PGA Professional plays 126 holes in a day
Imagine playing 126 holes of golf in one day -- that's seven complete rounds -- and doing it on a sultry September day in Port St. Lucie, Fla., when the heat index is well over 100 degrees.
That's the feat PGA Professional Danny Visconti completed as a charity fundraiser for the Folds of Honor Foundation at The Legacy Golf and Tennis Club, his home course.
"I wanted to support the charity but the only way I could think of doing it was to do some kind of a fundraiser that I could get support from my membership," Visconti said. "That’s really how it started.
"My dad passed away in May, and his brothers were in World War II, so I have a fond spot for the military. It's a fantastic foundation. That’s the root of why it started."
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That's almost 25 miles of golf in a span of less than 11 hours, using every club in the bag, carding 12 birdies and an eagle using four golf carts, two gloves and just one pair of shoes, and raising nearly $13,000, either per hole played, for birdies and eagles made, or a monetary donation. And he used one tee for the first 113 holes before it finally broke on a par-3.
It's a marathon Visconti undertakes every year, although usually he pulls it off a little earlier in the year, when the weather's not nearly so sweltering. But things transpired to push this year's event back to Sept. 11, a fitting date as Visconti put it.
When you're running a club in Florida, you're pretty much not going to get on the course between January and April. So Visconti normally plans to hold it in either May or June.
"This year, the gentleman who caddies for me — he had a little bit of a hip issue so he was out of commission," Visconti said. "Then we did some work on the golf course, so it turned out that he was back in town and we picked the 11th."
It didn't appear that the weather was going to cooperate, as the course was inundated with heavy showers the week before the event. But things dried out enough that allowed Visconti and golf cart driver Chuck Murnane to get under way at the crack of dawn, and not have to stay exclusively on the cart paths.
"We started about 35 minutes later than we normally do," Visconti said. "I hit the first tee shot at 6:53 a.m. It was just about light enough to see. We used Chuck's cart first. Over the course of the day, we utilize four different golf carts because they run out of juice.
"Every 18 holes is done in just a little over an hour and 15 minutes, roughly. It’s pretty quick. I’m trying to hit good shots. This year, I was fortunate to not miss more than eight or nine fairways through the entire day."
And that, Visconti said, is a huge factor in not wearing down. One, it's harder to locate the ball when you're hitting off-line. Two, you're making more shots to get back into the fairway. And when you're trying to play seven complete rounds of golf, every extra shot wears on you.
"I really drove the ball well," Visconti said. "As you get tired, that’s the hardest part. Your body starts to go a little bit and it’s hard to maintain a good rhythm. Once you start hitting the driver all over the place, it’s a little bit rough.
"I probably did a lot better job this year of taking just an additional second or two on the tee, to make sure I made a good pass at it with the driver, and at least get the ball in play. And that was a big difference."
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Not bad for a guy who never played golf growing up. He was busy with other pursuits.
"I was supposed to go to University of Lowell to play basketball," Visconti said. "And by chance, my mom and dad asked if I wanted to take a golf lesson. It changed my whole life.
"I started working for Jack Kiefer in New Jersey, a fantastic club pro. He had just purchased a range, needed someone to work there and we had a fantastic rapport."
Visconti doesn't really keep a total score during the day, because it's the number of holes played that matters. And because they're trying to play so quickly, anything par or higher is pretty much "tap it in and move on."
"I probably hit about 50-60 percent of the greens in regulation and what I do is try to make birdies," Visconti said. "I have members who pay me so much for each birdie, and I kick in an amount as well. So if I don’t make it for birdie, I I don’t take a lot of time over the par putts."
After doing this for several years now, Visconti and Murnane have the whole process down to a science. The first year, they completed 111 holes and have added to that total since.
"He pulls up and I’m already halfway out of the cart by the time he stops at the ball," Visconti said. "He’ll give me a yardage and I get up and hit it pretty quickly. Then we ride right up to the green, I hop off, he goes up and grabs the flag. It’s a pretty quick process.
"Chuck is fantastic. He gets more excitement out of this every year than anything else we do at the club. He loves this. He brings all sorts of things — water, beef jerky, pistachios and snack foods. This year, I took one break of about six or seven minutes at about 80 holes. I had half a wrap and then went right back out. It’s more about drinking liquids than food, necessarily."
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But playing that much golf in that little time creates stress on the feet and hands. And perhaps places you wouldn't expect to hurt.
"My right hip was sore from getting in and out of the cart, because I kept bumping that little handle," Visconti said. "It’s something you wouldn’t really think about, but as you’re going around the course, and all the little curves and all over almost 11 hours, your hip and back get sore.
"You’ll hit a lot of good shots, then you’ll go through a stretch where you’ll hit a few poor shots. You just have to find a way to keep getting it around the golf course, to keep getting the ball in play when your body is not working the way it normally would. It gets to be a grind near the end, certainly. You’re trying to do the best you can for the charity, because that’s what it’s all about."
Surprisingly, the course is open for business that day. With the first tee time around 8:30 a.m., Visconti played the front nine three consecutive times, then skipped in front of the first foursome of the day and played the back nine three times. He was able to put 80 holes behind him before he had to play through. Then once the final foursome was done, Visconti had the course to himself again. He drained his last putt at 5:18 p.m.
"Then I went home, took a nice shower and had a big pizza," he said.