August 3, 2012 - Golf GameBook

An Unusual Champion with a Golf-Ball-Shaped-Heart

From Monte Rei G&CC, Eastern Portugal in 2007 – just couple of weeks before they opened course to public

This is the first blog post by our latest entrant to the GameBook team, Olli Lehtonen. He is our new Marketing Manager, also an avid golfer, triathlon lover, and something that maybe will surprise you. Read more here below.

What makes a person to travel to North Korea? Or to swim, cycle and run almost 12 hours in a row? Or, especially right now these days to watch sports from TV hours and hours again? Answers are simple: golf, triathlon and Olympics. But all three at the same time, that’s me.

Nice to meet you all folks! I’m Olli, working now for GameBook first week as a Marketing Manager. As you golf lovers will be reading my posts in this blog in the future, I would be take a place to give a short introduction about myself. Although I’m not a big fan to write about myself. But I try to avoid all the basic jargon… 🙂

Swim, cycle and run. Although sometimes you have to run a bit during the swim as you can see. Sweaty but golden memories .

I started to play golf in 1997 and used to work as a golf journalist years 2006-2011 – someone can say that I was on the other side of the fence ;). So the sport is indeed well known and loved by me – especially when I’m not playing myself. I would say I have a golf-ball-shaped heart.

Yes, my first club was Northwestern’s 9-iron, and yes, I have made one ace. I also tried to play on the competition level years ago for few years without any success. But there is one trophy (or we can say two) I have in my prize closet, which I can be proud of: North Korean Amateur Champion 2011, SCR and HCP. The story behind my golf trip to DPRK is exciting.

I noticed from a random website that English travel agency Lupine Travel will organize an Amateur Golf Tournament in North Korea. That sounded too crazy, so only choice I had was to find out more about the tournament and try to get in too, if possible. And it was. I also heard they made some research of me behind the scenes, for example they called to my mom (who admitted I’m his son) and to my University to check that I’m a student there. What they didn’t know that time, luckily, was that I attend to the trip to write a story about golf in North Korea, so I got visa 🙂

My “Miss caddie” done her job very well in Pyongyang Golf Club.

I’ll write more about this in future, but now in a nutshell, we had to take a boring four day long tour from a sight to sight in and around Pyongyang, and were not allowed to go absolutely nowhere by ourselves. We had three guides with us all the time, guards would be better title for them though. Last day we played 18 holes at Pyongyang Golf Club, and surprisingly I failed in breaking Kim Jong-il’s course record 😉

The course was nice though but compared to the western standards in a poor condition. My backyard’s grass is much faster than Pyongyang GC’s greens were. But it didn’t matter, it was all about experience. Too bad we couldn’t use GameBook there – we were not allowed to take phones with us over the NK’s border. For more about, check out this CNN’s article.

And there’s more…

Oh, and triathlon. I competed almost 10 years and wish I’d still be in that physical condition. Unfortunately it’s only a golden memory these days – but one thing I have promised to myself:

I will run a marathon under 3 hours and play 18 holes under par after that.

Keep watching how the project is proceeding from the GameBook’s Clubhouse. See ya all there – and you all are free to send a friend request to me. Glad to connect!


@OlliLehtonen in Twitter

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