After more than 500 miles cycling on the roads and 10 Open Championship courses played in just over six days, ‘The Iron Golfer’ Luke Willett is asking for support to complete #TheGreatBritishOpenChallenge.
(Image: From left to right: Royal Birkdale Junior Captain Josh Fallows, Golf Foundation NW RDO Andy Leigh & ‘Iron Golfer’ Luke Willett)
As Luke holed out on the 18th at Royal Birkdale today (Thursday, October 24) he was making steady progress towards playing all 14 Open Championship venues as part of a gruelling 10-day, 830-mile cycling #TheGreatBritishOpenChallenge – carrying his golf clubs – to raise funds for the Golf Foundation: putting his body on the line to support this charity that changes the lives of young people by introducing them to golf.
So far Luke, a PGA Professional at Hampstead Golf Club, has endured mammoth sections of cycling in sometimes “nightmarish” weather conditions on often dark and unfamiliar roads. He has been soaked to the skin by passing lorries and cars and gone through periods of exhaustion and severe muscular and mental fatigue. Luke now needs the backing of golf-lovers everywhere who understand the benefits of supporting the next generation of young players and helping national charity the Golf Foundation. All donations are welcome regardless of size (see end for details).
After striking his opening tee shot just after dawn at Carnoustie Golf Links last Friday, Luke cycled to St Andrews and with just his four golf clubs (3 wood, 6-iron, wedge and putter) shot 73 on the Old Course before enduring 60 miles of cycling in torrential rain, flooded roads and heavy traffic to Edinburgh. Says Luke: “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 before completing his Scottish odyssey on Monday in sunshine at Trump Turnberry. After Royal Portrush on Tuesday it was back over to England on the ferry to play the six English Open venues which will finish at Royal St George’s on Sunday, October 27th; these being Royal Lytham & St Annes yesterday, Royal Birkdale and Royal Liverpool today, then Royal Cinque Ports, Prince’s and St George’s at the weekend after the long ride to Kent.
Vanessa Bell, Head of Fundraising for the Golf Foundation, said: “The whole Golf Foundation team has been hugely impressed with Luke’s spirit and energy, and 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 said: “I have never experienced anything like the conditions I did on the Friday night; 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 staffs, 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 #TheGreatBritishOpenChallenge will go directly to helping more young people from all backgrounds to Start, Learn and Stay in the sport. The 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.
* If you would like to support Luke today, simply go to Luke’s JustGiving page.