A man and a mission: 100 holes in one day

By June 21, 2012, 3:27 pm

As I stood on the tee of the par-3 12th hole at Holly Hills Country Club in Ijamsville, Md., for the fourth time on Tuesday, I had to make a choice.

With my feet blistering, soles burning like I had been walking on hot coals, there was little chance I could survive another 33 holes to reach 100 for the day. I faced a decision: give up or find a way to persevere.

I chose the latter. I took off my shoes and socks, picked myself off the ground and decided to find a way to finish what I had started at 6:30 a.m.

The Hundred Hole Hike is a concept started a year ago by Jim Colton, a Colorado man looking to play a marathon day of golf to raise money to help a caddie at his club paralyzed in a skiing accident. He shattered the namesake goal of the day, playing 155 holes. That's the final stage of Q-School plus another two-and-a-half rounds.

My goal was the baseline 100 holes. That's still a lot, I've never played more than 36 holes in a day. Tack on nearly a full PGA Tour event and that was the aim.

I arrived at Holly Hills at 6 a.m., ready to parade around an 18-hole track I had never seen until I reached the century mark. By the end of the day, I figured to have as much local knowledge as most members.

Almost 11 hours from my start time, I had no clue how I was going to finish.

A late entry into the event, I selected the American Lung Association as my charity of choice. The mission to play well and do so quickly reminded me of my godfather, John Jones.

The plain-named man who was at my father's side for my baptism almost 30 years ago is no longer with us. He died in August 2007 after a fairly brief battle against lung cancer.

They say the scorecard never lies. It is a cold truth of numbers, circles and squares which evaluate your performance. There is no room to draw pictures of provide supplemental text. That's where the game gets it wrong, though. Keeping score is exact. Golf and life, however, are not exact, which is the greatest wisdom the game has imparted on me.

On life's scorecard, John’s score would balloon around the turn. He smoked cigarettes, knowing full well the implication. He was doomed to falter against par as time passed. The pencil has no eraser for mulligans.

John, though, lived a simple, beautiful life. He was a quiet, kind man who took care of his family. He never married, but embraced the people he loved like they were his blood. A joker, John had a great dry wit and a healthy skepticism about the world, but was never jaded. He donated his money and time to help children learn sports, particularly baseball and golf.

John wasn't a great golfer but was a great influence on my game. He was encouraging and accommodating. He would meet my dad and me at the range to hit balls, even in the dead of winter. Dad watched and, frankly, so did John.

On occasion, we would tee it up. He could find his way into the 80s, but, regardless of score, always played fast. Golf is fun, but not meant to waste time. There were other things to do, people to help, life to live.

His mechanics weren't spectacular. Sean Foley would likely have scoffed, but Uncle John always reminded me of Jack Nicklaus. He adopted the Golden Bear's hitch of tilting his head away from the ball before taking back the club.

Now that John's gone, every time I see Jack swing and his face move away from the ball ever so slightly, I think of John. Golf's greatest champion makes me sad.

I'm sad Uncle John is gone. I'm sad when I think of him in his last days at home, hooked to a respirator, barely able to speak. I'm sad when I think of the muted pride he showed when he heard about the good things happening in my life, even as his was ending. I'm sad when I think of his funeral service, the only time I've ever seen my dad cry uncontrollably.

I thought about all that as I hit my first tee shot as the sun tried to rise and shine through the overcast sky. It was a perfect tee shot – a long iron hit so pure it would surely land in the blind fairway. I couldn’t find it. What a horrible omen, I thought.

Looking lost on the first hole, a man walked up to me waving, wearing a Hundred Hole Hike shirt. Kris Anderson, along with club member Ken Clyne, would be my company for the day. They got up even earlier than I did, starting at 5:15 a.m. to get in their first nine holes. 

The morning went by quickly. I played the first round with 14 clubs, all of them in a bag strapped to my back. Holly Hills lives up to its namesake. Despite shooting 7-over 79 in about two hours on the 6,430-yard course, my lower back was throbbing.

I lightened the load considerably for the second round. I played an entire 18 with just a 4-iron. It was some of the most fun I’ve ever had. The club choice was monotonous, but the imagination required for each shot was stimulating. I don’t know how I did it, but I shot 92. That left 62 holes to go.

Kris was locked in a permanent four-club challenge. Ken continued to use a full bag with a pull cart – probably as exacting as carrying the clubs up and down the hills.

A small transient gallery cheered us on through the day. Staffers came out to see our progress, particularly if my partners would get past 54 holes – the baseline bet for the club members.

We took a break for food, a quick sit and a little rest. I had a cheeseburger, partially scoffed it down as we started again. This time, I added a 52-degree wedge because hitting flop shots with a long iron is impossible. I shot 83 that time. I was more than halfway at that point – 56 down, 44 to go. At that point, doubt crept in.

