Märit softly cleared her throat. "There is a new course opening a little north of here," she said meekly, and I felt my heart drop 100 meters. "In Harstad. That is in Norway."
"How far from here?" I stammered.
"Three hundred kilometers to drive."
"And that is the northernmost course in the world?" I asked numbly.
"Nine holes are open now." she said. "The rest will be open in autumn. Then, yes, it will be the northernmost 18-hole course in the world." She wore a look of indescribable melancholy. "Yes," she said, sighing deeply. "I'm afraid so."
I stepped to the brink of the 7th tee box, peered into the void and....
And decided that my quest had concluded, that closure had come. Planting the flagstick in the 6th green at Björkliden, I had felt like Admiral Peary, claiming the course for all of golfkind. Now I stood, seven-iron in hand, surveying the whole of Scandinavia. I was, in every conceivable sense, on top of the world. What more could I want?
I swung, and I held my follow-through for ages. From a snowcapped mountaintop atop the Arctic Circle, the earth resembled a dimpled white orb, a Top-Flite XL. I had spent a week slicing smiles into the lace of that sphere, little realizing that, all along, it was doing the same to me.