Timing. Is. Everything.
Here are three examples of same--two good, one not so much.
In the early 80s, Lower East Side of Manhattan, I habituated the same lower-echelon fitness club as did a young woman with whom I had zero contact, though we were both regulars in the evening group fitness class. Thankfully my more-forward roommate asked her out, a bunch of us ended up going out together, the young woman and I found common ground outside the aerobics room, and Elaine and I have been contentedly married for more than 25 years.
In the late 90s we found ourselves newly ensconced in Savannah, just as the nearby Hilton Head newspaper decided they would hire their first-ever golf columnist. That job, which lasted more than a dozen years prior to budget cuts, served as the springboard for a wide range of magazine and internet feature work, six books and counting, and a gadabout lifestyle that persists to this day.
June 27th, 2012 was a glorious day in Savannah, the weather crisp and breezy, reminiscent of an early May dazzler in my native New England, not on the cusp of a Georgia July. But by the time I strode to the first tee at Secession Club in nearby Beaufort, South Carolina less than 48 hours later, the atmospheric conditions had gone from scintillating to suffocating, practically overnight.
The evening prior to the hike was fitful at best. Domiciled by my lonesome in the 25,000 square-foot Secession clubhouse, situated as it is on 200+ acres of dark, isolated and slithery Carolina Lowcountry, it was a restless night. No one to keep me company save the creepy little sisters from “The Shining,” who I imagined laying in wait down the dormitory hallway every time I unlocked the deadbolt in my room and padded down the corridor.
As day broke, at an hour when most men are lathering on shaving cream, I was turning the same trick, head-to-toe, with my industrial-size bottle of sunscreen. When I poked my head outdoors at 6:10 am, and was first hit with the stultifying warmth and heavy air that felt like a cross between cobwebs and cotton candy, I knew the day was going to be “Red-Rum,” or should I say murder…..
The first shot was fired at 6:40 am (amazingly, many of my fellow hundred hole hikers at different locations nationwide began their days at 4:45 am, which to me is pure insanity, and as many of you know, when it comes to insanity, I am an expert!)
I missed a two-foot bogey putt on the first, carding an ominous double-bogey 6. Thankfully the shaky start wasn’t a portend of the near dawn-to near dusk ordeal that unfurled from there, as I actually played reasonably well considering the pace, the heat, the 20+ miles on foot, and let’s face it----my utter mediocrity--the fact my golf swing has more flaws than a department store diamond. In order, I shot 83-86-86-82-81, and a final 9 holes of 38, including a triple bogey 8 on the 99th and penultimate hole. In perfect symmetry, I double-bogeyed the 100th hole, just as I had done on the first hole some 13 hours prior. The total was 463 blows, which was right in my prediction wheelhouse, as I estimated I would be somewhere north of 400, but hopefully below 500 shots in total for the day.
In summation, I managed 6 birdies, and an equal number of triple bogeys. I had 48 pars, 30 bogeys and ten double bogeys. I three-putted at least half-a-dozen times, and missed an equal number of easy putts I should have canned after chipping or pitching the ball pretty close to the hole. I lost 7 balls and incurred 8 penalty strokes. Not shameful, considering the five-and-a-half round total and a difficult golf course. The fact is a goodly number of my golf pals, both in the sunny south and up in Massachusetts, (they know who they are!) could easily amass the same total of missing pellets and penalties in a casual Saturday afternoon round!
Many of my comrades-in-arms nationwide (all of whom were 5—25 years younger than I) carried their own bags during their Hundred Hole Hikes, at least part of the day. I may be crazy, but I’m not certifiable—I had a cadre of caddies assisting me throughout, and I went through them like Liz Taylor went through husbands—quickly, casually, with little emotional attachment.
Some of my HHH colleagues claimed they drank 15—18 bottles of Gatorade during their day-long trudge, but I stuck mostly to water, a little coconut water, and eventually a bottle of PowerAde. I didn’t eat too much either—three bananas, a handful of Fig Newtons, a small bag of almonds, a couple of energy-gel packets, eventually some grapes, pineapple, watermelon, and during my lunch break (which included a quick shower) a shrimp po-boy sandwich.
I did make costume changes to rival Bette Midler on Broadway—going through three shirts, several pairs of shorts, five pairs of socks, and changing golf shoes three or four times as well.
As I trudged up the clubhouse stairs at day’s end, I was gratified to receive a lovely and enthusiastic ovation by a 12-person dinner party, still enjoying cocktail hour, who came out to greet me on the porch. Far better than the warm applause and photo barrage was the fact that all of these folks met little Liam Steffen, who was there to support my effort along with his Pippie Longstocking look-alike sister Amalie, and their parents, Joe and Janet.
After meeting Liam and speaking to Janet, learning about our fundraising efforts, much like you, most of this dinner group pledged to make a donation to Liam’s Land, which is an organization dedicated to funding research and hopefully finding a cure for Lymphatic Malformation, or LM—the disease that Liam suffers with.
I want to thank you for your supporting me in this once-in-a-lifetime display of madness, unless I gird my loins again next year, try and get all the way to 108 holes (six full rounds) and hit you up for a donation once again. But as I type this note, still woozy and somewhat out-of-sorts the morning after, an encore performance in the Hundred Hole Hike seems as likely as an invitation to play the Masters. But----you never know….as Janet Steffen wisely remarked at day’s end, “pain is temporary, satisfaction lasts forever!”
Please fulfill your previous pledge (or click on the 'Pledge to this golfer' button below to make one if you haven’t already) by visiting: http://hundredholehike.com/my-pledges . If you care to send a check, please make it out to:
Liam’s Land--P.O. Box 5715, Savannah, Ga. 31414 (Put HHH in the check memo)
Finally, if you have interest, here’s a story about the HHH in the local newspaper, written by a fellow who met me at the course at 6:30 am, and was with me literally every step of the way—we didn’t part company until nearly 9 that evening.
Lastly—here’s a TV segment on the HHH that aired in Savannah Friday evening:
Many thanks once again!