The International Olympics Committee have finally reviewed a longstanding petition by the USGA to have snow golf entered into the Winter Olympics. This past week, the USGA finally got their wish as Thomas Bach, President of the IOC approved the first ever snow golf competition for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. South Korean’s were ecstatic to hear the news, with thousands flocking to the snow-covered streets upon hearing the announcement.
Popularity of snow golf has flourished in South Korea, particularly in Gangwon Province, an area just west of Seoul where mild but snowy conditions are ideal for snow golf.
Bach held a press conference last night and stated “I never even knew golf was a sport, let alone a winter one. This petition was just the first of many winter sports we’re looking at. I have another huge petition from the Government of Iceland regarding ‘Naked Hot Tub Running’. Bach insisted that each petition will be considered carefully, and that presentations by each petitioning group will be taken seriously.
For those of you who have never heard of snow golf, you’re not alone. Golf was originally first played as a year-round sport in Holland in the 14th Century. The origins of modern snow golf date back to the 1890s. Rudyard Kipling, the author of The Jungle Book is believed to have relaxed and escaped his writing by playing snow golf. He passed the time during the long, cold New England winters by taking his clubs out, painting golf balls red, and designing his own makeshift course. This was the humble beginning of snow golf. The game has expanded exponentially over the years.
There are many challenges that modern snow golfers encounter. For starters, the extreme temperatures can be difficult to cope with. Cold temperatures can cause muscle tenseness. Cramps and muscle strains are common concerns of snow golfers. Extra layers of clothing can effect golfers’ forms and swing motions. Adjusting to the added clothing layers can be difficult for beginner snow golfers. The cold also makes golf balls hard and compressed, resulting in a 20% shorter shot distance. Clubs can also be effected by the colder temperatures. A cold shaft means inconsistency and can have an effect on the distance of a shot. Golfers who are accustomed to warmer temperatures will find snow golf to be quite a different sport than the type of golf they are used to.
Therefore, much preparation time is required to transition from golf played on grass to snow golf. Since the approval of the petition and the introduction of snow golf into the Winter Olympic schedule, many PGA members have begun intense training processes to prepare for snow golf competition.
Upon hearing the news, Tiger Woods began training at once, heading to Alaska to work on his snow game. “It’s a completely different game in the cold,” Tiger said. “I can’t use graphite as the cold will snap the shafts. I’ve already got Nike working on a prototype snow golf shaft that hopefully will give golfers the edge they need out on the ice.” Nike could not be reached for a comment, but expect to see snow golf shafts hitting the market in late February – just in time for the Snow Golf Championships in Uummannaq, Greenland in March.