Golf Australia

WA golfer battles odds for charity

Tom Hughson

According to health website NutriStrategy, an average sized person will burn around 210 calories during a one hour session on the driving range.

If you can keep that going for 12 hours, you’ve burned 2,500 calories — the golfing equivalent of running a marathon — but with a lot more twisting of the back, hunching of the shoulders and cramping of the wrists.

Who would be crazy enough to try such a thing? It turns out, WA Golf Club member Tom Hughson.

On February 6 at WA Golf Club, Hughson aims to hit 1,200 golf balls in just 12 hours. That’s 12 of the large back-breaking buckets you find at your standard driving range, and it’s all in the name of raising money and awareness of Australian charity beyondblue.

But why 1,200 golf balls? Well WAGC’s green-keepers are setting up a makeshift 135m par three on the driving range, and Hughson is hoping to get at least one hole-in-one for the day. Physically, the challenge is immense. Mathematically, the challenge seems improbable.

And Hughson isn’t taking any short cuts. Each shot has to be a legitimate attempt at the hole, no cheeky half swings to get through the bucket are allowed!

Despite the odds, Hughson has attracted the interest and support of many in the golfing industry and beyond.

Perth golf physio Brent Vanderloop is donating his time to help Hughson get in the best physical shape for the test, and WAGC head-pro Vernon Sexton-Finck is providing his expert advice while waiving a driving range fee bill that would already be in the thousands.

“When I first started about eight months ago, the range costs were really racking up,” said Hughson.

“And that was when Vernon came on board and donated all of the range balls to me.”

As an avid lover of the game, Hughson is well aware what he called “selfish benefits” taking on such a challenge. He’s stronger, fitter and hitting the ball better than ever.

“I’m down to an 8” says Hughson of his handicap.

“The ball flight’s great. With a better posture I don’t have to swing as hard but the ball’s going a lot further.”

Having battled depression throughout his life, the benefits don’t stop there. Like many who take on an endurance challenge, Hughson can keep his mind focused, while giving himself an avenue to talk about these important issues with others.

“I’ve had my own personal demons with depression, and I’m pretty open about it,” says Hughson.

“I’m a media spokesperson for beyondblue and go to schools and sporting groups to talk about what I’ve been through and letting people know about beyondblue and the things you can do to get help.

“I’m not a runner or a swimmer, so I can’t do the usual physical challenges people do — I wanted to do something unique and something that I’d enjoy training for as well. It’s physically challenging, enjoyable and I’m making myself stronger.”

It’s interesting to note that Hughson’s focus is squarely on getting himself through the day. If he gets an ace (or ten!), it’s a happy bonus.

In a way, he’s leading by example with this philosophical approach. Instead of burying his mind in the numbers, he’s doing everything he can within his powers to give himself the best chance. With Hughson in a groove and hitting his favourite club, you have to expect these odds to fall dramatically.

Whether we see multiple aces or none at all, we can expect that a stronger and happier Tom Hughson will emerge.

And when he returns to regular golf, you’d be silly not to back him with a short-iron in his hand!

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