Hampstead pro completes marathon golfing challenge
Hampstead Golf Club PGA Professional Luke Willett is enjoying a well-earned rest after cycling 830 miles around the UK in his quest to play all 14 Open Championship venues in just 10 days.
The physically and mentally exhausting journey – which at times saw him playing 36 holes in a day and cycling 100 miles along busy roads in darkness and light – was all to raise money for the Golf Foundation, the charity that works to change the lives of young people by introducing them to golf.
Willett – no relation to Danny – said that cycling between the golf courses with a golf bag containing four clubs on his back was so tough that his play on some of the world’s most famous courses felt like a rest for his body. He started his epic journey at Carnoustie Golf Links in Angus on Friday, October 18, and finished in dramatic style at Royal St George’s in Kent on Sunday, 10 days later.
After holing the final putt, Willett was greeted by cheers and applause by club members, and fell into the arms of wife Sabrina and his three young daughters. Willett’s father Steve, who accompanied his son on much of the trip to ensure his safety and keep morale high, was also on hand to congratulate him. Golf Foundation Trustee Nick Bragg and club junior Jack joined Willett for the final round and laid on the Champagne after the 18th.
Willett said: “I have been so tired at times, but it does show how much the human body can do. This is a dream come true. Playing these wonderful Open courses has been a joy, as has meeting so many fantastic people wherever I’ve travelled.
“All of The Open venues are incredible courses to learn the game, but the great thing is that today many local clubs up and down the country offer children a great start in golf. I hope reading about this adventure will interest people of all ages, while igniting the imaginations of young people with a sense of the possible. I’m delighted that I am able to raise valuable funds for the Golf Foundation; we all want more young golfers in Britain and all the money I collect will go towards getting them playing the sport.”
Willett had to endure the worst of the weather in Scotland, where he had to cycle on flooded roads in the darkness on the 60-mile journey between Carnoustie and St Andrews. After playing in testing conditions at Muirfield and Musselburgh on Saturday, better weather reached him finally on Sunday as he played Royal Troon and Prestwick, before completing his Scottish odyssey on Monday in sunshine at Trump Turnberry.
After Royal Portrush on Tuesday and a 64-mile ride to catch the ferry back to England, he reached Royal Lytham & St Annes on Wednesday. Then it all got tougher. Royal Birkdale at dawn on Thursday, cycling to Hoylake with a ferry across the Mersey, a round at Royal Liverpool before a 58-mile ride in the cold and dark to Market Drayton. Willett then rose at 3am to ride 146 miles to London, before another 119 miles the next morning to Kent for the three neighbouring courses, playing Royal Cinque Ports on Saturday and then the grand finale at Prince’s and Royal St George’s on Sunday.
Vanessa Bell, Head of Fundraising for the Golf Foundation, said: “Our team has been amazed by the passion and courage of Luke and also the warm welcomes he has been receiving in the golf community. We hope Luke’s adventure can now inspire golf-lovers up and down the UK to put something back into the game by supporting our charity. We do need funds to change the lives of young people through golf. 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.”
Golf apparel brand Bunker Mentality provided all the clothing he needed for the trip, while among those providing accomodation, Prince’s Golf Club generously gave Willett and his family a room for the night and dinner at the end of the journey to help him recuperate.
All funds raised by #TheGreatBritishOpenChallenge will go directly to helping more young people from all backgrounds to ‘Start, Learn and Stay’ in the sport through the work of the Golf Foundation. If you would like to support Luke, simply go to his Just Giving page by clicking here.