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NORTON, Massachusetts – “It’s either a golfer’s dream or a golfer’s nightmare.”
That’s the phrase one local golfer is using to describe his upcoming cross-country road trip that will see him play 100 golf courses in 100 days, a distance of 9,368 miles from the first course to the last, in hopes of raising $100,000 for Alzheimer’s Research.
Beginning on March 14, Needham resident David Blakelock will begin his journey in southern California with a 1:00 p.m. tee time at JW Marriot Desert Springs Resort and Spa in Palm Desert – the start of a trip that will see him tackle golf courses in 25 states, as well as Washington D.C., over the course of the next 3+ months, with one 18-hole round being played each day – all while raising money for the Alzheimer’s Association and the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund.
His journey will take him from California to Nevada, down to Arizona, Texas, across to Florida, up the east coast, over to the Midwest, and through the northeast corridor before finishing his trip with three courses in his home state of Massachusetts in June – including his 100th and final round at Pinehills Golf Club in Plymouth on June 21 – the longest day of the year and one that has extra meaning in the Alzheimer’s community.
Inspired by a friend and former neighbor who took a cross-country bike trip a few years back, Blakelock, a retired entrepreneur, will pack up his clubs and head west with the ultimate goal of bringing awareness across the country to a deadly disease with no known cure.
“My mother-in-law died of Alzheimer’s back in July and my mother has early stage Alzheimer’s, so it has impacted both sides of my family,” said Blakelock, who has never taken a journey like this before, but knows the effort will bring much needed attention to a cause close to him. “I decided that I wanted to do something big and do it for Alzheimer’s, so I came up with this idea to play golf for 100 days, to get people’s attention and to try to create some awareness all over the country.”
It’s a disease that according to the Alzheimer’s Association currently impacts 5.7 million Americans – including nearly one in every three seniors – with numbers only expected to rise. Researchers say that the current trend will see as many as 14 million people with the disease by the year 2050.
That’s the reason that Blakelock is using this platform as a way to bring awareness to the disease – a disease he says impacts everyone in one way or another.
With plans having been in the works since last September, Blakelock’s “100 days, 100 courses” mission has gained even more recognition thanks to the generosity of Tee Off by PGA Tour, a company that connects golfers with tee times at courses across the country and the world. They’ve donated a foursome at each of the 100 courses he’ll play over the next three-plus months and have taken the reigns on the golf course logistics – which have helped him schedule courses he says he otherwise wouldn’t be able to get to.
“I gave the parameters to Tee Off and they said they’d select the courses and try to keep the drives reasonable so that I’m not driving too much every day,” explained Blakelock. “Having that off my plate allows me to focus on the other logistics – like hotels, cars, those type things to make sure I can get around.”
It has also allowed him to focus on raising money towards his $100,000 goal.
“One of the ways we are raising money is three of the four-spots in the foursome is being sold to people who make donations to these charities,” he added. “It will be 18 holes every day. We will play rain or shine. The only caveat is that if the pro closes the course, I won’t be playing. Other than that, I will be playing.”
As he explains, golfers can make a donation to play at any of the 100 courses along his route – many of which have received national recognition for their conditions. Each competitor who makes a donation to join Blakelock’s group at one of the hundred courses will receive a gift bag from with offers from 100 Days 100 Courses sponsors, including TeeOff.com, Troon, Golftec and William Murray Golf.
100% of the donations, including those for the bookings themselves, will benefit the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund and the Alzheimer’s Association.
In addition to coordinating fundraising efforts and working with Tee Off by PGA in scheduling the dates and sites, Blakelock says he has been preparing physically for what will surely be a grueling challenge.
Before he even announced his desire to begin this journey, he wanted to ensure that body could handle the idea of playing a round of golf for 100 straight days.
“Last fall, in September, after I came up with the idea, I went out and played 10 rounds of golf in 10 days to see how my body reacted. When I finished the 10 and I woke up on the morning of the 11th, my wife looked at me and asked how I felt, explained Blakelock. “I felt good and [wanted] to go out and play again. That gave me the confidence to go out and do that.”
Since his first 10-day test, the 57-year old Blakelock has been putting in extra effort to ensure his body will be able to handle the added workload.
“I work out at the gym three days a week, I do yoga, I do barre classes to try and work on my core and things like that just to make sure my body can handle it every day,” Blakelock said. “I also play golf three or four days a week at Golftec. I’ve put my body through the ringer to get ready.”
As Blakelock mentions, Tee Off has scheduled all the courses he will play during the 100-day journey. After receiving the itinerary, he says there is no question they did a good job putting the list together.
He says, “There is some great courses. They have put me on some wonderful, wonderful courses. I’m actually kind of fortunate that I turned this over to them because I would not have selected courses this nice. They’ve done it better for me than I could have done for myself.”
Among the top ones he looks forward to, and ones he hopes donors will enjoy, include PGA West and Maderas Golf Club in California, Las Vegas Palute Golf Resort and TPC Las Vegas in Nevada, Laughlin Ranch, Quintero Golf Resort, Phoenician, TPC Scottsdale in Arizona, Valley of the Eagles Golf Club in Cleveland, as well as Mansion Ridge in New York, Equinox in Vermont, both the Stadium and Dye’s Courses at TPC Sawgrass.
“There are a lot of nice ones. They’ve done it right by me.”
Blakelock admits that by no means is he a top-of-the-field competitor and although he has improved his handicap significantly over the past 18-months, what he loves about golf is that you don’t have to be the best of the best to play against other great golfers.
“That is one of the great things about golf,” he explains. “With the handicap system, anybody can go out and play. You can have people with different handicaps play together and still make it fun. My handicap right now is a 15.6. I’m pretty happy with that because a year and a half ago, I was a 26.8.
If people are signing up to watch me play golf, they’re going to be surely mistaken because I still hit it into the woods occasionally. You can have a good time out on the golf course, no matter what your handicap is.”
When Blakelock proposed the desire to take on this challenge for Alzheimer’s awareness and his desire to begin his journey in southern California, the Alzheimer’s Association requested that he conclude his trip on June 21 – the summer solstice that correlates with the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere.
“That is their biggest day of the year – their biggest fundraiser day” said Blakelock of the Alzheimer’s Association’s request. That meant that I had to back up 100 days and that means I start on March 14.”
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, the marketing initiative behind the significance of June 21 is the idea that “The day with the most light is the day we fight.” It also encourages people around the world to participate in a fundraising activity on the longest day in hopes that “Together, the strength of our light will outshine the darkness of Alzheimer’s.”
You can make a donation to David Blakelock’s 100 days 100 courses mission by signing up to join his foursome at one of the 100 courses he’ll be playing during his trip. Visit the website www.100days100courses.com for more information about how you can donate.