181 - With a Little Help From My Friends

brandon.urban's picture

I’m not sure where to go with this. I’m not going to lie, I’ve struggled writing this… In regards to these Hundred Hole Hike wrap-up blog posts, I usually try to be funny/witty or have some kind of theme, but this year has been different. I’ve pondered what direction to go with this post since the Hike ended at 9:05 p.m. on June 19th. There are absolutely no words that can explain what an impact this year’s Hike had on me and on AXYS, but I’ll do my best to tell you all how it went.

181 holes. It was a day I’ll never forget. And not because of the final tally, but because of all of the people that made it what it was.

There is no place like Ballyneal. The remoteness in the Chop Hills of northeastern Colorado combined with the fact that it is a walking-only club combined with the fact that everything is right there in one spot – the pro-shop, the restaurant, the lodges, the unreal Commons putting course... you don’t see your car between the time you park it upon arrival and when you hop in it to head back home, not to mention the golf course is one of the best you will ever play. I look forward to each and every visit more than the last and am truly thankful to have gracious friends (I’m looking at you Jim Colton) that, for whatever reason, keep having me back.

HHH Hole

You’d think that with the task of walking at least 100 holes of golf in a couple of days staring you in the face, you’d take it easy and rest. I’ve decided that resting includes 27 holes and 54 holes leading up to the big day… mostly because of the people you see and meet along the way. One of my favorite parts about Hiking at Ballyeal is that when you’re there, you almost always get to see and play golf with friends you only see once or twice a year. So a chance to play golf and hang out with guys like Ross and Chris and fellow Hikers Gary Albrecht, Josh Bills, and Jim Colton is too good to pass up. So a nice 81 hole warmup and a great pre-Hike dinner with Josh, Gary, and Jim brings us to a 4:00 a.m. wakeup call for the big day.

Quick side note- I was thrilled to have Josh Hiking with us this year, not only because he is one great guy, but also because it was really nice to finally have a guy shorter than me in the pre-Hike picture

HHH Guys

I had the honor of being the first to tee off of the first hole this year. An honor that’s always reserved for HHH founder/madman Jim Colton – who has something like 11 Hikes under his belt and over 1,500 Hike holes total in six years, which is ridiculous. Jim was dealing with a bit of an Achilles issue (and yes, still played 108 holes and then caddied another 18… more on that later) so he graciously offered the 4:45 tee time to me. I had Ballyneal caddy Matt on the bag for the first two and a half rounds. If you remember back to last year, Matt helped me on my way to a crazy (for me) 13 birdies on the day. I played some good golf with Matt on the bag, including my best ever round at Ballyneal, a 77 in the second round… which could have been really magical if it hadn’t been for the quadruple 7 I took on the par three 5th hole but I’ll always remember the even par back nine, including a birdie on the par five, 16th. If you’ve followed along for the past few years, you know the 16th is my nemesis, and although Mr. Colton says my career stroke average on the 16th is around 8.78, I’d offer that it is much higher.

I mentioned how I’ll always remember the day because of the people. I had some great Ballyneal caddies throughout the day. Brenna, a veteran Ballyneal caddy who has carried my bag in the past, was a rock star yet again. Tristan, her brother, who at one point after realizing I had left my wedge on the previous hole, tore off his caddy bib and went sprinting 300 yards and back to grab it so we didn’t have to slow down. And Jackson, a brand new Ballyneal caddy, who got me to the magical 100 hole mark. When it’s just you and your caddy, you learn a lot about each other. They actually probably learn way more about me than they ever want to know… but getting to spend time with them and learn about their lives makes the day even more special.

HHH Brenna

HHH Jackson

The day also featured two other pretty cool moments. About lunch time as we were making our way past the restaurant on the first tee, one of the staff came walking out and delivered a brown paper bag. Much to my surprise it held a grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwich, which I think, much like the Animal Style Burger at In-N-Out, is on the secret menu at Ballyneal. Someone who shall remain nameless had called it in and had it brought out, knowing it is one of my absolute favorites.


