A rainbow appeared as Tim Scott finished his 85th hole of the day. (photo by Nick Martin)
BANDON, Ore. – The sun had just begun to illuminate the low-lying clouds. Everything was bathed in a silvery glowing haze. The clouds were lifting like a curtain and mid-morning sunlight came pouring down on the glistening turf.
By this time Tim Scott, professional golfer and executive director of Speedgolf International had already played 36 holes and was approaching the halfway point of an epic 85-hole journey. Scott’s goal was to play every hole of the five courses at Bandon Dunes in one day. It just so happened, “that day” was December 21 – the shortest day of the year.
The experiential journalist in me decided it would be fun to run alongside Scott for one of his rounds. Shortly after I arrived at Old Macdonald, Scott was coming from Pacific Dunes, having already completed his rounds at Bandon Trails and Pacific Dunes. It was approaching 10:30 as Scott readied to play Old Mac, almost an hour ahead of his estimated pace. Scott had already played 36 holes in less than three hours.
I stood by the bag drop in front of the Old Mac clubhouse stretching my hamstrings and nervously re-checking my camera gear for the umpteenth time. The Oomba video crew was going over notes and strategizing for their live-streaming internet broadcast. We had just enough time for some quick introductions.
“Are you with the local newspaper?” an Oomba cameraman asked me.
“No. I write for the Bandon Dunes blog,” I replied.
He smiled and reached out a long arm to shake my hand. “I’m Jamie.”
“I’ll try not to get in your way out there.” I said.
We shared a couple laughs. This was unlike anything either of us had experienced and suddenly, it was happening.
Scott strolled leisurely but intently toward us with one eye focused on the path ahead – that’s right, one eye. I almost couldn’t believe it.
On April 19, 2012 Scott was diagnosed with Ocular Melanoma, a rare form of eye cancer that often goes undetected because there are no symptoms. Scott received radiation treatment in his right eye to kill the tumor, but it left his vision poor. He experiences flutters, flashes and has pronounced double-vision, thus the eye patch. It wasn’t until I saw him that I fully understood the impact of what he was trying to do.
Scott was not only drawing attention to speedgolf, he was trying to raise awareness of the silent killer, ocular melanoma.
“I’ve wanted to do something for quite some time to raise money and awareness,” Scott later told me. “Speedgolf seemed the perfect vehicle for me to do both and Bandon was the perfect place to do it.”
As we walked to the first tee I introduced myself to him and his wife, Lori, who was running alongside in support.
“I love having my wife run along with me when I play speedgolf,” Scott said. Lori also ran with him at the 2013 Speedgolf World Championship last October at Bandon Dunes.
After a brief interview with Oomba, Scott turned and aimed down the first fairway. He piped it down the middle and we were suddenly off and running – literally.
The first three holes went by fast. Then, on his second shot from the fairway on No. 4, a long par-4, Scott snapped the shaft on his driver. Lori looked concerned as she picked up the two halves. The next longest club in his bag was a six-iron but there wasn’t time to think about how he would finish the round. As a few spectators and I stood there stunned, Scott was already running toward his next shot.
Jeff Simonds, director of golf at Bandon Dunes was following us in a cart and he immediately radioed the golf shop. Scott kept on playing and 12 minutes after his driver died, a fresh one was delivered to him by a Bandon Dunes staffer who emerged in a golf cart from behind a gorse bush.
In what seemed like a matter of moments, we were running up to No. 14 green with the big tree by No. 3 (nicknamed “Snag”) in the background – a stark silhouette against a white sky. Soon thereafter, Scott was ringing the bell on his way to No. 17 tee, and almost as quickly as his round at Old Mac began, it was already ending. Scott and Lori kissed on the 18th green, 54 holes of golf behind them. Only 18 holes at Bandon Dunes, plus the 13 par 3s at Bandon Preserve remained.
While Scott made his way through his round at Bandon Dunes, I took a much needed break. Playing 54 holes while running is warrior-like. Apparently, following 18 holes while running, taking photos and jotting notes takes its toll on mere mortals.
Fast-forward to Scott’s final round: Bandon Preserve.
Scott made Bandon Preserve look more like a cool down, as he made short work of the par-3 course. After his last putt, seeing him walk off the green felt unreal, like witnessing some form of magic. Scott and Lori had run more than twenty miles, raised more than $20,000 and played 85 holes of golf in less than seven hours.
As he walked off that final green there were congratulatory hugs and handshakes. Almost on cue, a rainbow appeared out of nowhere. Scott picked up his young son and gave him a hug. Jess, Tim Scott’s dad was there taking photos like any proud dad would. There were media interviews and more handshakes. Nobody wanted to leave the green, it seemed. We were just milling around soaking in every moment, trying to wrap our minds around what just took place.
“How are you feeling?” I asked Scott.
“Fantastic,” he exclaimed. “I’m very grateful that I was allowed to do this at Bandon and appreciative of all the support from Bandon Dunes, Oomba for covering the event and greatly helping in the raising-awareness end, all those who donated to the cause, and my family for being there to support my efforts.”