Some of the best food on the planet. Visiting U.S. Navy and Army personnel in Japan. Checking out the Gangnam district of Seoul, subject of Psy’s “Gangnam Style” pop hit. A memorable day aboard a yacht in Hong Kong harbor.
And 12 rounds of golf.
That was just part of the itinerary for Savana Bezdicek and nine other NCAA women’s golfers on a three-week tour of Asia earlier this summer. Bezdicek, the Mt. Spokane High product who earned 2013 All-Big Sky Conference first-team honors as a freshman at Northern Arizona, called it “a trip of a lifetime.”
She has the pictures, stories, blog posts – she blogged about the venture at www.nauathletics.com /sports/wgolf/index – and memories to prove it.
“It was absolutely incredible,” Bezdicek said. “I think about it sometimes and it still feels like a dream. Then I’ll go back and look at some of the pictures and remember how amazing it was.”
The 10 golfers, along with organizer Larry Wheat, who has put together 30 of these trips, gathered in Los Angeles on June 18, played a round at Palos Verdes the following day and boarded an 11-hour flight to Tokyo on June 20.
They spent eight days in Japan, sight-seeing and touring U.S. Army and Navy installations. They mingled with pilots and ground crews, learning about jets parked nearby. They fired guns on a simulator at an Army training center.
They were joined on the golf course by military personnel and by members of the Japanese business community who helped sponsor their trip. Bezdicek said it’s customary for Japanese to play nine holes, stop for lunch, then return to the course for nine more holes.
“I loved going to Nagano (site of the 1998 Winter Olympics) in the mountains,” she said. “You could hit the ball a mile, like being at NAU (in Flagstaff). They told us they were going to have a tea party for us after the round. I didn’t believe it but they actually did.”
Bezdicek said Japanese courses generally had tighter fairways and thanks to the rainy season were “super green”, reminding her of courses in Oregon and Washington. Holes at a few of the courses were measured in meters so she quickly learned conversions into yards.
Then it was on to Korea. One tournament was rained out and another was limited to 14 holes because of bad weather. The rainout was a bummer because the group was scheduled to play an exclusive course. Bezdicek said Koreans stop for snacks every four or five holes and the travel party enjoyed an eight-course meal after one sponsor tournament.
After sampling kobe beef, authentic sushi – “it’s a lot less fancy than here,” she said – and the best dessert of her life – “this crepe, icing, crepe, icing thing that was 10 layers thick” – in Japan, the group dined on Korean barbecue. Bezdicek downed four bowls of pumpkin soup in one sitting.
“We ate Korean barbecue at 7 in the morning,” she said.
One of the highlights was spending one of their last days on a yacht. They jumped into the water from the first floor, then did the same from the second floor. Several girls wake-boarded, others hopped on a jet ski.
“We were on the dock and we were watching all these boats show up,” Bezdicek said. “And then one approaches and we were joking, ‘Wouldn’t it be fun if this was this one.’ It was.”
Bezdicek played in a sponsor tournament with Tiffany Chan, the No. 1 amateur in Hong Kong who plays collegiately in the U.S.
The flight from Hong Kong to Los Angeles was 13 hours. Memories of the trip will last a lifetime. Bezdicek only knew Southern Utah’s Sadie Palmer prior to the trip, but she became close friends with several of the girls. They’ve stayed in touch every day since returning to their hometowns across the U.S.
“I’ll be sitting on the couch at home and just burst out laughing,” Bezdicek said. “My parents will ask, ‘What are you laughing about?’ And it’ll be something I just remembered from the trip.”
Sisters will reunite
Mt. Spokane High School’s Sierra Bezdicek will join older sister Savana on the Northern Arizona University golf team.
Bezdicek, who is entering her senior year at Mt. Spokane, orally committed to the Lumberjacks, her mother Barb said.
Bezdicek has finished second twice and captured first in 2011 – defeating Savana in a playoff – at the 3A state tournament. She won the Pacific Northwest Amateur Public Links last summer and recently won the eighth Washington Junior Golf Association District 5 title of her junior career.
Bezdicek also played for the Wildcats’ soccer team that finished second at state.
Savana, the 2010 3A state champion, was named first-team All-Big Sky and the conference’s freshman of the year.