An early morning tee-off from the base camp of the highest and most western point in Mongolia: a 3-wood strike aiming directly into the widest fairway in the world. This will be the start of a mammoth 82-day journey for a golfer and his caddie, to complete The Longest Hole in golf, and raise funds for Laureus Sport for Good.
The concept may sound far-fetched, but when you learn that the brain behind it is South African adventurer Ron Rutland, it all starts to make sense. In the build up to the 2015 Rugby World Cup, Ron cycled un-supported through every single country in Africa, then Europe, and on to Brighton, only to watch his nation famously lose their opening fixture of the tournament against Japan.
Now he’s swapping his bike for his golf bag and Ron is off to caddie across Mongolia, where he will be joined by his friend and scratch golfer, Northern Irishman Adam Rolston. The friends reconnected in Kenya, where Adam, who was playing rugby for Hong Kong at the time, heard a motivational speech given by Ron. Inspired by the story of Ron’s 2015 adventure, Adam approached him with a desire to seek a challenge of his own. After only an hour together, they came to the decision that Adam’s passion for golf and Ron’s experience would merge perfectly into a golfing adventure.
Teeing off from the base camp of Khüiten Peak on Wednesday 28 June, their aim will be to reach the 18th green of Mt Bogd Golf Club, on the outskirts of Ulaanbaatar on Sunday 17 September. Their journey will include a 12-day desert trek and multiple mountain climbs, all while searching for their own food and water. As if the sporting challenge wasn’t enough, the pair will also have to contend with the country’s extreme weather conditions.
“Two years ago I spent 27 months unsupported and alone cycling through every country in Africa. The communities I cycled through embraced me at all costs, assisted where they could and even offered me their most valuable resources in the world, food and water as well as their own beds. Sport, be it rugby, cycling or golf, brings people together, and I am looking forward to the experience we will have in Mongolia. The fact that we’re raising funds for organisations which help young people through sport, will keep us motivated through the tough days.” said Ron Rutland.
In what has been billed as a ‘par 14,000’, the pair will follow the rules, as set by The R&A, in a bid to set a world record for the longest hole in golf. At the same time, Adam and Ron will also raise funds for Laureus Sport for Good, which supports over 100 programmes globally, who all use the power of sport to end violence, discrimination and disadvantage. Funds will also be raised for the South African Golf Development Board.
“I’ve played a lot of golf, but usually on a golf course or driving range! Ron’s story from 2015 inspired me and I have been looking to explore the world of adventure for a while now. I’m excited by the challenges we will face, the adventure and the people we will meet. As much as they don’t know anything about golf, the kids absolutely love it. You have a little white ball and a stick and they have know idea what you’re about to do but as soon as you strike the ball, they just want to have a go straight away. It’s pretty cool that something like golf can transcend languages.” added Adam Rolston.
Ron and Adam have estimated that they’ll lose anything up to 400 balls during the course of the challenge, and using an app, developed for them by Dimension Data, they’ll record every shot via GPS. This technology will allow supporters to track the challenge live via their website.
These balls, sponsored by TaylorMade, will be sold off for a recommended donation of $100, with funds raised going to Laureus Sport for Good and the South African Golf Development Board. An online leaderboard, based on the distance covered by each ball, combined with integrated social media alerts, will ensure donors stay engaged throughout the duration of the expedition.
Laureus Academy Member Gary Player said “Ron and Adam’s inspirational challenge brings to life the true value of sport. They are taking the incredible sport of golf to the wonderful people of Mongolia and raising funds for a hugely worthwhile charity in Laureus Sport for Good in the process. I’ll be following their journey with interest and I wish them the best of luck.”
While Adam will continuously strike the ball along their route, Ron will haul a cart full of over 100kg of equipment for the expedition, including five clubs: a 3-wood, a 4-iron, an 8-iron, a wedge and a putter.
The pair recently spent time preparing for the expedition in Mongolia. Despite cultural differences and language barriers, the local communities embraced them and showed excitement and support for their upcoming challenge.
Nathan Homer, Chief Commercial & Marketing Officer at The European Tour said “The European Tour is all about telling engaging stories that drive interest in the game of the golf around the world, and The Longest Hole in Golf does all of these things and more. We are delighted to support Adam and Ron as they set out on their truly awe-inspiring challenge and help their story reach as widely as possible.”
"I was privileged to be at the first Laureus Sports Awards and have enjoyed a close association ever since. As a South African one can only feel pride at what Laureus has become. The work that Laureus does through its Sport for Good charity is remarkable. It is indeed an honour for the South African Golf Development Board to be included as a beneficiary of this amazing endeavour by Ron and Adam to set a world record for the longest golf hole played. Mongolia will make for a spectacular backdrop to this feat. The SAGDB will follow the action with excitement and appreciation. Good luck guys!" added Grant Hepburn, CEO of Golf SA.