Golf pros play 100 holes in Park City to raise money for breast cancer research
Recently, Cynthia Brown got out of bed in the morning with a familiar thought in her head.
“Oh, no, here we go again.”
It had been about 340 days since she last had that sinking feeling in her stomach, the one that meant it was nearly time to go out and golf 100 holes in a day at Pete Dye Canyon Course in Promontory, as she had done for the previous eight years.
It is a fun but intimidating task, taking 11 or 12 hours to complete. She draws motivation by remembering the day’s cause — to raise money for breast cancer research and preventative services like free mammograms.
Admittedly, Brown embraces the day’s grueling nature by doing “absolutely nothing” to prepare, besides convincing people to contribute money.
Two weeks after the morning realization, Brown, a Ladies Professional Golf Association professional at Park City Golf Club, joined three other pros for the 100 Holes event, including Tom Rogers, director of instruction at Promontory; Vaughn Robinson, golf manager at Park City Golf Club; and Scott Flick, PGA golf professional at Jeremy Ranch Golf & Country Club. There were also four caddies — volunteers from the Playing For Life Foundation, the charitable nonprofit that hosts the event.
They started their marathon day in the dark, teeing off around 5 a.m.
“I couldn’t even tell what club I had,” Brown said, some 10 hours later. By that time, she and her fellow golfers were on Hole 78. The sun was up and shining, and the wind was picking up.
“Some of the holes, it takes you back to when you were in your 20s competing, and then all of a sudden you’re like, ‘What am I doing, where is the ball,’ and it’s in your hand,” Brown said. “It’s an experience and an adventure and it’s very mental.”
By a little after 3 p.m., Brown’s Fitbit had gone off twice, meaning she had already walked more than 28,000 steps. But it’s the demand for focus that makes or breaks a 100-holes round.
Because some donors give by the birdie and by the eagle, Brown and her fellow golfers take their role as fundraisers very seriously — their scores actually matter, for the donors, and for someone with breast cancer.
One sponsor pledged $100 for each birdie, and $1,000 per eagle.
“We’re doing this to find a cure in our lifetime for everyone,” Brown said. “Because we all know people that have had breast cancer, we all know people that have died.”
She and Tom Rogers had shot an eagle each by Hole 78 — Rogers hit one on the first hole, Brown on the 17th — and “a bunch of birdies.”
With fewer than 30 holes left, Rogers was two strokes over for the day, while Brown was seven over.
Which the two said was a pretty good day.
Rogers summed up the situation, saying “Cynthia and I are raising a pile of money. That’s what it’s all about.”
To go the distance, literally and figuratively, the crew had been gifted cart rentals for the day and free admission to the course. Janis Moore, treasurer of Playing for Life, decorated the carts for the event, as she does every year. This year’s carts were festooned with bows on the roof supports, bright pink tassels hanging down from the roof, and a pink feather boa along the back. A colorful blanket brassiere was slung over the front of each cart and stuffed to appear like a pair of breasts.
The golfers played through with an intense focus, taking minimal practice swings before hitting their shots and jumping into the carts for a lift to the next hole — they weren’t rushing, but they weren’t relaxing, either. Their demeanor, combined with the pink decorations, gave the event the feel of a resolute bachelorette party.
Brown said it was important for the golfers to pay attention to their bodies, so they were aware if one part of their body was tired and making their swings worse.
“Be present, for just a second,” she advised. “That’s all it takes to make a golf swing, so whatever’s going on, you just suck it up, stay hydrated, get your protein, and pay attention.”
Near the end of the day, things can get weird. There is often, Brown said, a sense of Deja vu, or confusion, brought on by the sheer repetitiveness of the event, which is exacerbated when approaching the final hole.
“It’s a bizarre feeling,” she said. “You feel like this is Groundhog Day, 100 percent Groundhog Day.”
Because of the nature of the 100 holes event — the matter of etiquette in passing golfers all day, the importance of respect for the course and for other golfers over so many holes — it is capped at four pros.
However, the 100 Holes event is really just a kickoff, the first of three events benefiting cancer research through Playing for Life.
On Aug. 1, the group will host the Swinging for Life — Greatest Race at Park City Golf Club, where a maximum of 80 four-person teams will literally race through 18 holes of golf.
“It’s not about how good you are, it’s about how fast you are,” Brown said. “You’re going to play a par 4 in under a minute, so how many people would like to play golf like that? You play 18 holes in 18 minutes.”
It is the exact opposite of normal golf, she said. The most important rule is that each team must travel as a unit — no one can pass the person who’s hitting the ball. So people line up behind the golfer, and as soon as that person hits, the team races to the next nearest ball. All pretense of skill, calm and seriousness go out the window as each team races to finish the course first — strokes be damned.
“It’s constant running and clubs flying everywhere and balls going everywhere,” Brown said.
There will be, according to Brown, margarita bikes that mix drinks as you pedal, a hole in one contest with a $25,000 prize, and a putting contest.
But most importantly, “there’s no seriousness,” she said, adding that there will likely be people in costumes.
That event, in turn, is followed by a gala at The Riverhorse on Main on Aug. 2, which will include dinner and live and silent auctions.
Back on Pete Dye, Brown said the team will technically do 109 holes, to celebrate each year that the event has gone on.
After finishing she noted that it would be some 350 days until she woke up with that feeling in her stomach that the marathon day was coming up again.
For more information go to http://www.theplayingforlifefoundation.org.
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