With an opening tee shot on Golf’s Greatest Test® 401-yard first hole at 07.30 GMT today, Luke Willett, the London-based PGA professional known as ‘The Iron Golfer’, embarked on a unique 10-day golfing challenge to cycle to all 14 Open Championship venues carrying his clubs on his back and playing a full 18 holes on each course.
Raising money for national junior charity the Golf Foundation, #TheGreatBritishOpenChallenge got off to the best possible start with a fantastic £5,000 donation this morning from Carnoustie Golf Links. The charity has praised the “wonderful generosity of the Links and its staff”.
In all weathers, Luke will face exhausting cycle rides on unfamiliar roads in darkness and in light, while then playing the iconic golf courses associated with The Open. #TheGreatBritishOpenChallenge reflects Luke’s desire to encourage more young people to enjoy the thrills and adventure of golf.
Luke is playing 252 Open Championship holes during an 831-mile bike journey around Britain. The odyssey started at Carnoustie Golf Links in Scotland this morning (18 October) and will end in 10 days at Royal St George’s Golf Club in Kent. Supported by friends of the Golf Foundation, he hopes to play each 18 holes with a mix of junior players, top amateurs, professionals and club members.
He will be fundraising for the Golf Foundation as the national charity changes the lives of young people by introducing them to golf. The charity wants to encourage them to keep playing and keep developing the skills for life that the game teaches them. The Foundation believes this will not only change the lives of thousands of young people, but it will keep our game invigorated and successful.
Luke, 34, is a respected PGA coach based for the last three years at Hampstead Golf Club in north London. He is a strong supporter of young golfers and has carved out a reputation for taking on remarkable ironman-style golfing tests, including once cycling over the Lakeland fells, swimming three miles of Wastwater before playing Windermere GC in a single day.
#TheGreatBritishOpenChallenge is a significantly more difficult proposition. Luke said he hopes that all golf-lovers who have a connection with the wider game, and who understand the need to encourage the next generation of young players, will support him through his JustGiving page (see end).
He has prepared well for the challenge and will carry four golf clubs to help with weight issues on the bike. Luke is also grateful for support from Bunker Mentality – the popular golf and lifestyle apparel brand – for providing him with clothing to help him in a range of weather conditions.
“I am a great believer that golf is more than just walking around a course and playing 18 holes,” says Luke. “Adventure is waiting to be added to the whole experience either before, during or afterwards. I believe that this challenge will help make the sport more appealing to young prospective players and will ignite their imaginations. I’m delighted that I will be able to raise valuable funds for the Golf Foundation; we all want more young golfers in Britain and all the money I collect will go towards getting them playing the sport.”
Luke’s new challenge is through three countries and travelling on two ferries across the Irish Sea: 18 October, Carnoustie Golf Links & the Home of Golf, St Andrews; 19 October, Musselburgh & Muirfield; 20 October, Royal Troon & Prestwick; 21 October, Turnberry; 22 October, Royal Portrush; 23 October, Royal Lytham & St Annes; 24 October, Royal Birkdale & Royal Liverpool; 26 October, Royal Cinque Ports; 27 October, Prince’s & Royal St George’s.
* To donate to Luke’s JustGiving page, go to https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/greatbritishopen
Golf Foundation www.golf-foundation.org