- Golfer Benefits
NORTON, Massachusetts – The 100 Hole Hike keeps getting bigger and better for the team from Mass Golf as this year’s participants have come from far and wide and are raising more money than ever.
This week, 9 player completed 100 holes each in one day. On Monday, the first seven players faced damp conditions at The Links At Mass Golf, and though it required patience and many, many wardrobe changes, they were all smiles as they completed their century rounds inside of 6 hours. Two more completed their trek on Thursday, and one more hiker will do his on a date to be determined.
These marathon efforts support Youth On Course, which gives its youth members aged 6-18 access to play at any participating course throughout the Bay State and across the country for only $5 per round. This year, there were over 2,500 kids participating, and last week, the program reached a milestone of 20,000 rounds played across the state in a 3.5-year period.
“It’s appealing to people when they learn more about the Youth On Course program,” said Kyle Sherman, Mass Golf’s Manager of Member Events & Services who organized this year’s hike. “It’s a simple thing, but a very effective program that they’re out here to support.”
Monday’s hikers were a mix of veterans and rookies. Mass Golf Executive Director/CEO Jesse Menachem, completed his third hike as did Mass Golf Board Member Sally DeGan. Mark Gagne, Mass Golf’s Director of Member Services, who organized the event the past two years, took part in the hike for the first time.
“It’s been a journey,” said Gagne, who finished his hike by draining a long par putt. “Hopefully what we do today will help fund the future of Youth On Course. I was nervous about this hike. It was pretty daunting, but we had so much inspiration from the hikers last year that did so well, so I said, “Hey, why not?'”
While she couldn’t finish with a birdie for the third consecutive year, Degan set the pace as the first hiker to finish 100 holes.
“What better thing to do than help kids play golf for $5?” Degan said after completing the final hole Monday. “It’s a great game, and I wish more and more of our younger generation could partake, so I’m happy to help.
On Thursday, Jenna Walkiewicz, Mass Golf’s Assistant Director of Member Growth & Services, and Mass Golf Board Member Joanne Gagnon completed the hike for the second consecutive year. Gagnon, a devout runner, ran all 100 holes and completed the hike in 2 hours, 35 minutes.
“I might’ve overshot my goal because it’s going to be hard to beat it next year, but it was a fun time,” Gagnon said. “Golf is so great in terms of life lessons. It teaches you how to accept loss as well as to celebrate and how to make friends.”
Walkiewicz grew up playing golf and now works in the industry and is hoping youth golf opportunities continue to expand.
“I know our Youth on Course program is growing tremendously,” she said. “The funds we raised last year are helping kids in 2022, so the fact that we’re doing this again and continue to raise funds for future generations and for future years is incredible. We can make sure this program continues to grow, add more courses and add more golfers that are participating and taking advantage of all that Youth on Course has to offer.”
For Girardin, supporting affordable youth golf hits home. Growing up in an inner city, single-parent household in Cambridge, Girardin said he didn’t have the privilege of playing golf early on and wonders how his life would’ve been different had he found the game in his youth.
However, he picked up the game in 2020 and has been enamored with it since.
“Golf filled a void that I’ve had in my life as I’m getting older,” Girardin, 49, said. “It’s gotten me out in nature, it’s gotten me active, and it’s something that I needed. And had I started when I was a kid, I can’t image how much different life would be.”
As for Monday’s effort. “Every time I got to a spot where I started to think I was tired, I just pushed through because I set a goal, and I feel great that I achieved it.”
Longtime friends Blundo and Ikeda met when they both moved to Michigan and found a love of golf during the pandemic. Blundo is originally from the Bay State, while Ikeda is from Philadelphia and now lives in Oregon.
“We thought it would be something fun to do,” Blundo said. “We became close friends through playing golf, so we wanted other people to have that opportunity. Golf can sometimes be expensive so this is lowering that barrier so more people can meet friends and get good exercise, and that’s what today was all about.”
Ikeda had some twists on his fundraising. The first person to donate over $20 got to pick his walk-up song on the first tee. The selection: Barbie Girl. He also pledged to eat a hot dog for every $200 raised, and ended up eating 10 on Monday.
“I feel like that was the more daunting thing coming into the day,” Ikeda said. “By the end, I was just trying to push the ball forward, and it was a lot of fun, but the mental part was harder than the physical part.”
Quirk, who was joined by his father Wilber, works with young golfers at KOHR Golf Academy in Natick and is passionate about supporting the game’s growth.
“I like to give back to the community and I love golf, so those two things come together for Youth On Course,” Quirk said. “What they’re doing for kids and unprivileged families is awesome.”
Jake Shuman, a former Duke University standout, was medalist at the U.S. Mid-Amateur this week, and was unable to make it back to The Links in time for his hike. He will hike at a date to be announced.
Even after the 100 Hole Hike is complete, donations are still being accepted for each member of Team Mass Golf.
For more information on becoming a Youth on Course member through Mass Golf, please visit MassGolf.org/YouthOnCourse or contact Kyle Sherman (email@example.com), Manager of Member Events & Services, with any questions.
There’s still time to donate to this year’s #100HoleHike
— Mass Golf (@PlayMassGolf) September 12, 2022
Youth On Course has continued to grow since being implemented by Mass Golf in 2019. The offering has expanded across the Commonwealth with 29 participating locations. In total, more than 20,000 rounds have been played using the Youth on Course membership.
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