Friday, 4 April 2014

Weekly Golfathon countdown - 10 weeks to go

Whilst (yet again) my sticks have remained enclosed in the shed, destined not to see the sunshine, we do now seem to have taken a step forward as a group.

Something that has been debated since this ridiculous idea was first mooted, was a practice day - a chance to get together as a whole group, play 36 or 54 holes (actually, the original idea was to have a 72 hole practice day - ha!) and get a feel for how we might be able to get through the full 24hr challenge.

It now looks very much like we have a consensus about a suitable date - 18th May - and we are currently debating whether, feasibly or financially, we play 36 or 54 holes that day. In terms of a venue, it looks like Richings Park, nr Slough is going to come out on top. This is almost exactly halfway between the two golfathon venues, plus Ash is a member so we've got a route in to discuss our 'unique' requirements. Good news.

So, what about preparation on a more personal level? Well, I mentioned last week of the plan to play Broad Run GC, in deepest Pennsylvania, next weekend - I am glad to report, the tee time has been secured, my travel has been meticulously planned out and I am very much looking forward to meeting Herb, Courtney & Matt and having some fun around what looks to be an extremely interesting golf course.

What comes after that? What is next on the agenda? Well, there is a (very) tentative idea to get out at some point over the Easter weekend - I then have the pleasure of another trip to the US to lool forward to and, naturally, the weapons are coming with me.

The mid-May trip is taking me to San Francisco, via LA, so it seemed rude not to take the opportunity to make my way up the Pacific coast via Monterey, with the aim of getting on to Pebble Beach. Granted, the green fee is biblically expensive, and I can only call for a tee time the day before, but the chance is too good not to try.

After that trip, we have the practice day and then I'm going to make the annual pilgrimage to Southport, that bastion of cultural excellence, to play Royal Birkdale - I absolutely love that course, despite the usual lack of reciprocity, and really look forward to the trip.

Once the Birkdale jaunt is done, it's only a fortnight until we're on for the golfathon - time sure does fly when you are having fun

I am the Part-Time Golfer

Friday, 28 March 2014

Weekly Golfathon countdown - 11 weeks to go

Another week zooms by and on what do I have to report about our challenge since the last update?

Well, the big news is that I finally played some golf - I shoehorned 9 holes in last Saturday at Mount Pleasant GC, nr Hitchin with a couple of mates. I'd not played the course before although, having previously followed a chap on Twitter, @novice2scratch, who played his golf there, I was familiar with the place.

Considering I hadn't touched the clubs for the requisite 5-6 weeks, and I was taking the whim-bought driver out for the first time, I was somewhat uncertain about what would transpire. Any lingering doubts were soon banished when my opening 9-iron floated majestically - well, found its way - towards the flag, coming to rest pin-high about ten feet away. Game on.

In a display of ball-striking which will surely generate overconfidence for my next round, with Herb, Courtney & Matt at Broad Run GC, Pennsylvania, I managed to get round +3, the sinking of a 20ft fast downhill putt on #6 (admittedly to salvage a double) a particular high.

I also took some new golf shoes out for the day - having been loyal to Nike for as long as I can remember (having had the same two pairs for nigh on 8 years), I felt this golfathon was an ideal reason to invest in some new footwear. Puma are the brand of choice and the black Spark Sports performed very well - extremely comfortable and gave a good, solid foundation for a swing. I also have a white pair of Super Cell Fusions which, I think, will be the ones to use for our challenge. Yes, I know - fascinating.

Next job for the team as a whole is agreeing a date for us to get together and practice our 'speed golf' - we're thinking it would be worth playing 36, or even 54, holes over the day to go someway towards understanding what we've agreed to take on. Hopefully this date & venue will be confirmed before the next update.

Sponsorship is also high on the agenda. We've made a (small) start - thank you very much to those people who have donated - but we've a long way to go. If anyone (who is still) reading this is moved to support us financially, please visit www.bmycharity.com/golfathon to pledge your donation - anything you can spare towards our target is gratefully received!

Onwards & upwards, then - 9 days until I'm off to the US on business, concluding with my day of golf next Saturday. Fingers crossed Virgin Atlantic look after my clubs!

I am the Part-Time Golfer

Friday, 21 March 2014

Weekly Golfathon countdown - 12 weeks to go

A very short update to deliver this week.

Still no practice completed yet, although I am road-testing the new driver & shoes tomorrow for a few holes.

