A month ago, PGA Professional Luke Willett, ‘The Iron Golfer’, told national charity the Golf Foundation that he could devise and complete a unique ‘PEAK Potential’ charity challenge to remind everyone of the health benefits of golf, fire our sense of adventure to reach our potential, and raise some funds for the Foundation at the same time.
However, the Golf Foundation’s team was a little unsure Luke could climb the three highest Cumbrian peaks – England’s highest mountains – and also play 54 holes “near enough to par”, on three Lakeland golf courses, in just 24 hours.
After training with 11 marathons in 11 weeks, Luke tackled the Lake District’s famed mountains Scafell Pike, Helvellyn and Skiddaw, while also taking on three great golfing challenges of Windermere, Keswick and Cockermouth Golf Clubs, across one night and one day (August 22-23).
Luke finished his Lakeland challenge in 23 hours and 34 minutes.
At the forefront of Luke’s thinking was always the opportunity to demonstrate to young people connected with the charity that golf can be a part of life’s great adventure, miles away from the stuffy image of the game perceived by many non-golfers. Helping young people to reach their potential was also a driver for experienced PGA coach Luke Willett. In tandem, the Golf Foundation places a strong focus on developing life skills with its Unleash your Drive initiative which helps young people to improve their confidence, commitment and overall mental toughness through golf.
Was this golf’s most adventurous round of the year? Here’s how Luke did it.
Scafell Pike – three hours (ascent and descent), then Windermere Golf Club, 18 holes in 42 minutes and a score of 75;
Helvellyn – two hours, then Keswick GC, 18 holes in 55 minutes and a score of 80;
Skiddaw – 3.5 hours, then Cockermouth GC, 49 minutes and a score of 76 (at this final course Luke played the last nine holes in +1, after climbing three mountains and running 54 holes).
Overall: ascent 2900 metres; distance 47km, holes played 54… 23 hours and 34 minutes. It was effectively Luke’s 12th marathon in 12 weeks for this project.
Luke ran the mountains, ran the courses, holed out for many pars at speed, his only ‘luxury’ being to drive by car between each test.
Factor in also driving rain for most of the 24 hours, 70mph winds at the top of Skiddaw, the fact that Luke carried only three golf clubs for the above scoring, and the achievement perhaps grows in stature. Afterwards Luke praised everyone at the three Cumbrian golf clubs who welcomed him and supported his challenge, and said he was particularly touched when applauded by members of Keswick Golf Club as he completed his ‘middle round’ there.
The Golf Foundation team is delighted that Luke has selected them as his charity on this adventure. Donations at https://bit.ly/2lFLQbS will help provide life changing opportunities to young people using the power of golf, as the charity helps more youngsters from all backgrounds to enjoy the game.
Luke Willett said: “PEAK Potential was certainly my most adventurous round of the year and a fitting conclusion in completing 12 marathons in 12 consecutive weeks. My big aim was to get young people thinking about health and fitness through golf, to help them reach their peak potential. If anyone reading this is intrigued by my efforts, please donate to my chosen charity the Golf Foundation; help us to inspire more kids from all backgrounds to love golf and acquire life skills that will help them to cope with this changing world around us. Golf has great mental and physical health benefits. It’s a beautiful game.”
Luke added: “Battling over three mountains, while playing three rounds of golf, each in well under an hour, may sound extreme but in truth the experience could not have been more joyful. Each and every person I met was a real boost and those little one-liners as I ran passed surprised golfers always made me smile. On the final mountain, a lone hiker even became a lifeline for my good friend and photographer, when he had hit rock bottom, offering him her energy bars to keep him going. It reminded me just how much we do depend on one another.
“It was fantastic to meet the members at these three really welcoming golf clubs. Nothing was too much trouble and they all deserve a great thank you for their support. I’ll never forget the people from these three Cumbrian clubs: wonderful people.”
Golf Foundation Head of Fundraising Vanessa Bell said: “This was a highly imaginative, brave and athletic effort from Luke which really has shown us how golf can be part of life’s great adventure. Golf is a healthy game for all ages, a game for life, and no-one could have exemplified the joy of golf and benefit of exercise more within 24 hours than Luke has done. A huge thanks again to Luke from everyone connected with our charity, helping to highlight our work to change young lives through the power of golf.”
Following his latest epic golfing adventure, Luke is hoping to take his inspiring story into schools, discussing his training and spirit of adventure with pupils, before offering some golf coaching to encourage them to try the game.
Luke also wished to thank the team at apparel brand Bunker Mentality for providing some great all-weather clothing for his recent adventures.
Last year, Luke raised funds for the Golf Foundation via #TheGreatBritishOpenChallenge, when he cycled 830 miles around much of the UK to play all 14 of The Open’s historic golf courses, carrying his four golf clubs on his bike in all weathers, in just 10 days.
Donations for Luke and the Golf Foundation welcomed at https://bit.ly/2lFLQbS