My 2011 Walking Golfer of the Year Victory Speech Dilemma

Check out this e-mail that just came across my shiny new iPhone 4S from Rob Rigg, founder of The Walking Golfer Society and co-founder of TRUE Linkswear (I tried to get Siri to read it to me, but apparently she doesn't do that yet):


2011 Walking Golfer of the Year and TWGS Event at Pasatiempo

Hello Society Members,
I am excited to announce Jim Colton as our 2011 Walking Golfer of the Year.
When I requested nominations for the award there was a resounding response that only one person was the logical choice and that was Jim. There was literally nobody else nominated and for good reason.
This summer Jim walked 155 holes in one day at Ballyneal Golf & Hunt Club in Colorado, and raised over $100k for Ben Cox and his family. Jim's incredible feat is an inspiration for us all and the money raised for injured caddie Ben and his family has been incredibly helpful in their time of need. Jim has been a passionate walking golfer for many years and his love for the game is infectious. Since writing "One Divot at a Time: Diary of a Full Fledged Golf Addict" , Jim has started to focus a little less on a score and a bit more on enjoying being on the course with friends and family. He wanted to turn his passion for walking Ballyneal into a way to help others and it has been an brilliant success. Jim will be taking the Ben Cox 155 to another level in 2012, stay tuned for details.
Congratulations Jim! It will be an honor to present you with The 2011 Walking Golfer of the Year award at Bandon Dunes at the end of October.
Keep enjoying the walk,
Founder - The Walking Golfers Society

Hey, I know that dude! What an honor it is to win the Walking Golfer of the Year award. What a perfect way to cap the golf season.

As the e-mail mentioned, Rob is planning to present the award to me at Bandon Dunes at the end of this month. I'm not sure what the format of the presentation will be like. As my lifetime record in Ballynizzle Cups probably indicates, victory speeches are not something that I have a whole lot of experience with.

One of the most valuable lessons I learned this year is this: anything that one could possibly want to learn about can be learned from YouTube. Back in March, I bought an electric guitar and just seven months later, I can butcher a Top 40 song or 90's rock tune with the best of them. So after giving one victory speech a shot, I then turned to YouTube to help come up with a second version. And I figured what better place to start than to watch victory and acceptance speeches from some of the best athletes of my generation. I've had such a stellar track record of following athletes who are not only superstars but great people (Michael Jordan, Barry Bonds, Tiger Woods), I knew this plan would be full-proof. I spent hours pouring over videos from them and others such as Rickey Henderson, Alex Rodriguez and Mark McGwire.

The problem is I'm now stuck with two versions. Which should I use in Bandon in two weeks? Check them out below and let me know what you think.

Version 1:

Thank you very much to Rob and the Walking Golfer Society for this tremendous honor. I feel truly humbled to be included with the likes of Mr. Keiser and Chick Evans – in many respects I feel unworthy of being listed with these great fellow Chicagoans. I’m just a guy who really loves the game of golf – and through an amazing twist of fate and the generosity of others, stumbled upon a way to use that passion to impact one family’s life for the better. That, in and of itself, has been prize enough. I’ve been truly blessed to have met Ben and the Cox family, and to have witnessed firsthand this outpouring of support from thousands of golfers from around the globe. To win the 2011 Walking Golfer of the Year is just the icing on the cake of the most memorable year of my golfing life.

There are so many people to thank; I don’t even know where to begin. First of all, thank you to Rob and the team at TRUE Linkswear. I know it would be bad form for Rob to give himself this award, but is there honestly anybody who’s done more for the cause (and the feet) of the walking golfer than Rob? The TRUEs have revolutionized the game for those who enjoy the walk and have made it possible for others to free themselves from the shackles of the cart path. I’ve mentioned this before and it’s the truth -- not only would I have never walked 155 holes in one day, I would’ve never even tried this crazy plan without my TRUEs.

Of course, thank you very much to the members and staff at Ballyneal. Ballyneal is my second home and the folks there are my second family. Thank you to Rupert O’Neal for having the vision to build such a special place. Thank you to Tom Doak and the Renaissance team for building a world-class golf course that one would want to play 8-9 times in one day, and for keeping those green-to-tee distances so manageable! Thank you to head pro Matt Payne and assistant Brian Carruthers, for all of the support leading up to the event but also for caddying for the first six rounds. What an awesome experience to share with both of you. Thank you to Casey St. John and John Kirk for caddying the last 2 1/2 rounds and for being there when I tapped it for par on the 155th hole at 8:55 P.M. And thank you to my good friend “Dr.” Matt Schulte, who kept me hopped up with a myriad of energy drinks and nutritional supplements. Without him, I surely would’ve crashed and burned before noon.

Look behind any full-fledged golf addict and you’re likely to find a saintly, beyond understanding and extremely supportive wife, and I’m truly no exception! Thank you to my beautiful wife Sue for being supportive of this event and accepting of all my golf adventures. The marathon was so much more special having you there to share it with. I love you forever and always.

Last but not least, I have to thank Ben Cox. Trust me, it’s not lost on me that the only reason I am Walking Golfer of the Year is because of a 23-year old who would do anything to walk a golf course again. My promise is to never lose sight of this fact (plus as TWGS members, we can never let our passion for promoting the benefits of the walking game trump making the game accessible and fun to anybody who wants to tee it up). It’s difficult to understand why this life-changing accident had to happen to Ben, but countless people have been moved by Ben’s story and by his and his family’s tremendous strength and faith during this tough time. The Cox family is doing what they can to turn a negative into a positive. Ben has been an inspiration to me personally and I feel blessed to call him a friend.

Through getting to know Ben, I’ve developed a sort-of personal mantra: “Bold in life. Bold in faith.” Ben Cox lives this way every day of his life. My hope and prayer is to do the same. After seeing how this event took off and witnessing the impact that one bold idea can have when fueled by passion, I’m ready to announce bigger plans for 2012. With the help of Rob and others, we’re launching a non-profit, charitable golf society called One Divot. The goal is to use our passion for the game to help change people’s lives for the better. The centerpiece of our fundraising efforts will be a marathon event called the 100 Hole Hike. It will be similar to my golf marathon this year at Ballyneal, but instead of one man walking a bunch of holes at one course for one cause, the goal is a network of golfers all walking 100+ holes at great golf courses around the world to raise money for a variety of worthwhile causes. Look for more details in the coming months.

As you may know, One Divot comes from the tagline on my website: “changing the world one divot at a time…” Before this year, it was nothing more than an intentionally-hokey play on words, originating from something I said to my younger brother as he was taking huge chunks of earth out on every swing while on a golf trip over 15 years ago. Admittedly, my existence as a golfer was a shallow and selfish one – trying to shoot low scores, bomb 300-yard drives, make a few birdies and play as many of the world’s great golf courses as possible before I died. The only way a person may have been “changed” by me was if I hit them while they were standing in an adjacent fairway.

Today, I still want to shoot low scores. I still want to bomb 300-yard drives and see and play great courses. It’d be difficult to call yourself a passionate golfer if you didn’t. But to use this passion while also helping others has been a revelation. As a result, my passion for the game and motivation to help others is at an all-time high. I have Ben Cox to thank for that. The best part of winning the Walking Golfer of the Year is not the personal notoriety that may come from this award, but the validation of this positive shift in my life and, more importantly, the platform to use this award to reach more people with Ben’s story and the other worthwhile causes coming in the near future. Thank you again to Rob and the Walking Golfer Society for this honor.

Version 2:

Good morning. And thank you for joining me. I want to say this to Rob and the Walking Golfer Society simply and directly: Thank you for this honor.

Jimmy C looks at the list of winners of this prestigious award and couldn’t help but think of one thing: Chicago 3, the Rest of the World 0!!! Is the Windy City now officially the walking golf capital of the universe? Perhaps.  People like to use the word “dynasty” so freely. Normally, I’d caution against it, but if the TRUEs fit…

Speaking of TRUEs, congratulations to Rob and the TRUE Linkswear team for having the intelligence to bring me on as a (pseudo) staff member. Next year’s True Colton special editions will be the hottest thing in golf – I fully suspect golfers will get killed over them like Air Jordan 11’s. Don’t say you weren’t warned. And Jim Colton thinks Jim Colton is ready to replace Ryan Moore in your online and print ads. Just give me a second to find my hoodie.

Thank you to Ballyneal for telling everybody to get out of my way on that fateful day. I knew Garrett and his 6’4”, 250-pound frame was good for something, but up until June 22nd I wasn’t 100% sure what it was. Congrats to Matt, Brian, John and Casey for carrying my limited-edition, Ballynizzle bag (there are only two in existence, and I own both of them). I apologize for stiffing you on the caddie bill. I am truly sorry.  But hopefully you learned a thing or two about the golf swing along the way. This should be payment enough.

To Nick Flaa and Gary Nelson, who held the pevious record of hole played at Ballyneal in one day: take a suck of that! Nick and Gary are great golfers who walked. But today...Jim Colton is the Walking Golfer of the Year. Huge difference. 

Before we go any further, I need to clarify one thing. I did not (to my knowledge) take any performance enhancing drugs before, during or after the marathon event. Ever. This is completely and utterly false. Even so, 155 with an asterix next to it still starts with the numbers 1-5-5. Ballyneal may have a loosey-goosey, laid-back attitude, and the Guiness Book officials may have been instructed to look the other way, but my nutrition regiment consistent nothing more than Gatorade, flaxseed oil and female reproductive hormone pills that I take for medicinal purposes. So what if Dr. Schulte received his online doctorate in TV/VCR repair from some institution in Barbados? I trust him with my life. I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that my body has broken down faster than a 1978 Gremlin since the marathon. 

Besides, I'm not here to talk about the past. I'm here to talk about the plans we have for next year. We’re taking the golf marathon thing on a global scale. One cycle of blood spinning and a “cortisone” shot from Dr. Schulte and I'll be good to go. Stay tuned for the launch of One Divot, my charitable golf society, and the 100 Hole Hike, coming to a top 100 golf course near you in 2012. Taking our fundraising efforts to the next level will help us achieve three things. First, it will help us raise even more money for a variety of worthwhile causes. Also, it will improve my chances of someday playing Augusta National. Finally, it will ensure that I will continue to win the Walking Golfer of the Year award for the foreseeable future. We have an old-saying in Chicago: “minimum 8-peat!”

Oh…and thanks to Ben Cox. And to my wife Sue. And God. Thank you.

Follow Jim Colton on Twitter: @jcolton31


  1. Mary said...:

    Jim, congratulations on winning The 2011 Walking Golfer of the year award.

    You truly are an inspiration to us all and have shown how one person can make such a difference.

    My thoughts are constantly with Ben and his family; he is such an amazing young man and I hope you keep us updated on his progress.

    Good Luck with the launch of One Divot.

    BTW, version 1 gets my vote!

    Happy Golfing!


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