Marathon Man - Golf World Monday & Golf Channel's W18

6/27/2011 0 comments
If you're a Golf World subscriber, check out the most recent version of Golf World Monday, the publication's weekly digital version. #10 features a familiar face. If I had known my composite scorecard was going to be shared with the world, I might have tried a little harder on those four-footers. I also hit this drive on #12 way right into the native.

Special thanks to Brian Carruthers at Ballyneal for telling them that I'm a 7-handicapper. Cmon man!

Jason Sobel from the Golf Channel also took notice of the marathon and the raffle in his W18 column (see #10 under "Three Wishes"):

"10. I wish every golf fan would get behind this great cause.
It began innocently enough, the entire goal being one guy wanting to play as much golf as possible.
Jim Colton is a member at Ballyneal Golf & Hunt Club in Holyoke, Colo. – and one who thinks nothing of playing 54 holes in a single day. Last year, a few caddies from the private club decided to play 100 “just to get under my skin,” he recalls with a laugh.
Not wanting to be outdone, Colton set out to break the course record once again, aiming to play 108 holes – six full rounds – in one day.
There was no other cause nor motive behind the round other than personal enjoyment – until Colton heard about Ben Cox’s story.
A former five-star caddie at Ballyneal who started working there when the club opened in 2006, the 22-year-old Texas Tech student was skiing with his father earlier this year when he attempted a steep jump and fell, leaving him paralyzed from the chest down.
The story hit the tightly knit Ballyneal community hard – and all of a sudden, Colton’s marathon day of golf had a charitable cause behind it. And so one man’s desire to play a lot of golf turned into “The Ben Cox 108,” used to raise money for Fox and his family.
“I thought I’d email some golf buddies,” Colton says. “I figured if we raised $2,500, that would be great for his family.”
He surpassed that goal by just a little bit.
After the original Monday date was postponed due to a hailstorm, Colton teed it up this past Wednesday, raising more than $75,000 to date for his new friend mostly through word of mouth within golf circles.
“I hadn’t actually met Ben prior to the accident, didn’t have any relationship with him,” Colton explains. “But we’ve struck up a friendship through this whole process. I’m a changed person having gotten to know him and his family.”
That includes a touching moment on Father’s Day, when – with the help of a specialized cart – Cox was able to play two holes at Ballyneal in front of friends both old and new.
“Just seeing those two guys together,” Colton reports, “... there really wasn’t a dry eye in the house.”
When he teed it up for “The 108,” Colton not only surpassed his monetary goals, but his golf goals, as well. Starting at 4:47 a.m. and using both a caddie and forecaddie, he completed his first 18 holes in one hour, 27 minutes and had played 108 by 3:30 p.m. Rather than stopping, he just kept going, playing a total of 155 holes that included a 75 and “a bunch of scores in the low-to-mid-80s,” he says.
Colton hopes the money raised will someday help Fox walk again. And he remains humbled by how one man playing a lot of golf can potentially better another man’s life.
“This has been literally the best thing that’s ever happened to me as far as my not-so-illustrious time as an amateur golfer,” he says. “To use my love for the game to make someone’s life better? That’s the ultimate achievement in my life.”
The money is still pouring in, too. Through his connections in the golf world, Colton has arranged for rounds at such places as Pebble Beach, Merion, Olympic Club, Harbour Town, Whistling Straits, Riviera and nearly five dozen other top courses to be raffled off at Ballyneal on July 9.
Those interested in purchasing tickets for the raffle or pledging donations can do so at Colton’s personal website:"

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Ben Cox Slideshow - The Fan 104.3 Radio Interview

6/25/2011 1 comments

The Ben Cox 108 (Give or Take 47)

6/24/2011 1 comments

Here are some pics from Wednesday's golf marathon. It was a fun and memorable day. I didn't really know what to expect, but I knew we'd get to at least 108 and keep playing until we could no longer see the ball. The ultimate goal was to raise as much money for the Cox family as possible.

The pic above shows the first tee shot, at 4:47 A.M. Somebody asked me if there was going to be a Volume 2 of One Divot at a Time. I'm not sure, but this photo above would make the cover! It's like an updated version of my ubiquitous 2005 shot at Bandon Dunes. 

