November 2017 The Longest Hole
6 / 6
What is 2,011km long, lasts 80 days and takes 20,093 shots? Golf's longest hole!
Adam Rolston has played many rounds of golf in his life, but he knows he will never complete a more satisfying scorecard. A former rugby international for Hong Kong, Rolston and his caddie Ron Rutland played the longest hole ever completed across Mongolia, covering 2,011km of difficult terrain, playing through the desert, icy water, rocky ground and glaciers. The most obvious question remains: why?
“I was coming up to the end of my contract playing rugby for Hong Kong and was in Kenya playing a tournament,” Rolston said. “My friend Ron had previously done an incredible challenge where he cycled through every country in Africa, before arriving at the South Africa v Japan game in the 2015 World Cup. He was asked to do a talk in Kenya about this challenge and it got me thinking – could we do something together?”
They decided to try to break the world record for the longest hole in golf and chose Mongolia due to its wide expanses and nomadic heritage. Arriving at the first tee at the base of Khüiten Peak in June was not without difficulties. “In my mind I was going to arrive at this stunning location with the sun shining, surrounded by glaciers to start the journey”, Rolston explains, “in reality, we didn’t see the sun for four days and we were moving through freezing water pulling our equipment. In that first week, I was sometimes lying awake thinking: how are we going to complete this? Doubts crept in.”
Beyond negotiating the difficult and relentless terrain, the two men were starting to face extreme physical difficulties. Rolston went through days of neck and back spasms, while his caddie suffered with a constantly inflamed hip dragging their cart through uncompromising surface. A chance encounter with a wild Mongolian dog they named ‘UB’ [After Ulaanbaatar, their final destination] helped to provide the perfect companion for the remaining 1,500km and lifted their spirits when they needed it most. Rolston said they couldn’t have asked for a better secondary caddie.
“We were followed by this beautiful wild dog, who stayed by our side and slept by our tents. He was so loyal and protective to us throughout the trip. It really symbolised the nomadic spirit of this beautiful country and we were delighted to eventually leave him with a loving couple in Terelj National Park.”
For weeks, as Rolston and Rutland stumbled slowly across Mongolia one shot at a time, they visualised the finish line in Ulaanbaatar. Dragging their by now battered clubs and cart, the pair were joined by friends as they made their way to their final destination in traditional Mongolian clothing. A slippery seven-foot putt rounded off an incredible 80-day adventure and drew to a close The Longest Hole in golf for Adam Rolston and Ron Rutland.