Golfer's paradise: The famed course on the Hill features dumpsters, trees and no green fees
By Ken Foote Sports Editor
Friday, April 11, 2003
A large rock, a light post, a tree, a funky statue and a garbage dumpster. Five seemingly unrelated objects that all serve one common, glorious purpose; they are all holes for the spectacle of campus golf. Since the St. Olaf campus does not have a regulation golf course like the University of Notre Dame, some students have developed a thrilling adaptation to the ancient Scottish sport. Players use regulation golf clubs to hit tennis balls at various objects around campus. The scoring methods and courses vary but that is just one of the many beauties of campus golf. Students can play one of the existing courses or design your own. Pretty much anything goes in creating a hole, save for obvious spots that could create damage or safety hazards. In addition to having free reign over course layout, players can determine how to score and regulate the game. Some prefer the match play format, where the player with the lowest score on an individual hole is awarded one point and the object is to accumulate as many points as possible, while others gravitate toward stroke play, in which a par for each hole is established and the player with the lowest score in relativity to par after 18 holes is declared the victor. Fortunately, there are no reports of people using the modified Stableford scoring system. As far as regulations go, some adhere to the primordial law of play it where lies, wherever that may be, while others establish hazards, such as concrete, asphalt and water, from which a player may not hit and is assessed a penalty stroke as the price of removing the ball from danger. Getting the ball in the hole can consist of physically hitting the object or getting within a predetermined distance, usually one club length, of the target. Also, some competitors permit only golf style swings, while more laid back participants allow the hockey style shot and live by the as-long-as-the-club-head-touches-the-ball-its-all-good mantra. Dave Choukalas 03, the man credited with bringing many of St. Olafs under classmen campus golfers to the game after his stay as a JC in Kildahl last year, weighed in with his thoughts about the way to play campus golf. I prefer match play because it is easier to keep track of the score and it keeps the score relatively close the entire time so that everyone always feels they are in the match, Choukalas said. I also support players using all types of swings to finish the hole, because most of us dont really know how to swing a golf club. Campus golf is primarily a recreational event. Like the olympics it can be a time where people set aside their differences and enjoy the outdoors and company of others while catching inquisitive looks from passerby wondering why you are hitting a tennis ball with a golf club. However, like the olympics, it can also serve as a platform for fierce competition where players compete for something more important than gold, silver and bronze; pride. When I play, I play to win, said Lance Kuehn 05. It is always a good feeling to come out on top, but as long as I have a good time, I never go home without a smile on my face. Kuehns opponent, and dear friend, in many rounds, Tony Peterson 05, expressed similar sentiments. I always aim to win, but it is not the be all and end all, Peterson said. We play a difficult 18 holes. Sometimes you take from the course, and sometimes it takes from you. Adding to the enjoyment level of this sport is the fact that it is almost completely unhindered by the elements, which do not provide ideal conditions for traditional golf during the majority of a students time on the Hill. We have played in the snow and the rain as well as in sunny conditions, said Kuehn. The style of play changes a little bit, [but] the fun never diminishes. Campus golf has all the elements to be a fixture at St. Olaf College for years to come. It has diversity of rules and regulations to accommodate nearly all skill levels and preferences, the ability to be played all year round, the chance for competition should one so desire and, most importantly for the college student, it is outrageously fun and completely free. After narrowly vanquishing Peterson in a recent match play event, Kuehn took the time to express his gratitude for emerging victorious. I just want to thank God, said Kuehn.