I was going to boast about my active day yesterday (cycling to the golf club early doors, 10,000 steps by 10 a.m. followed by tai chi and more pedalling) – but I’m too exhausted. And it would be shameful when there are two people who gave me – and everyone else at Whittington Heath – the runaround. Mike Raj, our head professional and Dan Whitby-Smith, one of his talented assistants, were busy setting a new Guinness world record for the most holes played in 12 hours. It’s subject to ratification but Dan and Mike played 320 holes – playing foursomes, in buggies, holing out every time – to overtake the old record of 290, set at West Kent GC last year.
As they do every year, the boys had devised a fiendish, physical challenge to raise money for the captains’ charity and this year it’s Acorns Children’s Hospice that’ll benefit from their exertions. They started at 0730 and finished at 1930, dusty and weary but triumphant. They’ll be sore today – and so’ll their drivers – because Whittington is all subtle humps and hollows, not ideal buggy terrain, more of a rodeo ride than a smooth tarmacademed trip. Fortunately, it was the day after the longest day that was also the hottest since 1976 (or whenever), so no one was going to collapse with heat exhaustion or dehydration and we ageing, ball-spotting foot soldiers could cope without water-soaked hats. sunbrellas and, for a while, breakfast.
It was just as well the temperature was kind because there was a lot of scuttling about as the main protagonists hurtled round. “They passed us five times,” one member said. “In the time it took us to play nine holes they played 36! Amazing.” One buggy gave up the ghost altogether; there was a flat tyre; a tight hamstring; three rounds of the almost 18 played were in the 60s; there were consecutive 2s at the 14th, where Dan holed out with a 9-iron for an eagle and the par 3 15th, where Mike holed from 12 feet for the 2. It was a magnificent effort. And it should raise a lot of money.
In fact, it’ll have to raise a lot of money because according to Sarah Vowron, Acorns community fundraiser, it costs £850 to provide specialist palliative care for a child for 24 hours and £7,000 a day to run a hospice with 10 beds. Expensive but a little bit less than the billions it’ll take to build HS2, the high speed railway line which is moving ever closer to cutting a swathe through our precious piece of Staffordshire heathland. But I digress.
The day belonged to Mike and Dan and if you’d like to donate anything, you can go to the Acorns Children’s Hospice Trust page on justgiving.com.