Who said golfers aren't hardcore athletes?
Anne van Dam, one of the LPGA's and Ladies European Tour's longest drivers, always wanted to do a 70.3 — a 1.2-mile swim, a 56-mile bike ride, and a 13.1-mile run, also known as a half-iron.
The 27-year-old Netherlands native is a big cycler and runs "a lot" when she's out on tour. Many of her friends have done triathlons, so looking for something to do in the offseason, van Dam decided to take on a half-iron. She signed up for one in Indian Wells and La Quinta, California on December 4 — about a week after finishing 10th at the LET’s season-finale, the Andalucia Open de Espana.
However, van Dam is not just doing it for herself.
"As I was training this year, I kept asking myself, can I do this for a good cause? I had so many friends and so many things going through my mind," van Dam told LPGA.com. "Should I do it for Girls Golf? Should I try to raise money for a scholarship? But after a while, a couple of months, there was only one thing that continued to be on my mind. That was to Race for Grace."
Grace Godfrey is the 2-year-old daughter of LPGA player Jane Park. In September 2021, during the LPGA's Volunteers of America Classic in Dallas, Grace was hospitalized with seizures and brain swelling. Godfrey still suffers from seizers undiagnosed epilepsy, and many of the family's treatments are not covered by insurance. Van Dam hopes to raise $5,000.
"[Van Dam] called me and told me her plans and, of course, I burst into tears,” Park told LPGA.com. "I can’t imagine doing any of those things (in a triathlon) but to do them all in a row is just mind-boggling. And to do them in California when you played in a tournament in Spain last week, it’s insane. But we are so grateful. For her and for everyone."
Beyond van Dam, there's been substantial support from other LPGA players.
"I’m thankful to raise a bunch of money and have a cool race on Sunday,” van Dam said. “I’m just getting used to the jetlag and having some short runs and bike rides. But I’m excited.
"Many individuals have made donations, and my sponsors have jumped in and helped. A lot of people are just writing checks directly to Jane. So, it’s been really cool. A lot of players have come up to me over the last two weeks and asked me about it. They’re all going to follow, and they’re excited to see how I finish."
And van Dam hopes to make this a yearly tradition.
"I hope to make this an annual thing,” van Dam said. “If I can do this every year, raise some funds and keep Grace in everyone’s mind, that will be a win, no matter what my finish times."