- Choose from one of three activities — hike to see petroglyphs, visit the local hospital, or take a traditional cooking lesson.
- Make a whirlwind trip to the local market where a few people purchased the traditional Mongolian coat, called a Deel (pronounced “dell”).
- A small group had already returned to Ulaanbataar and had several productive meetings with leaders in issues of:— Human trafficking
— Pediatric Medicine
— Dental careGOLF IN MONGOLIAMy Mongolian Momentby Cherie Doyle RiesenbergSo why research golf in Mongolia? Mongolia holds a unique distinction of being the only known country in the world to have been golfed across when, in the summer of 2004, Andre Tolme, a civil engineer from New Hampshire, divided central Mongolia into a rambling 18-hole, 2.3 million yard, par 11,880 golf course of 70-mile-long holes running westward across the rolling steppe, and completed the round in 12,170 strokes in 90 days, using only a 3 iron. He documented the experience in a book, I Golfed Across Mongolia from Thunder’s Mouth Press (2006) and available at www.golfmongolia.com.
Fun as that is to know, why else? Aside from my own interest in golf, a relatively new phenomenon is that the LPGA, the women’s US professional golf association, has become overwhelmingly dominated by Asian women golfers during the last decade. They represent more than a whopping 60% of the top 100 money-winning players in 2016, up from an already impressive 38% in 2012, with the predominant majority being from South Korea, a small, crowded country with a scarce 0.7% of the world’s population. We repeatedly heard during our visit that Mongolia has many trade, intellectual, social and political ties with Korea, as well as financial support from Korea through The Asia Foundation. If the sport has gained so much popularity there and in other nearby friendly Asian countries with many shared values and interests, what about considering the future of golf for women in Mongolian?
Only one regulation golf course exists in Mongolia so far, the Mt. Bogd Golf Course, outside of Ulaan Baatar, financed largely by beneficiaries of the mining industry. But Tolme’s excursion helped identify Mongolia’s appeal for a new dimension of the sport, extreme or cross-country golf. The vast open spaces offer a compelling destination with little to no land disturbance, cost, or investment required to play. Both women’s golf and cross country could golf offer intriguing recreational and economic development opportunities for Mongolians that use rather than destroy the natural landscape. Golf could also encourage an enviro-safe tourism industry, and the participation of Mongolian women in a worldwide sport. Mongolia has something special to offer, uniquely different from anywhere else – golf across the country!