Never before had the thought "Gee, I hope I break 100" had so much meaning. There was just enough light to tell where the ball was headed. Head pro Matt Payne, assistant Brian Carruthers and official Ballyneal mascot Garrett Gordon were "on the bag" at the beginning, with one guy carrying the bag and two others operating as forecaddies for the first nine holes.

Still Time to Get in on Ben Cox Raffle

6/23/2011 0 comments

Even now that the Ben Cox 108+ hole marathon is over, you can still donate now and get into the July 9th raffle. You just need to get your money in by the July 8th deadline in order to be eligible to win one of the 82 incredible golf prizes.

If you've been following the raffle closely, you know that it jumpstarted with a series of big-name courses such as Merion, The Olympic Club and Riviera. In the past week, even more of most well-known and desirable courses have been added to the pool, such as Pebble Beach, Whistling Straits and Harbour Town, and the list has exploded from there.  Check out the by-the-number breakdowns below. If you're a serious golfer, you simply have to a) throw in $50 or $100 for a chance to win and b) e-mail all of your golfing friends to tell them about it.

The raffle will take place at Ballyneal the evening of July 9th. It will work similar to the NBA draft lottery, with the order of the picks being drawn. I will notify the winners on July 9th of which pick they received, then will work with the winners over the following week or so to determine which of the remaining items they'd like to select when it's their turn to pick.

- 9 Future Major Sites, including 6 of the 8 future U.S. Open sites
- 2 Future Walker Cup Sites
- 2 Future Ryder Cup Sites
- 3 Future U.S. Amateur Sites
- 25 on Golfweek's Best Classic Courses (2011)

The list has gotten too big to list out all the prizes. Here's just a sample.

- Twosome of golf at Pebble Beach (site of the 2019 U.S. Open), Spyglass Hill and two nights at the Inn at Spanish Bay
- Foursome of golf at Ballyneal
- Twosome of golf at Winged Foot, choice of West or East course
- Foursome of golf at any one of the 4 courses at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort
- Twosome of golf at Whistling Straits (site of the 2015 PGA Championship and 2020 Ryder Cup) and one night at the American Club
- Ireland golf package including twosomes of golf at Ballybunion (Old) and Tralee
- Threesome of golf at Pinehurst No. 2, site of the 2014 U.S. Open
- Foursome of golf at Chambers Bay, site of the 2015 U.S. Open
- Twosome of golf at Erin Hills, site of the 2017 U.S. Open
- Foursome of golf at Royal Dornoch
- Two-day stay and play package for four golfers at The Prairie Club
- Foursome of golf at Forest Dunes in Roscommon, MI
- Golf and accommodations for three nights for four golfers at Hacienda Pinilla in Gunacaste, Costa Rica
- A Hilton Head golf package including threesomes of golf with a member-host at Harbour Town, Seccession and two nights stay at the Harbour Town Yacht Club
- Twosome of golf at Cape Kidnappers and Kauri Cliffs in New Zealand
- Two nights accommodation at the Fairmont St Andrews and one twosome of golf at The Torrance or The Kittocks. Includes potential round on The Old Course with George Peper, editor in chief of Links Magazine and author of "True Links" and "Two Years in St. Andrews"
- French Lick Resort golf package including two nights accommodation at the West Baden Springs Hotel and golf for two at the Pete Dye Course
- One twosome of golf at Cabot Links in Inverness, Nova Scotia
- Two pairs of TRUE Linkswear golf shoes
- One custom, hand-crafted MacKenzie Walker golf bag

For a full, detailed list, feel free to e-mail me at

A Father's Love

6/20/2011 3 comments

I don't even know where to start. It's 5:09 AM on Monday June 20th and I'm supposed to be somewhere around the 7th or 8th hole of my 108+ hole journey right now. Instead I'm laying in bed wide awake trying to process everything that's happened over the last 24 hours. A short recap:

- I teed it up with my beautiful wife Sue for our first time together at Ballyneal
- 10 days after playing one of my worst rounds ever, I did a complete 180 and played well enough to go toe-to-toe straight up against the reigning club champion.
- I spent the afternoon with Ben Cox and his wonderful family. I got to play with Ben for his first two holes after his skiing accident, then the rest of the front nine with his father, Ken.
- I got to spent quality time with friends and other guests huddled up in the basement of the Ballyneal restaurant praying that a tornado didn't rip the roof off.
- I got to deal with the disappointment of hearing the words "there's no way you can do your marathon tomorrow" due to the huge hail storm that tore through the course.

