HHH - Completed!

Friends,

This past Monday I had the incredible experience of playing 108 holes of golf at Flossmoor CC. My day began with a screeching alarm from my iPhone at 3:00 am. An hour later, I pulled into the club’s driveway and was met by 8 other golfers who spent the next half hour frantically dumping Gatorades and water bottles into coolers that were trucked out to their tee boxes by FCC’s very supportive superintendent Bob Lively. Logistics completed, we set out to our starting holes, a shotgun start, and all teed off at 4:45 am. My starting hole (#12 for those of you who know FCC) was an uphill par 4 with an awkward landing area. With just a few specks of daylight, I thought I’d at least have a general idea where the ball went after I hit it. Not even close! As I made my first swing of the day, the ball shot off without any indication of where it might have been heading except for that feeling of a thinned toe shot. That’s my first tee miss, which usually means it’s a touch right. As I nervously walked across the bridge to the other side of the landing area, I saw a streak in the dew down the right side of my fairway. At the end, not a pot of gold, but a bright white ProV1. My day has begun.

The theme of round number 1 was a dense fog that never wavered. This added to the dense moisture already on the ground from the morning dew. Within a few holes, my bag had been soaked through from me setting it on the ground and I was dealing with wet grips like it was pouring rain. My waterproof shoes and fancy wool moisture-wicking golf socks were no match for the dampness and I was soon water-logged from head to toe. Not completely uncomfortable at this time in the morning, it would later haunt me. I marched on to shoot an opening round of 80 and total time of 1 hour 55 minutes, which wasn’t bad considering the time I spent looking for balls that weren’t totally seen shooting off into the fog.

Daylight soon broke completely and as we all began our second rounds, it was easier to see other hikers playing in the distance. Another friend from OFCC and I decided to carry our own clubs, stubbornly, and it was clear to see that those with caddies had an advantage as I could see them running after shots with just one club in their hands. However, they decided on bringing their entire bags of 14 clubs whereas I only brought about half. In a normal round of golf, time is wasted fretting about whether to hit an easy 6 iron or hard 7 iron from 170 yards. However, when you aren’t carrying a 6 iron and know you have 6 rounds of golf to play, the decision to hit a bunt 5 iron can be made walking up to your ball. Most of my shots hit all day were done with a sequence of me estimating my yardage with about 20 yards left of walking to my ball, simultaneously pulling the club and throwing my bag to the ground as I got near it and firing away without a practice swing. I later tallied 463 shots for the day; it would be foolish to think a single practice swing during the round would improve my performance. I also remembered the advice from a good friend who has completed his own version of a golf marathon and wasn’t taking full swings to conserve energy. I was feeling great, but knew the day was still young.

By the end of 36, I was in golfing Nirvana. I shot 77 for my second round and was feeling great. For those who know me well, 36 holes (for days in a row) is no big deal. I’m no physical specimen, but I do consider myself to be in great golfing shape. Where others complain about being sore after walking when they normally ride, I’m hacking away on the last hole like it was the first. Reflecting back on my friend’s advice, time to down some preventative Advil. I also packed CLIF Bars and GU Chomps, both foods specifically designed for endurance activities. Now, I’ve never considered golf to be endurance based, but then again, I’ve never played 6 rounds in a day. Let me tell you, these things aren’t normally good, but when washed down with a Gatorade at 9:00 in the morning, they’re flat-out gross. After 2 minutes on a bench on the 12th tee for my snack and break in between rounds, I realized that I would normally just be starting my day and that we all really miss some great hours in the morning as we’re sound asleep. After my few moments of Zen, back to the frantic pace of the day. I hit a weird mental wall around hole #45. It was odd having played 45 holes, knowing I was starting to get a little fatigued and still not halfway done with my day. I got my first (and really only) “maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all” thought of the day. I knew it would come, just didn’t know when. Fortunately, by the end of my third round, that feeling went away and I coasted to a smooth 76.

Holes 55-72 were my favorite of the day. For whatever reason, making pars were almost easy. Birdies were tough because you didn’t spend a lot of time reading short putts. However, taking virtually no time reading greens actually helped on lag putts. No time to over-think things. I’m going to take this lesson from the day and incorporate it into normal rounds; putting by instinct is effective. The only odd thing during round four was after hole #61. It was around 11:30 am and starting to warm up. I decided it would be a good time to change clothes and put some sunscreen on. Full of grime, a quick cold shower was in order and I was back on the golf course within 10 minutes of starting my pit stop. As I played the first hole after, I noticed on my 3rd shot (a little flip wedge on a par 5) I couldn’t focus at all. As I picked the ball out of the hole for my par, I got really dizzy. In my haze, I realized the need to stop for a second and reevaluate. Getting further onto the course and having a problem would be a disaster, so I decided to slow down and down a full bottle of water before moving on. Fortunately for me, within seconds of doing so, I came back to life. I think the cold shower shocked my system by lowering my body temp so quickly and the subsequent race back into the heat and pace of the day threw me off for a bit. Feeling much better and relieved that I could move on, the rest of the round was a breeze. Another easy scoring round of 77.

