100 Holes Of Golf
By Joseph North
So I played 100 holes of golf in 11 hours, 22 minutes. It was one helluva ride. I took two carts. About two dozen balls. More than 500 shots. 1 beer. No mulligans.
Here’s the story.
Why I Played
My playing partner Scott (a week from coaching his wife through the birth of his first child, a beautiful daughter) and I decided on a whim to take a Monday off work in mid September to participate in The First Tee of Southeastern Wisconsin’s “100 Holes Challenge.” The Challenge was a fundraiser for the nonprofit that teaches youth key values through the game of golf. As best I know, the 12 gentlemen who showed up to play completed all 100 holes, raising nearly $20,000 (I raised only a fraction of that, thanks to all of the very cool friends and family who donated) to the First Tee.
I played because I love a challenge. I love golf. And I’ll happily support local, junior golf. It was a natural fit.
What You Have to Have To Play 100 Holes In A Day?
1. A screw loose? JK. JK.
2. The golf course (mostly) to yourself. Actually Hidden Glen isn’t a course, it’s a golf club. The P.B. Dye design in NW metro Milwaukee was kind enough to donate tee times, staff time, club resources, even a tapas bar to the cause. Aside from a few diehard members playing through a handful of times, we hardly saw other players. The course played fast and firm – allowing for a number of “speed slot” drives and, admittedly, way too many “auto 3-putts.” Scott equated the pin positions to the “Superintendent’s Revenge” – style setups you’ll see about this time of the season. Pins were placed precariously on the already peaked putting surfaces, making it difficult to place and stop approaches in the right quadrant of greens. But man were those puppies impressive. I overheard one member mention they had them rolling at a 13, a little slower than a month ago. Naturally, I’m now prepared to play Oakmont at next year’s 100 Holes Challenge.
3. Stamina. By 8:00 a.m. the dew was swept. By 10:00 a.m. the first 36 were a breeze. Actually, I think our first two rounds were the slowest, clocking in a little under 4.5 hours. I drank water like it was cool. Stretched. Took the opportunity to bask in the sun (aka lay down on the perfectly symmetrical, largely unscathed tee boxes). Breathed. Cloud watched. And get lost in the groove.
4. A wardrobe change. An on-course change from pants to shorts around hole 40 was welcome, as the temps rose from 51 around 7:00 a.m. to the high 70s around noon. But it’s also when my game began to take a turn for the worse. As a loud and proud 13 handicapper, I was somehow beating my 9 handi partner straight up before a case of the waterballs struck around hole 43. Sounds worse than it really was. A mid-day wind kicked up and made a series of already precarious and exacting 150-yard, forced-carry approaches to island greens play that much longer. Don’t wanna go full-Tiger in my excuses here, but 1 yard separated my gleaming Pro-V1x from the island 4th green more than once. Well, more than 6 times. And when I actually was able to pierce through the wind you could have called me Shawn Kemp, because I was thunder dunking balls over greens. You put enough balls in the drink and it starts to eat at you. Of course, you try to tell yourself there are a lotta holes left (which is very technically true), but deep down your confidence is shaken every time you see a ball start to balloon over the hazards. “Damn Scott and his ability to hit a knock down. Damn him to hell.” Me, probably around hole 60. Pro tip: If you’re going to play 100 holes, sunscreen is optional. What’s not? A scarf or bandana. Windburn is a real thing people. I think Martin Kaymer, in all of his wisdom and Euro-style sensibilities, has the right idea when he wears the bandana on the course during inclement weather. The European outlaw look would have saved me from having red face, burnt lips, and inhaling my fair share of golfcart dust.
5. An extra ball within arms reach. In my case, it had to be. I’m not very patient on the course. No idea why, as when I’m put in nearly any other situation aside from perhaps my kids getting ready for bed, I’m a very patient man. But the second I have to put a child back to bed for the 5th time, or I step foot on a tee box, I can’t wait to get on with it. I would always prefer to have the box, and most of the time I did. This doesn’t always bode well at a course that requires continued concentration over three consecutive water holes, which came to be known as “The Joseph Trap.” There was no place to bail out. You simply had to pick your line in what was becoming an increasingly blurred field of vision, and hit to it. The more holes I played, the worse my hook got. The morning’s metronomic move was replaced by a truncated hack by the back nine of the fourth round. Sure I hit a fairway here and there, and my long iron play was above average, but when shots began to require safety and precision my concentration waned and the result was, you guessed it, wet more often than not.
6. A match. Scott was kind enough to spot me a stroke on the four par 5s each round. At one point I was up 9 holes in our match. That should be an insurmountable lead for anyone not named Eldrick. I love match play. Being a streaky player, I’ll go on a par run and then step on the proverbial landmine leading to a blow-up hole. This makes me a sneaky good match player. “No doubles” was the refrain of the day. Better play meant faster holes. After the third round you’ve found the best lines, and begin to play for position. The laser is rarely required and you recall an extra club is needed to play into nearly every elevated green. The term “second shot course” is thrown around a lot, but the greens were Hidden Glen’s primary defense against par. I managed to steer clear of the sand for much of the day, but found myself Hasselhoff’d for what seemed like a solid hour at one point. Even putting it in a quintessentially Dye pot bunker short and right of the 6th green during the final 18, I couldn’t help but smile. I loved the penal bunkering. I took some sort of masochistic pleasure in being absolutely screwed by a three foot deep bunker, 20 yards from an elevated green. No I didn’t hole it, or even come close, but again – I loved the challenge. And I didn’t really begin to appreciate the intricacies of the design until I started hitting it sideways. That’s the thing about Dye courses (I’ve only played The Irish and this), but you don’t really see the extremely treacherous bunkering until you hit a poor shot. There’s room to miss. Just not that much room. After an entire day of play, some 10 hours into the match, it was coming down to the wire. After another dire trip around the Joseph Trap I was hemorrhaging holes. A 55-yard Pelz-wedge hole-out on 7 proved to be the dagger. When I came within inches of holing out a 40 yarder of my own on top of Scott’s, I knew my window was closing.
7. A sharp pencil. Thank goodness for my partner’s meticulous scorecard keeping. In all he tallied 973 shots on a single card. I had us at 972, but who’s counting. After birdieing the last of the double-dog par 5s, Scott won our match 4&3 on the 97th hole. How often do you get to say that?
What did you learn over 100 holes?
They say you learn a lot about a man playing a round of golf with him. So what do you learn about him, or yourself, when you play 5.55 rounds in a row? You learn that in golf, positivity prevails. You learn to take your auto 3-putt and move onto the next hole expeditiously. You learn that club covers are optional. You learn a working GPS app, even if free, is priceless. You find a kind of kindred spirit kind of appreciation for Wesley Bryan’s 69 he played in 1 hour, 29 minutes. You learn that a chicken wrap and chocolate chip cookie look like a New York Strip and au gratin potatoes after 50 straight holes. You learn there are no bailouts, only opportunities to hit a stinging, pro-traj 8-iron approach into a 20 mph headwind over water. Then again, maybe you’ll learn that another day.