Adam Rolston, a retired rugby player from Northern Ireland, recently completed the longest hole of golf in history, a feat that saw him hitting a golf ball a whopping 20,093 times over a distance of around 2,000 kilometers, across the deserts and mountain ranges of Mongolia.
28-year-old Rolston came up with the idea for this unique challenge while talking to former rugby colleague, Ron Rutland, in Kenya. Rutland had completed an epic 26,000-kilometer cycling adventure through every country in Africa, before arriving in South Africa to see his national rugby team compete against Japan in the 2015 World Cup. The incredible story got Adam thinking about a similar adventure, only golf-related. He started talking to his friends about it, but they all said that it couldn’t be done, which only made him want to try it even more.
The idea for “The Longest Hole” challenge was to tee off from the western most point of Mongolia and keep hitting a golf ball until he reached the 18th green of the only golf course in the Asian country, in Ulaanbataar. He chose Mongolia because it has the largest fairways in the world, a low population density and very few man-made obstacles. He calculated that he would have to hit the ball around 14,000 times to reach his destination, and set that as his par.
His friend Ron Rutland agreed to be his caddy on this unique adventure, and on June 28 they both set off to complete The Longest Hole.
“We have had dozens of people telling us we were mad or crazy, with comments ranging from: ‘That’s impossible” to ‘Do you not have anything better to do?’” Rolston said. “That first week was the hardest of my life. To get to the first tee we had to take a Russian jeep through a national park for five hours. From there, it was ridiculous.”
Adam had a very specific route planned out beforehand, but he didn’t really account for the weather turning the below-shoe grasslands into marshland that made walking and dragging their cart around a nightmare, let alone playing golf. After having walked through freezing water for several days, Rolston experienced golf through a desserts and mountain ranges dotted with jutting rocks.
“In my mind I was going to arrive at this stunning location with the sun shining, surrounded by glaciers to start the journey. In reality, we didn’t see the sun for four days and we were moving through freezing water pulling our equipment,” the former rugby player told The Guardian. “In that first week, I was sometimes lying awake thinking: how are we going to complete this. Doubts crept in.”
It wasn’t long before the difficult terrain started taking a toll on the two athletes’ bodies. Rolston battled neck and back cramps for days, and Rutland had a constantly inflamed hip from dragging their cart on various rough surfaces. For weeks, the only thing that kept them going was visualizing the finish line in Ulaanbaatar, so Rutland kept dragging their battered clubs around, while Rolston tried to send the ball as far as possible.
Halfway through their journey through Mongolia, the pair was joined by a wild dog who stuck with them all the way to the end, and lifted their spirits when they needed it the most. They are now trying to find a home for him, and there are apparently many animal lovers who would love to have him.
After 82 days of trekking across Mongolia, 2,000 kilometers, 20,093 shots and 400 golf balls, Adam Rolston finally completed the world’s longest ever golf hole, and made history. The feat has already been sanctioned by The European Tour and will reportedly be included in the Guinness Book of Records.
“I definitely want to keep playing when I get back,” Adam Rolston said. “I’ve been super-pumped about playing golf every day. I might hit fewer balls when I get back, but I will still be addicted to the game as much as I ever have been.”