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Archive for Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Course: Mongolia. Par: 11,880

American plays ‘extreme’ round across Asian country

July 28, 2004

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— Andre Tolme has just finished a round of golf with an eagle on the 18th hole. But his score was 506.

That's because Tolme's course was the entire length of Mongolia, where each "hole" is up to 196,000 yards long. After nine months of traversing the Mongolian steppe with nothing but a Jeep, a tent and a 3-iron, Tolme has completed his journey of golfing across the land once ruled by Genghis Khan.

Tolme, 35, is a civil engineer from New Hampshire. Dividing the Mongolian countryside into 18 holes, he has completed an expedition of 1,234 miles -- a course he estimated with a par of 11,880. His final scorecard shows a total of 290 over par -- and 509 lost balls.

"It was a pretty exhausting round of golf," Tolme told the Associated Press by phone Monday from Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia.

With his caddy, Khatanbaatar, driving the Jeep and supplying water, Tolme slept in a tent along the way. He fended off bubonic plague-carrying marmots, constant heat and 40 mph gusts of wind that, fittingly, "never blow from behind you."

While Tiger Woods may complain of camera shutters going off during his backswing, Tolme encountered slightly different distractions: "The sound of howling wolves is a little unsettling."

Why did he do this?

"Because I wanted to," says the adventure-golfer. But he does have other reasons in mind: to raise awareness of Mongolia, to pioneer the sport of "extreme golf" and to "expand the artistic imagination."

Soon to return to America, Tolme now plans to take it easy, write a book about his unique experience and study world maps searching for another suitable landscape to golf across.

"There may be another great golf adventure in my future," he said.

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