The Drambuie World Ice Golf Championship 2003
"it's not your usual round of golf that's for sure, but its probably the most amazing one!"
Roger Beames - 2002 winner
The 5th Drambuie World Ice Golf Championship will take place in Uummannaq, Greenland on March 27th- April 1st, 2003. Set in one of the world's most spectacular landscapes, 600km north of the Arctic Circle, 36 players from across the globe will come together to compete for the coveted title of The Drambuie World Ice Golf Champion.
Reigning champion, Roger Beames summed up the 2002 event. "I cannot even begin to tell you what an incredible event this has been! We have all been egging each other on and the team spirit has been brilliant"
Roger has been invited by Drambuie to return in 2003 to see if he can repeat his success but he'll have a tough task ahead of him with demand for places coming from top golfers all over the world.
The tournament is set in the most amazing and challenging environment. Freezing glaciers and huge icebergs frame the course and continue to move slowly all year round - even in March the "green" is cut literally days before the event.
Playing golf on a frozen seascape is not the only task at hand. Coping with extreme temperatures, which can fall to minus 50º C with wind-chill factor, challenges players both physically and mentally. Special kit an absolute essential!
Other factors to consider are that the 'green' will of course be white, the ball is fluorescent orange and there is always the unlikely risk of losing a ball to a polar bear!
Jonathan Brown, Regional Director for event sponsor Drambuie sums it up, "Playing golf on ice takes a traditional sport to a new dimension. Drambuie has a programme of sponsorships that invite the consumer to reappraise the traditional values of the brand and also encourages them to drink Drambuie 'on ice' ".
The Drambuie World Ice Golf Championship 2002
Scottish challenger is new champion by one stroke
21 Mar 2002: Today in Uummannaq, Greenland, 600 km north of the Arctic Circle in a spectacular landscape described as "like playing on the moon!", Challenge Tour golfer Roger Beames of Scotland beat the cold and hair-raising competition from American pro Jack O'Keefe to win The Drambuie World Ice Golf Championship 2002 by just one stroke.
The first player ever to shoot par on the 9 hole course, which is determined by nature and changes every year, Roger was behind by two strokes in the third round before hitting two eagles and very nearly making the tournament's first hole-in-one. His brilliant play with a score of 30 in the fourth round saw him storming forward to claim the title and prove that even in the most extreme conditions skill remains crucial to success.
"I knew I might have been in with a chance, but never expected to win. There have been some serious golfers out here this year. Jack played so solidly throughout the tournament, and it was all down to the last hole that decided the winner - it was nail biting stuff!"
Second place Jack O'Keefe of the United States had streaked into the lead on the first day of the 36 hole, two day tournament with a display of consistent and controlled golf despite temperatures of minus 17 degrees Celsius. Playing under glorious blue skies in surroundings that reminded him of "the final scene in the Superman movie where Clark Kent flies back to Krypton," Jack kept up the pressure to gain a strong lead of 4 strokes over Roger at the beginning of the second day.
But despite a solid performance by Jack, luck was on Roger's side. After the event Jack was disappointed but philosophical. "I've played on fast and hard greens when it gets cold in Kentucky but nothing can prepare you for this. Despite the difficulties, you can't get frustrated. Just look around at this amazing country and you remember why we are here."
Competition for third place was also intense over both days. Challenge Tour player Rudi Sailor of Austria was a favourite to win after leading the field with one below par on the practice day, but could only manage third after rallying back from a bad round on day one. PGA Tour instructor Chip Thompson moved up from fourth to fifth in the final round, beating out defending Champion Annika Ostberg of Denmark, returning to Greenland for the third time. Annika slipped to 15 strokes behind the leader after being separated by only six strokes at the end of round two. In total, 31 players from around the world took part.
