Ukrainian World Golf Challenge
The week of 16 through 25 October saw Ukrainians, both golfers
and non-golfers alike from around the world gather at the
Kapalua Resort in Hawaii to renew friendships, share in camaraderie,
and of course, participate in spirited golfing competition.
It came and went in what seemed like a blink.
Exactly 10 years previously, and at exactly the same venue,
the inaugural Australia vs. America Challenge took place,
and since then the Challenge has grown into a large international
event with many more participants.
Canada, as well as Great Britain and Germany, first took
part in the Challenge in 1998 when it was held in Florida
where Canada participated with a formidable total of 3 golfers
and an overall delegation of 4.
By the next tournament, in Spain in 2001, the Canadian group
had grown to 24 golfers, with 37 total participants. The 2003
Hawaii tournament saw the largest number of international
participants to date, and Canada was represented by 31 golfers
and total 54 participants.
The sun-soaked week featured many get-togethers. The Canadian
group kicked off the week with a get-acquainted dinner Saturday
night at the Kapalua Bay Clubhouse. The international Welcome
Reception followed the next evening at the Village clubhouse
where the Americans were easy to spot, with their stars and
stripes American flag shirts. The Australians took on a more
local flare with their deep blue aloha shirts, and the Canadians
were more subtle with maple leaf and trident chain tattoos.
The opening Tuesday golf round was followed that afternoon
with a BBQ and pool party at the golf villas. Lots of food,
lots of drink, lots of people thrown into the pool. The water
ballet was delightful.
Throughout the week there were innumerable informal encounters
for socializing, sightseeing, making potato pancakes, dining
out at local eateries, and staying up way too late into the
night. As the villas were in close proximity, opportunities
for chance meetings led to familiarity and a comfortable casual
The golf competition took place over the final 4 days of
the week. The opening round was held on the Tournament North
course at Ka'anapali, followed on subsequent days at The Bay,
The Village, and The Plantation courses of Kapalua. The courses
were astounding, the conditions awesome, and the gentle breezes
made for perfect warm weather. The trade winds softened for
the week, but the grain on the greens was strong. Yes, all
puts break hard to the south tip of Moloka'i, even if it is
up hill. The pros playing the annual Mercedes Championship
at Plantation each January also experience many of the same
Men and women of all skill levels played in the tournament,
Whether the handicap was as low as 6, or where 36 is not nearly
high enough, we all enjoyed the spirit of the competition.
There were exceptional rounds played each day by golfers
from all teams. Maybe a few rounds were too exceptional. Nevertheless,
the individual and team scoring was close. The accompanying
Results list all daily and final scores, including
individual longest drive, closest-to-the-hole, gross and net
The Australians played strongly right from the start, and
continued to hold a solid lead until the end. Team Oz took
the USA/Australia Challenge for the third consecutive time,
and won the overall team World championship as well. The Canadian
team trailed in the results, but did manage to squeak past
the Americans on the final day to capture overall second place.
The team from Germany competed for individual awards.
The Awards Banquet was held Friday evening in the Village
clubhouse. The friendly and happy atmosphere of the tournament
infused the banquet and prevailed well into the late night,
and it was sad to see the tournament come to a close.
It was good to have seen so many new faces among the familiar
ones from the past, to be able to come together to re-acquaint
friendships, forge new bonds, and as true friends can do best,
kick a little of each other's butt in competition.
The existence of this tournament is attributable to the dedicated
stewardship of 2 men, Ron Shymko from Australia, and Roman
'Chico' Luzniak from the United States, who pulled together
these "First-ever" competitions. They thought it would be
a nice thing to get fellow Ukrainians, whether of Ukrainian
descent or connection, to come together from opposite sides
of the world, to enjoy a little friendly competition. Their
vision and industry has pulled us all together.
Ron Shymko's life was cut short after a brief battle with
cancer within a year after the Spain Challenge, and all who
knew him miss him dearly. The Hawaii competition was named
in his honour. In all this the fruits of his perseverance
endure, and in this he is still with us.
On a personal note, I was elated to be a part of this gathering.
I had the privilege to meet you and to get to know many of
you. The Canadian contingent participated in the spirit of
the event as it was conceived. Our participation has grown
successively, and we were the largest nation group in Hawaii.
I have no doubt that, with our mutual continuing and growing
interest and support, this event will carry on for many years
The enjoyment of each international event seems to eclipse
the preceding one. Can there possibly be a better place to
host a golf tournament than Maui? We'll all know soon, as
the next Ukrainian World Golf Challenge will be staged in
Australia late in 2005.
President, Ukrainian Golf Association of Canada