Wel­come to the long­est golf hole ever played – 2,000km, par 14,000

Ju­lian Ben­netts meets the men who hacked their way through wilds of Mon­go­lia, all in the name of char­ity

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - Front Page -

At ex­actly 10am yes­ter­day, Adam Rol­ston nerve­lessly rolled in a slip­pery seven-foot putt on the 18th green of the Mt Bogd Golf Club in Ulaan­baatar, Mon­go­lia, to bring to an end the strangest hole in golf­ing his­tory. It had taken Rol­ston 80 days and 20,093 shots – just the 6,093 over par – to com­plete. He had cov­ered 2,011km, play­ing through swamps, on frozen rivers and across deserts.

The for­mer Hong Kong rugby in­ter­na­tional had lost dozens of balls and nar­rowly avoided a sticky end when his golf cart, which weighed 120kg, got stuck in a swamp and al­most fell on top of him. But fi­nally, yes­ter­day, it was done. “My mates have all been say­ing you can’t do this, and that has been on re­peat in my head,” laughs Rol­ston.

“This has been the hard­est thing I’ve ever done in my life. I’m in awe of the fact we’ve done it.”

It be­gan when Rol­ston met up with a for­mer rugby col­league, Ron Rut­land, while in Kenya. They dis­cussed Rut­land’s pre­vi­ous char­ity es­capade: a 26,000 km cy­cle through every coun­try in Africa be­fore ar­riv­ing in Brighton to watch his beloved Springboks face Ja­pan in the 2015 World Cup – a game that ended in hu­mil­i­a­tion for South Africa.

Rol­ston came up with the idea of an equiv­a­lent golf­ing chal­lenge and they set­tled on Mon­go­lia be­cause it was an enor­mous coun­try with few peo­ple, no fences and the largest fair­ways in the world.

The idea was to fin­ish on the 18th green of the one golf course in the coun­try, and to tee off from the western­most point of Mon­go­lia. He cal­cu­lated it would take him 14,000 shots – and set that as his par. Rut­land agreed to be his cad­die, and eight months later, they were rais­ing money for Lau­reus, which runs chil­dren’s sports char­i­ties world­wide, and were at the base of Khuiten Peak, the high­est as well as the most western point of Mon­go­lia.

“We have had dozens of peo­ple telling us we were mad or crazy, with com­ments rang­ing from, ‘That’s im­pos­si­ble’ to, ‘Do you not have any­thing bet­ter to do?’,” says Rol­ston, who hails from North­ern Ire­land.

“That first week was the hard­est of my life. To get to the first tee we had to take a Rus­sian jeep through a na­tional park for five hours. From there, it was ridicu­lous.

“We had to load our cart on to a camel and then the bloke tak­ing us to base camp just pointed at three horses. We had never rid­den in our lives but we were thrown on to them for four hours to ride to the top of a precipice.

“Up there we found a shrine from where I hit the very first shot. That was the last time we saw the sun for four days.

“We had a route planned out, through grass be­low shoe-height – but the rain meant it was all marsh­land. Ron couldn’t get the cart through. I thought I’d see if I could pull it across.

“I got stuck around knee deep. He came in to try and save me and the wheels got suc­tioned off the axles. The heavy cart dropped down and al­most chopped Ron’s foot off.”

A stray dog started fol­low­ing them – and has stuck with them for 1,500km.

“We have a lot of feel­ers out now to try and get him a good home and there is a lot of in­ter­est in him,” said Rut­land, who says they have yet to work out how much money they have raised.

Af­ter this epic hole, does Rol­ston want to give up golf for a while?

“I def­i­nitely want to keep play­ing when I get back,” he says. “I’ve been su­per-pumped about play­ing golf every day. I might hit fewer balls when I get back, but I will still be ad­dicted to the game as much as I ever have been.”

Long game: Adam Rol­ston drives, with Ron Rut­land and a stray dog as spec­ta­tors

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