Annika did not pull off the hat trick she hoped for, but remained buoyant. "This year the course was really exciting, but a bit more difficult than before. There were lots of ice packs and in several places the ice was completely exposed. On the other hand, that made it easier to spot the ball! It went well for me but I was up against some tough competition from some really good players"
Physical exposure on the course, especially cold fingers, posed a problem for some golfers. Roy Wegerle, the former Chelsea, QPR and Blackburn Rovers striker who quit football for golf after playing for the United States in the 1998 World Cup, struggled with conditions which were a far cry from his native Miami. He commented, "To try and play golf in these conditions is very awkward. For a start you've got to have about seven layers of clothing on!"
2002 Champion Roger Beames summed up the past two days. "I cannot even begin to tell you what an incredible event this has been! We have all been egging each other on and the team spirit has been brilliant. I guess there are moments in an event such as this when it is all down to sheer luck - it's not your usual round of golf that's for sure, but its probably the most amazing one!"
The presentation ceremony, in which Roger Beames will be awarded a trophy featuring a silver quaich by headline sponsor Drambuie (a quaich being the classic small whisky drinking bowl of Scotland which takes its name from the Gaelic cuach meaning 'cup'), will be held at 10:30 pm GMT in Hotel Uummannaq, Greenland.
Top Ten Scoreboard
| Course Par 140
Fourth Drambuie World Ice Golf Championship
The stage is set for the world's most impressive golf tournament, which will take place almost 600 km north of the Arctic Circle.
The main architect of the golf course, situated on the fjord near the small town of Uummannaq in northwestern Greenland, is nature itself. The most important building material is water, or more precisely, huge amounts of frozen water. The fjord is covered by metre-thick ice that traps gigantic icebergs in its icy-cold embrace. On this natural stage, which is a breathtaking sight, even for the most experienced globetrotters, 34 golfers from all over the world will compete not only for honour, but also for The 2002 Drambuie World Ice Golf Championship. The event is scheduled for 20th and 21st March.
Fourth World Championship
This is the fourth successive year that Uummannaq has played host to The Drambuie World Ice Golf Championship. What started as a slightly wild idea has quickly grown in reputation in the golfing world to become an international event.
Many golfers dream of being invited to experience the course for themselves. Each year the field of competitors grows in strength. However, the basic requirement for entry is still only a handicap of 36 - a level that also opens the field up to strong amateur golfers. This year the list of participants includes players from the European PGA Challenge Tour and a number of talented young Americans. It also includes Denmark's Annika Östberg, who has been crowned Danish Champion on several occasions. She has won The Drambuie World Ice Golf Championship on the last two occasions, and this year has the chance to achieve a hat trick. Whatever the outcome, it is obvious that Annika Östberg has a particular flair for tackling the unique conditions encountered by the courageous golfers on that carpet of ice, in temperatures that dip as low as -40°C.
Similar to normal golf
The course is a bit shorter, the holes slightly bigger, the balls orange and the green white - but otherwise it's just like normal golf. The basic aim was to develop the game of ice golf to such a level that it would have the same standards and meet the same requirements as competitions on grass courses. However, it has been necessary to make certain allowances regarding the playing surface and temperatures. Taking this into account, experience has shown that competitors quickly come to terms with the special conditions, and that a competitor's proficiency as a golfer is vital in securing a good result on the ice-cold course.
Residents living near the Uummannaq fjord are always ready to get involved, and their presence lends this golf tournament local colour and a unique atmosphere. The crowds also include TV-crews and photographers. Right from the start, the Drambuie World Ice Golf Championship has attracted the attention of the media. In fact, the scenic backdrop, the light, the atmosphere and the competition itself all contribute to the fascination that Greenland's unique golf tournament generates.
|The queen of the ice aims for at hat trick
Annika Östberg , former Danish amateur champion proved in April 2001 that she is the undisputed queen of the ice winning The Drambuie World Ice Golf Championship for the second time. In April 2000 she returns to Uummannaq to defend his title, when the town of Uummannaq plays host for the fourth consecutive year to The Drambuie World Ice Golf Championship 2000.
