Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Bogey in the Blizzard: A Guide to Snow Golf

Does the weather (or what was formerly known as ‘the weather’ but now referred to as the much-more-fun-to-say ‘polar vortex’) got you feeling down? When you close your eyes, do you see rolling green hills and feel the 80-degree sunshine spreading across your back? Keep dreaming, Northern hemisphere-ers.

In the meantime, I highly recommend embracing snow golf! When I was 15 years old, my buddies and I thought we invented this game, playing with bright tennis balls and spray-painted buckets during the socked-in winter months to ward off boredom. Turns out, the game is over a hundred years old. Wikipedia claims Rudyard Kipling was the first guy to play snow golf, but I’m not really buying that.

There are a couple ways of going about this. First, the more professional route. Evidently, there are World Ice Golf Championships held in Greenland every year. Similar events are held in Argentina and Austria. A woman from Quebec started Snow Golf Inc., designing and operating a 9-hole course located next to the renowned Ice Hotel. Finland has another groomed 9-hole course (pictured above), smack dab in the middle of a forest.

If you’re one of those people who love a new challenge, or getting in on the ground floor of a novel sport, this is definitely for you. Hey, it was only thirty years ago that snowboarding was still thought to be a goofy passing fad. Now it’s not only an Olympic sport but an enormous, multi-billion-dollar industry. Just something to keep in mind…

If you’re just looking to goof around with your buddies while the greens are covered in white, this “sport” comes highly recommended, by me personally and a boatload of new devotees. Of course, fooling around on professional courses during the winter months will likely get you 86’d for life, but checking around your area for a snow game will likely yield some fun results. People are doing this. It’s gaining steam.

Just a couple more notes: golfing in the snow is three times the workout normal golf would be. It gets tiring. And cold. So don’t be like “that girl” on the college campus who wears bare legs and no coat in a January blizzard – bundle up and make sure you’re not in head-to-toe cotton. If you live somewhere with very deep snow, consider donning showshoes for that extra element of difficulty.

Also, this likely goes without saying, but, leave your fancy clubs at home. Extreme temperatures and excessive moisture are death rattles for golf clubs, particularly ones with graphite shafts (unless you want to see it shatter…). Improvising is part of the fun, or if you’re going the tennis ball route, substitute your 7-iron with a hockey stick. I don’t think that’s considered cheating. Yet.

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This article was written by David Bryce.  David is a travel blogger and devout follower of the church of golf. He lives near Thousand Hills Golf Resort, where he doesn't get to play snow golf on the course, but does get to do a good chunk of his writing at the Branson cabins.