I was exhausted. It was hot. I knew I was hydrated enough, so that wasn’t an issue. It was my feet. They were scorching, warmer than the sun beating down on us. I could replenish energy, but walking is fundamental to this task. If I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t finish.

I had to go down swinging, literally. Armed with a chicken salad sandwich, my driver, the wedge and, now, a 5-iron, I gave it a try. After 11 holes I could barely take a step without feeling the pain, the blisters forming.

We got to the par-3 12th, my 68th hole of the day. That’s when I made the choice. I couldn’t finish – not the traditional way, at least. I should’ve brought more pairs of socks and shoes, like a marathon runner would do.

This was the shortest, flattest hole I would see the rest of the way, however. If I could play the 150-yard hole another 33 times, I would reach 100. So the decision was made. I went barefoot, bid farewell to Kris and Ken and teed up my ball.

I swung a 9-iron the first few times, quickly realizing my back and feet would not let me generate much power. I clubbed up to 8-iron, which helped. It turned out to be the right stick.

Down and back, down and back, I went. Each lap was 300 yards, give or take, depending on how far off-line my tee shot was. Flares to the right were the worst, creating the longest walk. The bunkers were nice and cool for my feet. The green felt best, naturally.

The course had been largely empty through the day, most staying out of the heat. At this point in the day, however, some groups played into the looming dusk. Groups would arrive on the tee, me usually on the green. They looked confused at the bald, barefoot man hobbling back toward them. Some thought I had been mugged, others likely thought I was just insane. I probably was the latter.

Back and forth, back and forth. I counted each lap to myself. Sometimes, I would sit on the tee and think if I could finish. I thought of Uncle John. I got a text from my dad encouraging me to finish, another from my mom begging me not to hurt myself and one from my wife suggesting our dog was looking forward to my successful return.

Before I knew it, I was on my 22nd lap. I nearly made an ace then, skipping just past the pin. I would have cited the kids jumping on a trampoline at an adjacent house as witnesses. I made birdie that time as well as on the next lap. I thought maybe I could make 10 more to finish in triumph. Alas, no.

I kept going, making pars, bogeys and double bogeys. It would have been a messy scorecard, but I was getting closer.

Then it came, the final hole. I stood on the tee, looked up and around me. I smiled and laughed. Hopefully, just three more shots. One last time, I pegged my ball and gripped my 8-iron. I turned my face away from the ball and swung with whatever I had left. Let’s just say, it hit the green.

I couldn’t stop smiling as I walked with my putter to the green. Victory was mine. I would survive. I wish Uncle John had.

As I got to the ball, I looked back. Kris and Ken were there, waving. How fitting. They came back just in time to see me finish, themselves still needing six holes to reach 100.

They shook their heads, wondering how I managed to do this. I laughed, then teared up for a second, wondering the same, but knowing why. I made my par. Victory.

I hobbled with them to the next tee, seeing them hit their tee shots before a cart would come out to pick me up to go to the clubhouse. As Kris and Ken walked off, we had clearly made up our minds about doing this again.

Kris asked, “Next year?”

Absolutely.

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Tiger draws Sneds, Kizzire at Honda Classic

By Ryan LavnerFebruary 20, 2018, 7:43 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Tiger Woods will play alongside Patton Kizzire and Brandt Snedeker for the first two rounds of the Honda Classic.

The threesome will tee off at 7:45 a.m. ET Thursday off PGA National’s 10th tee, then 12:35 p.m. off the first tee in the second round Friday.

Woods is making his first start at the Honda, his hometown event, since 2014. He tied for second here in 2012, after a final-round 62.

This is the first time he has ever played with Kizzire, a two-time winner this season and the FedExCup points leader.

Other notable groups for the first two rounds:

  • Justin Thomas, Sergio Garcia, Daniel Berger: 7:35 a.m. Thursday, 12:25 p.m. Friday
  • Tommy Fleetwood, Alex Noren, Gary Woodland: 7:55 a.m. Thursday, 12:45 p.m. Friday
  • Rickie Fowler, Patrick Reed, Kevin Kisner: 12:25 p.m. Thursday, 7:35 a.m. Friday
  • Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott, Padraig Harrington: 12:35 p.m. Thursday, 7:45 a.m. Friday
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The Social: In perfect harmony?

By Jason CrookFebruary 20, 2018, 7:00 pm

Bubba Watson re-emerges in the winner's circle but gets exposed on the hardwood, Mark Wahlberg tunes out Tiger Woods and if John Daly wants a drinking partner, he need look no further than ... John Daly?

All that and more in this week's edition of The Social.

Bubba Watson had himself a week.

