The Loop

Solstice marathon: 101 holes in 15 hours, all walking

June 24, 2014

To celebrate the official arrival of summer, my friends and I played golf on Monday from can to can't -- from when you can see until you can't. Seven of us teed off at 5 a.m., when it was just light enough to follow a ball most of the way to the dogleg in the first fairway, and about 30 minutes later we were joined by Peter A., who had just discovered that he didn't know how to set his alarm clock. He played by himself until he had caught up. Here's Hacker (real name) getting ready to hit the day's opening drive:


We had to play around the sprinklers for a while:


Gary, our superintendent, stopped by to see how things were going, and we tried to talk him into joining us:


After the first 18 holes, we drove to the coffee shop on the village green for breakfast. After the next 27, we made ourselves cheeseburgers and hot dogs on the grill in the parking lot next to the clubhouse. We also stopped occasionally to change socks, shoes, and shirts. I flipped my socks every time we passed the clubhouse, so that they would dry evenly:


The day was hot, humid, and mostly windless. Several guys came and went. Tim played the first 18, then went home and worked, then came back and played the last 11. (He said that the unusual parts of a solstice marathon are the beginning and the end, and that he already knew what it's like to play in the middle of the day.) Here's Tim, during the final nine, carrying a golf bag with the logo of the Sunday Morning Group's unofficial marathon golf-shoe provider:


We played on foot, and we played fast -- my threesome averaged an hour and ten minutes per nine all day long -- but I never felt that we were hurrying. The key is that we didn't fool around: no practice swings, very little ball-marking, no obsessive putt-reading, no brooding about yardages on holes we play all the time, no standing around waiting for someone else to hit. When you play that way, you don't have time to get in your own way, mentally. And, as is usually the case, everyone played extremely well. My second round was my best of the year so far (72). Addison was 8-under, gross, for the day. Here's one of Addison's tee shots on No. 9, a short par 4:


We finished at 8 p.m. Addison, David W., and I managed 101 holes, all walking. (That was roughly 66,000 steps, 270 flights of stairs, and 35 miles, according to my Fitbit.) Hacker achieved his goal of "walking and carrying my age," which is about to be 70. He switched to a cart after 72 holes, played 9 more riding, and followed us to the end in the staff cart, with Mike A. driving:


The competition was a ringer tournament, in which a player counted only his best net score on each of the 18 holes -- a format that gave an appropriate advantage to those who played the most holes. David W. was first, at -17; I was second, at -16; and Addison was third, at -15. Here's my scorecard for the day (the pink spots are Powerade):


While we were eating lunch, we got to watch one of the later stages of another golf marathon, featuring our club's oldest member. His wife had brought him over, and had had a great deal of difficulty getting him from their car to the practice green. She had brought his putter and a Ziploc bag containing about a dozen old balls, which she placed on the green near his feet. Putting the dozen balls took him a long time. When he was finished, I helped her get him back to their car. Then they drove home.

*Postscript: *Patrick Kroos, a German golfer and blogger whose main current project is persuading non-Swedes to travel to Sweden to play golf, wrote me to tell me about a German tournament called the HundertLochPokal, or HuLoPo, which means "Hundred-Hole Cup." He wrote:  "One of my golf friends made a nice video of the 2013 edition. Even if you do not understand German, you can see the agony." You can watch the video here.