By Phillip Milano
There are long days on the course. Then there are record-breaking long days.
Jacksonville University alumnus Jamie Kennedy is training to play an unheard-of 10 rounds of golf June 27 in his hometown of Edinburgh, Scotland, to raise £10,000 (about $16,000) for the Make-A-Wish Foundation UK.
The scratch golfer, who turns 27 May 19, played four years on the JU golf team, helping it win conference and gain a near NCAA tournament berth in 2006. He got the “marathon golf day” idea after hearing of others who’d tallied four rounds in a single day for charity.
“I thought to myself, four rounds? I used to play two or three a day on a regular basis growing up, so needless to say, I wasn’t impressed,” he said by email. “I wanted to do some sort of individual fundraising challenge that was both a test and golf-related. I thought about what was possible, and perhaps pushing the limits of that.”
To finish 180 holes at the hilly, par-72 Mortonhall Golf Club in Edinburgh, he’ll tee up around 4 a.m. Assuming he isn’t overcome by blisters or exhaustion, by day’s end he’ll have trekked more than 52 miles over nearly 19 hours. He’s prepping for the 800 or so shots he’ll hit by playing five or six rounds a day and hauling a 10-kg backpack around with him everywhere.
And no fair using any wheels for help, either.
“My goal is to make it so no one can put an asterisk on the achievement,” Kennedy said. “No trolley, no cart, no caddy. Walking and carrying each hole, holing out and playing to the rules of golf.”
That kind of dedication and determination is already attracting donors and media attention. A recent masquerade fundraising dinner drew 125 masked guests and raised more than $3,000. So far Kennedy’s been written up by Golf Today, Europe’s leading online golf resource; the Edinburgh Evening News; and Mediatrust.org, among othersSo far Kennedy’s been written up by Golf Today, Europe’s leading online golf resource; the Edinburgh Evening News; and Mediatrust.org, among others.
A self-described golf fanatic since childhood, Kennedy worked in Gainesville, Fla., after graduating from JU, then moved back home for a job at Golfalot.com, the UK’s largest golf equipment website.
“JU certainly cemented my passion and love for golf,” said Kennedy, who graduated in 2007 with a degree in marketing. “I had a great experience traveling the country and competing as a Dolphin. I was very close with my teammates and had great relationships with coaches and assistants.”
It’s also where his passion for helping others melded with his golf fixation, he said.
“As part of the team, we would often give back through our community service hours or simply teaching groups of kids with the First Tee nonprofit (based at the World Golf Village in St. Augustine) each year when The Players was in town,” he said. “That type of activity is so rewarding and certainly gives you a stark indication of how lucky we are to be able to play golf, be healthy and attend university. Especially for an international student like myself.”
He first heard of Make-A-Wish’s work with youths with life-threatening conditions while in Florida and knew it was the organization that should benefit from his golfing feat, he said.
“The challenge gives me a goal to work toward and motivation through raising money to benefit some young people who have had a hard time. For anyone that takes the time to learn about Make-A-Wish and watch the videos of wishes they grant, it is hard to not want to help.”