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Ukrainian World Golf Challenge 2003
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 atmosphere.
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 frustrations!
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 Tournament Results list all daily and final scores, including individual longest drive, closest-to-the-hole, gross and net Stableford winners.
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 to come.
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
here for winners in all categories the overall tournament recap.