The Drambuie World Ice Golf Championship is a unique golfing experience for the truly adventurous player Vast icefields will form the unique backdrop for a spectacular nine hole course, the lie of which is constantly subject to change, depending on where the ice from the seven glaciers at the foot of the Uummannaq fjord freeze together with the sea-ice during the winter, on their way to the open sea.
The championship will be held on 20 and 21 March 2002 on the sea-ice off Uummannaq 590 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle. The tournament runs over two days over a total of 36 holes. The day before the tournament starts is set aside for practice and both before and after the championship there will be organised trips to explore the fascinating landscape around Uummannaq, where dog sleds and ice fishing are still an everyday part of the scenery.
The championship is open to anybody with a handicap of under 34, and if you have tried the greens of Europe, you will find playing on Greenland's "whites" something quite special! The number of participants is limited to 48.
The green is white
The popular game will be largely familiar, apart from the fact that the ball is not white and the green is not green. Naturally the special conditions also have to be taken into consideration in other ways when the surface is ice and not grass. All the lengths are reduced by 15-20 % and the green - or the "white" - is prepared in a specific way. The golf ball is in strong colours so that it does not disappear against the white background.
|Annika Ôstberg wins her second World Icegolf Championship
The seven-time Danish amateur champion, fired rounds of 76-81 for a 13-over-par total of 157. American Tom Ferrell (166) was second with South Africa's Shaun Cullen (169) third.
A light snowstorm at breakfast time cleared away to the best weather of the tournament and the cameras waited at hole number one as the golfers lined up to try their luck and pocket the million dollars on offer from sponsors, Drambuie. The money was safe though - only two golfers managed to hit the 'white'. It was Jeff Blakeley, England who was
nearest the pin, edging out Michael Beamish of Ireland for that particular
honour. Adjudicator Ian Riley said 'conditions were perfect but everyone
seemed to struggle, even Annika. Maybe players were daunted having to
drive off between the two ice pillars'
All interest centered on the final group of Annika and Tom, joined by Scotland's Bill Howie, Scotland. As in the morning, Tom again outscored
Annika but she held on to win by a convincing margin and retain her trophy. Tom said 'I've played with the best ice golfer on the planet but its
great to know I'm the best male'! South African Shaun Cullen moved into
third place scoring three birdies in his 38 and American, John Paul
Newport, moved into fourth place with a 41.
Golfers from Europe, the USA and South Africa last battled for the World Championship in April 2001. They had travelled thousands of kilometres to play golf on a surface and in surroundings the like of which they had never experienced before.
Annika Östberg proved in 2001 that she is the undisputed queen of the ice. For the second year running, the former seven-times Danish champion won the World Championships, and was pleased to receive an invitation from our main sponsor Drambuie to come to Uummannaq in 2002 to defend her title.
Ramon Bernhard from Florida was fascinated by the icebergs and the snow. "This is a fantastic experience - to play golf on top of the world and meet all these people, especially for someone like myself who has never seen snow before."
Tom Ferrell of the USA took second place. "Annika is a great player, and I've played with the best ice golfer on the planet - but it's great to know that I'm the best male! The scenery is so amazing and beautiful. Everywhere you look up you see a new view. It's tremendous."
South African Shaun Cullen moved into third place, scoring three birdies in his 38: "It's unbelievable! The only way to describe the feeling is "wow", meaning World of Wonders! The most spectacular experience I've ever had!"
2.5 metres from a million dollars
In 2001 Drambuie put up 1 million dollars for a hole-in-one contest. The cameras waited at hole number one as the golfers lined up to try their luck and pocket the million dollars. Drambuie's money was safe, though - only two golfers managed to hit the "white". Jeff Blakeley of England was nearest, at only 2.5 metres from the pole - and a status as a cool multi-millionaire. Perhaps having to drive off between the two pillars of ice put the players off.
