Friday, 20 July 2012

Local Scottish News Coverage

Here is just a short clip from the day itself. I was approached by STV News during the challenge and they arrived at the club during my 6th round to film a short clip for their 6pm news show.

Click here to view the clip, Skip to 22.00 to see the interview

Open Letter To Mortonhall G.C. Members

Dear All,

I would to thank all the members and staff at Mortonhall for supporting my 10-Round Challenge, raising money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

I received countless well-wishes from members and guests at the Club, both in preparation for and during the day itself. The support I received from staff at MGC was incredible, helping me organise the day and helping raise more than £15,000 that will be used to grant wishes for kids in the area fighting life-threatening conditions.

When I was considering organisations that might benefit from the day, I was sent a DVD by the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The first story on the film documented the wish of a young boy named Nicholas, 16, who had been battling Leukaemia since he was 18 month old, and more recently a pair of brain tumours.

During his battle, Nicholas contacted the Make-A-Wish Foundation wishing to own a set of golf clubs. Last year, Make-A-Wish paid for Nicholas and his family to visit the headquarters of Callaway Golf, to fit Nicholas with his own set of clubs and give him a tour of their facility.

It is easy to take for granted how fortunate many of us are to be in good health and enjoy clubs such as Mortonhall. The Make-A-Wish Foundation is an incredible organisation that looks out for those kids that are not so lucky.

Every penny raised from challenge will go directly to the Foundation and kids in our area of Scotland. So on behalf of myself, the Foundation and all the families that they help…

…thank you.

Jamie Kennedy

In addition their support and encouragement, Mortonhall GC donated £500 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation via my challenge. Add to that the £500 raised by members guessing my score, and the Club has provided over £1000 to the Foundation and the challenge. 

In recent years, many golf clubs have struggled with the economic downturn. At Mortonhall, we are lucky that we have one of the finest parkland courses around. Like all clubs, we as members often take it as our duty to criticise the club or the course, but I think Mortonhall deserves a lot of credit for remaining one of the finest golf clubs in the Lothians.

I was fortunate enough, despite some poor weather, to win the Club Championship this year. With my name on that board for the first time, I take it as my duty to represent the club and encourage golfers to join/visit the club. I have been a member since I was 13 years old and have a lot of great memories at the club. I look forward to enjoying many more, and thank the club again for helping make the 10-Round Challenge such a success.

Monday, 9 July 2012

US TV Interview

After my challenge I contacted by a Jacksonville TV station who wanted to do an interview about the challenge. I went to University in Jacksonville, and they had been following my progress. So last week, I set up my iPad in my kitchen and via the wonders of modern technology....

Thursday, 5 July 2012

The Day Itself

Beep...beep...beep...beep. It's 3am and after sleeping for 5 hours my alarm clock signals that it is time to get up and play 10 rounds of golf.

I peered out of my flat window to see the streetlights fighting the thick mist that had graciously arrived in time for my challenge. A quick final check of clothing, supplies and equipment and I was off to the course. Mortonhall Golf Club is high-up on the south side of Edinburgh, and the closer I got to the course, the thicker the fog got. Out of the car, a quick stretch and I was on the tee.

With Mum, Dad and two family friends there to see me off, I lugged my pencil bag and half set of clubs to the the 1st tee (submerged by fog) and struck a slightly 7-iron down the fairway. Not because I hit a 7-iron 200+ yards, but rather to ensure I would be able to find my yellow Titleist ball.

 And so, after months of training and preparation, my 10-round challenge was underway.  

Round 1: 81 minutes. 81 shots. 
1 banana. 2 bottles of water.

No doubt the thickest fog I have played golf in and I didn't venture to more than a 7-iron for 8 holes. The holes were full of water and the course was very wet.  I started poorly and then found a rhythm around the turn to finish at 9-over par, highlighted by a 30 foot birdie on the last hole.

Round 2: 76 minutes. 78 shots. 
1 apple. 1 energy gel. 1 bag of trail-mix. 1 bottle of water.   

