Hole #10: Back In The Swing

It didn't take long to get back into the swing of things, so to speak. The 3-iron is feeling better than ever and was happy to mash a few rocks and Mongolian weeds along with some cheap golf balls. And as soon as I golfed past the first herd of sheep and goats, I felt that familiar feeling again. Me and animals out for a walk on the steppe.

It's always nice to have others witness my endeavor and trudge along with me for a bit, and so I was extremely pleased to share the first day with a reporter and photographer from the New York Times. Although I must admit, they headed back to Ulaan Baatar before the most difficult part of the day; when the blisters are appearing on your hands, the wind is blowing dust all day in your eyes and the sun has beat relentlessly on you all day.

Speaking of wind, the Mongolian salikh greeted me like a long lost adversary who's been itching to push someone around. The wind's been blowing hard in my face every day and I believe I encountered the remnants of one of those legendary Gobi dust storms. The sun and sky were blocked out by a haze of dust and the anemometer would have been reading a steady 50-60 km/hr had there been a meteorologist around to record it. I had a horrific flashback that morning as my tent and all the tent stakes were lifted up and were on their way to being blown away like one of the many tumbleweeds on the steppe if not for my backpack weighing it down inside. The tent poles got a little mangled but my caddy and I were able to make some adequate repairs with some spare nuts and bolts. Gotta love that Mongolian ingenuity. MacGyver would have been jealous.

The beating sun during the day turns into freezing chill at night which has to do both with the fact that summer really hasn't arrived yet, and that I'm playing at over 2000m elevation for the next few holes. But with last year's weeds now a dry brown mass, an earlier start this year looks like it was the right move. The little nubs of green grass that are just beginning to pop up are ideal for the golfer, and with little rain so far this year, the playing conditions look favorable for the near future.

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