Luke Willett, the London-based PGA professional known as ‘The Iron Golfer’, is aiming to complete 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.
‘The Great British Open Challenge’ may seem Everest-like as 34-year-old Luke seeks to highlight the adventures that golf can offer to people of all ages, but the cause he is working for could not be more grounded. He will be fundraising for the Golf Foundation as the national charity works to change the lives of young people by introducing them to golf. All funds raised will go directly to helping more young people from all backgrounds to Start, Learn and Stay in the sport.
Luke is a successful PGA coach, based for the last three years at Hampstead Golf Club in north London. Meanwhile, he has carved out a reputation for taking on remarkable ironman-style golfing tests and his latest goal is to play 252 Open Championship holes during an 804-mile bike journey around Britain. The odyssey for Luke will start at Carnoustie in Scotland on 18 October and end 10 days later at Royal St George’s Golf Club in Kent. Supported by the Golf Foundation’s team, he hopes to play each 18 holes with a mix of junior players, top amateurs, professionals and club members.
Luke asks that golfers who have links with each venue might support him with a donation as he plays; 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).
“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.”
Vanessa Bell, Head of Fundraising at the Golf Foundation, said: “Luke has a vision to introduce golf as more than a game: it’s an adventure. His efforts to make golf fun and appealing to entice more youngsters into the game fits exactly with the values of our charity. We are thrilled that Luke is undertaking this new challenge in support of the Golf Foundation and the funds raised will go into supporting our activities to engage with more youngsters through golf at the grass roots level. It would be fantastic for as many people as possible to support Luke and donate to this cause.”
Luke’s golfing career is full of adventurous accomplishments. He has long-been a speed golfer and has even made an attempt at the Speedgolf world record – his personal best is 121 (time in minutes plus score) – and some of his adventurous golfing exploits have become the stuff of legend. In 2018 he putted and chipped through famous London streets such as Oxford Circus and then completed ‘The Iron Golfer Challenge’ – a three-mile swim in Wast Water at the foot of Scafell Pike in the Lake District, followed by a gruelling ride that took in England’s steepest road Hardknott Pass and finished off with 18 holes at Windermere Golf Club, all in a single day.
In addition, Luke achieved his own version of the ‘Golfing Coast to Coast’, a cycling and golfing marathon that covered 130 miles from Silloth on Solway Golf Club in Cumbria to Goswick Golf Club by the North Sea.
Luke’s new challenge is through three countries and travelling on two ferries across the Irish Sea: 18 October, Carnoustie and the Home of Golf, St Andrews; 19 October, Musselburgh and Muirfield; 20 October, Royal Troon and Prestwick; 21 October, Turnberry; 22 October, Royal Portrush; 23 October, Royal Lytham & St Annes; 24 October, Royal Birkdale and Royal Liverpool; 26 October, Royal Cinque Ports; 27 October, Prince’s and 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
Pictured top Luke Willett (photo credit Fraser Taylor)