The team were due to have a catch up call yesterday but, due to work commitments, we had to put it back - hopefully more to report next week.

Fitness levels, personally speaking, remain dreadful.

Ho hum

I am the Part-Time Golfer

Friday, 14 March 2014

Weekly Golfathon countdown - 13 weeks to go

Another week slips by & still no practice completed. This is not an ideal situation. What I haven't yet determined is whether ny concern about the lack of practice is based purely on my desire to be physically able to play for a full 24hrs, or my competitive desire to play well.

Since the last update, a few bits & pieces have progressed, upon which shall now elaborate.

The welcome addition of the second Sussex team has brought both the prospect of additional corporate sponsorship and the provision of Ballantine's branded goodies (jacket, golf shirt & umbrella - well, it will be June!) - thank you very much to everyone involved at Pernod Ricard for their generosity

The Guinness World Record process has also been kicked off, with acknowledgement received of our application for a new, uncharted category of stupidity...sorry, world record setting. This application can take a few weeks to process and I hope that a) it gets accepted, b) it's a processed before we complete the challenge and c) there can be someone there to witness & verify our success.

The next task (aside from agreeing on practice dates) is to ramp up the sponsorship effort - suitably begging letters & emails are being drafted to send to family, friends, work colleagues, casual acquaintances and even complete strangers, as we push towards our fundraising target

As I've mentioned before (and will keep on mentioning), if you feel moved to support our crazy venture and would like to sponsor us to help raise money for the On Course Foundation, please visit www.bmycharity.com/golfathon - anything you can spare is gratefully received & makes a big difference!


I am the Part-Time Golfer

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Weekly Golfathon countdown - 14 weeks to go

Another week gone; no practice completed. Gulp.

To be honest, I'm genuinely concerned about this and, having discussed this very matter with Pete last night, feel that completing this challenge might end up being driven by willpower alone.

So, what's been happening this week (apart from no practice or training of note)?

Well, the biggest development to report is that Never Up Never In will now be a team of 9, playing in three 3-balls. Dave has a group of friends from Sussex who are very keen to get involved & help us raise lots of money for the On Course Foundation. At the time of 'going to press', I don't have even the basic info to report on who these fine people are but they are a welcome addition to the cause.

This now shifts my attention nicely over to the world record aspect of this challenge - we had a nice goal in mind and a framework in which to present it to the folks at Guinness, which is now all to cock thanks to these Johnny-come-latelys...ok, I'm kidding. I've done absolutely sod all about liaising with Guinness, so the addition of extra bodies makes no difference whatsoever. The key decision would appear to be whether to work towards a cumulative total across the three teams (450 holes, maybe?) or look at each player as an individual and add up the total number of times a ball has hit the bottom of the cup (1400 holes? 1500 holes?) - something to be worked out pretty quickly methinks.

Next item to be given some serious attention is the fundraising drive - we are off the mark, thanks to the generosity of my father-in-law (thanks v much, Noel) but we've a long way to go. A significant benefit of bringing an extra group into the team is the corporate matched funding that they can bring to the table - without wanting to declare a new target (and potentially make a rod for our own backs) it would be disappointing not to pass our financial goal by some considerable margin. At the risk of sounding repetitive, if you are (still reading this & feel) moved enough to support us, please visit www.bmycharity.com/golfathon - anything you can spare towards our total would be incredibly valuable.

I mentioned at the start the alarming lack of practice - clearly the weather in January & February didn't do anyone any favours and, since then, the weekends have been full up with kids birthday parties and recharging the batteries after the working week. My new job is taking me to New York at the start of April & I'll have a free weekend of which to take advantage so, weather permitting, I'm planning to pay a return visit to Bethpage and play a round or two (it might just be the opening weekend for the Black course and it would be rude not to, wouldn't it?!)

So, I absolutely must find some time to play in the next 3-4 weeks before the US trip - I bought myself a new driver last week (yes, it was off eBay; never hit it; don't know if I'll like it - don't judge me) and I am now facing up to the very real prospect that the first swing in anger with the new dog could be at 7am on the first tee Bethpage Black. Shitty knickers.

Ah well, onwards and upwards - we have our next catch up call in a fortnight and, hopefully, some progress (or even some practice) will be made upon which to report in next week's thrilling instalment.

