Matt Wallbank played 607 holes in 10 days across various courses in New Zealand in an effort to raise money for the I am Hope charity.
Matt Wallbank’s legs are polished, and his crippled feet are nothing to show off.
That’s what it would do to play 607 holes on as many New Zealand golf courses in 10 days, and walk about 300km.
But it was all worth it for the 26-year-old from Hamilton, whose fundraising quest has raised nearly $20,000 for the mental health charity I Hope.
He was aware of the Longest Day Challenge, where people play 72 holes (four rounds) a day and collect the money. But Wallbank thought it would take things to another level.
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So, after running a half-marathon every day for a month in the past as a mental health fundraiser, he settled for playing 607 holes in 10 days — a hole for every person who committed suicide in New Zealand between July 2020 and June 2021.
Wallbank acted after seeing a video from mental health advocate Mike King, drawing attention to what he viewed as a broken mental health system.
“The trigger for me was seeing a large group of people sharing the video but not actually doing anything. If you care that much, you should probably do something,” Walbank said.
“I was out of competitive sport and maybe looking for something that, from a selfish perspective, gave me a little bit of motivation and a sense of complacency.”
An avid golfer who plays four handicaps, Wallbank started at Royal Auckland, before continuing to St. Louis. Andrews of Hamilton Golf Club, Kinloch Golf Club, Kinloch Village Golf Club, Cape Kidnappers and Napier Golf Club.
He started Paraparaumu Beach Golf Club next, before capping off his time in the North Island at Royal Wellington and Miramar.
Wallbank, who writes for a UK golf publication and has his own website for reviewing New Zealand golf courses, ended up in central Otago, playing Jack’s Point, Millbrook, Arrowtown and The Hills.
My pins [legs] It was shot, perfectly cooked by the end. My feet are pretty rough right now, and I think I’ll keep them in shoes for the rest of the summer,” he said.
“I think I underestimated how long some of my walks were. I think each round of Kinloch was about a 15km walk and up the hills.”
Wallbank, who is in the commercial real estate finance business, would get up early in the morning with the goal of setting off long before any other souls were around, taking advantage of having the track to himself and no wind while he could.
They generally went on tour. I did some golf preparation. I’m getting to the point where I can play 18 holes in just under an hour and 10 minutes.”
He’s played most of the courses a few times, chalked up 100 holes – and about a 50km walk – on the day he was at Kinloch.
When all was said and done, Wallbank racked up 2,687 shots, lost 59 golf balls, had a potential lip in the hills, and shot a best round of 75 (Millbrook).
“It was a big old diversion,” Wallbank said, “and I’ve probably been biting off a little more than I can chew at some point.”
“[My 75] It was very late, it was the second day of the last day. Most of the time I was somewhat between 75 and 82.”
As for the highlights of course, aside from being battered by the wind while in DC, Wallbank didn’t have a bad word to say.
“Paraparaumu Beach is a very special place, it’s an incredible golf course and the experience you get from playing the hills is very special as well. Arrowtown is unbelievable, very silly jack point. Everything is very special.”