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11 Rounds in 11 Hours on 11-11? No Problem

Nov 26, 2013

John Brasier

I’ve got to admit I wasn’t sure Michael McVeigh could do it. Play 198 holes in 11 hours? That’s roughly one hole every three minutes. That’s warp speed even for a scratch player, and McVeigh isn’t a scratch player.

But I didn’t know how determined McVeigh was to raise funds and awareness for Salute Military Golf Association, the benefactor of the proceeds from the Golf Academy of America 11-11 Golf Marathon. And I didn’t know how eager he was to meet a challenge.

“I’m ready. Let’s go,” shouted McVeigh at 6:30 a.m. on Veterans Day as he waited impatiently for the sun to come up at Brookhaven Country Club, only a few minutes from Golf Academy of America’s Dallas campus.

For McVeigh, a sergeant in the Army National Guard who completed tours in Iraq and Somalia, 6:30 a.m. didn’t seem particularly early. He and a half-dozen of his support team – also fellow veterans and Golf Academy of America in Dallas students – were eager and talkative. This was going to be fun.

And after his first few holes, there was never much doubt whether McVeigh would complete 11 rounds in 11 hours.  He raced around the course three times (54 holes) in less than two hours and showed no signs of slowing down.

McVeigh’s team ran like a well-oiled machine. Led by Golf Academy of America campus director Greg Gossett, its members drove him in a cart, spotted every shot, tended every pin, retrieved successful putts and had a golf ball teed and waiting for him at every tee box.

McVeigh knew Brookhaven’s President’s Course well - he works there part-time. The home-course knowledge came in handy. McVeigh didn’t hit anything but irons. Woods weren’t needed to negotiate the 5,500-yard, par-72 layout.

His strategy: keep the ball in play. It worked. He lost only two balls the entire day while sinking 10 birdie putts. McVeigh ran from cart to ball and quickly addressed every shot, taking no more than five seconds over the ball to get his bearings.

There was a little bit of drama toward the end of the challenge. But it had nothing to do with racing the clock or a setting Southwestern sun.

With only a few holes left on his final nine holes, McVeigh prepared for a pitch of perhaps 40 yards. He was confident, enough to joke about holing the shot – or at least, we thought he was joking.

Sure enough, McVeigh lofted a soft shot that hit on the green and rolled right into the cup for eagle! McVeigh raised his arm in triumph. A few minutes later, he was showering in champagne on the 18th green.

One hundred ninety-eight holes of golf. Hundreds of shots (everybody was too busy to count exactly how many). Then a champagne shower. Mission completed – in only eight hours.

“Let’s play some more,” said McVeigh, whose tone seemed genuine.