Friday 20th December, 5.00am and Massey Park Golf Club the there is a steady stream of cars pulling into the car park, headlights on in the predawn darkness. Even for golfers, this is a strange sight.
5.40am, hole 3, still before sunrise
Seven half asleep locals climbed out of their cars, said tired hellos and lifted golf bags and buggies out of boots, waiting for the first hints of colour to hit the still dark sky.
At 5.15am the first of the two team hit off the first tee box into the darkness in what was the first of seventy-two holes, 4 complete rounds being played to raise money for charity. The Cancer Councils “The Longest Day” Golfing Marathon event (part of the 7 Bridges event in October) is not for the golfing newbie. Its a test of your mind as much as it is a test of your fitness and stamina.
After a month of extreme weather in NSW, uncontrollable fires, smoke and dust storms and a week that had 40+ degree temperatures either side of the 20th, players were very lucky to have prefect golfing conditions, 20-28 degrees and partly cloudy.
Success in The Longest Day was always going to be about speed of play, this meant gentlemenly golfing etiquette of waiting for each individual players shot was out the window. We knew we needed to play fast and get around the course fast, so much so we all brought 4 complete changes of clothes in case we ended up running around.
Thankfully we were hitting straight and putting well, but what made it even better was the Massey Park pro shop allowing up to jump queues at 1 and 10 and club GM climbing into a golf cart and driving ahead asking groups to “clear the way for our charity golfers”.
Team shots at the start of Rounds 2 and 4 and still all smiles
Round 1 set a cracking pace, I wore my Race Across America Team Endeavour polo to pay respect to the greatest endurance race in the world and the team I filmed that completed it. Round 2 was equally quick, another 3 hours round, finished by 11.30am. Round 3, I threw on a Charity Challenge “Scallywag Cup” shirt, from their weekend away event at Barnbougle Lost Farm. On hole 14 of round 3 my wife perfectly timed a subway lunch delivery to fence running along the fairway. Now refueled and heading for home.
2.30pm and we teed off on hole 1 for the last time. An equally surreal feeling from 9 hours earlier, now on the 55th of 72 holes and exactly 230 shots later. The final round was just like the rest, 3 mates hitting balls, walking a golf course talking about life, love, family, work and everything in between. I couldn’t have done it with better guys.
Teeing off on he 72nd and an interesting lie from hole 21
The day was never about the score, but I still had an overall target total I wanted to get under, so for teh golfers reading this, here are the numbers.
My handicap is +16, Massey is a Par 66 (x4 rounds is 264). My goal was par + my handicap for 4 rounds. The thinking was its a short course, and there was limited pressure so 82 per round seems achievable. 82 x4 = 328.
Round 1: 77 (+11)
Round 2: 73 (+7)
Round 3: 78 (+12)
Round 4: 80 (+14)
5.45pm, hole 72, last green of the day
So many people have helped and supported our #thelongestday without them it would not have been possible.
Tony at Massey Park Golf Club for allowing us to use the course
All the guys from Concord Junior Soccer Club that made up the 2 teams
All the people that supported and sponsored the charity fundraising
"Cheers" 73rd Hole tasted pretty darn good