The novelist Harry Leon Wilson once wrote, 'Golf has too much walking to be a good game, and just enough game to spoil a good walk.'
Fortunately, not everyone believes this to be the case. Had you happened to be at Wrotham Heath Golf Course in Kent on 28 June at 4.30 am, just as the sun was coming up, you would have stumbled across an unusual sight – four gentlemen, with a combined age well on the way to three centuries, about to start the longest golfing day of their lives.
Ron Goodman, 71, David Cox, 69 and the youngsters of the foursome Jeff Nash and Paul Spensley, both 68, were teeing off at the first of 72 holes – four rounds of golf that would mean walking almost the distance of a marathon and take them 18 hours to play. And all this with the aim of raising a huge amount of money for two charities that had personal significance for the golfers, The Fostering Network and The Brain Tumour Charity.
Jeff says, ‘The whole crazy idea was David’s. In fact he’s done this challenge five times before – but he was a lot younger then! I was a little concerned about whether I could walk that far and still play reasonable golf. I told him that I’d be happy to join in as long as it wasn’t too hot…it turned out that the temperature reached 30 degrees!’
The four golfers were joined by an army of volunteers who made the achievement possible. Caddies assisted with bag carrying, with Jeff’s daughter, Melissa, who works at The Fostering Network, caddying for all four rounds. Jeff says, ‘The highlight to me was the fantastic help we received from club members. Not just the caddied, but a lot of ball spotters who walked with us throughout the day, saving us from time consuming searches for stray balls. It was the goodwill and enthusiastic support from a large group of members following us down the last few fairways that kept me going as by then my feet were sore with painful blisters and an aching back made it difficult to retrieve the ball each time I eventually fell into the hole.’
The four golfers had little time for breaks, eating chocolate bars and soft drinks to sustain them through the challenge. But despite the distance and the tiredness, their competitiveness still came through with all of them achieving ‘fairly respectable scores’. In total they played almost 1,500 shots. One member of the golf club had offered to make a generous donation if a birdie was scored. When, on the 71st hole, that was finally achieved by Ron sinking a 12 foot putt (although he now swears it was 20 foot!) there was an eruption of rapturous applause.
At the end of the challenge the four men were ‘drained but very pleased’ having raised over £7,000 for their chosen causes. Jeff has some words of encouragement for others who may be thinking of taking on a fundraising challenge, ‘Don’t hesitate. The rewards for your efforts will be worth every painful step.’
Our huge thanks to the awesome foursome for taking part in this challenge. If you fancy taking on a challenge to raise money for The Fostering Network, please email email@example.com or visit thefosteringnetwork.org.uk/fundraise