The two-time Masters champion hung out with Jay Leno and Ellen DeGeneres, caught a taping of "The Big Bang Theory," played in the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game and still found some time to notch his first PGA Tour win in two years.

Watson's third victory at Riviera couldn't have come at a better time for the 39-year-old, with an annual trip down Magnolia Lane right around the corner. But don't let that distract you from the only Bubba highlight that mattered from the weekend:

Welcome to the block party, Bubba. Despite his former professional basketball playing wife's advice to stay out of the paint, Watson decided to challenge Hall of Famer Tracy McGrady at the hoop. You could say his challenge was accepted. And then some.

Watson, who picked up a couple of assists but also shot an air ball in the game, said afterwards that he "was just trying not to get hurt" and even poked a little fun at himself, calling out McGrady for committing a foul on social media.

But if these tweets from a couple of his PGA Tour peers are any indication, it will be a while before he lives this one down.

Sports fans probably take Bubba Golf for granted sometimes, no one plays the game like he does. Lets not make the same mistake with Bubba Basketball.

Want to know how far Tiger Woods has fallen? Sure, you could look at his 544th-world ranking or the current state of his game as he returns from injury, but the most telling sign came from his Wednesday pro-am round at the Genesis Open.

Woods was grouped with Mark Wahlberg for the day, and the superstar actor couldn't even be bothered to take the Apple AirPods out his ears – either one – for the entire round, even wearing them for the picture Woods posted on Instagram himself.

Marky Mark, you don't have to be his thunder buddy but at least show the man some common decency. He's still Tiger Freakin' Woods. Who is supposed to fake laugh at one of Tiger's patented hilarious dad jokes if all of his playing partners suddenly start listening to music during their rounds?

On a related note, guess Tigers are the only animals that Wahlberg won't talk to.

Something tells me this whole criminal thing isn't going to work out for these two.

Drinks were on John Daly Sunday after his hole-in-one at the Chubb Classic. But how many drinks? Well, that depends on who he’s drinking with.

If it’s with U.S. Olympian John Daly, the answer is, A LOT.

That's right, there's an American skeleton (headfirst luge for you newbs) racer competing in PyeongChang, South Korea, with the same name as the two-time major champ, and he couldn't help himself when asked about the similarity, jokingly saying he could keep up at the bar.

Of course, Daly (the golfer) wasn't just going to sit idly by while his name was dragged through the mud, tweeting out, basically, be careful what you wish for.

Somehow, someway, sliding headfirst down a frozen patch of ice with very little protection seems like a better idea than challenging Long John to a drinking contest. Just ask Andrew 'Beef' Johnston how it turned out.

If someone quits Twitter but they don't leave a long, drawn-out message on Twitter about why they're quitting Twitter before doing so, then did they even quit Twitter?

That's the riddle surrounding Lydia Ko's disappearance from the social media platform, one that the South Park Police Department would call, "suspicious."

The former LPGA world No. 1 has gone through all kinds of changes over the last couple of seasons, and added this curious move (on top of switching out her swing coach and caddie to start this season) because she said the app was “taking up [too much] storage on my phone.”

Whatever the reason, whether it be the storage issue she mentioned, or Twitter being a giant cesspool of negativity, here's to hoping it brings Ko happiness and a return to the winner's circle for the first time since 2016.

But we're sad to see her go.

After all, if people aren't freaking out on Twitter, what are we going to focus on here in The Social?

Rory McIlroy said last week after playing with Tiger Woods at the Genesis Open that the 14-time major champ gives up two strokes a tournament dealing with the hoopla that comes with being Tiger Woods.

That hasn't deterred John Peterson, who was on Twitter Monday openly recruiting Woods to play on his team for the Zurich Classic.

The April New Orleans PGA Tour stop switched to a team format last year, with Jonas Blixt and Cameron Smith joining forces to win the first title.

Peterson followed up his original tweet by asking how many retweets he'd need to make it happen. We're no experts here, but probably more than the 132 it had at the time of this publication.

Peterson's followers had some fun with the request, applauding his effort as a shooter:

And hey, who knows, stranger things have happened. While the two may seem like an unlikely pairing, they have some stuff in common – Peterson won the 2012 Coca-Cola Walmart Open and Tiger, we think, has heard of an establishment known as Walmart.

So yeah, you could say the two are basically best friends at this point.

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Veteran Golf Journalist Bradley S. Klein Joins Golf Channel Editorial Team

By Golf Channel Public RelationsFebruary 20, 2018, 4:15 pm

Klein to Lend 30-Plus Years in Golf Architecture, History and Travel Journalism to Golf Advisor, Golf Channel’s Digital Travel and Lifestyle Brand

Read Klein’s first column here

Veteran golf travel, history and architecture journalist Bradley S. Klein has joined Golf Channel’s editorial team as senior writer for Golf Advisor, the company’s ever-expanding digital destination for the traveling golfer, featuring more than 700,000 reviews of nearly 15,000 golf courses in 80 countries worldwide. Klein’s first column appears today and provides eight simple tips for becoming a golf course architecture junkie – how architecture can be more relevant to everyday golfers and design aspects to observe that can make a round of golf a more fulfilling experience.

With more than 40 years of varied experiences within the game of golf – a career that began as a caddie on the PGA Tour – Klein most recently served as the long-time architecture editor for Golfweek magazine and the founding editor of Superintendent News.

"I've been in love with golf course design since I was 11 years old and have been lucky over the years to find a platform where I can share that fascination with fellow golfers,” Klein said. “It's an amazing opportunity now for me to bring that passion and commitment to Golf Channel and its travel and lifestyle brand, Golf Advisor."

"We are extremely excited to have Brad join the Golf Advisor team. His unique contributions covering history and architecture will be an excellent complement to the travel content Matt Ginella brings to Golf Advisor and Golf Channel’s Morning Drive,” said Mike Lowe, vice president and general manager, Golf Advisor. “Brad’s reputation and experience in the industry make him a wonderful addition to our expanding golf travel and course design editorial team.”

Other members of Golf Advisor’s editorial team include: Brandon Tucker, Mike Bailey, Jason Deegan, Bill Irwin and Tim Gavrich.

Including assignments for Golfweek, Klein has written more than 1,500 feature articles on course architecture, resort travel, golf course development, golf history and the media for such other publications as Golf Digest, Financial Times, New York Times and Sports Illustrated. He has published seven books on golf architecture and history, including Discovering Donald Ross, winner of the USGA 2001 International Book Award. In 2015, Klein won the Donald Ross Award for lifetime achievement from the American Society of Golf Course Architects. He is well known within the golf industry and has served as a consultant on numerous golf course development and restoration projects, most recently the Old Macdonald course at acclaimed Bandon Dunes Golf Resort in Oregon.

Golf Advisor now includes the integration of Golf Vacation Insider and Golf Odyssey, two leading travel newsletters with a combined reach of more than a half million subscribers. Both newsletters joined Golf Channel’s portfolio of businesses in 2017 as part of the acquisition of Revolution Golf, golf’s largest direct-to-consumer digital platform offering video-based instruction and integrated e-commerce.

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Stock Watch: Fans getting louder, rowdier

By Ryan LavnerFebruary 20, 2018, 3:01 pm

Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

RISING

Bubba (+9%): Half of his 10 Tour titles have come at Augusta National and Riviera – that’s pretty stout. Though he can be maddening to cover because of his personality quirks, an in-form Watson is a must-watch.

Phil (+5%): For the first time in 11 years, Mickelson put together three consecutive top-6 finishes on Tour. Suddenly, another green jacket or that elusive U.S. Open title doesn’t seem so far away.

Kevin Na (+3%): How much fun would this guy be on a Ryder Cup team? He hits it dead straight – which will be important at Le Golf National, where the home team will narrow the fairways – and would drive the Europeans absolutely bonkers.

West Coast swing (+2%): From Jason Day to Gary Woodland to Ted Potter to Watson, the best coast produced a series of memorable comeback stories. And that’s always good news for those of us who get paid to write about the game.

South Korean talent (+1%): They already represent nine of the top 16 players in the world, and that doesn’t even include Jin Young Ko, who just won in her first start as an LPGA member.



FALLING

Steve Stricker Domination (-1%): Those predicting that he would come out and mop up on the PGA Tour Champions – hi there! – will be surprised to learn that he’s now 0-for-7 on the senior circuit (with five top-3s), after Joe Durant sped past him on the final day in Naples. The quality of golf out there is strong.

Patrick Cantlay’s routine (-2%): Never really noticed it before, but Cantlay ground to a halt during the final round, often looking at the cup six or seven times before finally stroking his putt. Perhaps it’s not a coincidence that his final-round scoring average is nearly four strokes higher than his openers.

Lydia Ko (-3%): Another wholesale change? Whatever is going on here – and it reeks of too much parental involvement – it’s not good for her short- or long-term future.

Tiger (-4%): It’s early, and he’s obviously savvy enough to figure it out, but nothing else in this comeback will matter if Woods can’t start driving it on the planet.

Fan behavior (-8%): Kudos to Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas for taking the Riviera spectators to task for their tiresome (and increasingly aggressive) calls after a player hits a shot. The only problem? PGA National’s par-3 17th could be even worse – the drunk fans are closer to the action, and the hole is infinitely more difficult than TPC Scottsdale’s 16th. Buckle up.