Air, Fire, Water, Earth, Golf

From Pebble to Everest, the big stick remains an essential element

The courses change, but the game always carries. In April 2016, photographer Vladimir Weinstein and writer Oliver Horovitz were on assignment in Nepal, which included a trip to Mount Everest’s South Base Camp. Horovitz packed a driver and ball among his supplies, on a mission to tee it up at 17,600 feet above sea level. 

“After more than a week of ascending through the widest range of climates I’d ever experienced, we reached Base Camp,” Weinstein says. “Oliver thinned his Titleist into a sizable crevasse; our Nepali Sherpa guide Gyalzen advised him to not attempt ball retrieval.”

One adventure complete, they turned to face the next: trekking back down the mountain to Kathmandu. The route through Sagarmatha National Park includes several villages that remain in the shadows of the towering peaks, sheltered from the bustle of modern society. In one village at roughly 11,000 feet, Weinstein and Horovitz came across a group of Nepalese apprentice monks.

“There were 20 or so young monks, so full of life, and so incredibly psyched to see a weird-looking golf club,” Weinstein says. “They seemed to have spotted it a mile away.”

Everyone wanted a swing, and Horovitz began giving impromptu lessons. Language and cultural barriers evaporated in the warm mountain air.

“We all had a great laugh,” Weinstein says. “And then we went our separate ways. A memorable encounter in our journey of literal ups and downs. And a reminder, once again, of the power of sport to connect us.”