Scoring may have been an issue for Gary Albrecht in the 2016 U.S. Senior Amateur — he finished 13 over par in his first USGA championship — but walking 36 holes in two days at Old Warson Country Club was not. After all, it paled in comparison to the 127 holes he walked in one day this past June in honor of a friend with cancer.
That long trek took place at Ballyneal, a private course in Holyoke, Colo., where Albrecht, a Denver resident, is a member. When his best friend, Tom Collins, was diagnosed with terminal cancer, Albrecht decided to raise money for the Double H Ranch near Collins’ upstate New York home, an organization that runs a Camp Comfort for kids whose siblings or parents are seriously ill.
“His boys have gone to the camp and it’s really a neat program,” Albrecht said. Two years ago, he walked 126 holes in one day to raise money for the charity. This summer he decided to go one hole farther. He started at 4:45 a.m. and finished almost 13 hours later, walking an estimated 37 miles and raising $10,000.
“It was exhilarating,” said Albrecht, who was accompanied by his daughter Erin and various caddies throughout the day. “I did it for a good cause and there were even two other guys who played 164 holes the same day for other charities.”
The 60-year-old saved his best play for the last nine of those 127 holes.
“I had been hitting the ball real well, so I told my daughter and caddie right before the last round started that it was going to be my best round of the day,” Albrecht said. “I was not going to be denied. I felt good and was very focused thinking about my buddy. I hit every green on that last nine and the putts started falling in. I was really thinking about a 29, but ended up with a 31. It was great regardless and just wonderful to have my daughter with me the whole day. Tom was very appreciative of the effort.”
While Albrecht’s friends now tease him that he needs 118 holes to warm up before he plays well, he only played one practice round at Old Warson Country Club.
“I was just a little bit nervous but amazingly calm overall,” Albrecht said of his first USGA start. “I was really surprised by that because I’ve gotten more nervous for club championships than this. Maybe that means I wasn’t as focused as I needed to be, but I don’t think that was the case. I really hit the ball very well. I just didn’t score.”
Arizona resident Tom Mackin is a frequent contributor to USGA websites.