No sign of the fog clearing up, but I headed straight back to the first tee. Confident enough to hit a few 3-woods, I hit a provisional anytime I wasn't certain I had found the fairway. My first spectator of the day joined me on the 16th (Hole 34) and followed me over the last 3 holes. After a pulled tee shot on the last and now with a crowd of one following me, I made an overly ambitious decision to take on the green. 3 balls were sent right of the green towards the gorse bushes. Luckily, I found my first, and got up and down.

Round 3: 75 minutes. 76 shots. 
1 homemade roll. 1 banana. 1 bottle of water.

Mum, Dad and my visiting Uncle greeted me on the way to the first tee as I made good pace in some horrific conditions. A sliced tee shot on the first risked a first lost ball. However I did find it and got up and down from 50 yards for a par. I one-putted the first 3 greens and started to feel warmed-up.

The fog was lifting slightly and on the 7th hole (Hole 43) I saw a full shot land for the first time. I took out a homemade roll on the 8th and immediately had a stalker in the form of a crow. I thought "I need this more than you bud" and wolfed it down. Saw my first fellow-golfer on the 2nd tee as I played my 16th hole (Hole 52), and was greeted by another friend as I came to the 18th.

Round 4: 78 minutes. 75 shots. 
1 homemade roll. 1 banana. 2 bottles of water.   

Making great time and feeling good, I marched on with round 4. The greenkeepers were making their way around the course and I got several thumbs up and shouts of support. Started to hit the ball really well and began hitting lots of fairways and greens, ending up with 15 pars and 3 bogeys, playing through 2 two-balls on the way round. Fog appeared to be coming down again.

Round 5: 110 minutes. 72 shots. 
1 banana. 1 bag of trail-mix. 1 energy jelly. 1 bottle of water. 1 bottle of Powerade.  

I was joined on the 2nd tee (Hole 74) by a Ian, photographer from the local Edinburgh Evening News who followed me (in a buggy) for 2 holes taking some photos for the next day's paper. Having the press there seemed to help my game, as I hit a 3-wood to 15 feet on the 2nd, and a 7-iron to 10 feet on the short 3rd hole, prompting him to say "when I photograph the pro's, they don't hit it that straight". Cheers Ian - I'll pay you later!

I caught up a pair of elderly golfers on the 6th (Hole 78) and waited for them to putt out before marching on to meet them at the next tee. To my frustration and amusement they went out of their way to ignore me and continue to play at their pace. Hitting the ball no more than 100 yards at a time, they kept this up the...entire...way...round. Typical old-timers looking down upon a young guy clearly out just to cause trouble.

Round 6: 91 minutes. 76 shots.
1 homemade roll. 1 banana. 2 mini Mars bars. 2 bottles of water. 

Before teeing off I met Carolyn from the Make-A-Wish Foundation who was out to support and let me know that the local Scottish news wanted to do an interview. We set it up for 90 mins away and despite having already played 5 rounds, I battled on without a break.

A birdie on the 1st (Hole 91) inspired me to think perhaps an under-par round was possible, however some tired swings brought me back to reality. Two ladies stood aside on the 6th (Hole 96) and clapped me as I played through, replacing my divot and congratulating me on my challenge. A small gesture, but greatly appreciated.   I caught another pair of golfers on the 9th (Hole 99). They were a father and son visiting from Boston. The older gentleman asked me "Have you ever played here before?". To be honest, I don't think he was prepared for me to answer "Yes, I've already played here 5 times today".

No doubt he will return to Boston with stories of the insane endurance of Scottish golfers playing 5 rounds before midday in the rain.   I finished the round being filmed by the STV news and did a short interview by the 18th green. A quick chat to some people who had gathered to watch and I set back out for one more round before taking a break.

Round 7: 89 minutes. 74 shots. 
1 homemade roll. 1 banana. 1 flapjack. 2 mini Mars bars. 2 bottles of water. 1 bottle of Powerade.
With a physio coming to give me some help at 3.30pm, I played as fast as I could despite feeling some intense pain in my heels. In fact, this is the round when my body really started to wear out. I felt tired and weak and ate to combat what I could. I played through 5 groups of players and impressed one group in particular on the 13th (Hole 114).

