Our press officer at Hauger Golf Club brings you all the action from behind the scenes at this week’s Norwegian Challenge…
What a week for Kristoffer Ventura, the 16 year old amateur who was five shots off the lead heading into the final round following rounds of 70, 70 and 71 in his first Challenge Tour event. Ventura, who played in last year's Junior Ryder Cup, even said he was disappointed with the way he had putted and hoped for better in the last round. Ventura - his father is from Mexico, hence the non-Norwegian sounding name - has been working hard on his studies and golf training since the Junior Ryder Cup, and soon must decide whether to go to college in America on a golf scholarship. "One day I hope I can be a Tour professional but I know I will have to work very hard to get there," he said.
A taste of Oslo
This week the golf club is in the middle of the countryside, surrounded by nothing but fields, and our hotel is on the side of the motorway, so extra-curricular activities have been limited. On Saturday night, however, the staff were let off the leash to go into Oslo for dinner, and it was great to see the famous Aker Brygge, the old shipping yards which have been renovated into a fabulous area of restaurants, bars and shops around the marina. We didn't get to sample the culinary delights of Norway, however, but instead ate at an Italian restaurant and had pizza, before watching an enormous cruise ship set sail from the port.
It has been interesting learning what the players got up to during their two weeks off prior to the start of the Norwegian Challenge. Craig Lee had a rest then won a PGA Scottish region tournament, Sam Little spent time with his family at their summer house in Finland, Roland Steiner and Florian Praegant qualified for the Omega Mission Hills World Cup and Benjamin Hebert spent most of the two weeks on the beach surfing in his home town, Moliets. And one player simply said: "I'm not sure what I did can be repeated on the website." They shall remain nameless!
Marathon journey for Tampion
The Challenge Tour returns this week from a fortnight’s break and many players took the chance to relax after a gruelling couple of months of competition. Andrew Tampion headed home to Australia to spend some time fishing on his new boat but, as is always the case for Challenge Tour players from the southern hemisphere, he was faced with a long journey back to action. He flew from Melbourne to Dubai, then on to London, then to Amsterdam and finally, four flights later, he arrived in Oslo. Thankfully the course and hotel are only a 20 minute drive from the airport.
Rain, rain, go away…
Despite having temperatures nudging 30 degrees ten days ago, in the last week there has been a lot of rain and the golf course is struggling to cope. We woke to more heavy rain on Wednesday morning and the surface water on many of the holes meant the Pro-Am had to be cancelled. I don’t think too many of the players were too disappointed about this news, given that they would have had to spend the day getting absolutely soaked. Better weather is forecast for the next two days, but the rain needs to stop soon to give the course a chance of draining before the first round starts at 7.30am on Thursday.
There was an extra service on offer for the player at Hauger Golf Club on Wednesday morning: the arranging of a visa for next month's Kazakhstan Open. Fairly strict rules surround said visa and apparently it is a pretty complicated process, so an advisor from the Kazakhstan Embassy was on site to help the players complete their applications. The players duly queued up to submit their passports and forms, in the knowledge that the man would be back on Friday morning with the visas. It all worked very smoothly, except for one player who missed the closing time by a few minutes and had to spend the afternoon in Oslo sorting it out!
Norway is reputably one of the most expensive countries in the world, and Olso, the capital, is one of the most expensive cities in which to live. If you go to McDonald's, a Big Mac meal will set you back €15, and a more upmarket - not to mention healthy - two-course meal with a drink will cost about €45 per person. This is reflected in the salaries here, however, with the average monthly income being €4,500. Norway is also one of the most heavily taxed nations in the world, and subsequently its public services such as medical care are excellent.