Kiwi golfers' worldwide mission makes a memorable stop at Hilton Head Island
HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. -- For a couple of New Zealanders on a mission of world golf, the longest round of the year ended on the 18th hole at Harbour Town Golf Links almost 12 hours after it started.
But you could never accuse Michael Goldstein and Jamie Patton of slow play.
In fact, the two junior attorneys completed rounds this year in less than 90 minutes, taking 12 months to conquer the world of golf and challenge themselves while raising money for the First Tee of New Zealand. But on this day, Harbour Town's finishing hole marked not only their 18th hole of the day, but their 18th golf course of the day in what would be known as the Hilton Head Island Composite Challenge.
As it turns out, when members of the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce invited Goldstein and Patton to play golf on Hilton Head Island, they knew the pair would only visit for a couple days. Since Hilton Head Island offers so much golf, they cooked up this idea for the Kiwi golfers play a hole on each of 18 golf courses.
It started with the 17th hole on the Arthur Hills Course at Palmetto Hall and ended in the shadow of the famous red-and-white lighthouse at Harbour Town.
Goldstein managed to reach the green of the difficult 18th at Harbour Town in regulation. His partner made double bogey. Both left exhausted after the longest round of golf in their quest. It represented their 158th round of the year -- and they're not even halfway finished, traveling from New Zealand to Australia, through the United States and eventually to Europe and Asia and before returning home to end the year.
"This will be a day we will always remember," Goldstein said of the challenge at Hilton Head. "It was spectacular."
Hilton Head Island officials greeted the 25-year-old players, both of whom play to about a 5-handicap, with champagne at the end of the round.
"We were glad to have them," said Cary Corbitt, director of sports and retail for the Sea Pines Resort. "They are really nice guys and good players. It's a tremendous task they're undertaking, a very unique idea benefiting a good cause."
Corbitt's resort provided three of the venues for the monumental day, including Harbour Town.
The quest sounds like dream golf vacation. Really, it's a lot of work.
The idea for the project was born in the fall of 2009 as Goldstein and Patton worked in Wellington, the capital of New Zealand. Having just completed internships as attorneys after years of college, they wanted to do something extraordinary while still young. So they cooked up this idea to play a round of golf every day for a year and travel the world.
As they started shopping their idea, the golfers received overwhelming support locally and abroad. They mapped out the details of the first couple of months of their journey, planning the rest on the fly, drumming up support at night through blogs and e-mails while scheduling more stops around the world.
"We thought we could make this work," Goldstein said. "It's an adventure. Life is too short."
The golfers have mostly funded their own journey, except for most of the golf and some of the lodging, which has been donated.
"We're really doing this on the cheap," Goldstein said.
When they arrived in the United States this spring, they bought a 1988 Dodge Ram van in Berkeley, Calif. The Dodgie, as they call it, has served as a real workhorse. At one point, they drove 22 hours straight through from Scottsdale, Ariz., to Dallas. When they can't find lodging, Goldstein and Patton sleep in the van. At Hilton Head Island, though, the community provided accommodations.
At some points in the journey, they've stayed in people's homes.
On June 6, the day before the Hilton Head Island composite round, they teed off at the Retreat Course, a Davis Love III design at Sea Island, Ga., shortly before thunderstorms hit. So they decided to head north on I-95 toward Hilton Head Island to find a break in the weather.
Then, the unthinkable happened: The van broke down.
Towed to Hilton Head, they found more storms ahead. At 6:20 p.m., their van in the repair shop, they actually set out on foot with their golf clubs, looking for a golf course so they could extend the streak. About 30 minutes later, they stumbled upon The Golden Bear at Indigo Run, a private Jack Nicklaus course on Hilton Head Island.
It started raining again, so they stashed their golf bags in the bushes, pulled three clubs apiece and started running. The round took less than 90 minutes. Somehow, Patton managed to birdie the last hole, perhaps a present from the golf gods; although on this day it Goldstein's birthday, not Patton's.
Their list of golf courses is impressive. For example, they played the TPC at Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. And after playing Hilton Head Island, they took on the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island, a former Ryder Cup site near Charleston, S.C., and by far the most difficult course they've played in the their journey, they said.
Their best rounds, though not their lowest scores, came in California. Goldstein fired a 75 at Cypress Point. Patton shot 76 at San Francisco Golf Club.
On July 12, they're set to fly to London, where they will get another car -- this one borrowed from a Scottish relative of Patton. Their journey will cover St. Andrews during the British Open and Celtic Manor in Wales during the Ryder Cup. Along the way, they continue to blog and gather support on their website, PureGolf2010.com.
You can follow their progress and donate to their cause. Their goal? To raise more than $100,000 in New Zealand currency for a First Tee program that began only a few years ago. Goldstein and Patton also document their progress on Facebook.
They have a long way to go, in both golf and fund-raising, but as they add more support, all their goals seem reachable.
June 8, 2010