Knowing I was out on the course, the group ahead were on the green, saw me, waved me through and stood at either side of the green. My thought was  "I am hitting a 3-wood, to a small target, with people on both sides of the green. This could get ugly." However, I stared down the flag and hit my 3-wood right at it, bouncing once short of the green, hopping onto the green, lipping the hole and finishing 6 inches behind the cup. Nice to do that in front of crowd, but my golf on the day and in this round, hadn't been quite so good.   Time for a break.

Round 8: 86 minutes. 78 shots. 
1 homemade roll. 1 energy gel. 1 bottle of Powerade. 2 bottles of water. 

I took an hour in the clubhouse, showering, changing clothes, taking on fluids and getting rubbed down and taped up.  Three rounds to go and my body was really hurting. The wet conditions made walking harder and my feet, especially my lower legs, were starting to feel pretty unstable. It showed too.

I sliced my first tee shot and didn't even look for it. I was joining by a friend driving a buggy around with me on the 8th (Hole 134). Great to see him and have some company, but the sight of a buggy didn't help my psyche. I birdied the 9th hole (Hole 135) in front of 4 visitors, holing a 30 foot putt. Always nice. Decided not to take the flag out before putting on the 13th (Hole 139), thinking I would just lag it up. Canned it, pin in, two-shot penalty, double bogey. Oh well. I was joined by  four members and friends towards the end of the round. Company makes a big difference. Nice change from thinking about which leg hurts more.

Round 9: 91 minutes. 79 shots. 
1 banana. 1 bag of trail mix. 1 energy gel.

My motivation was really struggling and this proved to be the most testing round mentally. Despite having company the whole way round, I constantly fought against the idea that I still had to do it all over again. I had rushed to the 1st tee without a break and in doing so didn't replace my water. I had about a third of a bottle left to do me this round. I was like a lost traveler in the desert for most of the round. My swing had become very "arms-y" and I was struggling to hit it as far as I had been. A couple of double bogeys and missed putts put me at 8 over on the last tee.

Knowing I had some donations resting on how many rounds I broke 80, I re-focused and hit a good 3-wood down the fairway. A chippy 9-iron found the green and 10 feet later made another birdie for a tired 79 on the card. I got yet another round of applause as I walked down the last from the clubhouse and people standing outside. One. More. Round. To. Go.

Round 10: 88 minutes. 76 shots.  
1 energy gel. 2 bottles of water. 1 bottle of Powerade. 

A crowd of around 15 people walked the round with me and the conversation and jokes took some of my mental focus away from what I was feeling inside. Putts started to drop as I holed from 15 feet on the first and 20 feet on the third. After playing the first 6 holes in one-over par, I birdied the 7th and 9th to turn in under par! Could I really break par on my 10th round? No. My first triple bogey of the day started the back nine and I got back to concentrating on speed rather than quality.

A couple more good shots inspired applause as I neared the end and one member playing ahead of me had written "Go Jamie! Nearly home" in the large bunker short of the 16th green. Another kind gesture from day surrounded by support. More people gathered on the last and as I reached the green, it become surrounded by 40 or so family, friends and members there to see me finish. My 20 foot birdie putt looked good the whole way, but ended up behind the hole. I tapped in for my 765th shot of the day.

A deep breath, some applause and a lot of hugs and it was over. Amazingly in a little less than 17.5 hours, I had walked 59.1 miles, climbed 4870 feet and played 180 holes of golf. Despite the weather, the day had been a success. I was able to play OK, and, when not stuck behind a couple of members of Dad's Army, maintain a good pace.

By the close of the day, the challenge had raised more than £14,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and whilst it had been mentally and physically exhausting, it had been worth every minute. A massive thanks to everyone who helped out and cheered me on the day. I never dreamt it would be the success it was and I am deeply grateful for all the support.

