A healthy walk in the woods has long been part of the cultural tradition of Estonians. Well before Bill Bryson took his walk in the woods, the Estonians were avid walkers in the primordial forests. Estonian expressions and music reflect this deep affection for nature and the woods. Who among Estonians has not been told “Mine metsa”, sung “Metsa läksid sa ja metsa läksin ma” or gone “metsas seenel”.
The Montreal Estonian Society has taken up the noble task in the last few years, of maintaining this sacrosanct element of Estonian cultural heritage by adapting it to North American mainstream culture. Given the scarcity of edible mushrooms and our knowledge of them here in North America, the MES decided that instead of going to the woods to pick mushrooms they would organize a trek into the woods near a golf course to pick up golf balls, a potentially easier task. In order to avoid making the activity appear a bizarre ethnic ritual and make it more acceptable to Canadian social mores and ways, the activity has been presented under the guise of a golf tournament. So it was that on July 31, forty Estonian woodsmen, woodswomen, woodheads and their friends gathered at the Oasis Golf Club near Lachute for what was advertised as the MES Golf Tournament.
Participants came from as far away as British Columbia and Toronto to join the trek. Foursomes were organized, rules established and judges were on hand to give the event every appearance of a normal Canadian sporting event. All participants played their roles smartly and convincingly at the first hole. To the unsuspecting onlooker, the activity resembled another great Canadian multicultural success story in which another immigrant ethnic group has been well integrated into Canadian society. However, once out of sight of the club house, most participants joined eagerly and properly in the true purpose of the day’s outing. Many had a lump in their throat and others a lump on the head, as the woods rang out with heart-warming Estonian expressions such as “Jälle läks metsa”, “Kuradi mets”, “Mängid nagu metssiga”.
It must be confessed that there were some participants, less familiar with Estonian traditions, and perhaps out of fear of the woods, who stayed on the fairways of the golf course and seemed to take particular delight in hitting the golf ball into little holes. The Estonian walkers in the woods were quite perplexed by this unestonian behaviour but said nothing as they only whispered the well known old Estonian saying under their breath “Iga lollil oma lõbu.” Those who stayed out of the woods and kept putting their golf ball in the little holes were given prizes, undoubtedly to make them feel better and raise their self esteem as consolation for their reticence to join the fun in the woods.
Among the prize winners were:
Liana Kohlap – ‘Closest-to-the-Hole’ (Special NEFC Student Prize)
Enn Raudsepp - ‘Closest-to-the-Hole’ (Andres Pedriks, Le Gourmand Restaurant)
Paul Lemay – Most Accurate Drive (male)
Geraldine Mickie – Most Accurate Drive (female)
The winning team was comprised of Greg Halpin, Krista Leetmaa, Paul Lemay and Leif Tiltins), who shot 69 (i.e. 2 under par) for the lowest gross team score for the 18 holes. They also had the most ‘Birdies’.
Other prizes, among many that were presented, included medals for: “The most frequent Estonian diplomat to play at the MES Golf Tournament – Rasmus Lumi; and for “The golfer who is still working on the SAKU case in Québec – Jaan Schaer.
A word must also be said about the judges who were very fashionably attired in official T-shirts and ensured proper decorum at all times. Anne and Peeter Altosaar handed out popsicles to all participants regardless of whether they were in or out of the woods. Ene Tikovt and Elvi Edwards measured the accuracy of every golfer’s drive to give some appearance of golf legitimacy to the day’s events.
Once everyone was out of the woods, a sumptuous buffet dinner awaited all participants along with numerous door prizes. Karl J. Raudsepp was once again the masterly maestro conducting the whole event with Kersti Leetmaa playing the role of leading lady in all aspects of the social side of the event. At the end of the day all participants eagerly looked forward to next year’s “walk in the woods.”
For photos of the event, please consult the MES website at: www.mtlmes.ca
Montreal Estonian Society Golf Tournament 2009 (1)