Grant Dodd
later policy prevailing. More concerning to most of the competitors in the PNG Open at Port Moresby were the attentions of a number of large crocodiles, sunning themselves by a pond adjacent to the 17th hole. Locals were adamant they were of little threat, despite folklore regarding a missing security guard, not seen since venturing into said pond on a ball-finding mission a couple of years ago. With a limited number of hotels in Lae and Port Moresby, the host cities for the two consecutive events, most competitors are billeted with local families. These are largely expats who have moved to PNG for lucrative business and trade-related opportunities. Steve Jeffress, a touring pro who lives on the Gold Coast, is a regular visitor to PNG. After finishing a round in the national Open at Port Moresby this year and wanting to head home for some rest, his billet family gave him their car and said they would meet him in an hour. Jeffress, certain that he knew the route back, headed off only to find himself driving down a narrow, unfamiliar road. Lost with no street lights – and the command from his hosts ringing in his ears to “never stop, for anything” – Jeffress began to get a little worried. As soon as he pulled over to regain his bearings, he noticed a group of men approaching quickly out of the darkness. With a creek on both sides and his car facing the opposite direction to safety, Jeffress realised he was in a serious pickle. Somehow he managed to reverse back down the road, and then turn his car around in the confined space before his new friends made his acquaintance. There were no more solo nighttime sorties for the Port Macquarieborn golfer. Despite the nature of anecdotes that circulate, it is remarkable just how many golfing adventurers return year after year. Intimidating it might be, but ultimately the risk-versus-reward equation tips the scales in favour of golf’s last frontier.

png: golf’s last frontier

leigh deagan plays a chip shot watched by an intrigued gallery at the png Open.

To ask Grant a question, e-mail us at golfdig@ newsmagazines.com.au

If covering the full gamut of what professional golf had to offer geographically was a career goal, then I think I have to be fairly satisfied with my endeavours. Guam, Finland, Brazil, Vietnam and Myanmar are just a few of the obscure customs stamps decorating my well-worn passport, demonstrating both the diversity in the world of pro golf and the nomadic nature of the existence. But I didn’t make it to Papua New Guinea. Whilst it isn’t a destination that jumps to the front of mind when you start thinking about golf, PNG has been hosting professional events for more than two decades. Attractive prizemoney and small, relatively weak fields made the venture a tempting one. What kept many people away were the legendary tales that filtered back over the years, lending a degree of notoriety to the image of tournament golf’s most rugged stage. Tales of life within barbed wire enclosed compounds and observations of rioting locals running amok are unlikely to inspire hordes of golfing mercenaries to come, no matter how hungry. Suggestions of conspiratorial exaggeration (to keep semi-interested ‘stars’ at bay) notwithstanding, PNG has a point of difference one is unlikely to find anywhere else in the professional golfing universe. Take, for example, the armed guards at the golf club. Equipped not with pistols or shotguns, but with ‘homemade’ bow and arrow. Stories abound of their accuracy, and willingness to use, with a shoot-first-ask-questions-


/ decemBeR 2011

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