Isle of Islay, Scotland — If a golfer is fit enough to complete a marathon (26.2 miles) in less than six hours and if a marathon runner has above average golf skills, then the first annual Lords of the Isles Challenge bids him or her a warm welcome. Maybe a few can rise to this challenge! It’s open to male and female, over age 21, amateur status.
Inspired partly by English poet Jenny Joseph’s Warning, the challenge takes place on Scotland’s romantic, remote, and beautiful island of Islay on the weekend of April 11-13, 2014. The golf part includes a practice round on Friday and the 18-hole Queen of the Hebrides Open on Saturday, while the marathon around Islay’s shimmering Loch Indaal is scheduled for Sunday.
No worry about crowds or traffic jams; the marathon field is limited to 50 and 12 of those places are reserved for those competing in both the golf and the marathon. Currently 10 places remain open for the golf, which is held on the highly regarded Machrie links, a course that meanders through magnificent duneland and requires many blind shots. The event is limited strictly to amateurs and, even though it would be great to have Phil, Rory, and Tiger, they’ll be playing on the manicured fairways of Augusta National that weekend.
At first, the idea of combining a golf tournament and a marathon may appear ridiculous. But considering the career of the great American amateur Frank Stranahan (who won over 50 amateur titles, including two British Amateurs), this idea may not be too farfetched. When Stranahan retired from competitive golf in 1964, he began running marathons and completed over 100, including New York and Boston. And one further note: behold the new sport of speedgolf – where score and time are combined. At the 2013 Speedgolf World Championships in Bandon Dunes, Ireland’s Rob Hogan won the pro division with an average time of 40 minutes per round.
This event benefits the children of the island. Both the Islay Youth Pipers and the students of Islay High School will receive funds from the race. The students will use the money for a trip in 2015 to aid a developing country.
So, the challenge has been issued and the question remains: Are there enough golfers to rise to this test of golf and fitness and fill the 10 remaining slots? After all, golf will be an Olympic sport soon. The answer to this question will be revealed in April. For more information or to register, visit www.lordsoftheisles.com.