Monday, 25 June 2012

100 HOLE CHALLENGE


Waiting in the car park of Ross on Wye Golf Club at 330am Saturday 23 June, I began to wonder about the sanity of the task ahead.

It began a few months ago when my friend became Lady Captain and thought it would be a great idea to play 5 rounds of golf for her chosen charity, Guide Dogs.  Somewhere along the line 5 rounds changed into 100 holes, as it has a ‘nicer sound about it’!  Myself and two other ladies were approached and asked if we wanted to take on this challenge, bizarrely, we all said yes.

A few weeks ago, we started to think about what we’d actually said yes to.  With little training, except one of us who goes on holiday to walk 130 miles!, I'm sure we were all secretly thinking we might be the weakest link, maybe that’s what kept us going?

Kerry at silly o'clock
It was 10 degrees centigrade at 4am, dawn broke with birds singing their little hearts out, LC took a drive to test the water-no one saw where it went, so we waited a bit longer, probably about 2 minutes as we were getting restless and wanting to get on with it.  Then LC took another shot and whether we saw it or not, we were off- in two balls.  Stroke play for a medal is a real mind game, but as we were pretty buoyant and up for the challenge, no one really thought about the format, we just did it.

12th hole par 3
For those of you that haven’t played the fantastic Ross-on-Wye, you won’t know that there are plenty of trees lining the fairways, the first is one such hole, and whilst it seemed pitch black as we drove those first balls, once we walked 500 yards to our drive (yeah right!) it seemed much lighter for just being out of the trees.  Rob and his green keeping staff at Ross should take all the credit for the course- it is in very good condition.

We played 2 rounds of 18 holes and 4 rounds of 16 holes.  After 36 holes, non-stop-mainly because the club house wasn’t open and wee stops weren’t tempting us away from our task – why is it when you see a toilet or think about it, you just have to go?  We played 36 holes in 5 hours, chatting, laughing and generally having a good time; with the odd good shot of golf thrown in for good measure.  The wonderfully flexibly (and great food too) caterers provided us with bacon sandwiches after 36 holes, but I was running on adrenaline and really didn’t feel like it, so halving with my caddy I felt sufficiently nourished, to be honest though once Id started eating, it hit the spot.
Kerry taking on nourishment and two great
caddies  Dinah and Mo-nick named DynaMo
Amanda and Julia (Caddy)
We were extremely lucky to have a steady stream of caddies to help along the way; supplying their trollies and batteries as needed; although we did sort ourselves out for the first round, as we didn't think it was fair to ask the ladies to do the 4am shift! Tim and his staff in the Pro-shop was amazing, he was supporting and gently reminding people of our challenge.

On the third round we found we were having to share the course with early bird golfers, or lovingly called ‘the worms’ at Ross (lovingly as my hubbie is one of them!)  They were fantastic, they stopped what they were doing, stepped aside and let us play through offering tons of encouragement along the way.  There was a real sense of camaraderie, just as it should be whether its men or women playing, it’s all about supporting each other and appreciating the task undertaken-those few words of encouragement go such a long way, and make you feel great and get you ready to play the next few holes.  Some of us- ok me, performed to an audience of men well – but there was something quite weird about your husband waving you through whilst he stood aside on the 10th green on our third round – gladly I didn’t mess up my shot and walked away with a par, as did my partner.
It’s amazing when you don’t have time to mess about, thinking about what to do, where to put the shot, which club to play, what’s for dinner and everything else that goes through your mind when playing golf; how well one plays.

Another ball away
My playing partner, Kerry, played out of her skin, she’s a good golfers anyway (11 handicap) but being an all-round good egg helped too, she rarely wavered from her goal of getting the job done.   It’s a good test of a friendship; you really need your friends when you take on such a challenge.
left to right: Amanda, Kerry, Me, Helen
Helen (6 handicap) and Amanda (LC and 11 handicap) played together in two balls for the first 5 rounds, as did Kerry and I, but on the final 6th rounds we played as a four ball, which was nice as we hadn't played with Amanda or Helen all day. The support from the caddies, spectators and everyone else throughout the day was inspiring, some of the early bird caddies even came back and walked around the course with us for the final round, along with a number of spectators.  Whooping and hollering when a shot was taken and sympathetic arrhhs when bad shots were hit (we did have a few by the final round!)  In short, they carried us through those final holes.
With a spring in our steps we bounced along to the final hole, where it was decided we’d all tee off at the same time – scary stuff.  A bit like at the driving range without the partitions!
16th/100th hole-final drive in unison
But we all hit solid golf balls, despite it being our 100th tee shot, and all landed fairly close to each other with a good second shot to the green.  Naturally we all hit a different ball, obviously we were very tired, but to have four balls in play, and in a good position just goes to show how we were enjoying ourselves.
When the final hole had been played there was lots of clapping, kissing and cheering – it was like playing in a major –what an amazing atmosphere.

Then to the bar..........

Me-Sarah
Kerry
Helen
Some useful stats
With varying handicaps and playing 2 x 18’s and then 4 x 16’s these are pretty rough stats:
The gross taken ranged from 483 to 553, so we averaged 503 shots per 100 holes each.
Kerry got the best gross score, and I got the best net score.
What is really strange- the gross score for all four of us is 2012

And finally- Amanda (Lady Captain, Ross on Wye GC 2012)