PGA Master professional John Mulgrew, well known to thousands in Scottish golf for coaching, mentoring, tutoring and developing the PGA Director of Golf qualification, plans to finish his round of Scotland’s Munros next month, raising thousands of pounds for the mountain rescue services that saved his life two years ago.
Ben More on Mull will mark the finish line of Mulgrew’s marathon ascent of allScotland’s 282 peaks over 3000 feet which he started 20 years ago with the summit of Ben Lomond.
“I’m finishing it on Mull because I have always liked its loose association with the name Mulgrew,” said the 64 year old from Uddingston, near Glasgow who plans to share the experience with friends and family, including four grand children in September.
His last summit will be a poignant finale to a two decade long expedition which nearly claimed his life.
In March 2009 Mulgrew was returning to his car from the summit of Sgurr na Sgine in Kintail when he made a map reading error, took a wrong turn and unknowingly headed back up another mountain.
Realising his mistake too late, in darkness he decided to press on until dawn when he hoped daylight would make route finding easier, “stupidly I carried on because I wasn’t thinking at that point.” Exhaustion set in, he grew colder and the last memory he had was checking his watch at 3.30am.
Mountain rescue teams discovered Mulgrew at around one o’clock the next afternoon, on Friday 13 March, “which for me was a lucky day”. By which time he had been unconscious for at least 10 hours and his core temperature had dropped to a life threatening 27 degrees.
“They had been out all night looking for me but in a different Glen, because I had gone off route,” he said. “But in the morning they found footsteps, then a walking pole which I had dropped, then eventually one of their dogs discovered me.
“There were 30 odd people from four mountain rescue teams involved, plus the RAF helicopter. That’s why I’m so keen to raise some big money through sponsorship, at least £10,000.”
Mulgrew is equally indebted to physio John Trevena who restored life to his hands which experienced such prolonged cold that he was afraid of losing all movement in them. “It would have been a disaster for my work in golf if that happened but he spent a lot of time working with me and they are great now. They do get very cold but I can still hit shots and miss putts as well as I ever did!”
This year Mulgrew has scaled up his mountaineering exploits, climbing 40 Munros in his most prolific season yet. At the same time he has been at the centre of training volunteers to work in clubgolf.
clubgolf has a workforce of some 1,400 volunteer coaches who are introducing record numbers of children to golf in over 300 Scottish clubs. Since clubgolf was launched in 2003 as a lasting legacy forScotland’s staging of the 2014 Ryder Cup, Mulgrew has trained and mentored over 500 volunteer coaches.
“Over 12,000 children were involved in clubgolf programmes at clubs last summer and most of them were introduced by volunteer coaches,” he said. “These volunteer coaches have been through the two-day course and after gaining their Level 1 qualification we send them straight back to their clubs and tell them to start coaching.
“For me the most important part is going to their clubs, watching them in action then giving them constructive feedback. They really enjoy it and it gives them a wee bit more confidence in what they are doing.”
Known in the golf world for his sensible decision making and calm, measured approach, Mulgrew has not let his accident sour his love of the hills. Instead, he was desperate to get back out but admits he has developed a healthier respect for them. “My big lesson is not to go out on my own”.
To donate to the cause go to: www.justgiving.com/johnmulgrewsmunrochallenge
Golf equipment manufacturers Callaway and TGI have also donated clubs and balls which John plans to use in a fundraising competition where people guess the time it will take him to climb Ben More.