100 hole marathon for golfing grandpa

Fifty nine year old Dick Whitlam will spend an entire day, from dawn to dusk, on the Chilliwack Golf and Country Club course.

Chilliwack Golf Academy instructor Dick Whitlam is tackling 100 holes in support of the ALS Society of BC.

Dick Whitlam knows he’s going to be sore afterwards, that his shoulders will be screaming at him and his back will be achy for days. But that’s the price he’s willing to pay to help a worthy cause.

The Chilliwack Golf Academy instructor is participating in the PGA of BC’s Golfathon for ALS.

On June 20 he’ll hit the Chilliwack Golf and Country Club course early in the morning and play all day — joining golfers across the province in a grand fundraising initiative.

“It’s going to be tough to do, but that’s the whole idea right?” Whitlam asked. “You put yourself out there by accepting the challenge, and that’s what makes it significant.”

The 59 year old is targeting 100 holes, with a 6 a.m. start.

At this time of year it’s light enough to play until 9-10 p.m., which, he thinks, will leave him with plenty of time.

“In the morning I’ll be able to get a couple rounds of 18 in pretty quickly,” he said. “The hard part will be in the afternoon when there’s a lot of people on the course. But I think they’ll be allowing me to play through, and if I can get through that part of the day, things will die off in the evening.”

Whitlam is collecting pledges, with money going to the ALS Society of BC.

“We started yesterday (Monday), and I’m over a thousand dollars already,” he said. “Most people are pledging 25 cents a hole, so if I make it to 100 holes that’s $25 per person. My aim is to collect at least $2,500 and I have a little under a month to do that.”

Whitlam’s asked around to see how other golfers prep for such a daunting physical challenge.

To get in 100 holes, Whitlam will have to play five and a half rounds. Shooting from the gold tees, the CG&CC course is 6,335 yards long.

Before factoring in a single shot, he’d be walking approximately 34,843 yards.

“When he was an assistant at another club, Brad Clapp (another Chilliwack Golf Academy instructor) teamed up with some other pros,” Whitlam said. “They played 24 hours and raised $14,000. But they were also 20 years old or less.”

Whitlam will try to play with equal parts pace and energy conservation.

While he endeavours to get around the course quickly, he’ll also tailor his usual approach to fit the situation.

“My thought is I’m not going to take a practice swing like I normally do,” he said. “And I’ll be taking three-quarter easy swings, trying not to hammer it, and conserve my energy.”

Doing the quick math in his head, Whitlam thinks removing the practice swings could be the key to survival.

“If you’re taking two or three practice swings before each shot, you’re suddenly going from 300 shots to 1,200,” he said. “I’ll really have to be careful not to swing too much. I’ve got a little arthritis in my right hip and lower back. I once tore the rotator cuff in my left shoulder, and around the third or fourth round I’m just going to have to tough through it.”

Having known people in his life who’ve suffered with ALS, Whitlam knows that whatever he faces June 20 will be a picnic by comparison.

Also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) is a rapidly progressive neuromuscular degenerative disease,  attacking the motor neurons that transmit electrical impulses from the brain to voluntary muscles in the body.

When these muscles fail to receive messages from the brain, they lose strength, atrophy and die.

ALS is ultimately fatal, and researchers are still struggling to find effective treatments.

“The association between the PGA of BC and the ALS Society is a good one, and this event is cool to take on,” Whitlam said. “Like many people, I feel I don’t do enough to help out. So what can I do? How can I help? This seemed like a good way to get involved.”

Anyone wishing to make a pledge can contact Whitlam through the CG&CC pro shop. Phone 604-823-6521 or (toll fee) 1-888-757-7222. Get more Golfathon for ALS information online at golfathonforals.ca