I also had the honor of meeting Wyatt Halliday (coolest name ever), HHH legend for once playing 108 holes at one under par on the day with the same ball. I had contended for years that Wyatt didn’t exist because even though we ran in the same group of friends, we had never met. Sure we interacted on Twitter and Facebook, but we’ve all seen Catfish on MTV, so how can a guy really know for sure. As I was passing by the restaurant later in the day, a guy came walking out that looked like what a guy named Wyatt Halliday would look like. It was great to finally meet and shake hands with the man, the myth, the legend.

Back to golf… I carried my own bag for the 8th and 9th rounds of the day. During the 8th round I got to play through a group that included Jim, Wyatt, and good friend Eric Smith who I hadn’t seen in a couple of years. A quick chat and bro-hug with the guys and I was off again. Later in the round I played through another group on the 8th hole. As I was walking up to the green, one of the guys says “Are you Brandon?” It was golf course architect Rob Collins, who designed one of the most fun golf courses you will ever play, Sweetens Cove in Tennessee. I had not met Rob, but we’ve talked through Twitter, etc, and we felt like old friends. Another bro-hug and it was back to golf.

The 9th round of the day was my worst. I kind of hit the proverbial wall mostly because I was by myself and I think it’s so hard to concentrate when you’re all alone out there. I was scuffling it around when I got to the 17th tee and received a text from Jim that said “I’ll caddy the 10th round for you.” My goal all along had been to get to 163 holes, one more than last year, but now I was thinking 171 sounded pretty good. I warned Jim that the golf was not pretty, but that I would love the company. There’s something to be said for a friend that just walked 108 holes with a bum Achilles that wants to carry your golf bag for 18 more holes. Thanks for being an amazing friend, Jim.

One more shoe and sock change and we were off for the 10th round of the day! Somehow, grilled PB&J sandwiches somehow showed up for both of us on the first tee… I’ll let you figure it out. After making birdie on the 9th hole (my 171st of the day) with Josh and his daughters providing the cheering section, Jim said we weren’t done. I didn’t think we had any chance of playing another 9 holes, but he knew better. The back nine was amazing. The sunset guiding us around was gorgeous. The golf was pretty good… including a birdie on the 178th hole of the day, which was my nemesis the 16th hole. On the 18th tee, Jim said that we had to get to 181, which would break the HHH record of 180 in a day. I’m not gonna lie, it was dark.

HHH Sunset Plains

As we walked along the putting green towards the first tee, Jim picked up one of the glow balls they use for night putting… because let’s face it, we probably weren’t going to be able to see a regular ball. As we approached the restaurant, all of these friends that I’ve talked about- Josh, Gary, Eric, Wyatt, Rob, Neil, etc, came out and walked down the fairway with Jim and I as I played the 181st hole, pulled the flag as I four-putted, and gave me high fives and hugs after it was all over. I’m a little teary eyed just thinking back on that moment. I would have never met any of these amazing friends if it hadn’t been for golf. To have their support and their camaraderie means the world to me. That moment reminded me of why I love to participate in this event every year. Being able to give back using the game that has given me so much is amazing.

I am Hiking in support of AXYS, who has helped us so much since our son Ben’s diagnosis of Klinefelter Syndrome. Read all about why this organization is important to our family here - http://hundredholehike.com/blogs/back-it-axys-2017

Thank you all so much for your continued support of my Hike and the charities it supports. I’m not sure what 2018’s event will bring, but I can’t wait.

HHH Card

Holes – 181
Total Strokes – 845
Steps – 101,841
Miles – 48
Best Round – 77
Worst Round – 90
Birdies – 7
Eagles – 0
Grilled PB&Js – 2
Water/Gatorade Bottles – Lots
Shots Hit Left Handed – 1


This Golfer's Participation