The Next Level
Welcome to the Hundred Hole Hike! What you see on your computer screen or iJobs device is the by-product of months of brainstorming, weeks and weeks of coding and hours upon hours of late-night gChat sessions with good friend and confidant, golf writer Tom Dunne. If it weren't for Tom, I'd be taking on this project in the same way I tackle just about everything (including the Ben Cox 155)...by building an Excel spreadsheet. Thankfully, there are a lot of smart people in the world whose lives don't begin and end with Pivot Tables. Tom was able to quickly find the right ones. I can't thank him enough.
As mentioned, the Hundred Hole Hike is really the offspring of the Ben Cox event at Ballyneal last year. While it's no stretch to call last year's event a huge success--what started as a grassroots effort to raise a couple thousand dollars for an injured caddie at my home club exploded into something much more than that--I was left with post-golfmatic stress syndrome. I couldn't shake the feeling that I could've or should've done more. Maybe it was one stone left unturned on the e-mail fundraising circuit. Perhaps one more Top 100 club in the raffle or a single response to my buddy Tim Bert's obsessive pleas for a Rory McIlroy retweet could've pushed it past the tipping point. Maybe if I could have hit 55% instead of 45% of fairways, or spent less time with practice swings or lining up putts, we could've raised more money for the Cox family.
Last fall, I got a lot of questions from friends asking "What next?" or "Are you going to do it again next year?" My initial thought was to do pretty much the same thing but just push myself further, with the goal of walking 180 holes or more in one day. Eventually, this selfish ambition to "do more" birthed an idea to "help more." Instead of just one guy walking a ridiculous number of holes in one day for one cause, why not try to build a national (or international) network of golf marathons, with a bunch of golfers walking 100+ holes in a day to raise money for a variety of worthwhile causes. Bingo! That was idea that could take the Ben Cox 155 to the next level. Throw in a catchy alliteration, register a few domain names, develop a website to centralize all of the marketing and fundraising, and here we are! Golf's version of the Million Man March.
[I knew we were on to something when the first four people we contacted to be potential sponsors -- Rob Rigg from True Linkswear, John Ashworth of Linksoul, Lee Wybranski from Group W Artworks and Todd Rohrer from The Mackenzie Golf Bag Company -- not only immediately said they'd love to be included as partners, but also wanted to "hike" as well. I sincerely hope that others reading this and checking out the site will have the same kind of gut reaction.]
One of the key motivating factors last year was the deep connection I made with Ben and his family. Ben Cox is such an inspirational young man, to me and many others that he has touched over the last year. His and his family's unwavering faith through the skiing accident and recovery changed people's lives, including my own. It wasn't difficult to get motivated and push a little harder leading up to and during the marathon, knowing full well that each extra hole was going toward a deserving cause.
Along those same lines, hundredholehike.com is meant to be a platform for die-hard golfers to raise money for causes that they feel passionately about. Our current list of causes ranges from cancer research and helping addicts get back on their feet, to a number of charities designed to help kids. We've even set up a charitable organization called One Divot to organize and operate the Hundred Hole Hike, with a two-fold mission. One, to help individuals in the golf "family" such as Ben Cox get the assistance to help with injury, illness or unfortunate circumstance; and two, to develop and support "grow the game" initiatives, particularly among youths in traditionally underserved areas. Our hope is that each golfer is able to make the same connection with his/her cause, and is able to convey that connection with others through the blogging and social media aspects of the site so others can share in the journey.
Consistent with this "next level" thinking, I will be hiking this year on June 25th at Ballyneal to raise money for the Craig Hospital Foundation--specifically, to raise money for spinal-cord and brain injury research. Craig Hospital in Denver is exclusively dedicated to spinal cord injury and traumatic brain injury rehabilitation and research, and is where Ben Cox spent many months after his skiing accident. My hope is that by walking 100 (or more...take the over) holes in one day, maybe Ben Cox or somebody with a similar injury can walk one or more with me someday. I hope that you'll join me in support of this or any of the other very worthwhile causes. Click Find a Golfer, read the hikers' blog posts either individually or collectively at what we're calling Base Camp, find out more about the causes and clubs involved and pledge your support. Or even step up and get involved by launching a Hike event at your home club for a charitable cause of your choosing. Feel free to e-mail me at email@example.com for more information.
Ballyneal is a private golf club located in the sand hills of northeastern Colorado, 2.5 hours northeast of Denver.