40 sleds and 350 dogs took the ice golf participants out on a two-hour trip. The people of Uummannaq live mainly by hunting and fishing, and still hunt using dog sleds and kayaks.
Once the winner had been announced, Annika was congratulated and toasted, with glasses made of thousand-year old ice. All the competitors and spectators were offered a glass of Drambuie at the spectacular ice bar. Not in the traditional way, however, with ice cubes, but vice versa - the Drambuie actually in ice.
The Uummannaq layout has one characteristic most normal venues don't have: it changes every year depending on the movement of the icebergs. The 2001 course record of 37 strokes, set by Tom Ferrell, will stand forever, for that ice melted in May and June, and in February and March nature will create a new background for the 2002 ice golf course.
Some players return year after year, but every winter poses a new challenge. Louise Scott from Edinburgh will participate in 2002 for the third time. "Going to Greenland to play Ice Golf for the second time in 2001 was every bit as fantastic as the first time. As ever, the people - including the locals, the organisers, the sponsors and the golfers - make this an incredible adventure - it has to be experienced to be believed."
"Golfing on top of the world is one of the most unique experiences I've ever had in my golfing career. The scenery is simply spectacular, the food outstanding and the golf challenging. What a unique experience!"
Art Stricklin, USA
Ice Golf is all about survival. It's about handling the elements, sharing
the adventure with new friends and learning that the game of golf can takeyou places you never imagined.
Tom Ferrell, USA
Greenland alone is worth the trip. What a spectacular setting. Add to it a very professionally run golf event, and it's the adventure of a lifetime.
When people trot out their golf stories, you'll always have one to tell.
Tom Ferrell, USA
Competitors in the Drambuie World Ice Golf Championships will take a great deal of time preparing for the days they'll spend in the heavily
publicized biting cold, the extreme golf conditions. What they can never
be prepared for, however, is the moment they have to leave the kindness
and generosity of the people of Uummannaq, the unsurpassed beauty of the glacial backdrop, the comraderie of their fellow competitors. It turns
out the environment isn't a competitor's worst enemy, but rather becoming too attached to the environment. I was deeply sad to have to go.
Sean Kelly, USA
Golf's internal game plays on a much larger stage in Greenland. There
are many moments during which players hear nothing but the wind and
their own loud thoughts. On the sea ice in Uummannaq, those thoughts
are often not just about the strategy of an upcoming shot, but rather
more personal ones about the entire unforgettable experience. Perhaps that's why I played so poorly.
Sean Kelly, USA
At times a shot from behind an iceberg hid me from view of my competitors, providing me with the brief illusion that I was totally alone on endless stretches of ice. I wasn't in danger. I was just playing golf. But doing so with a feeling of solitude I doubt I will ever encounter again.
Sean Kelly, USA
I'm convinced that no other tournament will provide such a glimpse into
the lives of people whose means of survival are so simple, but so strangely unfamiliar. By the end of the journey, I realize we aren't just players, but a lucky few who have been given a gift to see a human spirit rarely touched, or burdened, by modern details.
Sean Kelly, USA
Ultimate cool for golf masters
The annual Drambuie World Ice Golf Championship in Uummannaq, Greenland is
shaking up the golf world with record numbers of players coming from all
over the world to participate in the final and most exciting tournament of
the ice golf season on 7-8 April. A cool contrast to the Masters in
Twenty-seven participants from as far afield as the UK, USA, Denmark,
Germany and South Africa will compete for the title of Drambuie World
Champion with a chance to become the world's coolest millionaire in an
extraordinary hole-in-one competition. These lucky players are amongst
thousands of enthusiasts world-wide who wanted to experience golf's
Cold fingers and thick clothing may be hardest part of playing in
temperatures of around minus 10 - 15 degrees Celsius. But defending
champion, 33-year-old Annika Östberg from Denmark, who last year completed
36 holes in 154 strokes, is looking forward to it. "I'm excited about
being reunited with the people and the placeSIt is impossible to describe
how to play ice golf. You simply must try it yourself!"
