Have you had an opportunity to golf in various parts of the world?
I’m sure many of you can say yes, while others may only dream of such an experience.
I’ve been fortunate to have played on some of the finest courses around. Every course has distinctions that are truly unique.
However, the experience that stands out amongst them all is the time I competed with my college team in Japan.
The start of my sophomore year of college began unlike any other. My New Mexico Lobos golf team was chosen as one of four schools to represent the U.S. in a world collegiate tournament in the Fukushima Prefecture of Japan.
Our trip to Japan was delayed by a couple of days due to a typhoon, which apparently is common.
The tournament was scheduled to begin on a Tuesday, with practice rounds taking place on Monday.
After a couple of unexpected layovers, our team finally landed in Tokyo early in the evening on Monday.
We had already missed the practice round.
After a four-hour bus ride, we eventually arrived at our residence for the tournament well after midnight. We were exhausted and had to wake up at 6 am (local time) for our first round.
Our room consisted of five single beds and a shower with a digitally controlled water temperature gauge. We eventually figured it out.
The golf itself turned out to be an incredible experience.
I remember being paired with two players from a local university in Japan. Neither spoke any English and both smoked what seemed to be a couple of packs of cigarettes each during our 18 holes that day.
Even though we had a communication barrier, I wasn’t a smoker and I felt awful after a couple of long days of travel, that opening round was one of the highlights of my golfing life.
On the first tee we had a customary gift exchange within our group. The items consisted mainly of souvenirs from each of our respective schools.
I also remember carrying a small cloth bag of sand throughout the round to fill all divots I took that day.
We didn’t use push carts those days the way most college teams do today. Instead, we carried our bags.
So, all you could see around the course were college golfers carrying their bags and each of them holding a bag of sand everywhere they went.
The tournament lasted three days, and each day offered a new experience with a new group of playing partners. My team played well, in spite of the challenges we faced leading up to the opening round. The golf course was pristine, and the tournament staff was the most polite and attentive group I’ve ever come across.
It was a tournament I will never forget.