I am The Part-Time Golfer

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Weekly Golfathon countdown - 15 weeks to go

Granted, I might be slinging a considerable millstone around my neck but, as 2014 rushes by, with March nearly upon us, I thought it would be a good idea to post weekly updates on our progress towards completing our mammoth golfing challenge - to play golf for 24hrs & raise money for the On Course Foundation

So, here we are with 15 weeks to go until tee off. On the surface, it sounds like a very long time to get prepared but, in reality, it's not very long at all, considering all the elements that need to come together. That said, I do feel like the basics are all in place.

We have an enthusiastic and committed team of intrepid golfers who are willing to test their physical & mental strength over 24hrs.

We have two fantastically supportive golf clubs, who are willing to let us take over their venues for a full day and run roughshod over their tee sheets as we plough through the holes at great* speed.

We have ourselves a financial target for fundraising - right now, when looking at our page (www.bmycharity.com/golfathon), £10,000 seems like a lofty ambition but I firmly believe we will achieve this.

We are also supporting a young & exciting charity, who have achieved so many great results in their short history but, with the support of everyone who donates to the cause, have so much more to give. We are really looking forward to meeting some of the members who have benefited from the charity's work, as well as playing a few holes with them on the day.

So, with all this great planning in place and plenty of time left until we get going, what's the concern? What else is pending?

The world record - we believe that our approach to tackling this challenge (six golfers; two courses; medal play; 24hrs; walking) has not been attempted before or, at least, not in the context of setting a record with the Guinness folks. Now that we have confirmed the format that we're going to play - we toyed with Stableford or Scramble as options before deciding on Medal play - we can now put the case forward to the powers that be to enable us to put a marker in the sand for future groups of equally idiotic golfers to surpass.

Publicity - if you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen your timeline clogged up with my endless requests for retweets from well-known, high profile & influential people around the world of golf & beyond. This generated some satisfying results, such as a couple of the Sky Sports golf team and Sir Nick Faldo himself. To come, we understand that The Telegraph are going to do some coverage in the lead up to the event, as well as various local newspapers. Hopefully this will inspire people to put their hand in their pocket and help support this cause.

Fitness - hmm, yes. This challenge will present a completely new set of physical & mental tests for us all, the likes of which we've not really experienced before. Some of the group did a Land's End-John o'Groats bike ride a couple of years ago which at least spread the physical pain out over a longer period of time. I recall the 72-hole Macmillan Longest Day challenge I did in 2011, and the physical wreck I was for a few days afterwards - on that basis, completing more than double that amount of golf could produce some interesting results.

Practice - setting aside the abysmal weather that has recently been bestowed upon this fair isle, there is a concern about having sufficient opportunity to put in a decent stretch of training. Playing 18 holes once a month isn't going to cut the mustard, so we all need to be sure we are preparing properly. We have a 36-hole day pencilled in for mid-April and then a 72-hole practice about a month after that. I really don't know if that will do the job - I guess we'll find out at some point during the night of the 12 June.

So that's the first of these weekly updates complete - not much more to add really except that if you've stuck with it and read all of my rambling, and feel sufficiently moved to support us, please visit www.bmycharity.com/golfathon - anything you can give will be hugely influential.

I am the Part-Time Golfer

*this speed may well diminish as the day progresses

Monday, 27 January 2014

2014 - a golfing year ahead

So here we are into 2014 already. Doesn't time fly when you're having fun? Or, in my case, trying to have fun despite the circumstances. It's been a testing time since the middle of December, upheaval on the work front casting a shadow over longer term plans but, thankfully, the light at the end of the tunnel is not an oncoming train and I am now able to look forward to what 2014 has in store as a golfing year.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

The Return of the Lyrical Genius

I have previously written some mildly comedic limericks to celebrate various golfing highlights - originally as an ode to Europe's successful Ryder Cup defence last year and, subsequently, as a preamble to the Masters this year. As 2013 draws to a close (and the 2014 golf season starts), I thought I'd have another go. Enjoy.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Harey Cup 2013 - postscript

No great golf tour is complete without its winners, losers and people, without whose efforts & enthusiasm events like this wouldn't be the same (or even happen).

Harey Cup 2013 - Day 3

Day 3. The final chapter. La Cala was still cloaked in darkness when ten gladiators rose from their beds, dressed for battle and fuelled up for what lay ahead. For Team Richie, clad in European blue and sporting a 4 point deficit, the proverbial mountain was in front of them. They would need to draw on every ounce of skill at their disposal, as well as drum up memories of the Miracle of Medinah to snatch the unlikeliest of victories.