For those who tire of tradition, ice golf is a refreshing alternative to
the Masters in Georgia this weekend. As John Paul Newport, well-known
author of "The Fine Green Line" who will be playing this year quips,
"You've got to love any sport whose participants are widely considered to
1 million dollars at stake for a hole-in-one
There has been a big interest in participating in the World Championships;
however, only a very limited number can take part. The participants come
from most parts of the world, with most from the UK, the USA and
Scandinavia. Many people want to try their strength at a tournament, which,
as one former participant expressed it, "beats anything you have ever tried
in your career as a golfer".
Golfers from many parts of the world will meet once again on the Uummannaq
Fjord to compete in extreme conditions among the imposing icebergs. This
year the title of World Champion is not all they have to play for: 1
million dollars and cool multi-millionaire status awaits the winner of a
hole-in-one. This fantastic prize is being offered by our principal
The Drambuie World Ice Golf Championship was held for the first
time in 1998, since when this unusual golf tournament has made its mark as
one of the most spectacular events in the golfing year. Basically,
ice golf is very similar to ordinary golf, but there are some significant
differences. The "green" is white, the ball is pink and the course has been
marked out on the ice-covered fjord, where icebergs have been seized by the
cold on their way out to sea from the seven glaciers at the head of the
Fjord. The rules of play are based, with a few slight adjustments, on the
rules for golf on grass.
Warm memories of cold surroundings
Real it is
The sun shines and sitting on the hotel balcony in Uummannaq looking at the most amazing golf course in the world makes you wonder if it is all real. But real it is, and if you are a golfer and are looking for the ultimate game, Ice Golf in Greenland is something not to be missed.
Fraser Ballantyne, photographer, Scotland
Never to forget
One of the most spectacular trips of my life filled in with unexpected sights, happening events. Last but not least, if you love Golf, this tournament beats everything you have ever done in your golf career - it is an adventure you will never forget.
Michael Domberger. Germany
The only hole-in-one I scored was when one leg disappeared suddenly through a seal's breathing hole in the ice! Somehow it must have energised me because from coming last the previous year I moved up to 14th place. Those of us who where lucky enough to return a second time were initially nervous that it might not be quite as spectacular, quite as memorable. We were wrong! In awe of the landscape, challenged by the golf and warmed by the friendship around us, we had even more memories to take away and even more to tempt us back.
Jonathan Brown, Scotland
Greenland should be named GREATland; the most impressive landscape which I have ever seen.... not only for golfers.
Rudolf Ruter, Germany
A montage of memories
My montage of memories are many and varied. The first was finding a travel agent in Canada who would beleive me that there was a place called Uummannaq and an event "Drambuie World Ice Golf Championship". Then the long trek eastwards from Edmonton, Alberta via Ottawa and Iqaluit, Nunnavut to Kangerlussuaq. Waiting three days at Kangerlussuaq for the enthusiastic competitors to arrive. The helicopter flight from Quaatsut to Uummannaq. The challenging golf course amidst the majestic icebergs and unsculptured rough terrain. The background howling of the tethered huskies. The moving choral singing of the church choir. An unbelievable dog sled trip around the island full of tranquility and spectacular beauty. The most cherished memory of this uniquely beautiful part of the world is the camaraderie, laughter, kindness and new friendships.
Herbert Sacks, Canada
Words cannot be found
In the same way that pictures cannot truly convey the magic of Greenland, words cannot be found to articulate the adventure shared with 30 or so strangers thrown together due to like-minded eccentricity. The memories of this journey will remain with everybody involved for a long time to come.
Louise Scott, Scotland
Click here to read Louise's experiences.
24 players from 11 different countries will compete in the world championship this year out on the sea ice at Uummannaq. The players come from Greenland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Germany, England, Scotland, Holland, Canada, New Zealand and the USA. There will also be a whole host of journalists and two TV crews.
