‘IRON Golfer’ Luke Willett is asking for support to complete The Great British Open Challenge having played 10 Open Championship courses and cycling 500 miles in just over six days.
As Luke holed out on the 18th at Royal Birkdale today (Thursday) he was making steady progress towards playing all 14 Open Championship venues as part of a gruelling 10-day trek, totalling more than 800 miles on two wheels with his golf clubs on his back.
Luke is raising funds for the Golf Foundation – putting his body on the line to support the charity that changes young people’s lives by introducing them to golf.
And he is appealing for the UK’s golf community to help him meet his financial target by sponsoring his efforts this month – from Fife to Sandwich, in Kent, where he will end his latest marathon.
So far Willett, a PGA professional at Hampstead Golf Club, has endured mammoth sections of cycling in sometimes “nightmarish” weather conditions on often dark and unfamiliar roads.
Luke has been soaked to the skin by passing lorries and cars and gone through periods of exhaustion and severe muscular and mental fatigue.
The 35-year-old now needs the financial backing of golf-lovers everywhere who understand the benefits of supporting the next generation of young players and helping national charity the Golf Foundation.
After striking his opening tee shot just after dawn at Carnoustie Golf Links last Friday (October 18), Luke cycled to St Andrews.
And with just four golf clubs – three-wood, six-iron, wedge and putter – Luke shot 73 on the Old Course before cycling 60 miles in torrential rain, flooded roads and heavy traffic to Edinburgh.
Luke said: “Each time a car flew past me it was like having a bathtub of ice cold water thrown over me!”
Arriving at midnight, Luke poured water out of his shoes before getting up again at 5.30am to ride to play Muirfield and Royal Musselburgh on Saturday.
Finally, better weather reached him on Sunday as he played Royal Troon and Prestwick on Scotland’s West Coast, before completing his Scottish odyssey on Monday in sunshine at Trump Turnberry.
After a ferry to Northern Ireland from Stranraer so he could play Royal Portrush, in Northern Ireland, on Tuesday, it was back over the Irish Sea to England on the ferry to play the six English Open venues, starting in the North West at Royal Lytham & St Annes yesterday.
He then made the journey down the Lancashire coast to Royal Birkdale and Royal Liverpool today.
Willett will finish at Royal St George’s on Sunday, after playing Deal’s Royal Cinque Ports, and Prince’s after the long ride to Kent this weekend.
You can support Luke’s incredible marathon by going to Luke’s JustGiving page.
Golf Foundation head of fundraising Vanessa Bell said: “The whole Golf Foundation team has been hugely impressed with Luke’s spirit and energy.
“We hope people are starting to realise just how mentally and physically exhausting the challenge has been.
“We are a charity and hope Luke’s adventure can now inspire golf-lovers up and down the UK to put something back into the game for the next generation.
“We will be hugely grateful for any donations large or small in the days ahead – donating the equivalent of the price of a golf ball would be a brilliant gesture in itself.”
Luke, who hails from Buckinghamshire, said: “I have never experienced anything like the conditions I did on the Fridaynight. It was a bit of a nightmare and certainly a huge mental challenge after two full rounds of golf in the cold and wet.
“The cycling has been very tough but the pleasure of playing these wonderful Open Championship courses has been immense.
“This is the golf of dreams for any player. The reception from the golf clubs, their staff, the golfers and non-golfers, has been really staggering and humbling.
“Golf isn’t all about the number on the scorecard and that’s why I wanted to team up with the Golf Foundation and raise funds for them in this way.”
All funds raised by The Great British Open Challenge will go directly to helping more young people from all backgrounds to Start, Learn and Stay in the sport.
The Hertfordshire-based Golf Foundation reaches 500,000 boys and girls each year, creating a player pathway from school sport to the golf club environment and regular coaching with PGA professionals.
The charity wants to encourage young people to keep playing and keep developing the skills for life that the game teaches them.
•You can support Luke’s incredible marathon by going to Luke’s JustGiving page.