The 108

jcolton31's picture

Six years ago, the Hundred Hole Hike got its roots from the "Ben Cox 108". That's when I initially set out to play six rounds of golf in a day at Ballyneal for caddy Ben Cox. The funny thing is, the "108" part never materialized since we blew through that number early in the afternoon and made it to 155 holes. The 155 has more or less been my go-to number for every Ballyneal hike I've done since. 108 seems like a distant memory.

Honestly, one of the most fun and interesting aspects of that first golf marathon is that I really didn't know what to expect. 108 seemed like a stretch goal at the time. I had never walked more than 54 holes in a day. Then the Ben Cox marathon gained steam from a supportive golf community, and the motivation to reach and exceed 108 just took off from there.

Although I was doing my 11th hike for charity this summer, in many ways I approached the event with the same kind of anxiousness and uncertainty. This time, the uncertainty was caused by a basketball-related achilles injury back in January. As I wrote about previously, I started to finally feel better in May, leading to a commitment to give it a go and try 100 holes. But how would it stand up during the actual day of the event?

I ended up playing 27 holes and 36 holes over the two days prior to the hike, and by some divine intervention, my right achilles was a non-issue. It really felt fine (the only really issue with hiking is that my top walking speed is about 20% slower than before; I just can't move very fast before it hurts. In related news, getting old sucks.) I knew that 100 was doable and woke up the next morning at 4:00 AM with a renewed confidence. It was going to be a great day.

Most years, I get the honor of leading off the hike with a shot off the first tee around 4:45 A.M. This year, I swallowed my pride and deferred to Brandon Urban, knowing that there was no way I could keep up him (he is three years younger than me and 2-8 inches shorter, making it easier to maneuver in the strong winds of NE Colorado. Alas, more on Brandon in a bit.) I hit a skunky 6-iron at 4:50 AM and was on my way for HHH2017.

My golf game has been generally hit or miss this year and my golf for the day was nothing to write home about. I did make 7 birdies and grazed the cup on an eagle putt on the 4th hole in rounds one and two (bonus pledge opportunities lost). My scores were 83-77-87-82-82-91, which if you are doing the math is exactly 108 holes. Not quite what I would normally hope for, but still glad to be able to raise money for some great causes. And I ended up becoming the charter member of the 1,500-holes hike club after finishing the 16th hole of the 4th round.

[I ended up taking a two-hour break between rounds 5 & 6, simply because I decided to play the last round with my friends Wyatt (who caddied for me in Round 5) and Eric (fittingly, because it was Eric's pledge and encouragement back in May that got me out of my post-injury malaise and focused on the hike). Speaking of Wyatt, I had my best stretch of golf with him on the bag during round 5. After a middling start where I was +5 thru 6 holes, Wyatt declared, "I'm going to get you around in less than 77." In my mind, I was thinking "you're crazy, but whatever. I'll go along with it." Then I just let Wyatt start clubbing me and just tried to execute the shot at hand. I ended up playing the next 9 holes 2-under par. The highlight was on hole #10 when I was about 80 yards from the hole and Wyatt handed me a 4-iron. I proceeded to hit a low runner that would've made Tom Doak proud, ending up 15-feet away from the back right pin position. Sadly, the good stretch came to an end when we ran into a foursome on the 16th green and I had to wait awhile to hit my second shot. Throw in a minor caddie-player disagreement and yada, yada, yada, I finished the round double-double-quad to shoot 82. Those nine hole were magical though!]

I may have *only* played 108 holes on the day, but I did end up walking a few more...

On the second hole of my sixth round, a green-striped blur made its way down the rumbled fairways towards the green. It was Brandon...and he was on his eighth round of the day! It was only about 4:10 PM, so as he marched his way through us, we started to do the math. It certainly appeared that Brandon would easily exceed his 162 holes from 2016. He indicated 171 (9 1/2 rounds!) would be a decent and attainable goal. After I finished my sixth round, I texted Brandon and said I would caddy for him during his round 10. He may have had 171 holes in mind, but I had bigger plans for him. 181, which would exceed the previous HHH record of 180 holes in one day. He teed off at 7:25, leaving about 1:20 of daylight (defined loosely) left to get 19 more holes. Initially Brandon didn't believe it was possible. I dispelled him of that notion by the 3rd or 4th hole. He was going to get to 181.

Thankfully, Brandon played some real nice golf during his tenth round of the day (google that phrase and I bet this is the only webpage that comes up) and I was glad to have given him good reads on the 9th and 16th holes that led to birdies (the one on the 16th was particularly satisfying and somewhat surprising given Brandon's career stroke average on the 16th is something like 8.78. I contend that Brandon is the only person in the world to have birdied their 179th hole of the day, and I was thrilled to be a part of it. About 10 minutes later, he was joined by the his fellow Hikers and other members of the BN entourage to witness him play his 181st hole with a glow ball. What an accomplishment.

Reflecting on Brandon's 181 the next day, I decided to commit to joining the 181 club next year. I gotta do what it takes to get my achilles right, and also make a few lifestyle changes to get in peak shape for next year. And hope for another beautiful day at Ballyneal next year. And borrow Brandon's glow ball. I hope that you'll consider joining me on this journey.


This year, I'm hiking for three different great golf charities. If you feel compelled to support my hike, please feel free to donate through one (or all) of the links below.

Midnight Golf Program - provides golf training and life skills training to young men and women in inner-city Detroit. Donate here:

Solich Caddie and Leadership Academy - provides opportunities to young men and women through caddying at Commonground golf course in Denver. Donate here:

Evans Scholars Foundation - Chicago-based organization that provides opportunities for caddies to attend college at numerous institutions across the country. Donate here:

This Golfer's Participation