October 13, 2009

81 Holes In 11 Hours...And We Wanted to Play On

It was easy to smile, even when my par putt across the green broke off six inches too early, leaving my trademark grimace-face ball mark staring back at me mockingly from aside the hole. A quick tap, and my 81st golf hole and my day was done.

It was a very good day, and believe it or not, it was one I was not at all ready to see end. I always hate to see great days like this one head literally into the sunset.

The only reason we didn't head to the 82nd tee? Darkness began to close in, and my partner and I weren't at all sure we could find the tee shots if we hit them. Had there been any chance, we would have continued to play on...continued to raise money to help families that were battling cancer, battling the horrible loss of a parent's death, battling the pain that the children who had to watch and experience this must feel. Had there been sunlight, we would have swung until we couldn't swing any longer. Tired muscles can recuperate. Wondering if there was something more that could have been done for someone so obviously in need - that lasts forever.

Others aren't so lucky to have the choice, and it is the least we can do, because we are doing it for them. Every time we played a hole, we made a little bit more money for the Jack and Jill Foundation for Late Stage Cancer, a group that help families cope when a parent is facing the end of their life. Obviously it is horrible for the person who is sick, but the Jack and Jill Foundation helps the whole family. They are all suffering mightily. Sore muscles? They'd trade with me in a second.

Play on. Then play on some more.

It was the order of the day, and it was one of the best days I have ever had in golf shoes. Scores didn't really matter, even though we tried our level best on each hole. One fellow shot a 64 on a tough TPC Wakefield course during one of his trips around it. Others players shot quite well in their own right. This marathon was not hit-and-giggle golf all day, but it was true that scores really didn't matter. Mileage mattered...and many, many miles were recorded by all of us.

Monday began for us long before dawn on the course. A couple cups of coffee were all that we used for our warm-up, as everyone knew that they would want to save their strokes for the course itself, where they mattered. It was going to be a long day, and all twenty of us who were playing knew that, and welcomed it. That's why we were there, after all. No need to waste effort anywhere, save it for where it made the most difference...on the golf course itself. Around 7am, with the sun still rising, we mounted our carts and headed for our starting tee boxes.

A full day on a golf course is an interesting thing to watch unfold. The sun rises, bathing the un-tracked dew in golden shadows. Like footprints in the snow, each player leaves a breadcrumb trail of their path. On the green, the golf ball does the same as it rolls towards a hole, leaving a visible lesson of the break. Birds sing, and the furry animals forage for breakfast. It's a wonderful time to play, the golfer's equivalent of being the first human to walk across fresh snow. Everything seems new, even the hope that comes with a blank scorecard.

We played on.

Later, the day comes to full life, even in the verdant quiet of a championship golf course. When you are in a golf marathon, you see more than you might ordinarily witness on a typical Sunday morning foursome. You get to watch the progress of people working on their yards, or workers building a new deck behind someone's house. You get to see hawks hunting prey. You might even see the progress of an owl building a nest, if you know where to look. The course workers' progress is easily seen, and you also get a good idea at how much work they actually do. We all too often take those folks for granted, but I can tell you after having seen it that it's a yeoman's job that they do.

And we still played on some more.

Morning gave way to afternoon, and then mid-afternoon headed inexorably towards the end of the day. Some people were surprised that here were, passing them by...again. You know that they had to wonder why they had seen us four or five times. One even asked us what we were up to. He said he'd seen me four other times on the tee box near his house. I told him about the marathon briefly. He smiled at me and said, "I bet you're tired."

I was, sort of, but tired in the way one gets after a day of doing a job well done. Fortunately, I had taken a packet of Ajinomoto's Focus Zone in mid-morning, something that is now a standard part of my regimen when I play serious golf. Ever since I tried this product back in September, I keep a packet in my bag. During the Marathon, Focus Zone was worth its weight in gold and then some. The stuff just works.

I laughed and told the fellow that I would be okay. And that I needed to go...and play on.

It's not often that an amateur golfer like myself can make a positive difference for someone with my sticks. Doing so was a pleasure, and one I would do again. In fact, I am already planning to. I enjoyed this day, make no mistake about it, but the most pleasing thing to me was not the golf, fantastic as that was, instead, it was helping families who really could use some help. I have been in their shoes, and I know how they must feel. I would do almost anything to help, even if it is just a wee little bit. I know I did exactly that on Monday. Those sore muscles surely felt good.

Maybe next time we can have the golf marathon in May, one where the days are longer and we can play more holes. That way, I can play at least 100 holes. Maybe even six full rounds, or 108 holes. Or seven. I think I have 126 holes in me. If you're game, I would love to have you join me in the next golf marathon. It's well worth your time and effort.

(note: I endorse Ajinomoto products solely based on my opinion of their merit. I am not compensated by Ajinomoto in any way for this opinion.)


  1. NICE !!!! Well done !!!!

    Were you off in 5 foursomes ? Averaging 8 holes an hour is pretty amazing. How many carts did you go through ? (I assume they have electric carts)

    Be sure to let us know how much got raised in the event. :-)

    Great job CB !

  2. When you hear the families reflect on the misery they face yet also reveal the profound and touching impact The Foundation has on the patient, the caregivng spouse and the children--when you see the pictures, the smiles, the relief,the joy of families living in the moment, we all should take pride in knowing we are doing the right thing. Most of the Dads and Moms The Foundation "treats" die within months after they go on their WOW! Experience. This is meaningful, tangible and indespensable. Our supporters are giving these families a cherished timeout together...while they can. What a gift. Indespnesable is an appriopriate word. Unfortunately, the easiest aspect of The Foundation is being able to find Moms and Dads in their 20's, 30's and 40's dying from cancer leaving behind their grieving children. Despite the advances in cancer research, thousands of young parents will die from cancer each year.

    Thank you you golf Ironmen for appreciating these children and these families (together)deserve to call timeout from the hardship and miserable anticipation of losing their Dad or Mom.

    Life can be cruel and profoundly tough. For a 7 year old to lose her Mom to cancer or a 14 year old to lose his Dad, these kids are losing their heroes; their security blankets at a very vulnerable time. My wife Jill died three weeks after we launched The Foundation Thanksgiving of 2006...a special time typically reserved for families being together. Her battle finally came to a rest, but her vision to make something out of the harsh realities of cancer was just beginning. Her final words that night have become our mantra....our purpose:


    I am grateful for your compassion and confidence in The Foundation. Please continue to share the impact so we can touch more families across the country. We have impacted thousands already, sadly there are many more to "treat".

    It costs an average of $1077 per family to give them their time together on their WOW. From drive way to drive way we treat the families; not the cancer. We don't want the family to lift a finger, spend a dime or worry about any details.


    Jon Albert; Founder
    Jack and Jill Late Stage Cancer Foundation
    A national 501(c)3 national non-profit
    3282 Northside Pkwy. Suite 100
    Atlanta, GA 30327


  3. Wow that sounds like crazy fun...slight emphasis on the crazy part. Nice work OMP.


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