Any of one of these topics could probably be a chapter in Volume 2 of One Divot at a Time (hypothetically speaking), but the one that plays out over and over in my mind is obviously the two holes with Ben and his Dad. In an ironic twist of fate, what on the surface would be a nightmare scenario for me and most golfers - getting paired up with a father and son on a Sunday afternoon on a 45 minute per hole pace, turned out to be the highlight of my golfing life.

After getting to know Ben over the last couple months, I knew he would do great. Ben is nothing if not determined, and with his engineering brain always working, I knew he'd figure out how to make the golf swing on the adaptive cart work. I knew with his patience and positive attitude, he wouldn't get frustrated over the misses and the do-overs. And I knew he would continue to be an inspiration to everyone he met the same way he's been an inspiration to me.

What really stuck out with me and what I want to focus on is Ken and the special father-son relationship between Ken and Ben. As a father of three, it was an extremely humbling experience. On Father's Day especially.

I hadn't had the chance to meet Ken prior to yesterday. We had spoken on the phone and traded a few text messages, but had yet to meet in person. Of course, the reason I hadn't met him was because he's been working full time at his day job then spending most of the night trying to renovate their house to prepare for Ben's return. That was Exhibit A.

Exhibit B was the Denver Post article from last week. Talking to numerous friends and colleagues about Benjamin Hochman's piece, many pointed out one of two things: a) the family's tremendous faith in God that He is working this accident into something bigger and better and b) the pain that the father must be going through being on the slopes with Ben as he made that life-altering jump.

That was really all I knew about Ken prior to yesterday at 1:30 PM. By 4:30 PM, he was enshrined into my personal Dad Hall of Fame.

Seeing Ben and his dad together on the golf course was a deeply moving experience. It was quickly apparent that they were truly best friends and best golf buddies. They showed up at Ballyneal with matching light-blue collared shirts and plaid, baggy Phat Farm shorts (Ken probably setting a world record for oldest man to wear the hip-hop label). On the first tee, they ribbed each other just like it was any one of hundred of rounds shared together out at F&H Golf Course in Haxtun.

When Ben's first drive found the edge of the native, Ken was reluctant to give his competitor relief (I stepped in and foot-wedged it.) When Ben's third shot on the 2nd caught the hole's patented turbo slot and ended up a yard past Ken's drive, they approached the balls not knowing whose was whose. After Ben found out he had "outdriven" his Dad, he muttered "I got ya" just like countless other golfers had said in that exact same situation before. It was just like any other round of golf between friends - rooting for the other guy but also secretly wanting to beat his brains in. Ben was Ken's Jefe. The only difference was the set-up time between shots.

It was the 3-4 minutes between shots where Ken really shined. It was truly the perfect example of a Father's love for his son. I kept thinking about the famous bible verse from 1 Corinthians (13:4): "Love is patient, Love is kind...". You usually hear that at weddings but it was even more appropriate here. When Ben couldn't quite negotiate both the steering and the accelerator lever, Ken stepped in and controlled the gas while walking alongside. For every shot, Ken helped Ben negotiate his solo rider cart into the proper position, perpendicular to target, then lifted Ben's legs as they flipped the seat around so Ben was hanging off the back of the cart. Next, Ken would place the club in Ben's makeshift golf glove, then tie down a series of Velcro and elastic straps so the club would stay in Ben's right hand. Finally, Ken would tee up the ball for his son in the spot most likely to intersect with the swing path.

On one hand, you'd think that this kind of a Father's love would be expected. I'm blessed to have an all-world Dad (thanks Big Dog!), and I know he'd do the same for me in this situation. I'd like to think I'd do the same for one of my kids if needed. But then you realize that this isn't always the case. One of the onlookers commented, "I need to text my Dad right now and tell him this is just like him and me, only the exact opposite."

Ben's initial batting average on making contact was probably below the Mendoza line, but Ken patiently worked with his son to try to get it right. They tried different Velcro combinations, different clubs, different leg positions, different left-hand positions (with virtually no balance, Ben has to use his left hand for stability). It was very much like a father teaching his 8-year old son the game for the very first time - trying not to overcomplicate things while still trying to find some simple combination of positioning and swing thoughts that could produce somewhat consistent results.

Many, many Dads could learn a lot by watching Ken reteach his son the game. I couldn't help but think about the last time I took my 9-year old son out for nine holes one night after dinner. On one occasion, I got frustrated with him after he 10-putted a green, constantly criss-crossing the hole and failing to heed my suggestions. At that moment, I was the anti-Ken.

Sitting in my bed at what is now 7:05 AM, I hope that I'm a changed man. A changed Dad. I pray at least a fraction of Ken's love and patience rubbed off on me by osmosis. All along, folks have been praising me for my role in setting up this Father's Day moment for Ben and his Dad. But what I'm finding to be consistently true of the Cox family in general, they continue to find ways to turn the gift around tenfold.

Jim Colton chats about his walk for Ben Cox at Ballyneal

6/18/2011 0 comments

Check out my radio interview from this morning on The Golf Show on The Fan 104.3 in Denver

Jim Colton chats about his walk for Ben Cox at Ballyneal

Going to the Driving Range with a 3-Year Old

6/12/2011 0 comments
Here's some video from a driving range session with Luke, my 3-year old son. He's really taken heed to the simple swing thoughts I've tried to instill in him.

After a great afternoon with him and my eldest son Jordan, I've decided that the Sunday late-afternoon driving-range session is going to be a constant on the family calendar this summer.

From Sunday's Denver Post: Ballyneal golf club brings two together after accident


To say The Ben Cox 108 has exceeded everybody's expectation would be a huge understatement. Literally when I came up with the idea, I figured that I'd email 30-40 of my closest buddies and probably 25 of them would donate $100 each. Now we're over $37,000 and counting and the event has made it to the Denver Post. What an amazing thing. Please check out the story to find out more about Ben and his family. It will be readily apparent why I'm motivated to make this event everything that it can be.

Epic Fail: My Shinnecock Hills Debacle

6/10/2011 1 comments

Phil Mickelson versus Jim Colton. Feel free to play along as we compare and contrast two of golf's most beloved lefties.

- They both hit from the right side of the ball. SAME.

- One is naturally left-handed; the other is just really, really good at faking it. DIFFERENT.

- Both have highly unoriginal nicknames (Coltrain and Lefty). SAME.

- Both are dedicated family men with beautiful wives and floppy-haired kids who run across the 18th green to give daddy hugs after a big tournament win. SAME, except for the floppy-hair part. And the last time I won anything golf-related was in 1997, two years before I got married and five years before my eldest son was born. But hypothetically they'd do it, so...SAME.

- Both are listed between 6'2"-6'3" and 185-190 pounds. SAME. One guy's measurements are current; the other guy's were last taken when he won the 1991 Tucson Open as an amateur. DIFFERENT.

- One guy displays utter shock and dismay when a putt burns the edge; the other is genuinely shocked whenever one goes in. Shock: SAME. Situation: DIFFERENT.

- One guy has Premier status on United; the other has Owner status on a G5. DIFFERENT.

And one more after this week:

- Both guys choked away a prime opportunity at Shinnecock Hills in June. SAME. One guy did it in the 2004 U.S. Open in front of 40,000 fans and millions of viewers. The other did it in front of three playing partners, two caddies and 145 Facebook friends. DIFFERENT, but equally crushing.

Day three of my epic Long Island golf trip was what the cool kids call an epic fail. After playing the sporty National Golf Links of America the previous day, Shinnecock Hills was going to be the test. A test that I failed miserably. I picked the absolutely wrong time to play what was my worst round of golf in five years, although sadly there's been a lot more competition for that dishonor recently.

Riding back on the plane from LaGuardia as I type this, the in-flight entertainment is showing the series Friday Night Lights. I can't help but think of the original FNL movie, starring that Dawson VanDerCreek guy with the Jimbo-sized head. All I remember about that movie is something about a whipped-cream bikini (my high-school experience as captain of the golf team versus Dawson's experience as QB1 in West Texas: DIFFERENT) and the infamous teaser-trailer tag line: "I DON'T WANT YOUR LIFE!!!" But that doesn't quite fit here. I mean, playing bad golf at Shinnecock Hills is still playing Shinnecock Hills, right? I doubt anybody is really feeling sorry for me. And I'm certainly not feeling sorry for myself. Shinnecock Hills was awesome.

Instead, I think a more fitting late 90's bad-movie quote would be from the movie "Cop Land" starring Sylvester Stallone as a partly-deaf police officer of a town that was (SPOILER ALERT!) inhabited by a bunch of corrupt New York City cops. I don't remember much about the movie, other than it had an equally memorable tagline from Robert DeNiro. Or maybe I only remember it because my younger brother Jason and I got a good 5+ years of mileage out of it with some really amateurish New Jersey accents.


That basically sums it up for me. Shinnecock Hills was a once in a lifetime experience, and I spent most of the day in the heather contracting Lyme Disease three times over. I was so jacked to play this course and terrifyingly nervous of those famous dual-shaded slivers of fairway that my heart was pounding out of my chest ON THE DRIVING RANGE. I can't think of a worse time or place to lose one's golf swing.

Here I am 10 days away from trying to play 6+ rounds in one day (in order to play fast, I absolutely have to play well) and less than a month from trying to win back the Ballynizzle Cup from Jefe (who has beaten me by an average of 11 strokes in our two rounds together this year). What do I do now? Do I get lessons or will things get worse? Do I continue to beat balls and hope I find something? Or do I just chill out and hope it comes back to me by osmosis? I'm completely lost here.

The most unfortunate thing about my Shinnecock Hills disaster is that I wasn't able to fully appreciate the course and the architecture. But from what I could tell while red fescue grass was riding up my shorts, Shinny is a tremendous golf course. The routing is genius, with a series of triangles that force the golfer to constantly play in different wind directions. Its back nine is probably the best that I've ever played. And it has three of the most devilish par 3 greens you'll find anywhere. I'd love everything about the place and my day there other than the number of X's on my scorecard.

Check out the photos and comments below:

The National

6/09/2011 5 comments

[Cue Autotune:] Never thought I'd see the day...I'd be teeing it up at NGLA!

But that's exactly what I did this week. I just got back from what was easily the best three-day golf trip of my life, and arguably the best three-day golf trip you could possibly muster. The highlight was a day at CB MacDonald's National Golf Links of America, a.k.a. The National (now that I've played it, I can officially call it that); a.k.a. the number one golf course on my rapidly shrinking bucket list (should I be upping my life insurance?)

The National may be under the radar for many golfers, especially compared to its next door neighbor Shinnecock Hills. Heck, I admit to not knowing that much about it as recently as two years ago. In my 2009 write-up of Sand Hills, I wrote: "I want to play four golf courses before I die: Pine Valley. Cypress Point. Augusta National. Sand Hills. That's the bucket list. Sure, you could throw Shinnecock Hills, Merion, NGLA, Oakmont and Royal County Down on there, but that's just being greedy. The four are the big four. The rest are a half-notch below." But I think it's safe to say my tastes have evolved. Partly it's due to being blessed to see these world-class courses. Partly it's due to getting more and more rounds out at Ballyneal under my belt. And part of it is due to building out my golf-course architecture library and studying the art in more detail.  Last summer, I bought George Bahto's book, "The Evangelist of Golf: The Story of Charles Blair MacDonald", which is probably my favorite book in my library (coincidentally, it's now out-of-print and going for $725 on Amazon. I will be auctioning off my copy on eBay and donating the proceeds to the Ben Cox marathon...see right sidebar for more details.)

Bahto's book goes into the life and work of C.B. Mac in great detail (did you know he was the first U.S. Amateur and was instrumental in the creation of the USGA? Did you know that part of the reason the USGA was formed was because C.B. successfully downplayed the validity of two previous national championships, primarily because he didn't win them?) Most of the book focuses on the history and hole-by-hole walkthrough of the National. MacDonald studied the great golf holes of the world and wanted to create an ideal golf courses that comprised these great holes as templates. He search for a suitable site for this dream course and found it in Southampton, just west of Shinnecock. The rest is history.

The ironic thing about the National is that for a course that it made up primarily by copycats of other famous golf holes, it's unlike any other golf course in the world (well, until Old MacDonald opened last summer). It reminded me of The Old Course in that it gives you the freedom and challenge of deciding among one of many different options to get to the hole. The simpleton in me describes NGLA as "The Old Course with topography". Like the Old Course, MacDonald gives you Point A and Point B and leaves it up to you to determine how to go about getting there in as few strokes as possible. I find this freedom, variety and strategic interest to be the most compelling aspects of golf-course design.

Check out the photo tour and comments below, although the photos and my words barely do the place justice. The National is truly a special, special place. CB Mac truly did build the ideal golf course.

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