Someone challenged me to play 1 round in 10 days next year, so that sounds quite appealing...

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

One. More. Day.

I really thought I had more time.
Throughout all the preparation, the organisation and the creation of this challenge, I have lost track of time and now with a hint of nerves in my stomach, it is tomorrow.
Luckily as I write this the sun is shining outside and the weather looks ok(ish). Possible chance of rain, but being in Scotland, that is pretty much a given. Plan is to get a lift up to the club just after 3am and tee off when I can. Whilst I support all of the people that raise money for playing four rounds of golf in a day, I will enjoy telling them that I expect to be done with 4 rounds by the time their alarm clock goes off in the morning.
Final prep is already fully underway. Carb overloading, supply planning, body-clock adjustments and hydration have been the name of the game over the past 2 or 3 days. I spent last night making yet another batch of pasta, making homemade trail mix for the day and icing my shins which have been a little tender from a lot of golf, walking and running.
The donations continue to come in. As of this moment, I have received more than £10,700 thanks to over 150 donations. The support has been simply overwhelming. Whilst I know the challenge is a little different to you regular 5km fun-run or bake sale, I think people have bought into the cause and appreciated what the Make-A-Wish Foundation do.
Unfortunately, we live in an age where we all know or are close to someone that is fighting, or has fought, a life-threatening illness. Words struggle when trying to describe the stress and pain this causes those suffering and the people around them. When it comes to children, it is even harder to understand and comprehend. The Make-A-Wish Foundation understand just how heart-breaking and stressful this journey can be for the children and their families.
Every penny raised from the 10-Round challenge will go to the Foundation and will be used to grant wishes for local children fighting some of these life-threatening conditions. If you get the chance to talk with one of the Wish-families or see any of the work that the Foundation do, you will be left with no-doubt that your money and support is immensely appreciated and well-spent.
I have said it before, and I hope people appreciate it, but I am stunned by the support this challenge has received. I am deeply grateful to everyone that has donated, attended the Masquerade dinner, offered advice, asked about and generally supported the challenge. Thanks to you all.
 1 day...

Monday, 25 June 2012

Interview With Fellow 10-Rounder, Josh Marris

As I prepare both body and mind for torture on the links come Wednesday, I thought it would be wise to seek counsel from someone who knew what I am about to go through.

Some of you will know the name Josh Marris, from my previous blog talking about his 10-round challenge last year. I caught up with Josh over the weekend to ask him some questions to help me get my head around doing the same thing on Wednesday. Enjoy:

JK:  Afternoon Josh, thanks for your time. You did a 10-round challenge last year. What was the idea and motivation behind the challenge?

JM: My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in April last year. I was away playing golf tournaments on the other side of the country at the time and managed to see her for a day in amongst all that a day after she had one of her breast removed. I felt pretty helpless about the situation and while driving on the highway one day in the middle of nowhere, I decided I wanted to do something that would challenge me in a way similar to the challenge ahead for my mum. Thoughts of the Kokoda Trail came to mind, shaving my head as Mum was going to be bald...all sorts of things...but none of them seemed right. I wanted to do something with my golf too that would push me and then it came to golf for 24 hours straight. I  found a club that wanted to get involved and offered the course for me to do it, and for promotional purposes it was the marketing guy who came up with the idea of setting a number of rounds as the challenge. At first I thought six or eight, but after talking with some people and friends about it, I decided on setting 10 rounds as the target.

JK: Certainly a worthy effort and cause. Obviously 10 rounds is a tall order for any golfer, what was the most rounds you had played prior to the day?

JM: Only two rounds...36 holes in one day. It was something I regularly did on Mondays as part of my PGA Apprenticeship.

JK: Wow, so how do you train/prepare for the day?

JM: I chose not to train. The idea was not to complete the challenge and feel energized or strengthened by it. The purpose was to push my body, to do something that would challenge body and mind without any preparation. The only preparation was in terms of my diet in the days leading up to the challenge. I stayed away from alcohol and fatty foods, drank more water than I usually would. I played 9 holes of golf at night once to try out the glow-in-the-dark golf balls and see how navigating the course would be.

