The caddies, prepared to accompany golfers as they take on the strenuous challenge.
You survived the longest day of the year on June 21. But it was a bit harder to get through for local golfers who made their way up to Promontory’s Painted Valley Golf Course to experience the longest golf course in the nation—an event for mentally, physically and emotionally strong golfers looking for a challenge.
The location and course were designed by professional golfer Jack Nicklaus in 1999. Regular golf courses are about 6,900 yards but this one is normally about 8,130 yards and was extended to 8,357 yards for the long day. “This is a special kind of challenge for the guys to get out and see what they can do on a course like that,” says Rich Sonntag, Promontory managing director.
Tom Stickeny, Promontory's director of golf instruction, among Golf Magazine's top 100 instructors and Golf Tips' top 25 teachers.
Before they took the course, golfers attended a clinic with Tom Stickney, Promontory’s director of golf instruction (one of Golf Magazine’s top 100 instructors and one of Golf Tips' top 25 teachers). Stickney provided tips and insight on how to conquer the course. Golfers then received tips from sports psychologist Rich Gordin and had time to practice what they learned.
“[They can’t] get intimidated by the 8,300 yards, that’s a lot of golf course,” says Gordin. “Just hit the shot you know how to hit. Every club you have in your hand, hit it as solidly and to the best of your ability and accept the result. It’s a challenge and you have to have your funny bone intact.”
Golfers relaxing in preparation of the longest day of golf.
Stickney says this is a very hard course and the PGA Tour doesn’t even play courses this long.
Jack Nicklaus’ designs have a lot of deep bunkers, hills and bumps, so it is important to set up the easiest shot for yourself. “So what hope do the average amateurs have? What hopes do the average professionals have, such as myself? Not much" Stickney says. "So you’ve gotta have some fun with it and just carry on.”
Stickney had the opportunity to play with a PGA Tour pro on the course and asked him how it compared to other courses. “He said he had to use all the clubs in his bag just to hit the tips on the course. So that should tell you something,” Stickney says.
Even golfers who had experienced this difficult course before were anticipating a challenge at the event. “You’re swinging harder than you normally swing when you play a regular round of golf," says golfer Mick Runge. "So unfortunately the ball doesn’t go straight. That’s the challenge."
Wesley Ruff, sports director from ABC 4, says that his goal is to just not lose all his golf balls and stay focused. “It just beats you mentally. I’m not mentally strong at all. I cheat a lot. No, you just have to look at this as fun. But this is way beyond me."