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Ulukhaktok Holman Golf Club 

 

Playing the most Northern golf course in the World

 

As a Canadian I could not believe my luck when I was told that my work (The World Residences at Sea) would be conducting an expedition transiting the Northwest Passage from Greenland to Nome Alaska making its way across the very top of Canada. I would be seeing a part of my homeland that I never thought I would have a chance to experience, and along that route came a golf outing like no other.

 

Sailing past huge icebergs while losing myself in the untouched serene surroundings spotting Narwhals, Orcas and Polar Bears or admiring the majestic cliffs of Baffin Island and watching the northern lights dance across the night sky, my thoughts were as far away from golf as they could be. That was until I heard that there was a golf course in the upcoming stop of Ulukhaktok, Northwest Territories and it happens to be the most northern 9-hole golf course on the planet.

 

Golf in the Arctic Circle? How? What? Why? Were the first thoughts that crossed my mind. Who would build a golf course this far North and who would even play it? As it turns out a gentleman named Billy Joss, who came from Scotland to manage the areas Hudson Bay Company had a love affair with the game and brought over some clubs and balls. He would go to a vacant area and hit some shots with the curious local Inuits watching in amusement. He eventually put nine flags in the ground and thus golf was born high up in the Canadian Arctic. Who would play? Well it turns out every July when it is light around the clock they play the Billy Joss Memorial Tournament with people and celebrities coming from all over to take part in the fun.

 

Even more amazing to me was when I explained to the residents onboard that there was a golf opportunity coming up I had 15 other people interested. When our ship arrived off the coast for the day, I put on some thermals and rubber boots, grabbed 8 golf bags with half sets that we would all share and we boarded two of our zodiacs ashore. I met a local that would give us a ride up in a couple vans to the golf course and just like that we were off to experience a golf adventure high in the Arctic Circle that only few get a chance to do.

 

As we whirled up the hill out of the small village I could not believe I was lucky enough to feel the sun on my face on a mild day perfect for golf high up in the Canadian Arctic. When the van came to a stop in a small gravel area I got out and surveyed the land before me. No clubhouse, no golf shop, nothing. Just a field of tundra stretched out for miles with the sea as back drop. Scanning the area I began to notice some hitting mats and artificial greens that seem scattered haplessly in various directions.

 

As tundra is half dormant shortish shrub and moss type grass there were no defining fairways or any sense of design. The only way to distinguish where to go was to stand on the tee looking into the distance for the appropriate artificial green and flag. Welcome to grass roots golf at its best.

 

We got into our foursomes and decided on a little shot gun start. My group started on the fourth hole, a 242 yard par 4. I stood on the little red platform that the hitting mat was placed on and hit a 5 wood straight at the flag beckoning me in the distance. Watching the ball land just a few yards short, I thought I was off to the perfect start but before I could even let a smile creep across my face a black outline swooped down in the distance and flew off out of site. The other three residents all started laughing as with my first swing I also became the first victim of the ball stealing ravens.

 

The artificial greens were small rectangles, hard from years past making them near impossible to land on and hold. The approach shots became a bump and run method hoping for lucky bounces off the short moss grass, bare spots and rocks along the way. Once on the greens, they were a mix of slow to fast with enough slope to drive you crazy when trying to make anything over five feet. Laughter and tears filled the day out in the middle of nowhere chasing a little white ball around the Canadian Arctic.

 

The course consists of 9 holes, one par five, four par fours and four par threes, making it a par 33 and just under 2000 yards. It is not long by any stretch of the imagination, but who would have even imagined the concept of it in the fist place. It is definitely worth playing as it truly becomes an adventure of a lifetime.

 

Looking across the landscape and hearing laughter and shouts of agony from the fellow players, a huge smile beamed across my face as it hit me, that this great game of golf can truly be played anywhere on the planet. Here we were, nearing the end of an iconic crossing of the Northwest Passage that few ever have the chance to accomplish and one of the stories for the next couple months would be reminiscing about this day of adventure and golf.

 

Holman Golf Club

Ulukhaktok, Northwest Territories

Par 33, 1992 yards

(867) 396-3080

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