by Larry Coffman, for Marketing NW
This is the saga of four guys’ 33-mile trek over tough terrain that began at the crack of dawn and ended 16 hours later at last light, playing 72 holes along the way.
Participants in this unique odyssey at Chambers Bay Golf Course on July 1, 2019 are all members of the Trossachs Golf Group (more about that later). The four intrepid players were Peter Wengert, Michael Lynch (a Chambers Bay member and spearhead of what he called his “quest,”), Paul Schweitzer and John Scholl.
John had just over a week to prepare for the uncommon challenge (the original idea was a mere 36 holes on the June 21 Summer Solstice) and started six straight days of carbo-loading, during which he gained five pounds. He also stepped up his normal morning-walk regimen by adding a hill that matched the grades he’d encounter at Chambers Bay.
Michael scheduled the order of play and time targets for all 72 holes, a Rubik’s Cube that took into account the public would begin arriving early in the day and slow them down, if they had followed the normal sequence of holes. The routing was further complicated by their self-imposed rule that no hole could be played twice in the same round for each of the four rounds.
Michael said a re-routing in the afternoon, with the help of a porter (“Skip hole 13, go to No. 1, then return to 13 to complete 13-18 before 9:30pm”) was “key to our success.” John said another key was that “Michael buying lunch and a round of drinks for one of the foursomes we encountered going from No.9 to No. 10 in the afternoon helped us get ahead.”
They had begun playing from the 6,500-yard Sand tees the first round, did a combo Sand and the 6,000-yard White tees the second, a combo 6,900-yard Navy, Sand and White tees the third, and the Whites on the fourth. By the end of the day, John’s pedometer registered 65,825 steps, which translates to some 33 miles, equal to the distance from Chambers Bay in South Tacoma to the Renton City Hall, and that’s without all the elevation changes.
During the ordeal, John consumed nearly 9,000 calories, in every-two-hour mini-meals. All of the guys had their coolers with food and drinks strategically placed at the Oasis tents around the course, with the aid of the porters in their small electric truck-carts.
Chambers Bay is well-known for not allowing the traditional electric golf carts, despite the rolling terrain that goes from a low of 25 feet above sea level near the water to a high of 197 feet, repeatedly. And there’s one lone signature tree on the course, which is why John carried an umbrella on a dry, sunny day.
Note that John is pulling his cart up one of the many hills. He’s a sales exec at Rainier Industries, which is best known for its tent and awning products. He asked one of the workers in that section to make him a custom harness so he could pull his golf cart up the hills, in order to employ different muscles than those used in pushing the cart on level and downhill stretches. Talk about preparation.
The four all finished the feat without incident. John admits he “hit the wall” about 2:30pm but got his second wind and felt fine at the end. He finished blisterless, thanks to three sock changes and plenty of foot powder.
Knowing super-competitive John’s keen interest in scoring as well as I do, the most amazing thing to me was that he still had not added up the scores when we had breakfast two days later (when he was well-rested and five pounds lighter). He estimated that he shot an average of just under 100 per round for each of the four rounds. This only proved to me that the whole experience was about much more than a golf score to all four of the guys.
John still struggles to explain why he decided to undertake the challenge. “I guess the best thing I can say is that, once I agreed to do it, I felt accountable to the group.”
As promised above, Trossachs is a neighborhood on the Sammamish Plateau and this foursome, and others in the group who live there, annually demonstrate that they’re indeed gluttons for golf punishment by playing six rounds (108 holes) over four days (27 both Thursday and Friday, 36 Saturday and 18 Sunday) at courses like Suncadia and Gamble Sands.
P.S. Full confession: John and I have been serious golf buddies for the past 10 years and about five years ago invented a scoring game that we call Lewis (me) & Clark (him), for which we even have laminated rules. There’s also a rotating L&C trophy (which mostly rotates to John) that we award at an annual dinner for just the two of us each winter. And each year we go to Spokane during the British Open, playing our L&C golf competition during the day and watching golf from Europe at night.
John also is a legendary scorekeeper and statistician in our golfing group, having been known to keep the score of three games (Nassau, L&C and Stableford) among four players on a single scorecard! And even the losers look forward to his analysis of multi-day golf outings, replete with charts and graphs.
Larry Coffman is a former sales associate for the Pacific Northwest Golfer magazine, and has been in the publishing business for 52 years, writing for the Associated Press and The Seattle Times, and publishing the trade Marketing NW newspaper since 1986.