It’s hard to figure out where to start my World Adventure Golf Masters (WAGM) blog because it’s such a new experience for me. I guess the best place to start is that as I am writing this I have been in Sweden for approximately 60 hours of it and I’ve loved every minute of it. The “official” parts of the tournament haven’t even started yet and I’m just thrilled with the experience. My goal is to do three posts from the week so you don’t have to read 10,000 words all at once.
The team experience started in Amsterdam when I met up with fellow teammate Wade Sahmel for the second leg of flights over to Gothenburg, and we caught up a little not knowing each other very well before this. After a short hop and short taxi trip we found ourselves at Hotel Fars Hatt in Kungalv, our home for the next week and about a mile from the course we’d be playing and a hotel that’s been in business since 1684. If you’re a student of history you’d know that is older than the country I’m representing, so that’s pretty cool. My initial impression of Sweden while driving from the airport was how much like New England it looked like in terms of trees, etc. This would be further confirmed a bit later in the day when I’d end up more on the coast and it reminded me of driving up the Maine course. If nothing else, it helped me feel a little bit more like home.
My roomie for the week, team coach Jon Drexler, wasn’t in the room when I got there so I had this vague flashback of the first day in a college dorm showing up to see which bed and closet space had already been taken and trying not to look too much the slob myself as I exploded clothing while unpacking. It also seemed fitting because the room is barely bigger than a dorm room and had the same sort of barely furnished feel to it. I’m not saying it isn’t nice, it just that I forgot how non-business hotels outside of London were in Europe were having not stayed in one in a while.
The weather upon arrival wasn’t ideal, being raining and on the chilly side (though not that cold for this penguin, especially after the oppressive heat of the U.S. Open a few weeks earlier). Despite the conditions Wade and I took the walk out to the course and met up with some of our teammates as the weather broke enough to practice. Before getting down to the business of learning the course, Wade and I did a “blind” round with our Chromax balls just to give it a play. I like doing that when playing new courses to try to retain the leisure aspect of the game as well and will help me write my course review.
Then it came down to learning not only the course lines and speed but the balls as well. It was my first time actually using the European balls seriously and while the learning curve wasn’t as steep as I expected it to be, it’s still quite the challenge when you are starting from scratch. Understanding what you want for weight, bounce, cover, adjustments in different conditions and then fitting that to your own personal swing tendencies and comfort level – it’s a lot to think of on top of just making sure you’re hitting the ball in the right spot. Personally, I feel like adventure golf should be a one-ball type tournament as that presents its own challenges of adjusting to make the ball work for you but I like having the opportunity to play in something that isn’t one-ball for the variety. While it can be frustrating when you haven’t been able to find something that works for you, it does become intensely satisfying when you dial in on a ball and it just drops every time you touch it.
So Sunday afternoon was just a lot of getting used to things the first time around. It was followed by a lovely dinner trip up the coast (the beforementioned Maine-like ride), guided by world-famous minigolfer Hans Olofsson as he grew up in the area. He drove myself, Wade, Nate Nichols and Robin Ventura (my fellow Holey Moley contestant) to Marstrand Island where we took a short (2 minute) ferry ride to the island and had a dinner at a pleasant little restaurant right off the boat. The travel finally hit me that night as it battled with the fact that it’s light out until about 10:30-11 over here in the summer and I crashed hard that evening. It was a short reprieve though as I was up at 6:15 for breakfast and trip back to the course for a full day of practice.
The weather had made quite the turn on Monday as tempts went from the low 60s into the 70s and rain turned into amazing sun. You could not ask for a better day to be out on the mini-links. It turned into another one of those surreal tournament days where I couldn’t tell you anything that was going on in the world outside of 18 lanes, ball choices and putting lines. With the 6 hour difference from back home as well, most of the morning was also while everyone I knew was sleeping so there wasn’t really even the potential distraction of text messages or emails. We broke just long enough to run to the mall for lunch and that evening some of us stayed at the hotel for dinner. This turned into dinner and a show as there was a Swedish prom in the restaurant, like right next to where we were having dinner. It was weird and almost felt like were trespassing but the hotel was cool with it. We did learn that teens and proms are pretty much the same the world round, reinforced then next night as there is another prom going on as I write this. They also have a really love of American music here, though I was pleased to hear Dancing Queen both nights – feel like it would have been a major disappointment not to hear that at a Swedish party.
At the same time we met some of the English team who showed up that evening and like the prom, the rest of the English team is sitting to my right as I write this with some of my U.S. teammates (I’ll be heading over there shortly). That’s been one of the great things about this tournament, meeting folks from all of the countries and reconnecting with folks I’ve met at various other tournaments. Not to mention that I actually get to be present, and report from, a WMF event!
Tuesday’s weather was predicted to be a rainout but it ended up holding off for most of the day, with a short exception around lunch time. This was actually nice because it gave us a chance to play the course in some crappy conditions, especially after the rain left and the wind picked up. Most people seemed to think it was chilly but this New England penguin was feeling really good and I honestly felt I was shooting better on the course when the weather was a little crappier.
I’m about out of coherent writing at this point but I hope you enjoyed the little update. Its going to be difficult to make some predictions about this tournament but I’m hoping the next two practice days will give me some insight into what to look for come tournament time on Friday. Go Team USA!
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