Ukrainian golfers from around the world again converged to renew the bi-annual Ukrainian World Golf Challenge during the week of November 12 through 19, this time at the Novotel Twin Towers Resort, on the beautiful Sunshine Coast of Queensland, Australia.
The task of organizing this, the 4th Ukrainian World Golf Challenge, fell primarily to two members of the Australian Golf Association - Steve Hawrysiuk and Steve Kosylo who rose to the difficult and complex challenge by planning and executing a very successful event! The Tournament Committee also included the Presidents of each represented country team: Steve Hawrysiuk from Australia, Bohdan Kushnir from Canada, Bohdan Swidersky from Great Britain, Michael Hamalij from Germany and Myron Luzniak from U.S.A.
The Trip Downunder
Each group of intrepid Canadians made their own travel arrangements to Australia. Some traveled via Alaska and then spent the day in Hong Kong while others traveled through Vancouver, Hawaii, Los Angeles or New Zealand. At Australian customs, each golfer had their golf shoes meticulously inspected, with complimentary washing for a “lucky” few who still had some good Canadian soil clinging to their cleats!
The Golf Tournament began with a Welcoming reception held at the resort on the check-in Saturday. Golfers and guests mingled and enjoyed meeting each other and renewing acquaintances. During the fabulous dinner, Michael Hamalij regaled us with a hilarious account about what motivates the German Ukrainians to participate in the Ukrainian World Golf Tournaments. Each golfer received a golf related goodie bag, shirt and Aussie hat, while each spouse received a keepsake gold Tryzub, especially commissioned for the tournament and made by one of our Aussie golfing competitors.
108 golfers competed for their countries in the Challenge: 10 from the U.S.A, 8 from Great Britain, 3 golfers from Germany, and Canada was well represented with 29 golfers. Australia, as the host country, had the largest contingency of 60 golfers. The 2005 Golf Challenge also saw an increase in the number of female golfers with eight participating; of these, six were from Canada - a positive trend.
As at previous tournaments, the first day of play incorporated a practice round on Sunday. This was held at the Twin Waters Resort Golf Club. Amazingly, the practice round was cut short after only 15 holes by a severe tropical storm. The temperature must have dropped by 20 degrees Celsius! After the storm passed, a blanket of white hail covered the golf course. Everyone jokingly ribbed the Canadians for bringing winter with them to Australia to gain advantage!
The tournament itself was played on four different championship golf courses – Club Pelican Gold Course, Hyatt Regency Coolum Resort Golf Course (Australian PGA was held there two weeks later), Noosa Springs Resort Golf Club, and back to the Twin Waters Resort Golf Course for the final round. The courses were very well maintained, scenic, challenging and the golfers enjoyed seeing many exotic local kangaroos lounging on the fairways. Other wild fauna were not so friendly, especially the crow that opened Bob Leshchyshen’s golf bag and stole his lunchtime sandwich, while he was teeing off! At least he wasn’t attacked by some of the birds the way a few others were. Of all the possible hazards possible in Australia, these seemed the least likely.
After each round, the results were tallied and individual awards were given out over a friendly round or two of beer at the courses. (All tournament results including all daily and final scores, individual longest drive, closest-to-the-hole, gross and net Stableford winners are listed at the accompanying Tournament Results link).
Ultimately, the Aussies prevailed, again. They squeaked out the Team Challenge victory, with Great Britain and USA very, very close behind.
In addition to the camaraderie on the golf course, the golfers and their guests were able to meet, socialize and renew friendships at the Aussie style BBQ held mid week and at the closing Gala Dinner and Awards Night held on Friday night. Most didn’t need the formal function excuse to get together and enjoy each others’ company as was evidenced throughout the week. Many e-mails and addresses were exchanged and pictures taken with anticipation of continued friendships.
Because of the time zone change and the intensity of play, of both the golf variety and of the “extended” evenings, the tournament was demanding. Although some Canadian golfers retired early many nights, such was not the case on the Wednesday, during the Australian-Uruguay qualifying World Cup soccer match. The main bar at the resort was filled with Ukrainians cheering on and then celebrating the Australian victory after a tense shoot out to break the one-one tie. The Australians now have two teams to cheer for at the World Cup Soccer games scheduled in Germany for June 2006 – Ukraine and Australia!
All too soon, the tournament week was over. Most Canadians arrived a week or two early while others extended their trip to visit some of Australia’s most picturesque sights. Some even managed a few more rounds of golf, while others sampled the local wines in the Bourassa Valley. The Great Barrier Reef, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Tasmania and New Zealand were popular choices.
Canada was announced as the host country for the next Ukrainian World Golf Challenge 5 to be held in July/August of 2008. (The location in Canada is expected to be announced and registration to open in September 2006).
Although Australia has succeeded in taking the Team Championship for a fourth consecutive time, the Canadians vowed to unseat them next time with home turf advantage! Our friends from Great Britain, Germany, America, (and perhaps a few other places) may have something to say about this as well.