An all-nighter at Nicklaus North

Local pros Smart, Zuccolin play 24 hours straight to raise money for ALS patients

Nicklaus North Golf Course general manager Mike Zuccolin and director of golf Andrew Smart spent 24 hours hitting the ball for a cause over Monday and Tuesday (June 10 and 11), reaching the end of their extremely full day of golf Tuesday afternoon.

The PGA of B.C. Golfathon for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) was the cause for the non-stop 294 holes that Zuccolin and Smart played together through night and day. The local pros attempted to play as many holes as possible to raise money and awareness for ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease.

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"It's raising money for a disease that really has no cause and has no cure," Smart said as he and Zuccolin reached the end of their golfathon. "When we started doing this some of our members expressed that they have friends and acquaintances that have been afflicted with the disease."

Zuccolin added: "We have talked about it for about four years, (the golfathon) has been going on for like seven years in the province and we decided to finally do it this year."

Nicklaus North is one of 40 courses across the province to have its pros participating in a Golfathon for ALS this month, but Zuccolin and Smart were the only ones to make it a 24-hour affair - most go from dawn until dusk only.

Smart and Zuccolin teed off Monday at 5:30 p.m. and started their day off strong, as their first round was their fastest - 58 minutes on the par-71, Jack Nicklaus-designed course.

But the sun would set on the golfers soon after, forcing them to use glow-in-the-dark balls and floodlights attached to power carts to light up the course.

"I hit it better at night, shockingly," laughed Zuccolin.

"It wasn't windy during the evening so it wasn't that bad, but (there were) challenges of golfing at night it being dark," Smart said.

With friends, family, club members, and fellow colleagues joining the two golfers in the darkness to keep them energized, Zuccolin and Smart agreed it was the highlight of the golfathon.

"I think it was just the support," said Smart. "It was humbling to see the support from the members. It means you are doing something that means something to more then just yourself, so that's kind of a neat thing."

Combined, the two finished with 76 birdies, just over 400 pars, a few bogeys and doubles, and a longest round of a mere one hour, 40 minutes.

Smart said he was focused on staying alert, eating properly and keeping it together during a gruelling but fun day.

"Being up is definitely very challenging, but I don't think it's the most challenging test of golf because there is no real pressure," Smart said.

Still, after 24 hours on course, the two felt some relief after dropping the last putt of the day. Zuccolin was waiting for his back to go out, but it held strong until 270 holes in - that's 15 full rounds of golf.

"I don't know if I'd repeat the experience not in this format," said Smart. "It's a bit of a grind, but we've talked about some different options maintaining member involvement and (we'll) see what we can come up with next year."

He added, with a laugh: "It seemed like a good idea at the time."

However, the duo was feeling quite satisfied with the success they realized in raising money for individuals afflicted with ALS, which is a fatal neurodegenerative disorder that generally leads to immobility within two to five years of diagnosis.

"Our goal was originally to raise $20,000 and I think we are probably going to get to $21,000 or $22,000, that's pretty good," Smart said.

Ninety per cent of the donations were a lump sum made through the golfathon website and the rest were pledged based on what the results of their day on course - how many holes, eagles, birdies, or pars were achieved.

Though the Nicklaus North event is now completed, Zuccolin encouraged anyone hoping to donate to the cause to contribute to one of the dozens of other golfathons going on in B.C. before the end of the month. Visit www.golfathonforals.ca to donate and learn more about the initiative.

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