Multiple Danish champion
Representing Denmark will be one of the country's best female golfers, the 31 years old Annika Östberg. Annika has played on the Danish national team for 10 years and has won numerous national titles and a Nordic championship in 1986. Her best international result was 12th place in the individual world championships in Venezuela in 1988. Despite several offers from abroad Annika has declined a career as a professional and is currently working as an instructor at a sports institute.
The ocean - the real golf course architect
The weather, the ocean and the iceberg formation during January and February have created the backdrop for this year's course. The motion of the water shortly before the final freeze has formed the surface of the course. Unlike last year the surface is more even and has much less hummocking.
So nature has done its bit, and now it's up to the course architects to lay out the final course, which must be ready by the time the competitors arrive on 30th March. Last year's course record of 66 strokes will exist forever, and it won't be long before we find out what this year's course record will be.
Drambuie in ice glasses
Once the winner has been decided out on the ice on Sunday 2nd April, he/she will be congratulated and toasted in ice glasses. Competitors and spectators will all be offered a glass of Drambuie. Not in the traditional way, however, with ice cubes in the Drambuie, but vice versa - the Drambuie in ice! Once again this year a Greenlandic ice sculptor will fashion glasses from thousand-year old ice and construct tables and chairs of ice to stand beside the judges' tent and the information tent.
Good advice from the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews.
"When the occurrence of snow and natural ice in significant quantities are typical of the country, the concept of "temporary" should not be referred to. Therefore it is recommended that the ice be defined as an integral part of the golf course".
This was just one of the pieces of advice that the organisers received from the Royal Scottish Golf Club at St. Andrews prior to the start of the tournament last year. The club's management also sent their best wishes for the tournament. Showing that caution comes before the rules of the game, the Royal Golf Club also advised, with reference to "Rules Decision on Dangerous Situations", that "in the event of a polar bear wandering on to the ice-golf course, the same safety procedure should be followed as for rattlesnakes and ants elsewhere in the world".
However, polar bears are rare in this area, although they do appear now and again.
Uummannaq Ice Golf School
Ice golf and in fact golf altogether was an unknown phenomenon in Uummannaq town and the neighbouring communities until last year. To introduce the town to the sport of golf, an ice-golf school was set up, and this will be repeated once again on Sunday 26th March, the weekend before the Drambuie World Ice Golf Championship. Anyone in the town can register for the ice-golf school, which will run for most of Sunday, with a break for "kaffemik" (coffee meetings) on the ice. Golf balls and clubs can be borrowed from Hotel Uummannaq, and the two tournament organisers will be in charge of the tuition. Last year approximately 150 took part in the ice-golf school.
Once the world championship, which takes place the following weekend, is over, the course will be at the disposal of the local citizens.
Uummannaq ice golf committee
Uummannaq ice golf committee was set up in 1998. Hotel manager Arne Niemann was chosen as chairman, and the committee also includes Uummannaq's mayor Jens Lars Fleischer and representatives from the town and Greenland's Tourist Board - Greenland Tourism. The objective is to make the Drambuie World Ice Golf Championship an annual international event that will create increased winter activity and put Uummannaq - and Greenland - on the international map. The aim is also for the ice-golf course to be open and accessible for several weeks so that smaller tournaments can held for companies and incentive trips can be arranged with ice golf as part of the programme.
Golf in Greenland
Golf is not a widespread sport in Greenland, as in so many other countries. In addition to the sea ice in Uummannaq there has also been the opportunity to play golf on the sandbanks of the river at Kangerlussuaq. In summer 1999 Nuuk Golf Club was opened in Greenland's capital, Nuuk. The nine-hole course has been built not far from the landing strip, and today 35,000 square metres of green grass imported from Iceland is growing, making it Greenland's largest lawn. In Ilulissat on the west coast and in Narsarsuaq in Southern Greenland they are currently working on plans for further golf courses.
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