage from writer Chris Koentges' recent longform story for ESPN on featherbowling, the Belgian tradition that has inexplicably found a faithful following here in Detroit. It's a wild ride that encompasses the rise and fall of Detroit, an art heist, and the late featherbowling champion, Steve Gosskie.
Head over to ESPN to read the entire story. It's a must-read.