Luke Willett braces himself for 10 days of mud, sweat and gears on his 804-mile, 252-hole marathon
Golfers come in all shapes and sizes. Some play for fun, some play for money, some enjoy the fresh air, some play to get fit.
Then there is Luke Willett – a professional golfer who does all of that, sometimes at twice the pace, and still retains an almost childlike passion for the game he loves.
On Friday at 7:30 AM BST, in Carnoustie, Scotland, Willett embarks on a 10-day journey that will transport him through Great Britain.
He plays all 14 courses to have staged the oldest major of golf, the Open Championship, in its 159-year history. And he will do it all on his bike, cycling between each track with his clubs tied on his back.
Willett will cover 804 miles and play 252 holes before finishing in Kent at Royal St George & # 39; s, Sandwich, home of next year's Open.
He does everything to help raise money for his sport at grassroots level – by making this trip on behalf of the Golf Foundation, the national organization that supports the growth of golf at a junior level.
"I am restless, to say the least," said the 35-year-old father of three based in Buckinghamshire. "The fire is still burning in me."
It's a fire that has been burning in Willett since he first started playing the game as an 11-year-old, just when Tiger Woods was about to burst onto the scene inspiringly.
"There is no doubt about the timing of Tiger & # 39; s arrival had a big effect on me," he said. "He won his first Masters in the year I started playing. But there have been other inspirations as well.
" And one of my dreams, down the road, is something exciting to do like this, but to buy a golf involved top players, whether it is a Rory McIlroy or a Francesco Molinari. I'm sure they can have a lot of fun with it. "
Luke & # 39; s Open Schedule
Fri 18 Oct: Carnoustie / St AndrewsSat Oct 19: Musselburgh / MuirfieldSun Oct 20: Royal Troon / PrestwickMon Oct 21: TurnberryTues Oct 22: Royal PortrushWeds Oct 23: Royal Lytham & St AnnesThrs 24 Oct: Royal Birkdale / Royal Liverpool Fri 25 Oct: On the road (Lancashire to Kent) Sat 26 Oct: Royal Cinque Ports Sun 27 Oct: Prince & # 39; s / Royal St George & # 39; s
& # 39; What can I do? & # 39;
As a professional golfer-qualified education professional, Willett may not have the career heights of his unrelated but more famous namesake Danny, the 2016 Masters champion,
But in shaping the swings of the next generation of golfers, first in Burhill in Surrey, where he started, and now in Hampstead in north-west London, where he is mainly based as a PGA coach, Willett can arguably have even greater impact.
And his mantra is all about making the old game as fun and attractive as possible.
He continued: "People are talking about wave taking and I just thought & what can I do & # 39 ;?
What Luke does is do everything a little differently. There is certainly no danger of someone putting the clock on him for slow play.
He regularly has a try at Speedgolf, running an 18-hole course in 40 minutes, not the four or five hours that some rounds can take.
It also had no negative consequences for his score: when he participated in the British Speedgolf tournament at Fingle Glen in Devon, he shot a four-over-par 74.
The weekend before that he did in The Belfry a 40-mile bike ride, a mile swimming and 18 holes around the Ryder Cup (Brabazon) course.
And he went to the Lake District for his & # 39; Iron Golfer Challenge & # 39 ;; a three-mile swim in Wastwater, a hike to the top of the highest mountain in England, Scafell Pike, and the steepest road , the Hardknott Pass, and 18 holes at Windermere Golf Club – all in one day.
Luke Willett (and his bag) scaled Scafell Pike, the highest mountain in England, as part of an earlier Iron Golfer Challenge
This time he will be nine nights away – he will sleep the penultimate night in his own bed when he breaks his journey from Lancashire to Kent – and will have the luxury of not having to worry about his laundry, thanks to his clothing sponsors Bunker Mentality.
"I am not a big fan of the gym," he said. "For me it's just about being active, eating healthy and good exercise where you can. If that goes to the stores and back, that's great.
" I would like to think that this will make it help to emphasize the health benefits for young people and also the sense of personal adventure that the sport can offer.
"It's not just about numbers on a score card. People can be too result-oriented. It's not about whether you're one or two shots better than last week. Too many weekend golfers can lose sight of swinging the fun of a club, hitting a ball in the fresh air in beautiful surroundings.
"I just want to help other people get as much out of golf as I do. Golf is a fantastic sport with lasting physical and mental health benefits, and we should call this from the rooftops. "
The Open Championship rota
Royal St George & # 39; s, Sandwich, which will organize the 2020 championship (July 16-19) It will organize the event for the 15th time, after the The first English course was to hold the Open in 1897. The 150th Open Championship will be in St Andrews in 2021 (July 15-18), the 30th time the Old Course has staged it and the first was back in 1873. The Open will be in Royal Liverpool, Hoylake are in 2022 – the 13th time it has been held there, and the third time since the return to the rota after an absence of 39 years in 2006. After St Andrews, Prestwick, on the Ayrshire coast, the most Opens (24) held, starting with the very first in 1860. But it hasn't held it since 1925. The Honorable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, at Muirfield, which first joined the rota in 1892, have hosted 16 times the Open – the most recent in 2013. Royal Lytham & St Annes, on the north bank of the Ribb le Estuary, Fylde last held the Open in 2012 – the most recent of its 11 hostings, which began in 1926. Royal Birkdale, Southport, where Jordan Spieth won in 2017, has organized 10 Opens since it was first chosen in 1954. For more than 30 years, it was & # 39; the newest Open Location & # 39; to Turnberry in 1977. Just north of Turnberry and Prestwick, Royal Troon organized the most recent of his nine Openings in 2016, when Henrik Stenson just quit Phil Mickelson. Carnoustie on the north coast of the Firth of Tay, has had eight Open winners since its first use in 1931, but will always be remembered for one loser – Jean van de Velde & # 39; s collapse of the hole-hole allowed the Paul Lawrie to win the Scotland Tournament 1999. Now a municipal course, Musselburgh organized the Open six times between 1874 and 1889. But the location, close to Edinburgh, was never used again. Turnberry has held four opens. The first, won by Tom Watson in 1977, and the most recent in 2009, when Watson was almost 59, are the most memorable. The Ayrshire course was purchased in 2014 by Donald Trump. Royal Cinque Ports held the Open twice, in 1909 for one of the five major victories of the great JH Taylor, and again in 1920. Located at Deal, on the Kent coast, on Sandwich Bay When Shane Lowry won at Royal in July Portrush, it was only the second time the Open had crossed the sea to Ireland after it had first hosted in 1951. The only Open location not in England or Scotland. Prince & # 39; s is part of the series of fine courses on the Kent coast, including Royal St George & # 39; s and Royal Cinque Ports. The only Open that was performed there was in 1932, won by Gene Sarazen.