Marathon Golf 100 Holes

By Michael FechterJune 6, 2008, 4:00 pm
Editor's note: Michael Fechter, orphan worker and humorist, has the best job in golf: he's paid to be the Ambassador of Fun for golf courses across America. His 'job' is to make the courses he represents across America more interesting, unique and fun. Enjoy his humorous series on getting back into the game as he struggles to get his game into the shape it was nearly 30 years ago when he won his only personal junior 'major,' the Al Esposito, on America's easiest muni with rounds of 71-71-75.
 
In answer to the age-old question, How does a 45-year old, recovering non-golfer feel after completing a 100-hole charity golf marathon? I'd say, far, far better than expected.
 
We do a lot of crazy things in support of good causes, like write checks to complete strangers so as to lower our basis of taxable income, run marathons, and buy nutritionally-devoid, overpriced cookies from shady groups of young girls camped out in front of the local Wal-Mart.
 
So, when Charles Ramberg, a skilled artisan furniture maker and noted do-gooder for African and local children alike, asked me, Michael Fechter, if I would like to sponsor him as he participated in a 100 Hole Golf Marathon to support the Dee Norton Lowcountry Children's Center, a haven for children of suspected abuse, I said, Oh, hell no!
 
Hell no, partially because as an Orpan worker, Ambassador of Fun and columnist for GolfChannel.com, I have no basis of taxable income to reduce. And, Hell no mostly because this 100-Hole Golf Marathon sounded like the perfect way for the winner of the 1980 Al Esposito Junior Invitational to jump start my way back into becoming a golfer. So, rather than being Charles' sponsor, I talked my way into being Charles playing partner for the event.
 
Ah, yes, 100 holes. Mere childs play. Granted, I have never played more than 36 holes in a single day, so I was curious as to how one might actually complete 100 holes during the daylight available in late April? Even with a cart, it would be hard to play 18 in much under 3 hours, and we were looking at 5 complete rounds of 18, plus another 10 holes. Thats over 17 hours of golf -- possible in Nome, Alaska on the summer solstice, but not in Charleston, S.C. on any day of the year.
 
I arrived at the uber-exclusive Daniel Island Club at 7 a.m. to learn the realities of this 'Marathon Golf. Perhaps it would involve an actual marathon. I envisioned rich fat guys with rental clubs being forced to run the course while volunteers from the children's center yelled 'Keep it moving, Porky!!' For my money, that would be far more entertaining than even the dunk tank at the Kiwanis club fair.
 
I'll tell you one thing: someone at the Daniel Island Club sure knows how to run a golf course. There were more workers tending to the flower beds than were used to build the Panama Canal. And there, by the cart shed, was a spread of fruit, yogurt and energy bars a free breakfast that could be the difference in my staying solvent in 2008. Gotta stay grateful.
 
Of all the participants, I recognized none of the names except for Tucker Erwin, a kid who recently was an All-American junior. Gee, I wonder who might fair better in this 100 Hole Marathon, 'Trophy Case Tucker' or 'Basket Case Fechter?
 
As we neared, 8 a.m. and a shot-gun start, the head pro explained the 'rules' of Marathon Golf. From what I could gather, Marathon Golf is the Outback Steakhouse of golf, 'No Rules, Just Right!' (Please send all Outback coupons for this national plug directly to my P.O. Box.).
 
Marathon Golf is the greatest invention since M & Ms with peanuts or the French kiss. Marathon Golf is to serious golf what the Victoria's Secret Holiday TV Special is to '60 Minutes'. It's a great thing... only much, much better.
 
In Marathon Golf, you play as many balls as you want off the tee and into the green. You can play 10 balls on a par 3 and that counts as 'Ten Holes' of your 100-hole round. A par is zero points, a birdie is minus-1 point, a bogey is plus-1 point, a double bogey is plus-2 points and there is no score higher than a double bogey. You cant make a 'snowman' (an 8) in Marathon Golf. In Marathon Golf, Sam Snead would have won the 1937 U.S. Open.
 
In Marathon Golf, there is no out of bounds; everything is a lateral hazard, just drop another ball and play on. Perfect for a guy like me with a two-decade-long gap in his golf resum.
 
In Marathon Golf, all putts under 3 feet are automatically 'good.' Nobody misses a sliding downhill 3-footer or the 3-footer coming back. In Marathon Golf, Ben Hogan would have won an additional five U.S. Opens and about 12 more Master's.
 
