This Is One Golf Course Where You Have to Cross Finnish Line
How can it take an hour and two seconds to sink a four-foot putt? Easy. It’s when the putt is in Sweden and the hole is in Finland.
The Green Zone course near Haparanda, Sweden, is believed to be the world’s only two-nation golf course.
On the 132-yard, par-three sixth hole, which straddles the Swedish-Finnish border, the tee shot is in Sweden. If the pin in placed in its trickiest position, it could take more than an hour--the time-zone difference between Sweden and Finland--to reach the hole across the border.
The course is an hour from the Arctic Circle, meaning around-the-clock play is possible from June into August.
When completed, Green Zone will be the world’s northernmost 18-hole layout next year. It’s probably the only course with a customs office, and the scorecard has customs regulations, not ground rules. Passports are not required for playing the sixth hole.
Golfers from Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark and Iceland don’t need passports to play in any of those countries under a reciprocal agreement among the nations.
Finnish customs officials insist that all non-Nordic citizens show some identification when paying the greens fee (about $28). Golfers will experience international travel four times in 18 holes.
Trivia time: What was Babe Ruth’s salary in 1927, when he hit 60 home runs?
Prime time: Soccer’s biggest show is coming to the United States in 1994, but many wonder if even a successful World Cup will turn the game into a major U.S. sport.
For some, the World Cup represents the last chance for soccer to make it in America.
“Having been with it for more than 20 years at the college and youth level, I’ve seen great change,” says Jerry Yeagley, coach of perennial NCAA power Indiana.
“Once, you could only find players in Chicago or St. Louis, but now there are quality players everywhere. The game’s grass roots have spread. Youth soccer is solid, the national team is improved, but the pros are the missing part of the puzzle.
“Soccer is like softball, a participant sport. It hasn’t translated from player to spectator yet. We’re seeing better facilities and more fan support, but as long as it’s played in the fall, it will always be second to football.”
Not even money can make soccer a prime-time sport, says one critic of the World Cup’s venture into the United States.
“The U.S. got the World Cup solely because of advertising dollars,” says Graham Leggat, a former player for Scotland and Canada’s top soccer broadcaster.
“I don’t think soccer will ever challenge as the No. 1 sport in North America. I have to be brutally honest and say I don’t think the United States wants to take part in a game where they can’t claim to be world champions.”
Uneasy truce: Newsday’s Tim Layden, describing the bickering between Penn State Coach Joe Paterno and his quarterback, Tony Sacca: "(They’re) the Thelma and Louise of Happy Valley.”
Trivia answer: $70,000.
Quotebook: Gymnast Olga Korbut, in Dana Point to tape a TV show this week, on her Olympic glory: “The most important medal I won was the hearts of the people.”