Early in the morning on the 17th August 2021, four young men from Rustington Golf Centre set out on the arduous journey of completing 72 holes of golf in a single day, in aid of cancer research UK. This is the story of how their day unfolded.
72 Hole Charity Challenge
Jake Dunstan, Sam Archer, Jacob Watson and Ciaran McCaughan set off at 5:55am to start their first round of golf. The start of the round was tentative, with only a few loosening up swings each player nervously took a club from their bag and sent a shot down the first hole. Watson, a student, more adapted to late nights and afternoon lectures than early morning tee times found his opening few holes frustrating, and an early club throw set the tone for his first round. Little did he know that he would go on to post the lowest score of the challenge later that day. McCaughan and Archer found early success with the putter and posted a few birdies between them on the front 9. Jake Dunstan, one of the Centre’s PGA professionals felt the early pressure, having run a competition for his students to guess his cumulative score across the four rounds, Dunstan was trying to live up to some ambitious guesses, some as low as 85. We know that our PGA professionals are good, but with a cumulative Par of 280, shooting 195 under Par is something even Tiger Woods may struggle with around Rustington. Regardless of the expectations of his students, Dunstan’s philosophy in the early holes was to swing easy, conserve his energy and keep the ball in play.
With an empty course and lots of golf to be played, the group put their foot down and the first 9 holes were completed in just over an hour (something of a record for a four ball around Rustington). The back 9 started before regular play for the day began and the team completed their first 18 holes in just 2 hours and 15 minutes.
Keeping track of the best score on each hole between them, the team posted an impressive -6 under par first round with Gross individual scores of 85 (Watson) 73 (Dunstan) 75 (Archer) and 78 (McCaughan).
The second and third rounds followed, and finding themselves in amongst a busy morning and early afternoon with a ladies competition and society groups all active, the team settled into a slower pace of play, allowing them to take more time over their shots and enjoy the golf. Joined by club legend John Flory and RGC Marshall Mick for moral support the boys moved to post a better ball score of -6 under par on each round bringing their total to -18 under for the first 54 holes.
The late summer sun was starting to fall lower in the sky as play commenced on the final 18 holes of the challenge. It was 4:50pm in the evening by this point and each player was feeling the ache and strain of walking and playing golf for over ten hours. Remarkably and much to the surprise of the players, the level of golf did not decrease as the day went on but in the case of Jacob Watson, his game got better and better. Watson shot the days best score of 71 in the final round.
Having played consistently all day, coming off the 16th green, Jake Dunstan remarked smugly how he had been using the same ball all day and hadn’t lost it. As many of us know, the golfing gods are a cruel bunch and it seemed that Jake angered them with his throwaway comment as his tee shot off the 17th flew short and right into the lake. Dejected, Jake finished his round and the 72 hole challenge with a cumulative score of 298 shots (+18). The lucky winners of his guess the score competition, Graham Evans and Emma Miller, can look forward to a free 9 hole playing lesson with Jake.
The team rallied to try and beat their best ‘better ball’ score of the day. Having scored –6 under par on each of the previous rounds it was a birdie on the last from Ciaran McCaughan that gave the team a final round better ball score of -7 under par taking the total from the day to -25 under, a score that all them could be proud of.
Finishing the day at 8:20pm, the boys had finished the challenge in a little over 14 hours. Much to the disappointment of Dunstan and his calls for a celebratory night out in Brighton afterwards, Sam, Jacob and Ciaran left for bed, leaving Jake to party on his own.
Jake, Sam, Jacob and Ciaran would like to thank all of you who kindly and generously donated to the cause and are happy to say the total raised including gift aid was £2637.
The team are already planning another golf challenge for 2022. The rumour is that 100 holes of golf may be played next time.