Handful of golfers tee off in Mt Everest tournament in bad weather

KATHMANDU: A high-altitude golf tournament in the shadow of Nepal's Mount Everest had to be called off over the weekend as most of the players could not fly in due to heavy cloud cover, its organiser said on Monday, though a few golfers managed a quick game.

A group of 40 golfers were meant to play at the base of Mount Kongde in Nepal's Solukhumbu region, at a height of 4,250 metres (13,943 feet), which organiser Baahrakhari Media group said made it the world's highest altitude golf tournament.

But bad weather with thick black clouds made it impossible for most helicopters to fly in for the tournament, organised in a push to promote tourism in Nepal.

Only four golfers made it in a small chopper to the one-hole golf course that had been prepared just below the snow-line. Of them, one managed to par the hole, while another bogeyed it.

Eight others teed off at another makeshift course in Syangboche, located at an altitude of 3,880 metres (12,730 feet), overlooking Mount Everest and other Himalayan peaks.

"Although it was not a great, complete golf course but the very fact that they could organise even one-hole golf at that altitude of almost 4,000 metres was fun," said Bhagwan Koirala, a player.

Previously, the highest golf had been played at was at an altitude of 3,960 metres (12,992 feet) in the northeastern Indian state of Sikkim, said Prateek Pradhan of the organising group.

The remainder of the tournament will be played in Kathmandu at the weekend.