Six personnel from RAF Coningsby, in Lincolnshire who either fly or provide engineering support for the Typhoon fighter jet have raised over £1600 for the debilitating Motor Neurone Disease by playing 100 golf holes over five top courses in Lincolnshire in less than 18 hours in one day.
Pilots Guy Lockwood, Neil Battersby and engineers Macca MacDonald, Greg Kemble, Ginge McDonald and Stu Bell - all from No.3(F) Squadron played the Hotchkin and Bracken courses at Woodhall Spa, Blankney, Boston West and Boston GC (all clubs waiving the normal green fee) on the year's longest day (June 21). This is their story.
OUR EPIC DAY started very early with a 3 am alarm call and a tentative look out of the bedroom window for a weather check. Despite the darkness, conditions looked calm and reassuringly ideal for golf though the prospects of non stop golf for at least 18 hours was a little daunting.
I was pleased with my decision to pack the car the night before, followed by the 20-minute drive to Woodhall Spa, while constantly tuned in to ‘Lincs FM’ for weather updates which didn't sound promising.
Appropriately, with the time approaching 4am it 'dawned' on me just what am I doing driving to a golf course at this time in the morning? The answer: Charity mate!
For the uninitiated, it's a format where we all drive and then choose the best position from which to take the next shot in turn until the ball is finally holed out.
Due to operational commitments, as 3(F) Squadron are the RAF’s first operational Typhoon Squadron, we had a couple of changes to the batting order a week prior to the event but it didn't affect the commitment to our challenge.
Despite a couple of late arrivals, we were primed and ready to go by 4:04 am on the first tee of Woodhall Spa's Hotchkin course - rated one of England's finest inland layouts.
Guy took it upon himself to tee off first, wearing white canvas trainers to protect his feet (not too smart and idea with the amount of morning dew on the ground) and to my surprise melted one straight down the middle. My pitch to within 12 feet and Neil’s long putt gave us the perfect birdie start.
We explained: 'Why else would we be playing golf at stupid o’clock in the morning if it wasn't for charity?' Anyway why was he walking his dog at this time?
We were all upbeat and the banter was flowing - at least up to the 11th tee when Guy put a major morale spanner in the works when he observed : ' Ten down, 90 to go.' It suddenly hit home at just how big a task was ahead of us. Cheers Guy!
By 6:15am and we'd completed our first round was over at seven under par. Behind us, Greg, Stu and Ginge came in at one under. A steady start all round.
By 6:26am we were ready to tee off on the Bracken course with the weather still ideal, though I was still carrying my waterproofs. My first drive was a peach, as was the approach and then a six-footer. Another birdie start to the round. The good golf continued until the fifth where we dropped our first shot of the day, which was not bad after 23 holes. We got it together again and finished up five under par.
Suitably sated we headed for undulating Blankney - a 20 minute drive from Woodhall Spa - and potentially a course that could break our spirits.
Several four-balls, patiently waiting on the first tee whebn we arrived at 9.30, kindly made way for us sand thanks to the professional who drove ahead of us in a buggy our way was cleared to complete our rounds in good time. It proved a tough examination and we finished four and three under par respectively.
Refreshed by chip butties and beers, we courtesy of Blankney Golf Club, we were encouraged by having passed the halfway mark by 12.30pm - an hour ahead of schedule - 54 holes played, 46 to go!
After a couple of diversions to collect packed lunches from RAF Coningsby, we arrived at Boston West to tee off at 2 pm as black clouds started forming (though I was still carrying my waterproofs) without needing to wear them.
However, fatigue was starting to set in and through the first few holes it was noticeable that the banter had ceased, morale was low and conversation had almost stopped. Neil and I had our spirits lifted slightly when it was obvious Guy was in discomfort due to ill-fitting underwear. We shouldn’t have laughed really but it was very funny and fair play to him, he played through the pain barrier for the next seven and a half hours and kept us amused with his comedy walk!
In fact, it could have been the first of many flypasts throughout the day. Allegedly we had one at Blankney when we were at Woodhall then later had one at Boston when we were actually at Boston West! But we agreed that’s what happens when you take away the navigator and put a pilot in a single seat aircraft. It’s the thought that counts.
My relief was plainly visible when we arrived at Boston for the final leg of our epic journey. It's my home course and I felt like we were nearly there and still it hadn’t rained. We got through the first 10 holes, then returned to the first tee to complete the last 18 holes and achieve our 100 target.
Standing on the 10th tee for the second time was the landmark we had been looking for since Boston West - 91 down only nine to go.
By now it wasn’t about making birdies, it was about surviving to the end. Though a drop of rain hit me on the arm with three holes remaining I was determined to keep going without using them.
To mark our achievement we thought it fitting that on the 18th tee, our threeball should tee off simultaneously and, fortunately, one of us made the fairway, enabling us to finish in level par. Our other threeball finished shortly after and we celebrated in at least keeping dry.
As the rain and darkness moved in, we noticed it was 9.27pm - 17 hours and 23 minutes since the first ball was hit and our threeball was satisfied in completing 100 holes in 30 under par. The other guys were 21 under. At 51 under after 200 holes was very pleasing, especially as we were an average of 3.625 shots per hole and had all walked over 50 miles.
A big thank you, finally, to the golf clubs for their hospitality, Bae Systems for supplying the team with t-shirts and to all the people who sponsored us. If others would like to donate to this worthy charity, please visit : www.justgiving.com/100_holes.