JK: No training?! Not sure I could have done the same. When it came to it, what was the challenge day like?

JM: It was a bit cool when I hit off at 6am, but the sun soon came out. By the middle of the day and early afternoon it was quite hot. I found myself continually pouring half a bottle of water into my cap and over my head to keep my head from overheating. The night time was pretty good, a few clouds about but could still see some stars out too.

JK: How did your game hold up throughout the day?

JM: The game was actually pretty good and it surprised me. I shot 8 under in my 5th round, the last of the daylight rounds, and I did it while jogging between shots completing the round in about 90 minutes. Round 7 I think was where the fatigue was really kicking in. My whole body was aching, especially my feet, and I started hitting quite a few bad shots. I could feel my swing wasn't too good. But I managed to finish strongly in the final round.

JK: 8 under?! Really sounds like you were struggling (!). Impressive stuff. What is one thing from the day that you didn't anticipate/prepare for?

JM: How much food and drink I would need. I though a few bottles of water, a couple pieces of fruit and a couple sandwiches would do. Fortunately I had Vic Park (where I did the challenge) provide any food and drink that I needed...and I had a lot more than expected. I documented it all on my website if you want to have a look there.

JK: Don't worry, I have checked it out and prepared accordingly. Back to the day itself, what was the hardest thing physically about the day?

JM: The walk. The course had an elevation change of about 50m from highest to lowest points, and there were some nasty climbs. The worst was on the 13th hole, an incline of about 30-40 degrees for 80 meters or so which I nicknamed 'heartbreak hill'.

JK: Surely, any golf course with a stretch named "heartbreak hill" should be avoided for a 10-round challenge. After the challenge, what was your body like the following days?

JM: The body was seriously hurting. The rest of day after completing the challenge wasn't too bad, but it was the second and third days after it that my body pretty much shut down. I could barely walk...was walking like a 90-year-old war veteran...the blisters on my feet were huge and I had a couple of them burst which made putting any weight on my feet almost impossible.

JK: Great. Maybe could have done without knowing that... gulp. Now that the challenge is in the past, what have people's reaction been like?

JM: I received a lot of support leading up to, during, and after the event. I have had several people approach me since doing it (even a friend of mine a couple weeks ago who just heard about it) and I have received a lot of congratulations from people and comments of how inspiring it was. I still hear from some people about it now which is pretty cool. Before the challenge I had a PGA friend of mine (who worked with my uncle at the time) tell my uncle that I was 'all sorts of crazy and wouldn't complete the ten rounds'. This comment served as motivation to complete the challenge and after completing it he was one of the first to congratulate me. The comment he made was never meant to be a put-down or anything like that, but he just thought something like this was 'NUTS'.

JK: Haha, nice to prove people like that wrong. I remember telling a group of my grandpa's friends about my challenge last year, and they voted 9 to 2 that they thought the idea of the 10-round challenge at Mortonhall Golf Club was impossible.

So with 3 days to go for me, what's your advice for the day?

JM: Try not to think about it too much. Don't wear your body out by playing too much golf. It is going to be a long day and you're not doing this for the golf score. Take one hole at a time, stay hydrated, and if you can, get some supporters to come walk and/or play with you throughout the day. Their support and simple conversation with them will help you to get through the holes and will serve as a motivating force.

JK: Noted. Although 6 rounds last week and the onset of shin splints is making me think I should have asked you earlier... oh well!

Before I let you go, I need to know... what will you give me if I make a hole-in-one on the day?

JM: A giant sloppy wet kiss when you come visit me in the US, haha.
JK: Ok. So here's hoping for no hole-in-ones! 

Thanks a lot for your time mate, great motivation for me and appreciate your time. All the best to you and your Mum. Talk soon!

JM: My pleasure mate. All the best with your challenge and I look forward to hearing all about it.

Still plenty of time to donate, or enter the Mizuno "Guess My Score" competition. Keep the support coming, it really does make a massive difference.

2 days...