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 me...play 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...

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

1 Week To Go

One week left. Gulp.
Most of the prep has been done now, just a case of final preparations and hoping for good weather. Weather has been very mixed recently, so it could be anything, and I will be packing for all outcomes. Mist and rain would be the killers on the day, but I'll just have to wait and see. Predicting Scottish weather is much like selecting winning lottery numbers.
Found another golfer doing a similar 180-hole challenge tomorrow in England. Managed to contact him so we have a £10 wager on our score+time for the ten rounds. He is a pro, so it may be a tall order, but I can't let an Englishman beat me.
Few things left to organise before next Wednesday: getting a bin to use as a temporary ice bath on the day, making my own trail mix and gathering supplies, steadily altering my body clock to allow me to be on my game at 3.30am and a few other minor details to make sure the day is a success. 
Couple of long runs and walks planned over the next 4 days, then as of Monday, I am shutting it down and resting up for the 27th. 
Had a good few responses to the Mizuno competition. If you want to win a set of Mizuno irons worth £700, simply donate £10 and guess my score for the 10 rounds. More info here.
Thanks again for supporting. Stay tuned on Twitter and Facebook for more updates and notes from throughout the day.
7 days...

Monday, 18 June 2012

£10,000 Raised!

After finally adding the proceeds raised at the Masquerade Dinner, I am proud to announce that my target of £10,000 has been reached with 9 days left until the challenge.

I can remember constructing the idea for this mad-golf challenge and considering a target. I obviously wanted to raise as much as possible for the Make-A-Wish Foundation to help them as much as possible. However, when I chose £10,000, even I thought that was an ambitious target.

Thanks to the support of so many people, that goal has been reached. Whilst I realize I still have a lot to do next week to validate the support, the support I have received thus far will certainly keep me going throughout the day of the challenge.

Hopefully, I will get a chance to thank each of you that has donated in person, but for now please know just how grateful I am. I know everyone gets a lot of requests for donations, and money can be tight, so I am just very humbled by the support. The money raised will mean a lot to the Make-A-Wish Foundation and even more to the kids and families it will benefit. On behalf of those families, the Foundation and myself... thank you.

9 days...

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

2 Weeks To Go

Seemed like a couple of weeks ago, I was telling people about this golf challenge had planned in 3 or 4 months. Well now, it is just 2 weeks away.

Training has cooled off since the 8-round practice day. I have been playing quite a bit and continue to do around 10-15 miles of walking a day, I am just being careful not to do too much and be fatigued when the challenge-week comes around.

Still organising a video call with Josh Marris to get some last-minute tips from someone that knows what it's like to play 10 rounds in a day. I got a nice emails of support from both my former University and also Gavin Hastings. It's great to hear from people that have read about or seen the challenge and want to support, donate or help.

Plan for the next couple of weeks is to continue a lot of stretching and walking to prepare for the physical challenge of the day. Also beginning to adjust my body clock, and getting up earlier in the day to allow me to feel wide-awake and ready at 3.30am on June 27th. Other than that, keep spreading the word and raising money.

Sitting at 50% of my target with just 2 weeks to go. It may well take a miracle to get to £10,000 by June 27th, but fingers crossed the challenge continues to inspire donations and support. The Make-A-Wish Foundation deserve every penny raised. Here is a look at their latest wish:

14 days...

Monday, 11 June 2012

Guess My Score Mizuno Competition

To enter, email me at jamierosskennedy@yahoo.com and pay £10 via my JustGiving page

No limit on number of guesses and each guess needs a tiebreaker guess also, in the result of a tie. The tiebreaker is guessing the score of the last (10th) round. 

16 days...

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

8-Round Practice Day

Round 1. Hole 1.
4.11am. Usually I would be leading the Masters on the back-nine at Augusta, in my bed. But not today. Today, I am on the first tee at Mortonhall Golf Club, preparing for 8 rounds as a warm-up for my 10-round challenge.

On a strangely mild morning, and with plenty of sunlight already glazing over the course, I sent a slightly thin 3-wood down the fairway and off I went.

With 6 clubs in my Titleist pencil bag, I marched down the fairway with just an audiobook for company (Catching Fire, the Hungers Games sequel). With a strange sense of excitement and eagerness, I moved quickly hitting shots almost in-stride around the 6,500-yard course.

76 minutes gone and I tapped in a short putt on the 18th for a 76. Remarkably, I was managing to play pretty solid and eliminate any shots that would a) hurt my score and b) hurt my time.

With the clubhouse not open for another 3 hours, I reloaded my bag with water and food from my backpack, hidden behind the clubhouse, and headed back to the first tee.

Another good opening tee shot was joined by another good round. 14 pars, and 4 bogeys added up to 78 minutes, and I was flying around. The round was highlighted/lowlighted by an eagle putt on the 12th.

A relatively short par-5, I hit my 5-iron approach to 20-feet. In order to play fast, my plan was to hit long putts up to the hole then remove the flag. Looking at this 20 foot putt, I thought to myself “just hit it up close, remove the flag, and take a birdie” and therefore left the pin in. Of course, I rolled the putt dead-weight into the hole for a 3, but with a two-stroke penalty for leaving the flag in, I walked to the next with a 5.

Round 3. Hole 38. Company!
Just over two and half hours into the day, I was two rounds down and flying. The only cars at the club were some of the greenstaff slowly arriving for an early morning start on the course. However, I did finally have company on the course.