In Marathon Golf, there are fewer rules than in marriage to Hugh Hefner. And yet, after the second hole, Charles Ramberg and I discovered that there were way too many rules in Marathon Golf. So we simplified it more.
 
Why stand on the tee and pound out 8 different drives? It takes way too much patience, concentration and effort, with none of my drives breaking 215. So, we decided that as soon as we had a ball in the fairway that we liked, it was time to play 8 balls to the green from that spot. There's eight holes, Mr. Hogan.
 
Soon, we decided that it would be just as good to hit a lot of sand shots or chip shots from around the green and count that as the number of holes. Marathon Golf was beginning to feel like the old practice rounds I would have on the day before a tournament, except with no seriousness to the day at all. It was beyond perfection.
 
There was no need to get upset with a bad shot, because you had eight more shots if you wanted them to get it right. Charles and I discovered is that we usually both hit a pretty good shot on the first try because there was no pressure. Im not sure that Trophy Case Tucker approached the day the same way Charles and I did, but give him 30 years, an ex wife and a months-long custody battle, and hed appreciate our take on the day.
 
After 100 holes in about 3 hours, we had a fantastic lunch with the small army of volunteers, the staff of Dee Norton Lowcountry Children's Center and other golfers. We then went out and played a private 2 Man Captain's Choice with the entire course to ourselves. By this time, we had hit so many sand shots, chip shots, drivers and wedges that we played just great.
 
The entire day could not have been better. After 100 holes of Marathon Golf, I felt that I had again 'found my game.' Its the first time I left a golf course beaming in years.
 
More importantly, over $40,000 was raised for children who need treatment and counseling for neglect and abuse. It was simply a day of good deeds and great, uncomplicated golf.
 
As was foreshadowed, Tucker Erwin, the All-American junior inexplicably won the Marathon Golf tournament. Just squeeze it in your trophy case, pal, because I was the true winner today.
 
So, if youre trying to knock off the winter dust, or just have trouble finding your game, put yourself down for a round or two of Marathon Golf. Marathon Golf takes out the seriousness and puts in the fun. Heck, I should know, I'm golf's 'Ambassador of Fun.'.
 
Tom Werner contributed to this column.
 
Email your thoughts to Michael Fecheter
 
Related Links:
  • The Gratitude Project
  • Greenway Golf
  • Getty Images

    How to watch The Open on TV and online

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 5:40 am

    You want to watch the 147th Open? Here’s how you can do it.

    Golf Channel and NBC Sports will be televising 182 hours of overall programming from the men's third major of the year at Carnoustie

    In addition to the traditional coverage, the two networks will showcase three live alternate feeds: marquee groups, featured holes (our new 3-hole channel) and spotlight action. You can also watch replays of full-day coverage, Thursday-Sunday, in the Golf Channel app, NBC Sports apps, and on GolfChannel.com.  

    Here’s the weekly TV schedule, with live stream links in parentheses. You can view all the action on the Golf Channel mobile, as well. Alternate coverage is noted in italics:

    (All times Eastern; GC=Golf Channel; NBC=NBC Sports; GC.com=GolfChannel.com or check the GLE app)

    Monday, July 16

    GC: 7-9AM: Morning Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

    GC: 9-11AM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

    GC: 7-9PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


    Tuesday, July 17

    GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


    Wednesday, July 18

    GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


    Thursday, July 19

    GC: Midnight-1:30AM: Midnight Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

    GC: Day 1: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

    GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

    GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

    GC.com: Day 1: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

    GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


    Friday, July 20

    GC: Day 2: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

    GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

    GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

    GC.com: Day 2: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

    GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


    Saturday, July 21

    GC: Day 3: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

    NBC: Rd. 3: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

    GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

    GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

    GC.com: Day 3: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

    GC: Live From The Open: 3-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


    Sunday, July 22

    GC: Day 4: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

    NBC: Rd. 4: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

    GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

    GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

    GC.com: Day 4: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

    GC: Live From The Open: 2:30-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

    Getty Images

    The Open 101: A guide to the year's third major

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 5:30 am

    Take a look at some answers to frequently asked questions about The Open:

    What's all this "The Open" stuff? I thought it was the British Open.

    What you call it has historically depended on where you were. If you were in the U.S., you called it the British Open, just as Europeans refer to the PGA Championship as the U.S. PGA. Outside the U.S. it generally has been referred to as The Open Championship. The preferred name of the organizers is The Open.

    How old is it?

    It's the oldest golf championship, dating back to 1860.

    Where is it played?

