TWO keen golfers are playing one hole on 44 courses across the North-East in one day to raise money for charity
The pair will cover 260 miles in 16 hours at courses from Eaglescliffe to South Shields to raise funds for Great Lumley-based mental health charity If U Care Share.
Jonathan Ward, County Secretary of Durham County Golf Union, will be joined by his friend John Austin for the journey in a new electric car supplied by dealer SG Petch.
Starting at 5am on Sunday at Ingleby Barwick near Yarm and finishing on South Shields’ dramatic 18th at around 9pm, Jonathan has timed his day down to a tee and, with the support of golf clubs has cleared the relevant holes - most in close proximity to the car parks - to get a clear shot to the greens.
The Durham City-based golfer, who plays off a 5-handicap, has planned for ten minutes per hole and is praying that the weather is kind and the roads remain clear.
At the halfway point, the Ramside Hall Hotel and Golf Club in Durham, where he will play on each of their two courses, a designated super-charge point will be at the ready to give the car a boost
The pair will keep sponsors updated on their progress on the fairways and highways through the Durham County Golf Union and If U Care Share Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.
Jonathan, 48, who is in charge of the County’s teams, championships, handicapping, and rules of golf, has long dreamed of completing the ambitious challenge.
He said he has enjoyed planning the journey with the help of Google maps and input from club captains, secretaries, pros and members, who have also been donating and organising other supporting events.
He said: “I have fancied doing this challenge for a while and often wondered if I would get the opportunity, but this is the ideal time and reason to do so and I’m really proud of the challenge we have put together.
“I can’t wait to get on the road, and the courses.
“I’ve done a couple of longest day challenges where you play as many rounds as possible on one course in a day, so that type of thing has been done before, but this is a new one.
“I am certainly not aware that this has been attempted before in County Durham.”
The event is being sponsored by SG Petch
SG Petch offered their support by providing the electric-powered Hyundai Kona and driver John Austin, a friend of Jonathan’s, who is group parts development manager at SG Petch in Darlington.
John is also chairman of The Darlington Golf Club, the sixth club on the route.
Jonathan said: “I’ve played all the courses at some point in the past and know them well so had a good idea of which holes were in close proximity to the car park, which is important for timing.
“I’ve given myself ten minutes at each course, which doesn’t seem a lot of time, but should be enough with a clear run.
“We cover 43 clubs from the Tees to the Tyne which are quite varied in their size and type, but they have all been very good to us in making sure we have access on the day, which I’m very grateful for.
“Only being a smallish county does have its advantages in that I have got to know all the clubs and their officials during the six years that I have been in my role.
“It’s going to be a long day but hopefully it will stay dry and I can enjoy playing on some wonderful golf courses. I’m really looking forward to it.”
The car dealership are sponsors of the Durham Golf Union Boys team, who recently took part in an online mental health workshop delivered by the If U Care Share team.
Durham County Golf Union President Tony Garrity has chosen the Chester-le-Street-based foundation If U Care Share as the Union’s nominated charity for 2021 in memory of two Durham golfers, Will Alexander and David Ferries, who tragically lost their mental health battles earlier this year.
Will, 20, a member at Eaglescliffe and Rockcliffe Hall was a member of the County Boys team until 2019 and was studying in the United States when he passed away in January.
David ‘Fez’ Ferris was a popular and well-known figure in Jonathan’s home-town of South Shields and on the local golfing scene.
A close family friend of Jonathan, David’s mental health suffered tremendously during lock down which lead to his passing in March.
His daughter Caitlin plans to caddy for Jonathan down the final hole at South Shields where wife Faye and daughters Amelie, 11, and Grace, six, will be waiting.
Jonathan added: “I’ve asked Caitlin to bring some tissues with her because I suspect that there wont be a dry eye around when I complete the challenge.
“Everyone knows how close to my heart this challenge is and by the end of the day it could be rather emotional but I am really looking forward to it - and a good rest on Monday.
“I’ll be keeping score, just for a laugh, but I’m not expecting it to be great as I’ll be in a bit of a rush, hitting the ball and chasing after it jogging down the fairway and carrying a half bag of clubs.
“I’ll also have a few extra balls, just in case, but will ensure I hole out every time.
“I have always liked the 18th at South Shields so it will be nice to walk up to the top of the hill with Caitlin, whilst chatting about her dad, to play down to the clubhouse where there will be a few family and friends waiting around the green.
“We couldn’t have done it without SG Petch who have put logos all over the car.
“My car gets plenty of milage during the season as it is but this one should turn a few heads and it will be great to have John alongside me to keep me company, and do all the driving!”
To find out more about the challenge and to sponsor Jonathan, visit: durhamcountygolfunion.co.uk/charity