Ice tee


first_imgIf your game’s not up to the mark, snow golf offers visual relief in the stunning wintry surroundsYou probably wouldn’t think that snow golf and Rudyard Kipling have much in common. But they do. It is from the writer (bless the splendid fellow) that modern snow golf is believed to have originated, during the time he was living in Brattleboro, Vermont (US), in the 1890s.Kipling loved the outdoors especially with a club in hand. Looking to unwind in the winter, he played golf in the New England snow, painting golf balls red and placing red-coloured cups in the snow. Apparently, the legacy lives on. Vermonters still play snow golf.References to ice golf date as far back as the early 17th century. A work of the Dutch landscape painter Hendrick Avercamp shows a couple of gentlemen, with clubs, playing what looks like a cross between golf and ice hockey, on a frozen canal in Holland. This was, in fact, the traditional Dutch sport of ‘colf’.If Kipling was a keen golfer who couldn’t wait for the summer months, he’s got plenty of company. Consider the folk those who head to Uummannaq, Greenland, for the World Ice Golf Championship every year (or at least, on those years when the sea, meteorological conditions and icebergs synchronise to ‘create’ a field of golf). Snow golf is not too dissimilar to the version played on fairways and greens (or links courses). Just imagine trying to hit the ball out of the bunkers, every time. Sharpen up your sand play, and you’ll do okay in the snow as well.Once you get the hang of it, snow golf is even more fun than the regular version of the gameThe World Ice Golf Championship-first held in 1997-is the holy grail of snow golf. It is held on the planet’s northernmost (and Greenland’s only) golf course. This is, naturally, never the same ‘place’ owing to a constantly moving ice shelf. So, the nine-hole ‘course’-encircled by ‘moving’ glaciers, icebergs and spectacular ice sculptures-is laid out anew on the ice every year (a week before the snow golfers descend).Nature, in the shape of the ocean, is the chief architect of this course; with the form determined by the position of the icebergs in the inlet. Unfavourable conditions (overhead and on terra firma) have led to the abandonment of the World Ice Golf Championship on some years, although that has done little to knock the enthusiasm of the organisers. As for the course, it ‘melts’ away in May.Snow golf has outgrown its ‘adventure sport’ origins, and the World Ice meet has inspired quite a few similar tournaments. The Snow Golf Championship has been held in Argentina, in Cerro Castor, Ushuaia (regarded as the world’s southernmost city), since 2007, while Austria has played host to the Snow Golf World Championship, for amateurs, also since 2007. The surfaces of ‘whites’ can be twopaced and bumpy; putting calls for good judgment-and good fortuneThe latter is sponsored by the state of Salzburg, and has a ‘million dollar putt’ contest-the largest prize on offer in any amateur golf event-that remains unclaimed, to date! And recently (January 2011), the first European Championship in Snow Golf took place in Switzerland. Ritzy St. Moritz in Switzerland is for those who like their snow golf with more than a soupcon of glamour.Here, you’re bound to rub noses with jet-setting European royalty and celebrities. Meanwhile, Norway is fast surfacing, literally, as a Mecca for snow swingers; most of the snow golf is centred around the municipality of Hemsedal, in the south. But, really, anywhere in the tundra will do for a spot of snow golf; the terrain can be an iced up lake or even a ski resort.Uummannaq, a town in the municipality of Qaasuitsup, in Greenland’s northwest, 600 km north of the Arctic Circle, offers perfect climes for snow golf. The rules and conditions for the Ice Golf Worlds would pretty much apply to any snow golf tournament in the world (give or take a few local variations). Some things to remember?Golf clubs with steel shafts are strongly recommended since shafts made out of graphite can shatter easily in the extreme cold. Also, keep a hunk of Astroturf in your bag for you’d need it to hit your tee ball. Golf balls (fluorescent red or orange in the snow version of the game) lose elasticity in the cold, thus reducing the distance the ball flies by approximately 25 percent. And with a diameter of 20 cm, the hole (made out of aluminium) is almost twice as big as an ordinary golf ‘cup’.Of course, the ‘greens’ are no longer green. In snow golf, they become ‘whites’, and are marked by a rim of red or a small wall of snow. And because the surface can be abrasive, one can, before putting, smooth out the ‘white’ with a custom-made ‘scraper’ (an act that would invite a penalty on a regular green!). For a ball lying ‘through the white’-the equivalent of a ‘fried egg’ in the sand, though much harder to extricate-the Uummannaq rule says, “The ball may be lifted and placed within 15 cm of where it landed, without incurring a penalty”. Local rules also protect against unanticipated contingencies- like a polar bear pilfering your ball!Teeing off in sub-zero temperatures calls for plenty of layers of thermal wear, so wrap up well. Also, carry a potent pair of shades (snow blindness is a definite risk). And if you’re still having a rotten time, remember to take solace in the quiet repose of a gorgeous winter’s day. Hot coutureRecommended clothing: Breathable (Gore-Tex type) windtight warm jacket and overtrousers; A fleece jacket that’s warm, light and breathable; heatinsulating thermal underwear/long johns underneath over-trousers; sports underclothes that help draw perspiration away from the skin and allow it to evaporate; warm hat with ear flaps, gloves, scarf, potent sunglasses, strong sun block (minimum SPF: 20); footwear with thermal insulation (ordinary golf shoes are not advised in the cold) and warm socks.Equipment tip: Bring a half set of 3-, 5-, 7- and 9-irons, plus a pitching and sand wedge. You could also carry a driver and a 5-wood (or just a 3-wood) (Courtesy: http://www.greenlandguide. gl/icegolf)The writer is senior writer, Golf Digest India.advertisementadvertisementlast_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *