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While We're Young: My 2013 Hundred Hole Hike (Vol. 2 Ballyneal)

6/27/2013 0 comments


Ballyneal, the unofficial home of the Hundred Hole Hike, has always been the home of some pretty extreme numbers. First, we had a record $110,000 raised for one cause in 2011. Last year, the eight Ballyneal hikers were faced with 107 degree temperatures.

This year was no different. First, my bunkmate and future fourball tournament partner Wyatt Halliday played 108 holes and shot even par for the day! All this while playing to a Pandora mix seeded by, from what I could gather, The Backstreet Boys and Carly Rae Jepsen.

Even more remarkable, Mitch Ehly recorded the first double eagle in Hundred Hole Hike history after he jarred his 2nd shot on the par 5, 15th hole. He asked his playing partner Brian Carruthers for the number. Both Brian and Mitch worked in the shop up until a couple years ago, and know the course extremely well. Brian told him 155, agreed with the pitching wedge and told him to 'just swing hard'. Mitch, essentially a golf robot, punched in the number into his computer and spit out the perfect shot. Unfortunately for Mitch, with all of the bonus pledge features we've added to hundredholehike.com this year, I never considered an investment in an albatross feature. If Mitch had holed-out his drive on the infamous 7th hole at Ballyneal, he would've netted an extra $2,500 for his Disabled American Veterans charity. Instead, he gets a hearty handshake and a pat on the back (if you want to show Mitch some love with a pledge to acknowledge this feat, please go to: http://hundredholehike.com/golfers/mitch-ehly)

And finally, Rob 'THE Walking Golfer' Rigg claimed the "Sheriff of Hikesville" badge with a remarkable 171 holes walked in one day. That's 60 miles up and down some sand dunes. Plus, rumor has it that a) he may have done it with only club or b) he may have alternated between right- and left-handed swings.

[Note: Rigg only held the Sheriff title for a day, as he was surpassed on Tuesday by Oregon hiker Bobby Tabb. Tabb hit the 10-round barrier, going 180 deep at Sunset Grove Golf Club. This numbers game has me feeling a bit like Bud Selig, with Tabb as Mark McGwire to Rigg's Sammy Sosa. Let's just hope they don't end up on the cover of Sports Illustrated in togas. If I show up next year with six-pack abs, the head the size of a large watermelon and break the 200-hole mark in a day, can we all just agree to look the other way?]


All of these mind-boggling numbers made my third consecutive 155 holes at Ballyneal seem like old hat. Halliday had me beat before he even got out of bed, as I three-putted the first hole for double bogey at 4:47 A.M. (a disturbing trend for my 2013 hikes). Rigg lapped me on my 140th hole (his 149th). And the only "double" anything I attained on Monday were 17 double bogeys and one double cheeseburger after the marathon was over.

Before you think I'm just going to roll over and play fourth fiddle at my home club in the event I founded, I submit to you one mind-blowing, jaw-dropping, astronomic number:

Jim Colton, Fairways Hit: 85/120 (70.8%)

Happy learned how to hit a fairway.

While We're Young: My 2013 Hundred Hole Hike (Vol 1. Pinehurst)

6/19/2013 0 comments

I don't claim to be a Payne Stewart expert or historian, but I recently discovered a little known fact about the late three-time major champion.

Dude was a yoga master.

It should not come to a surprise that no one has ever revealed this nugget until now. I only discovered it after walking 144 holes at Pinehurst on Monday, for the first of my four Hundred Hole Hikes. Pinehurst has been around for over 100 years, but certainly no one had ever walked 144 holes before at the resort. That put me in a unique Vasco da Gama-esque position to drop this little known gem on the golf community. Consider your mind blown.

You see, after 72 holes of the mental and physical toll that must come from winning a US Open (not speaking from personal experience), how does one explain that modified, single-leg warrior pose that Stewart managed pulled off? That now timeless stance has endured, because of the stage, the setting, and the spontaneity of it all. People had never seen anything quite like it.

But was it really spur of the moment? After 144 holes at  Pinehurst, I can't help but wonder if he practiced it in front of a mirror on a yoga mat for months, waiting for just the right moment to spring it on the world.

I was fortunate enough to bookend my 8-round journey Monday with rounds on the famed No. 2 course, Donald Ross's gem that is making history by hosting US Open's for the men and women next year in back-to-back weeks. That's 144 holes of professionals (and a handful of amateurs) struggling to make par. Combined with the 144 holes at the resort, what better way to commemorate their first day "on the clock" as Open host with 144 holes of a very amateur golfer really struggling to make par?

Obviously, that meant my 144th and final hole would end on the 18th green of No. 2, site of one of the most memorable moments in golf history. Everybody who knows me knew exactly what that meant. There was no way I was not going to strike that pose. Nothing to it. Right?

After hitting my approach shot on the 18th to just off the back left corner of the green, a mediocre putt left me about 15 feet below the hole. Here was my Payne Stewart opportunity, minus the plus-fours and the roomy sleeveless rain jacket (the resort would make a mint if they sold these in the pro shop). I made a confident stroke, the ball curling right towards the hole for an assured par. I started lifting one leg in the air...what a way to finish the day! Then the ball lipped out. Violently.

Yes, I then proceeded to miss the three-footer coming back, amidst the groans of my two caddies, one newspaper reporter, Executive Vice President of the resort Tom Pashley (and from what i could gather, a guy who might have the best job on earth) and famed writer and Pinehurst local James Dodson. Mercifully, I made the next tap-in putt to complete a not-very stellar 85. The moment was effectively lost, but the guys were ready with cameras for the pose regardless. I planted on one leg, lifted my right arm with putter forward, raised my left leg as high as it would go (probably 6-9 inches off the ground at most). Almost immediately, my right foot gave way to the weight of 40+ miles of walking and 195-pounds of flab, and I fell over. Unlike Payne, I don't think they'll memorialize this on the Walk of Fame anytime soon.


I was determined to get it right though. A second attempt was no better than the first. Finally, I mustered up enough energy to stay upright for the 2.5 seconds it took to snap this picture.


It wasn't pretty. But it got the job done. And that pretty much summed up my golf for the day.


 
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