I’ve never been the most patient person, so I knew there would be a time where I’d stop fully enjoying the day and started counting down the holes. Round 5 was that time. My back was starting to feel it from bending over all day picking up my bag and swinging like a maniac. My feet, which I’ve had bandaged up since round 3 were feeling the pain from the early morning dampness and the blisters it caused. I had changed shoes and socks a couple of times during the day, never looking at my feet. It always hurts more once you see it. By hole #81 my back and feet were screaming at me, though I kept up a 2 hour or slightly less pace per round. By this time, confrontations between golfers passing turned from “hey this is great!” to “so how many holes are you thinking?” We all had people who pledged per hole and the obvious early thought is to play as many as possible. Funny how it turns to, “I’ll just write the check myself, I’m not going to make it as many as I thought I would.” Still playing well, I turned in another 77.

Back in a familiar spot, my bench on hole #12, I sat before starting my 6th (and final) round. I had played solo all day and never really had anyone in front or directly behind me. This changed as I saw three other hikers marching up the 11th hole. One of which being my OFCC friend Erik, carrying his bag looking like a million bucks. As he reached me and my bench, he asked if I wanted to play a few holes. I told him I’d only be slowing him down; he wanted to play as many as possible. In the end, it was the right decision. He went on to finish 131 with clubs on his back and I was going into shutdown mode. Though he’s quite a few years younger than I, he’s my new hero for his achievement. The break in the action was good though, as I finished putting out on the first hole of round 6, my mom and dad appeared in a golf cart out of the blue. Now, I either see or speak with my parents once a day so it’s not like it was a reunion out of a movie, but their appearance provided an incredible boost of morale and energy in me. Dad immediately offered to caddie for me, which I stubbornly declined and I recognized that mom probably hasn’t seen me play a full round of golf since playing in the state tournament in high school. I credit my father for giving me the love and passion for the game and my mother for giving me the fortitude to rush into a day like this with reckless abandon. Thanks mom and dad for all you have done, I love you very much. With dad walking by my side and mom motoring around in a cart after us, the final round was much more enjoyable than I expected it to be just a few minutes earlier. Without them, it was going to be a drag. I had planned on playing 108, but 100 was at the end of #3 green. And getting closer by the second, would I stop there? Putting out on #3 was a great moment, but #4 was calling me on. First, I really wanted to play six full rounds. But more importantly, #4 is a 319 yard par 4 that is drivable on a “normal” day and a great drive. I’d followed my friend’s advice of swinging easy all day, except when I reached #4 tee. I had been pin high earlier and just a few yards short on another pass through. I had one last shot at driving the green and with all the energy I had left, I rifled my best drive of the day right at it. If the front of the green was 310 yards, I hit the ball 310.3 yards. But I did it, I drove #4. A quick two putt and I had an easy birdie, my 7th and final of the day. I then proceeded to hit the biggest powder puff drive of the day on #5, which went maybe 235 yards and laughed as my body had finally given up. The next seven holes were mailed in and I finished my last round in two and a half hours for another score of 77. My travel buddy/uncle was the first to shake my hand and congratulate me. Hope he’s out here next year. Then a hug from mom and dad with a ride back to the clubhouse.

I started this idea of participating in the Hundred Hole Hike in January when I decided to get back into shape. I had signed up for a few mid-am tournaments for Fall 2013 and knew that I needed to shape up to compete. Another big thank you goes to my wife Nicole. Without her patience and support of my training, I wouldn’t have been able to do it. She managed to do more even when she needed to do less, pregnant with our little one coming very soon. Though as I kidded the day after the HHH, one day of playing golf has made me shudder at the thought of playing more….for now. So to her I promise to be on full daddy-mode from here on out. Last but not least, a huge thank you to all of those who pledged on behalf of the Evans Scholars Foundation. I’m blown away by the generosity of you all - By those I see every day to those who I’ve never even met face to face. Your notes of encouragement along the way were in my head the entire day. The fear of letting you down propelled me up the fairways (ok, mostly rough and a few fairways…I’ll admit) and you all have my deepest gratitude. I am blessed to call you all friends.

This Golfer's Participation

Comments

cincycheesehead's picture

Awesome writeup, awesome playing... it is a blast to play that much golf and play it well. Good work!