The Hike was done at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail site in Mobile, Magnolia Grove. Trying to walk a Trail course once, even one of the Short Courses, is tough enough, it's tough to imagine the difficulty in trying to walk the courses six times. Overall, I ended up walking about 23 miles in order to complete the Hike. My feet and legs were hurting in multiple places, as I suspect was the case for all Hikers. Magnolia Grove has three courses on site, the Short course, a handy little par 3 course, the Falls course, a nice out and back loop design, and the Crossings course, a very open course that hosts the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic. My route took me to the Short course first, then to the Crossings, Falls, and then back to short for the remainder of the day.
The day started off much like all the other rounds I have played on the Short course, rather steady, making some pars and such, it took until the 8th hole to make my first birdie of the day. It was a strange birdie to make. I had told myself prior to the day that I was not going to take too much time lining up putts over 10-12 feet and only then lining up the birdie putts. Anything inside that, I felt like I had a decent chance of making, and I had promised to donate an additional $2 for each birdie I made. So in reality, the only putts that mattered all day were the birdie putts. The putt on 8 was about 30 feet and had a significant break, probably 4 feet. I took a quick look and hit away; I was almost startled to see it go in the hole. Really poor 9th hole, but onto the back nine...I shot 28 on the back nine, one over par, no birdies, for a total score of 60 on the first eighteen holes.
57:26 for the first 18 on the Short Course,
then 1:33 to get to the next tee on the Crossings.
Second eighteen was on the Crossings course. Very steady start, even par through 5 holes, went for the green in 2 on the par 5 6th hole, up and down from the greenside bunker for birdie. Now 2 birdies on the day, $4 extra. Bogey on 7, then two pars....even par on the front, pretty good scoring considering it took me about 52 minutes to play the front nine. As I was finishing up on the 9th hole, the lightning alarm sounded. I walked up to the clubhouse and was told it was a false alert...back to golf. Uneven start on the back, but I made a birdie on #12, 3 total, $6. The next hole is a short par 5, easily reachable in two shots with an iron in hand...I made par and was quite disappointed. But I made it up with birdie on #16, then a bogey and par coming in. Shot two over on the back. But two more birdies, so now $8 total in the birdie pool. Played the round in under two hours, which is quite quick on this course.
Third round started on the Falls course, after a wardrobe change. Played through a group after my 5th hole on this round, asked them if they'd be willing to give a couple bucks to the Ronald McDonald House, all 3 broke out their billfolds, boom, extra $20 raised that I wasn't anticipating. Made two birdies on the front nine en route to shooting even on the front. Six Birdies: $12 in the pool. The back nine was rather troublesome, my back started hurting quite a bit and the worse it hurt, the less I cared about making solid swings, sadly. But I still ended up tooling it around the back nine at 5 over par. I played the same golf ball for the first 52 holes...hit a shot slightly too far right on the 53rd and couldn't find it. I was quite sad. Spent 2-3 minutes looking for the ball and this kept me from playing my third round in under 2 hours.
1:52:04 for 18 on the Crossings course, 12:07 freshening up,
2:02:48 for 18 on the Falls, I REALLY wanted to get this in under 2 hours,
27:25 for a bite to eat, then 31:19 for 7 holes on the short, plus the ride back to the clubhouse because of lightning
After I finished on the Falls, my wife was kind enough to be at the club with a Subway sandwich for lunch and I took a short break prior to going back out. It was getting very hot, so it was a good time to take a break off my feet and just generally rest a moment. Once I was done, it was back out onto the Short course. I was playing decent through 7 holes, but had made no birdies, when the lightning alarm went off again. Had my wife not been out there with me, riding in a cart with my son, I probably wouldn't have walked back in as 7 is a substantial distance from the clubhouse, especially walking. So, 61 holes down and back to the clubhouse in 6:04:45 as you can see above.
I figured this rain delay wouldn't be long and I had some family members and a co-worker coming out to help me in my afternoon rounds. Well, the delay kept going and going. I stuck it out in the clubhouse for the entire time and it ended up being around 4pm before we were able to get back out. My co-worker, TJ, had hung around and he came out with me and caddied for the final rounds. The difference in actually having someone out there walking the course with me, just someone to talk to, was pretty huge. The fifth round was completed very quickly, I did not time it, but I can't see it taking more than 50 minutes...but perhaps the time just passed faster with someone else out there. Nothing special, two birdies, though the birdie on 17 was interesting. My shot from the tee didn't look very close at all from the tee, looked to probably be over 25 feet away. TJ just took off for the 18th tee and I just said I'd take a rap at my putt with my wedge. I get up to the green, ball is about 10 feet away. I was rather irritated I didn't have my putter, but TJ was all ready near the 18th tee, probably 75 yards away, so I didn't call him back. Just bellied a wedge...right in the hole. Birdie, no big deal, we don't need any putters around here. Now 8 birdies, $16 extra. Shot 63 this round.
Played the final 18 of the day on the short course very quickly as well. Knocked in a long putt on the second hole for another birdie, played on quickly. Played very quickly on this side as well, probably finished in under an hour again, to be sure, and birdied 18 for #10 on the day. $20 in the birdie pool.
After this, we were to 97 holes. I saw no need to try and play the last three on the Short course when the real courses were available, so we went off on the Falls course since there is a very easy three hole loop playing holes 1, 2, and 18. Made par on the first two, the I tried to go for to go for the green on 18 in two. I wanted to make one of those $20 bonus eagles to close out the round. Didn't work...ended up making bogey to close out the round. Wanted to finish on a high note, but it just didn't happen. So after about 9 total hours on the course, plus a 4+ hour rain delay, I'd finished 100 holes.
There probably was time enough to play a few more holes, but the combination of having been at the course since 5:30 am and being pretty much the last person at the course holding up the staffers (having been in both the outside and inside staff positions, I know I'd have been irritated at someone staying all night playing like I was) I decided to call it a day once I got to 100.
But this has been quite a rewarding experience. I've learned that in many things, I need to stop finding excuses not to do something, and find reasons TO do something. I've learned that some of the people you wouldn't figure to contribute anything, for any number of reasons, often become the ones who find reasons, and that the people you might think would "beat down the doors," so to speak, in order to contribute, wind up being the ones who find excuses. And I've learned that the feeling you get from knowing you've helped people is better than the awards that may come from it.
This was very rewarding and I will certainly do it again next year.