    There is a rotation – or "rota" – of courses used. Currently there are 10: Royal Birkdale, Royal St. George's, Royal Liverpool and Royal Lytham and St. Annes, all in England; Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland and St. Andrews, Carnoustie, Royal Troon, Turnberry and Muirfield, all in Scotland. Muirfield was removed from the rota in 2016 when members voted against allowing female members, but when the vote was reversed in 2017 it was allowed back in.

    Where will it be played this year?

    At Carnoustie, which is located on the south-eastern shore of Scotland.

    Who has won The Open on that course?

    Going back to the first time Carnoustie hosted, in 1931, winners there have been Tommy Armour, Henry Cotton (1937), Ben Hogan (1953), Gary Player (1968), Tom Watson (1975), Paul Lawrie (1999), Padraig Harrington (2007).

    Wasn't that the year Hogan nearly won the Slam?

    Yep. He had won the Masters and U.S. Open that season, then traveled to Carnoustie and won that as well. It was the only time he ever played The Open. He was unable to play the PGA Championship that season because the dates conflicted with those of The Open.

    Jean Van de Velde's name should be on that list, right?

    This is true. He had a three-shot lead on the final hole in 1999 and made triple bogey. He lost in a playoff to Lawrie, which also included Justin Leonard.

    Who has won this event the most?

    Harry Vardon, who was from the Channel Island of Jersey, won a record six times between 1896 and 1914. Australian Peter Thomson, American Watson, Scot James Braid and Englishman J.H. Taylor each won five times.

    What about the Morrises?

    Tom Sr. won four times between 1861 and 1867. His son, Tom Jr., also won four times, between 1868 and 1872.

    Have players from any particular country dominated?

    In the early days, Scots won the first 29 Opens – not a shocker since they were all played at one of three Scottish courses, Prestwick, St. Andrews and Musselburgh. In the current era, going back to 1999 (we'll explain why that year in a minute), the scoreboard is United States, nine wins; South Africa, three wins; Ireland, two wins; Northern Ireland, two wins; and Sweden, one win. The only Scot to win in that period was Lawrie, who took advantage of one of the biggest collapses in golf history.

    Who is this year's defending champion?

    That would be American Jordan Spieth, who survived an adventerous final round to defeat Matt Kuchar by three strokes and earn the third leg of the career Grand Slam.

    What is the trophy called?

    The claret jug. It's official name is the Golf Champion Trophy, but you rarely hear that used. The claret jug replaced the original Challenge Belt in 1872. The winner of the claret jug gets to keep it for a year, then must return it (each winner gets a replica to keep).

    Which Opens have been the most memorable?

    Well, there was Palmer in 1961and '62; Van de Velde's collapse in 1999; Hogan's win in 1953; Tiger Woods' eight-shot domination of the 2000 Open at St. Andrews; Watson almost winning at age 59 in 2009; Doug Sanders missing what would have been a winning 3-foot putt at St. Andrews in 1970; Tony Jacklin becoming the first Briton to win the championship in 18 years; and, of course, the Duel in the Sun at Turnberry in 1977, in which Watson and Jack Nicklaus dueled head-to-head over the final 36 holes, Watson winning by shooting 65-65 to Nicklaus' 65-66.

    When I watch this tournament on TV, I hear lots of unfamiliar terms, like "gorse" and "whin" and "burn." What do these terms mean?

    Gorse is a prickly shrub, which sometimes is referred to as whin. Heather is also a shrub. What the scots call a burn, would also be considered a creek or stream.

    Getty Images

    Four players vying for DJ's No. 1 ranking at Open

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 8:41 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Four players have an opportunity to overtake Dustin Johnson for world No. 1 this week.

    According to Golf Channel world-rankings guru Alan Robinson, Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm each can grab the top spot in the world ranking.

    Thomas’ path is the easiest. He would return to No. 1 with either a win and Johnson finishing worse than solo third, or even a solo runner-up finish as long as Johnson finishes worse than 49th.


    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    Twenty years after his auspicious performance in The Open, Rose can get to No. 1 for the first time with a victory and Johnson finishing worse than a two-way tie for third.

    Kopeka can rise to No. 1 if he wins consecutive majors, assuming that his good friend posts worse than a three-way tie for third.

    And Rahm can claim the top spot with a win this week, a Johnson missed cut and a Thomas finish of worse than solo second.   

    Johnson’s 15-month reign as world No. 1 ended after The Players. He wasn’t behind Thomas for long, however: After a tie for eighth at the Memorial, Johnson blew away the field in Memphis and then finished third at the U.S. Open to solidify his position at the top.