I made a birdie on the first hole for my first birdie of the day and walked confidently onto the second tee. I was ready to pull the trigger when I noticed an elderly man casually walking down the right-hand side of the hole. I waited patiently throughout the second and par-3 third hole, before he noticed me and waved me through.

After informing him of my goal to play 8 rounds on this fine day, he giggled and said “Forgive me for not joining you son.” Forgiveness was granted and I battled on having felt I lost time admiring the old man’s carefree amble down the opening holes. Just over an hour later and round 3 was in the books. 75, the lowest score yet with 4 bogeys and my opening birdie, all in 88 minutes.

A few members were beginning to gather at the club to try and be first on the tee on this holiday Monday. Whilst I smiled in the knowledge that I had already completed 54 holes, I marched back to the first tee to join in and continue.

Round 4. Hole 72.
Perhaps slightly over-confident, I took a lazy swing off the first tee, and sprayed it into the trees on the right. Knowing anytime looking for a ball is wasted time, I hit a provisional ball from my pocket and marched on. I glanced into the trees on the way up the hole, but conceded to the fact that my yellow Titleist NXT Tour was the first casualty of the day.

Held up a little early on, I played through 2 or 3 groups to get in front of the pack and finished in 101 minutes. 2 double bogeys, 2 bogeys and 1 birdie tallied up to a 77 and perhaps the mileage was finally catching up with my game.

Four rounds down, not even 11am, I took time to recharge. Recharge my phone which I was using to track my mileage, time etc and recharge my body which was beginning to feel the effects of the day.

A quick shower, change of clothes, some food and a visit to the gents, and I was back on the first tee, in the midst of a busy period of the day for golfers, as the sun continue to shine.

Round 5 will probably be remembered for the round in which I played through 8 groups of golfers as word got around the course that I was attempting 8 rounds. A poor double bogey on the short third hole, was off-set with birdies on 15 and 16, but ultimately another 75 was in the books, in a pretty slow time of 149 minutes.

Round 6. Hole 95. First Eagle.
The club was now officially busy. I knew round 6 had potential to be slow and I was right, but little did I know what it would produce otherwise. Simply stated, the bad news was 163 minutes is not the type of pace I was hoping for. The good news is that 65 shots in my sixth round of the day was pretty bloody good. With the pace slow, I settled into shots more and played the four par-5s in seven under par, eagling the first three!

So after playing 90 holes already, I tied my lowest score ever at my home course with only 6 clubs in my bag, and a double bogey! Proof that this really is a stupid game.

Six down and two to go, I need to recharge my phone some more to make sure I could gather all the data from the day, and I finished the last of 4 homemade rolls I prepared the night before. In fact throughout the day, I managed to consume 13 bottles of water, 2 bottles of Powerade, 4 rolls, 5 bananas, 6 apples, 2 chocolate bars and 1 packet of Jelly Beans.

Round 7 started fine. The course was busy as people headed out after a day in the office, or a day with the family. I got through 3 groups by the tenth hole and thought I might be able to improve on round 6’s time. But that was not going to happen.

Round 7. Hole 119. The roadblock.
I walked up the hill to the 12th tee and stood next to 4 middle-aged men playing a foursomes tie. As I had done all day, I didn’t impose on them, or “ask” to play through, but simply stood ready for the approval. For the next seven holes, I waited on every shot, and stood by them on every tee, and they didn’t acknowledge or speak to me once.

Caught up in their match perhaps, or possibly irritated by my continued pace behind them, they went about their business and didn’t bat an eyelid in my direction. Needless to say, I wasn’t overly impressed with their attitude, and whilst I managed a level-par 72 score, the 162 minutes was going to help my timing. 

The round was highlighted by a close hole-in-one attempt on the par-3 17th, that hit the hole and finished a couple of feet behind the hole. Safe to say if it had dropped, there were four middle-aged men that would not have been offered a drink in the clubhouse…

Round 8. Hole 130.
With the clock on the clubhouse reading 8.45pm, and light already dwindling, I gave my dying phone one last boost and waddled back towards the first at 9pm. Knowing I was going to be in a battle against the light, I broke into a light jog between shots and followed back into my opening round routine of keeping my bag on to putt and removing the flags only when needed.

My legs were fading, and my jog was more of an limped skip as I just did whatever I could to get done. 2 lost balls and a loss of enthusiasm resulted in my worst score of the day. In fact, my 8 foot par-save on the last hole capped off 80 shots in 75 minutes. Time: 10:15pm.

My dad was there to meet me at the end, both to make sure I survived the final round and to transport my body back to my flat.

I really didn’t feel terrible, just mentally and physically fatigued. My right heel had started to hurt during the middle of the day, so I changed from my golf shoes into my trainers for the last couple of rounds.

Chaffage had been the main obstacle throughout the day. The heat and constant walking had taken it’s toll and gave me a good indication of how it will be on June 27th. Shopping list priority: Baby Powder.

In total, I had played 144 holes, needing 598 shots, scoring 98 pars, 24 bogeys, 12 birdies, 7 double bogeys and 3 eagles, whilst loosing 4 balls on the day. I walked a total of 45.4 miles, in 18 hours 8 minutes, climbing 4,274 feet and burning in the region of 8,000 calories.

And that was just the warm-up! Stay tuned to hear how the final weeks of preparation go for the 10 round challenge in 3 weeks.

My donation page is almost at 50% with 3 weeks left. Please, please share the challenge and help the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Thanks, as always, to everyone for supporting. 

21 days...