Youth on Course 100 Hole Ride: A Golf Challenge Worth Investing In
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Mark Shone has participated in a half marathon and regularly runs 5K races in the Bay Area of California. However, he understandably suffered from a case of ‘cold feet’ five years ago after agreeing to a business lunch with a client and friend at a charity event which included 100 holes of golf in one day.
“It seemed pretty daunting, but a lot of people were doing it, so I thought, ‘This is something I think I can do,’ says the 56-year-old Allworth Financial partner. “But I’ll be honest , the first year was quite scary, a little unnerving.”
In early June, Shone and a few of his pals will hop on a plane to travel across the country to Kohler, Wis., to celebrate their five-year participation in the Youth on Course 100 Hole Hike, a golf challenge. which helps raise money to fund rounds for aspiring young golfers nationwide.
The Baths in Kohler is one of 11 premier course locations for the event in 2022, which also includes iconic locations such as Pinehurst and Pebble Beach. Those entering to play in the Premier slots will need to collect $10,000 instead of the normal $2,500 on the other estimated 40 national courses. In addition to 100 holes of golf at your chosen course, many of which are par 3 courses, Premier attendees will receive accommodation and a round at one of the premium golf destination’s award-winning courses. .
“The purpose of the ride is to directly support our program,” says Jeff Clark, Youth on Course’s director of development and the one-time charity campaign’s point man. “Our Youth on Course model is so simple because it’s all about access, letting kids experience all the magic that happens on a golf course. The kids show up and they pay $5 at the outlet and we turn around and reimburse the public golf course for an amount commensurate with their junior fee and go from there.
In 2021, Youth on Course funded 435,000 courses with more than 130,000 boys and girls in all 50 states, plus two provinces in Canada, taking advantage of the program.
“And we continue to grow hand in hand,” says Clark.
In just seven years, the 100 Hole Hike has grown from $20,000 to a goal of $3 million in 2022. This year’s goal is realistic as $2 million was donated last year.
The charity program took off in large part thanks to members of the San Jose Country Club, who spearheaded a membership drive — and challenge — for each participant to donate $10,000. The Private Club Members Challenge has raised $250,000 each of the past three years.
“We never thought it would be this big,” Clark says. “We have to thank the members of the San Jose Country Club for giving us the courage to try it, and once they gave us the idea, we started increasing it and it just blew up.”
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The hike, aka walk, is estimated at 24 to 26 miles, with around 800 golf swings to complete before dark. No carts are allowed.
“I always pitched it to people as ‘this is the hardest thing you’ll ever like’ because it’s a challenge,” Clark says. “I’ve done it five times myself and when you do it on a regulation course that’s between 6,000 and 7,000 yards, it’s a real physical challenge. It’s not about scoring, but it’s real golf; you play one ball on each hole; you don’t stand on a tee and hit eight balls off the tee.
“And you walk, but you don’t have to carry a full bag. A lot of us on staff play with one club because it’s a lot faster. Think about it, you’re playing 5½ rounds of golf , and depending on the date and the sunshine you have, it is a real challenge to complete.
Last year, arguably the greatest feat was achieved by a band playing at the Dunes Club in New Buffalo, Michigan. It took the quartet which included Roger Steele 14 hours to complete while covering an astonishing 30 miles.
“This year, I plan to lobby everyone I meet to go on the hike,” says Steele, who raised more than $50,000 last year. “It’s the toughest golf event for most of us. It was challenging, exciting and, towards the end, frustrating, but being able to put money behind the dollars made the contribution more real. Anyone can write a check, but who’s willing to put the time and energy into their money? It makes a huge difference.”
Meanwhile, Shone will be playing a par-3 course this time around, but his first 100-hole touring experience was recorded at the hilly Claremont Country Club outside of Oakland, Calif.
“That was something,” he said. “Let’s just say we’ve learned a lot over the past five years. You must dress properly; you should bring a change of clothes as the weather can change in a matter of hours; we wear tennis shoes now; you’re not trying to score; you’re just trying to get out of it. Now we see the rookies come out and they have a full sack and are trying to shoot a score and we always say the same thing to each other. “Oh, first year, good luck.”
“The purpose of what you’re trying to accomplish for kids pushes you to the end,” adds Shone. “You have a lot of people who have committed money, so what is your choice but to continue no matter how tired you are. You start spinning who gets the ball from the hole because bending over to get the ball from the cup at hole 85 is really hard. And you’re aiming away from the bunkers like crazy because that’s the worst, getting in and out of a bunker at hole 83 is just not a good thing.
Shone says it takes him about three days to recover from the experience, with his lower back and ankles suffering the most.
“It’s like walking on two sprained ankles for a week,” he says.
Despite the grueling test of endurance in golf, Shone always frees up her schedule to participate in this charity event.
“Some of the most important things kids need to learn are patience, perseverance, social communication and a network that golf builds for them,” says Shone. “Playing golf means they’re not on their phone, they’re not watching TV or playing video games, they’re actually with other kids and they’re outdoors. And there’s the athletic part and the exercise. Youth on Course and the 100 Hole Hike are about so many things that speak to me.
Golfers interested in taking on the 100-hole hike challenge to support affordable access to golf for Youth on Course members can explore the Premier and Open Hike sites and register at youthoncourse.org/the-100-hole- hike.