"Playing A Golf Marathon"
By: John Lombardo PGA Golf Professional
For the fourth year in a row I have played in a golf marathon on Labor Day. The cause is the Folds of Honor
Foundation. I did my first Marathon four years ago with Mike Hogan who is also a PGA Professional. We play golf for
13 hours straight non-stop to raise money for the Folds. We hit our first shot at 6:21 a.m. and end at
It is an event that you have to start preparing for days in advance. Most of the preparation is mental,
although I did try to play some golf a few days ahead of time just to become familiar with my swing again. This
year we played 165 holes, more holes in one day than I played all year.
Four years ago we played 162 holes in our first marathon. You really do not know what you are getting yourself
iinto until you actually do it. We were playing so fast that i could not hit a decent shot. On the fifth hole I
realized that I had no clue as to what I was doing, I was dog tired, and still had 13 hours of golf left to play.
So right on the spot on the fifth tee, I invented a swing that would last for the next 13 hours; and I stuck with
it all the way around. It is really a great learning experience as far as the golf swing goes. You discover many
things aobut your game. Things that work and things that don't work. Much of what we do with our golf swing is
illusion anyway, a smoke and mirrors proposition, since golf itself is trying to control the
I want to make one thing clear here. We really do play golf, but we do it at an accelerated pace Many marathoners
just bat the ball around without even getting out of the cart. We play. Hoagie kept score for all four years. I
kept score this year. Averaged 75 strokes per round and made 15 birdies. the first few marathons just passed by me
as the day wore on. This year I was keenly aware of what I was doing. I used a new driver from the fifth hole on,
and learned to hit a wedge, and learned to putt again, I found a putting stroke that will serve me. The one thing I
really learned is that I have to have an idea to play really well. Another thing is that there is no one golf
swing. We swing the club with an idea as to what we want to do within the framework or our own individual physical
and emotional needs. But the golf swing itself changes on every swing. We may have a basic motion that we try to
repeat, but we can never repeat it. All we can do is hit golf shots. Every shot is different. Every swing is
different. When you play golf for a long period of time without a break at an accelerated pace, you start to feel
your swing in a relaxed hypnotic place, a kind of zen like state indiced by extreme exertion, concentration and
The whole pace of your game and swing synapse quickens to the point of a sharpness that is not available when
playing just 18 holes. There is nothing that compares to the extremity of the whole experience. Determination and
adrenalin can take you a long way. I have learned to tap into new energy sources when I play. I put myself
into a mental ste that references my marathon experiences. the quickness of the thought process, the quickness of
the swing synapse.
There are no practice swings. Your mind and awareness takes you into the next shot even before you get to your
ball. You find an ability to see yourself swing before you do it, to see the shot before you get there. As you walk
to your ball you align your clubface to your intended line of play, take a look down the target line, set your feet
and swing. When you are taking almost 700 swings you really don't have the strength for practice swings. More to
the point, you really don't need them. After a while feel and vision and visualization take the place of anything
technical and you just hit golf shots and play golf. It is a great place to be on the golf course.
I played the other day and emulated this feeling. It gets me out of my analytical mind (a place that I go to often
when I play and a place that casues me a lot of bad shots) and into my creative flow, a place that allows me to
feel and to become just a part of the experience of playing a round of golf. No thought just swings, shots and more
swings and more shots.
Next year I would like to play a full out marathon during the middle of summer. Fifteen or sixteen hours over 200
holes. What a rush that would be!