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A Finnish golfing first: putting at Christmas

The mild weather means that many people have exchanged their skis for golf clubs in the Vihti area of Greater Helsinki.

Ihmisiä golfamaassa Vihdissä joulupäivänä.
Golfers play a round of golf during the Christmas holidays in Vihti. Image: Yle

At Vihti Golf in the Greater Helsinki Area, a round of golf was played in Finland for the first time on Christmas Day. Owing to the mild weather, the adjacent ski slopes were closed and the golf course re-opened.

According to Vihti Golf's Managing Director Janne Uotila, the golf course has previously been open in early December, but never during the Christmas holidays. The current weather forecast that calls for continuing mild weather means Vihti Golf will likely be open until the first week of January at least.

“Originally I was planning to go snowboarding, but as the slopes are not in good shape, I switched to golf instead,” said Raija Karhu, who is spending Christmas in the Vihti area.

On Christmas Day, the slopes were in such poor condition that no attempt was even made to open them.

Four-in-three

Uotila says that owing to the chilly weather this time of year, a round of golf is played in three hours instead of the usual four to avoid extra standing around. As well, there is much less daylight than during the summer, so the round needs to be played more quickly.
“In practice, it’s possible to play until three in the afternoon. Then it becomes dark and it’s not possible to see properly,” said golfer Hanna Kivelä.

There’s only enough daylight for one round of golf at this time of the year. A wool hat would be the appropriate head gear for the 100 or so golfers who played a round on Wednesday. However, most of them were wearing golf or baseball caps in order to keep the rain out of their eyes or to shield their eyeglasses.
“Golfers are such crazy people that every time you get to the opportunity to play, you must take it, especially in Finland," said Jussi Santavuori, one of the golfing enthusiasts playing on Christmas Day.
On Boxing Day, 120 players have already registered for the Christmas tournament at Vihti Golf, which is just as well - no more than 120 golfers can fit onto the golf course.

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