Literally a Hundred Hole Hike

Suffice it to say: Not all 100 holes are created equal.

Last year, for the inaugural Hundred Hole Hike, I played Flossmoor Country Club, a 1899 classic design in Chicago’s south suburbs routed on relatively flat terrain akin to most of Illinois. I scooted around 109 holes with relative ease and somewhat free of pain.

This year, I decided to once again participate in the Hundred Hole Hike and support the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. This time, a new course provided an entirely new challenge.

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On Monday, June 24, I hiked at Kingsley Club in Northern Michigan, where I recently joined as a member. Kingsley, designed in 2001 by Mike DeVries, features wildly sloping fairways, quirky bounces and plays firm-and-fast on all fescue grass. I set my goal at walking 110, a bump of one hole over last year’s tally. At least it sounded reasonable.

The day started with a 4 a.m. wake-up. Fellow Kingsley member and hiker Chris Huffnagel soon introduced me to two essential items to start the day: a peanut butter-and-banana sandwich and a glow golf ball. We were set to go.

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At 5:15 a.m., we teed off on the 10th hole. I unceremoniously pulled my drive into the fescue on the right side of the fairway, and off we went.

Given the early hour, I was carrying my own bag. Chris had the assistance of his wife Jill and Kingsley member and friend Tim Burt caddying for him. I didn’t expect to keep pace with Chris, who is fit, hits a straight ball and has a gait the length of a flagstick. We soon teed off on the 12th hole and I bid him adieu. Off he went. (Chris hiked an incredibly impressive 126 holes in an unconscionable average of 1:18 per round.)

Kingsley was eerily quiet at the early hour. It was also beautiful. I made the turn after #18 and headed to the nearby white tee on #1. It’s a super opening hole, an uphill par 5 with a sloping fairway and menacing centerline bunker off the tee. It’s also the type of hole you don’t want to see on a golf marathon – especially when the preferred line of play is right of the bunker.

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Only 100 more holes to go...

I huffed around my first round solo in 1:51, tallying an 89 on the scorecard. I quickly changed socks in the clubhouse and learned that Dan from the club’s staff would caddy for my second round. A much welcome reprieve.

The second round was much more efficient with Dan on the bag. We went around in 1:45, shooting an 87 with birdies on 3, 9 and 13. It was also a somewhat polarizing round with a 48 on the back nine thanks to four straight doubles followed by a handsome 39 on the front.

Dan also joined me for the third round in 1:51 that resulted in my best score of the day: 84. More meaningful than the score was an exchange on the 8th hole. As a foursome let me through, one of the members unexpectedly gave me a generous pledge for the hike.

With three rounds in the bag, lunch and a change of clothes in the clubhouse awaited. Last year, I learned the valuable lesson that sitting and resting for too long was not advised as I stiffened up. Suffice it to say, I stayed in the clubhouse only long enough to eat half a sandwich before heading back out.

It was a treat to have Kingsley’s general manager Brian Conklin as my caddie for the fourth round. Brian was a calming influence and offered much needed encouragement. He also answered my multitude of questions about the course and how it has evolved in the 10 years he has worked at Kingsley.

As a couple foursomes had just gone off the back, we started the round on the front nine. A surprise soon waited at the fifth tee in the form of a camera crew from a local Traverse City TV station. The reporter miked me up and the crew followed me around for the next five holes. Luckily, I didn’t totally embarrass myself on camera or during the accompanying interview as we walked down the eighth fairway.

Well, I wasn’t as careful with my other stray comments that the microphone picked up. The end of the TV segment captured me uttering an ever-eloquent: “Oh, that’s a bad swing!”

My swing and body were holding up with the exception of my left knee, which was starting to hurt. I didn’t carry a driver for the day and thus my three wood doubled as both a driving club and also a walking aid down the undulating fairways. I finished the fourth round in 1:52 and with a 88 on the card.

For round five, Josh Clegg of the Kingsley staff was kind enough to take the bag. We approached the first tee, the 73 hole of the day, and Josh asked how many holes I was targeting. “Well… 110,” I said, with trepidation in my voice.

Josh saw my hobbling a bit. “If you shoot for a straight 100 holes, you can finish this round, play another nine and then play the ninth hole again to make it 100.”

A revised goal was hatched, and likely one that should have existed from the start.

I limped around the fifth round in 2:10, my longest of the day, shooting a 89 in the process. Only ten more to go.

A change of socks and back I went to the first tee, where Brian awaited with my bag on his shoulder, a ball teed up and my three wood at the ready. Off we went. Somehow, it was my best nine of the day, shooting a 40 in 63 minutes.

With a crowd gathered on the club house’s back deck, I walked back to the 9th tee. One more swing – or so I thought.

I had already birdied the 9th hole four out of six times thanks to a generous pin position in the front bowl of the green. Of course, I take the opportunity to push my sand wedge a tad, watching it roll off the green and into the deep front bunker. Two more swings in the bunker and two more putts, and I was in with a double-bogey five to complete my Hundred Hole Hike. An inauspicious finish, but a joyous finish nonetheless.

One hundred holes, 27 miles, 482 stokes, 12 hours and 1,000 feet of elevation change.

All in all, it was a tremendous day at Kingsley spent with new friends and rewarding beyond measure. Most importantly, it raised more than $4,000 for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation to support its efforts to achieve a cure for breast cancer in our lifetime. Many thanks to the Kingsley Club, its dedicated staff and all my supporters for making my Hundred Hole Hike a success.

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This Golfer's Participation

Comments

Way to go, Howard!

Enjoyed the read. Felt like I could see you hobbling down the fairway. Well done Mr. Riefs.