Iced Tee, Anyone?

2 minute read
THEUNIS BATES

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nginx/1.14.0 (Ubuntu) Snow blindness, frigid temperatures, polar bears — not exactly everyone’s idea of a relaxing round of golf. But at the Spitsbergen Open, these hazards are par for the course. The tournament, which takes place April 10-14 on the remote Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard, some 1,000 km south of the North Pole, is open to professional and amateur golfers from anywhere in the world. Up to 34 competitors will play on a nine-hole green — or rather, white — built on a frozen fjord off the island of Spitsbergen.

Temperatures can drop to 30C in April, so players have to tee off in the type of gear usually sported by polar explorers. Competitors need crampons to grip the icy course, tinted goggles to reduce glare and golf clubs with steel shafts, as graphite can shatter in extreme cold. The local wildlife also creates some unique challenges. The course is watched over by spotters with rifles in case one of the archipelago’s 3,000 polar bears starts taking too close an interest in a caddy.

If you feel up to the icy challenge, call the Svalbard Wildlife Service on (47-79) 02 56 60, or check out www.spitsbergen-icegolf.no for more information. The entry cost for the competition is $2,870, which includes a return flight from Oslo and four nights’ accommodation. Or if you’re interested in a more traditional winter holiday filled with snowmobile safaris and dog-sledding trips, log on to http://www.svalbard.net, which lists local activities, accommodation and tour operators.

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