Why 72 holes is definitely a challenge.

LAST year I had planned to do a 10k run for charity to raise money for cancer but wrecked my achilles training for it. That’s what happens I guess when you take a non runner and send him running. This year I’ve decided to tackle a challenge that is more up my street but just as tough.

The Macmillan Cancer Charity has an annual challenge for golfers to raise money for their charity and the premise is simple -72 holes of golf in 1 day.

This is only just possible in the UK on the few days of the year around the Summer Solstice when there is enough light to cram in all 4 rounds. This year the longest day is 21st June when there is (according to timeanddate.com)  16 hours, 38 minutes and 19 seconds of daylight.

But that’s a Saturday. Most golf clubs have their members competitions on a Saturday and the only way to get a golf club to give us 4 rounds in one day on a Saturday with the priority to play through would be if my name was Donald Trump and I owned the club.

So we’ve decided to complete Macmillan’s challenge on Sunday 22nd June when we have more chance of getting on some courses.  There is only 16 hours, 38 minutes and 16 seconds of light on the Sunday but hopefully the 3 seconds won’t scupper our chances!

The fundraising pack has arrived and we’ve been offered 4 rounds around Aberdelghy Golf Club in Lisburn so we’re well on our way.

I’ve set up the Justgiving.com page and since there’s less than 4 weeks to go it’s time to start the build up. Feel free to donate now and help us on our way.

I have 2 new pairs of golf shoes ready for the event and have broken them in with several rounds already. Now that the word is out, anytime I am speaking to golfers the vibe I’m getting is that it’s certainly a challenge.

There’s the creaking back, aching feet and blistering hands all to consider, but then there’s the massive buzz of trying against the clock to complete 4 rounds before the light goes, knowing that across the UK hundreds of other golfers are doing the same.

Non golfers on the other hand, seem to be wondering what’s the problem with 4 rounds? “Doesn’t seem too challenging…” said one and “Seems a walk in the park… geddit?” said another. Seems to be a challenge in itself to convince them that it’s worth investing in our success or failure. So here goes…

Why 72 holes of golf will be a challenge

Although Aberdelghy is a relatively short course coming in at 4, 143 metres or just over 4,500 yards, we do have to lap it the full 4 times.  At the equivalent distance of 2.6 miles per round, this means the complete distance to be travelled is 10.5 miles. Tee to green.

For the non golfers among you, that means that the course is measured in total yards from the tee box to the centre of the green (typically). This is the minimum distance you can possibly walk when completing a round of golf.

Golf, like life, is rarely perfect and with my well honed slice-right from the tee box, the actual distance to be walked in a round is going to be considerably further.

So I did a bit of research via t’internet and found a few search results for the term “how far does the average golfer walk in 18 holes”. 7.24 million to be exact.

One of the best was on the Inside Golf website, the highest circulating Australian Golf magazine , where editor Richard Fellner got an idea to use an iPhone app from his wife to log his mileage round the course (read Richard’s actual post here).

Using low, mid and high handicappers to get a spread but not using scientific methods, Richard discovered some surprising statistics.

During the standard 18 hole round, the average golfer walked an astounding 8.5km (they are metric the heathens!). When they added in the ancillary pre and post round walking that a golfer does around the carpark, clubhouse and practice area, the total went up to nearly 9.5km.

Still doesn’t sound much in isolation does it? Yes, when you factor in that the course that Richard conducted his experiments on measures 5,711m from tee to green, then the additional walking becomes pretty obvious.

From Richard’s measurements his golfers, regardless of handicap, walked 49% more yardage than was on the card.

Now, taking this back to our “short course” around Aberdelgy and our 10 miles has quickly turned into 15 miles.

Still not satisfied?

Then just bear in mind that the guidelines around the Macmillian Longest Day Challenge say that the use of a golf buggy is not in the spirit of the challenge and so the 15 miles has to be completed hauling your clubs the whole way.


Yes – you might say use an electric trolley and some do. But I don’t have one and so that option isn’t really open to me. Again, yes, I could borrow one but I also don’t know anyone stupid enough to lend me one. So pull trolley it is then.

Why not carry the bag and make it a real challenge? The best piece of advice I ever received about stand bags was “if you want to get fit, go to the gym. If you want to play better golf, let a trolley carry your bag.” So trolley it is then.

At the end of the (longest) day, the Macmillan Challenge is still a golf competition against other teams completing the same challenge and the the scores achieved will count for something. So what about the shots?

The par for the course round Aberdelgy is 66 for the men. Playing exactly to my handicap (a shockingly unfair 24!) in each of the 4 rounds I’ll be shooting 90 shots per round.

That makes 360 times hitting the golf ball. Of course, not all of these shots will be full shots with the full swing. Many of them will be putts, but how many?

According to StrokeAverage.com, the average 95 stroke player hits 35.2 putts per round and so for our now familiar 4 rounds, that’s going to be about 141 putts. That leaves 219 shots left.

That’s still a lot of full shots with a golf club given that 80 balls up at the driving range can take a fairly full hour to complete, that nearly three hours alone of hitting golf balls!

So the point of this post? To highlight the challenge that my team and I are embarking on but also to set up the fact that it is a challenge and not one that should be taken lightly. With all that said, I am looking forward to the challenge and you never know… out score may be just good enough on the day to compete in the final of the competition.

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