Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Raon Country Club

Traveling to Raon Country Club requires a flight from Seoul, South Korea to the island of Jeju. Jeju is a tropical, volcanic island off the mainland's southern coast. As I stepped out the Jeju airport entrance, the steeply ascending volcano in the center of the island towered over the swaying palm trees. I thought it was a perfect image for me to use for the week: while the wind blows my competitors off balance, I'll remain unwavering and focused, existing in a superior form.

As usual, the journey to the golf course was adventurous and this week, my departure port was in the US. Following 4 Bus rides, 3 plane rides, a major car crash and coffee with an Iraq veteran and a government major at Harvard, I made my way through the lobby of Raon CC. The course opened in 2004 with an inaugural tournament featuring Tiger Woods, KJ Choi, Se Ri Pak and Colin Montgomerie. Tiger's pictures and signatures line the clubhouse walls. As I studied the dinner menu consisting of options like "fried hairtail in kimchi soup," I wondered whether Tiger brought his own chef.

I played my practice round yesterday around the wind battered track. The course is very challenging with nine holes set amid large undulation changes and carved out of thick jungle. Any shot not finding grass in between the tree lines, is doomed. The other nine holes titled, "The Stone 9" (stone caves and pillars are set around the course) is my favorite of all courses I've played in South Korea. It is difficult, but very fair and offers numerous birdie opportunities. This is the most well maintained course we have played on the Korean Tour with tightly cut fairways and soft greens.

I controlled my shots as if directing them at will yesterday. I have perfect ball flights and strategies for the wind and course challenges this week. I'm employing a 2-iron this week as a "go-to" club for the narrow, nerve rattling shots with howling winds. A perfect 2 iron produces a shot that might as well be singing MC Hammer's 'Cant Touch This' as it pierces through the wind. At the weekend's finale, I hope I tower above my competitors like the volcano over the palms. I know if I bring my best game to bear on Raon CC or any course I compete on, very few scores boast a chance of catching mine.

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