2006 | It’s tee time at Crystal

October 29, 2006 

Virginia Menstell takes aim at a tennis ball as she plays snow golf at Crystal Mountain. Outdoors enthusiasts are finding new ways to have fun in the snow at local resorts.

RUSS CARMACK/THE NEWS TRIBUNE

Even Tiger Woods would have been impressed with the golf score Kendall Dreher put up in March.

She shot a 21-under 24 on the nine-hole Queens Run course at Crystal Mountain, including a minus-1 on the seventh hole.

Not bad for her first time on a course – a snow golf course, that is.

In snow golf, the greens are white, the balls are yellow and – on this day, at least – the rules are flexible. It’s also one of several new ways to enjoy the slopes these days.

Kendall, a sales manager for a Bellevue title company, along with her husband, Kevin, were the first to tee up at Crystal last season. And both found themselves to be naturals.

The game has only a passing resemblance to golf.

Participants strike tennis balls with a golf club, but must remain on their skis or boards at all times. After each shot, they ski to the ball and line up their next shot.

The pins aren’t in holes, but in the middle of a bull’s-eye. Get the ball in the outer ring to subtract one stroke from your score. Get inside the middle ring to deduct two strokes or the inner ring to drop four strokes. This means a tee shot landing in the inner circle means you get to write a -3 on your scorecard.

Kendall and Kevin shot four and three on the first two holes before Kevin took the lead on the third hole by curling a short putt inside the center ring for a -1. Kendall struggled on the fourth hole, clipping the tip of her ski with her club, then nearly hitting a passing boarder with the ball.

However, Kendall made her move a few holes later with the help of a friend who carved a path to the pin by snowplowing in front of her tee shot.

“There’s no etiquette in snow golf,” said Kevin, manager of Sturtevant’s sporting goods store. He tried the same trick on the next hole but still finished the round a stroke behind his wife.

The snow golf tournament was the idea of former U.S. Ski Team member Tracy Gibbons, Sturtevant’s general manager, as a promotion for the company. It was successful enough that another group held a snow golf tournament as a fundraiser a few weeks later.

Sturtevant’s is planning another tournament for this season, but a date has not been set. Other variations of the game can be found all over the world. Canada will hold national championships next year. Check out snowgolf.ca for details.

“The best thing about snow golf?” Kevin said. “If you get frustrated, you can just throw your club in the woods and go skiing.”

Craig Hill: 253-597-8497

craig.hill@thenewstribune.com

NEW WAYS TO HIT SLOPES

Skiing and boarding will likely always be the primary mode of transportation on the slopes, but there are other ways to enjoy your favorite runs. Here are some activities worth sampling, but check with your local ski hill to make sure these devices are allowed on their slopes.

AIRBOARDING

These are boogie boards for the slopes. Lie on these triangle sledlike mattress devices with grooved bottoms and runners that allow you to steer. Hoodoo Mountain Resort in Oregon offers rentals.

SKI BIKING

These bikes have skis instead of wheels, and you turn using small skis on your feet instead of the handlebars. Hoodoo rents ski bikes.

SNOW SKATING

Snow skates are basically skateboards designed for the snow. There is no binding, and some mountains don’t allow these devices outside the terrain park. Northwest Snowboards in University Place sells snow skates for $165.

SKI BOARDING

Ski boards are twin-tip skis that are only about 21/2 feet long. Instructors have discovered recently that practicing on these short skis make you better on the real thing. Sturtevants sells the K2 Fatty ski boards for $200. The White Pass Sports Hut in Packwood rents them for $13 per day.

SIT SKIING

Most sit skiers don’t have a choice. They use sit skis because their legs are paralyzed or have been amputated. If it looks like they are having as much fun as you, it’s because they are. At Whistler you can try this method of skiing for $175 (Canadian) per day.

Craig Hill, The News Tribune

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