Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Not For Fair Weather Golfers

I've always been proud of the fact that I'm not a fair weather golfer.  Living at the foothills of the Canadian Rocky Mountains, you never know what mother nature will throw your way... rain, sleet, wind, hail, I've golfed through it all.  This week I was introduced to an organization that takes it a step farther...  

The World Ice Golf Championship takes place 373 miles north of the Arctic Circle on the west coast of Greenland in the little town of Uummannaq.  From December through to May, the fjord leading in to Uummannaq is covered by a metre-thick sheet of ice. Huge icebergs containing thousand-year-old ice lie frozen in the fjord, caught by the freeze on their journey out towards the open sea. 
 
It is in the midst of this fantastic scenery that the World Ice Golf Championship takes place with 20 golfers from all over the world, drawn by the prospect of a magnificent experience in breathtaking surroundings breathtaking even to the most seasoned of travellers. The World Ice Golf Committee, Greenland and many excellent people in the small community are responsible for the arrangements.


The real architect of the course every year is the ocean, which interacts with the weather and the formation of icebergs in January and February to create an external framework for the course. 
 
The course itself is laid out in March on the fjord ice, close to the town a week prior to the actual championship. Its shape is determined largely by the positions of icebergs in the fjord.
 
The couse is a nine holes par 35 or 36 and consist ideally of 5 par 4’s, 2 par 3’s and 2 par 5’s. The distance is about 5-7% shorter than a normal average golf course (5.400 – 5.800 metre for 18 holes). 
The "green" is white and the ball is red, but apart from that ice golf is very similar to traditional golf, although it is necessary to adjust the course itself and the rules of the game to suit the unusual conditions that prevail on the ice. After a few strokes, however, the players very quickly get a feel for the special conditions.