Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Soaring in Japan

I arrived in Yonago, Japan on a small propeller plane with three other passengers Monday night and was greeted by a pleasant taxi driver and a quickly skipping meter. 20 minutes and almost 5,000 Yen later (nearly $50), I was at my hotel. The receptionist spoke English about as well as the taxi driver, so we used sign language and a calculator to get me situated in a room.

Yesterday was an unintentional sightseeing day. I scoured the city of Yonago on foot, looking for an ATM. Armed with a few coins that equated to less than $10, I traveled from bank to bank only to have my ATM card rejected by non-English speaking and accepting, machines. Around mid-day I ordered a piece of chicken off a picture menu to refuel. The journey proved fruitless and I returned to the hotel with no money, no further understanding of the Japanese language and an ATM card that might have well had a prayer on it.

Yonago is situated with ocean on either side. It looks like the landing strip of southern Japan. The massive mountains tower over the countryside. From just about anywhere, you get a view of what the locals call "Little Fuji." The name is misleading; there is nothing "little" about it. It is a gigantic peak with a snow cap covering half the mountain.

It also serves as a backdrop for Hole 1 of the tournament course. This week’s course is situated on the side of a smaller mountain, giving players one of the most spectacular places to hit a golf shot. The tee shot on #1 is elevated a few hundred feet in the air making it more dramatic. The hole is 375 yards. Today I hit a towering drive that soared towards Little Fuji and appeared as if it may not come down; it was that shot you dream of hitting. The ball finally came down on the front of the green, which caused quite a stir with the leading group. I will post a picture of the scene on my website later.

The rest of the golf course feels like coming home. It's nothing close to as breathtaking as the opening tee shot; you could say it's all downhill after that. But because the course winds through dramatic elevation changes, I am reminded of my high-school days playing the back nine at Owl's Nest. It is a bit nostalgic despite being thousands of miles from home, which adds a little bounce in my step.

My tournament officially beings Friday at 8:03 off the tenth tee. I found an ATM this morning and if I can keep my ball majestically soaring, am looking forward to seeing a substantially larger balance in my account at this time next week.

No comments: