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?”


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Davies wins by 10 on 'best ball-striking round'

By Associated PressJuly 16, 2018, 1:53 am

WHEATON, Ill. - Laura Davies immediately recognized the significance of having her name inscribed on the first U.S. Senior Women's Open trophy.

It might be a long time before anyone secures the title as emphatically as Davies did.

Davies went virtually unchallenged in Sunday's final round of the inaugural USGA championship for women 50 and older, claiming the title by 10 strokes over Juli Inkster.

''It's great seeing this (trophy) paraded down for the very first time and I get my name on it first, you know?'' Davies said. ''This championship will be played for many years and there will only be one first winner - obviously a proud moment for me to win that.''

The 54-year-old Davies shot a 5-under 68 to finish at 16-under 276 at Chicago Golf Club.

It was the English player's 85th career win, and she felt the pressure even though her lead was rarely in danger.

''I haven't won for eight years - my last win was India, 2010,'' Davies said. ''So that's the pressure you're playing under, when you're trying to do something for yourself, prove to yourself you can still win.

''So this ranks highly up there. And obviously it's a USGA event. It's hard comparing tournaments, but this is very high on my list of achievements.''

A 7-under 66 Saturday provided Davies with a five-shot lead over Inkster and what she said would be a sleepless night worrying about the pressure.

Full-field scores from the U.S. Senior Women’s Open

The World Golf Hall of Famer widened her advantage early Sunday when she birdied the par-5 second hole and Inkster made bogey. Davies said a par she salvaged at the 10th was another turning point.

''It wasn't the greatest hole I ever played, but I think that, to me, was when I really started to think I might have one hand on the trophy and just had to get the other one in there.''

Inkster shot an even-par 73. England's Trish Johnson also shot 73 to finish third, 12 shots back.

''I mean, she was absolutely spectacular this week,'' Johnson said about Davies. ''I've played against her for 35 years. Yesterday was the best I have ever seen her play in her entire career.

''She just said walking down 18 it was best ball-striking round she ever had. Considering she's won 85 tournaments, that's quite some feat.''

Danielle Ammaccapane was fourth and Yuko Saito finished fifth. Martha Leach was the top amateur, tying for 10th at 6-over 298.

Davies plans to play in the Women's British Open next month, and called this win a confidence-booster as she continues to compete against the younger generation. She finished tied for second at the LPGA's Bank of Hope Founders Cup earlier this year.

''You build up a little bit of momentum, and a golf course is a golf course,'' Davies said. ''Sometimes the field strength is a little bit different, but in your own mind if you've done something like this, 16 under for four rounds around a proper championship course, it can't do anything but fill you full of confidence.''

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Romo rallies to win American Century Championship

By Associated PressJuly 16, 2018, 12:42 am

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Nev. - Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo rallied from four points back to win his first American Century Championship at Lake Tahoe on Sunday.

Romo, who retired after the 2016 NFL season and is now an NFL analyst, had 27 points on the day to beat three-time defending champion Mark Mulder and San Jose Sharks captain Joe Pavelski, the the leader after the first two rounds.

''It's a special win,'' said Romo, who had finished second three times in seven previous trips to the annual celebrity golf tournament at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course. ''It feels like you're playing a tournament back home here. The day felt good for a lot of reasons.''

Romo tapped in for par, worth one point, on the 18th hole to finish with 71 points, three ahead of Mulder, the former major league pitcher. He then caught a flight to Berlin, Wis., where he was to compete in a 36-hole U.S. Amateur qualifying tournament on Monday.

The American Century Championship uses a modified Stableford scoring system which rewards points for eagles (six), birdies (three) and pars (one) and deducts points (two) for double bogeys or worse. Bogeys are worth zero points.

Pavelski had a 7-foot eagle putt on the par-5 18th that could have tied Romo, but it slid by. He finished with 66 points, tied for third with Ray Allen, who will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Sept. 7.

Full-field scores from the American Century Championship

''It feels like nothing went in for me today,'' Pavelski said. ''But I couldn't ask for more than to have that putt to tie on the last hole.''

Romo plays as an amateur, so his $125,000 first-place check from the $600,000 purse will go to local charities and the Stowers Institute for Medical Research, the primary charitable arm of title sponsor American Century Investments.

Rounding out the top five were Trent Dilfer, a Super Bowl-winning quarterback with the Baltimore Ravens in 2001, and former tennis player Mardy Fish. Each had 62 points.

Golden State Warriors guard Steph Curry, who fell out of contention with a mediocre round Saturday, jumped into Lake Tahoe amidst much fanfare after losing a bet to his father, Dell. The elder Curry jumped into the lake last year, so he negotiated a 20-point handicap and won by two points.

Other notable players in the 92-player field included John Smoltz, the MLB hall of Fame pitcher who two weeks ago competed in the U.S. Senior Open and finished 10th here with 53 points; Steph Curry, who finished tied for 11th with retired Marine and wounded war hero Andrew Bachelder (50); actor Jack Wagner (16th, 47 points); Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (tied for 18th, 44 points); actor Ray Romano (tied for 71st, minus-26 points); comedian Larry the Cable Guy (tied for 77th, minus-33 points); and former NBA great Charles Barkley, who finished alone in last with minus-93 points.

The tournament drew 57,097 fans for the week, setting an attendance record for the fourth straight year.

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Singh tops Maggert in playoff for first senior major

By Associated PressJuly 16, 2018, 12:10 am

HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. - Vijay Singh birdied the second playoff hole to beat Jeff Maggert and win the Constellation Senior Players Championship on Sunday.

Singh knocked in a putt from about 2 feet after a nearly perfect approach on the 18th hole at Exmoor Country Club, giving an understated fist pump as the ball fell in. That gave him his first major title on the PGA Tour Champions to go with victories at the Masters and two PGA Championships.

Singh (67) and Maggert (68) finished at 20-under 268. Brandt Jobe (66) was two strokes behind, while Jerry Kelly (64) and defending champion Scott McCarron (71) finished at 17 under.

Maggert had chances to win in regulation and on the first playoff hole.

He bogeyed the par-4 16th to fall into a tie with Singh at 20 under and missed potential winning birdie putts at the end of regulation and on the first playoff hole.

His 15-footer on the 72nd hole rolled wide, forcing the playoff, and a downhill 12-footer on the same green went just past the edge.

Full-field scores from the Constellation Energy Senior Players

The 55-year-old Singh made some neat par saves to get into the playoff.

His tee shot on 17 landed near the trees to the right of the fairway, and his approach on 18 wound up in a bunker. But the big Fijian blasted to within a few feet to match Maggert's par.

McCarron - tied with Maggert and Bart Bryant for the lead through three rounds - was trying to join Arnold Palmer and Bernhard Langer as the only back-to-back winners of this major. He came back from a six-shot deficit to win at Caves Valley near Baltimore last year and got off to a good start on Sunday.

He birdied the first two holes to reach 18 under. But bogeys on the par-4 seventh and ninth holes knocked him off the lead. His tee shot on No. 7 rolled into a hole at the base of a tree and forced him to take an unplayable lie.

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Davies a fitting winner of inaugural USGA championship

By Randall MellJuly 15, 2018, 11:26 pm

Laura Davies confessed she did not sleep well on a five-shot lead Saturday night at the U.S. Senior Women’s Open.

It’s all you needed to know about what this inaugural event meant to the women who were part of the history being made at Chicago Golf Club.

The week was more than a parade of memories the game’s greats created playing in the USGA’s long-awaited showcase for women ages 50 and beyond.

The week was more than nostalgic. 

It was a chance to make another meaningful mark on the game.

In the end, Davies relished seeing the mark she made in her runaway, 10-shot victory. She could see it in the familiar etchings on the trophy she hoisted.

“I get my name on it first,” Davies said. “This championship will be played for many years, and there will only be one first winner. Obviously, quite a proud moment for me to win that.”

Really, all 120 players in the field made their marks at Chicago Golf Club. They were all pioneers of sorts this past week.

“It was very emotional seeing the USGA signs, because I've had such a long history, since my teens, playing in USGA championships,” said Amy Alcott, whose Hall of Fame career included the 1980 U.S. Women’s Open title. “I thought the week just came off beautifully. The USGA did a great job. It was just so classy how everything was done, this inaugural event, and how was it presented.”

Davies was thankful for what the USGA added to the women’s game, and she wasn’t alone. Gratefulness was the theme of the week.

Full-field scores from the U.S. Senior Women’s Open

The men have been competing in the U.S. Senior Open since 1980, and now the women have their equal opportunity to do the same.

“It was just great to be a part of the first,” three-time U.S. Women’s Open winner Hollis Stacy said. “The USGA did a great job of having it at such a great golf course. It's just been very memorable.”

Trish Johnson, who is English, like Davies, finished third, 12 shots back, but she left with a heart overflowing.

“Magnificent,” said Johnson, a three-time LPGA and 19-time LET winner. “Honestly, it's one of the best, most enjoyable weeks I've ever played in in any tournament anywhere.”

She played in the final group with Davies and runner-up Juli Inkster.

“Even this morning, just waiting to come out here, I thought, `God, not often do I actually think how lucky I am to do what I do,’” Johnson said.

At 54, Davies still plays the LPGA and LET regularly. She has now won 85 titles around the world, 20 of them LPGA titles, four of them majors, 45 of them LET titles.

With every swing this past week, she peeled back the years, turned back the clock, made fans and peers remember what she means to the women’s game.

This wasn’t the first time Davies made her mark in a USGA event. When she won the U.S. Women’s Open in 1987, she became just the second player from Europe to win the title, the first in 20 years. She opened a new door for internationals. The following year, Sweden’s Liselotte Neumann won the title.

“A lot of young Europeans and Asians decided that it wasn't just an American sport,” Davies said. “At that stage, it had been dominated, wholeheartedly, by all the names we all love, Lopez, Bradley, Daniel, Sheehan.”

Davies gave the rest of the world her name to love, her path to follow.

“It certainly made a lot of foreign girls think that they could take the Americans on,” Davies said.

In golf, it’s long been held that you can judge the stature of an event by the names on the trophy. Davies helps gives the inaugural U.S. Senior Women’s Open the monumental start it deserved.