24-hour Golfathon to raise funds for ALS 

Manager, head pro at Nicklaus North Golf Course hope to play 250 holes in an around-the-clock marathon

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It's anybody's guess how many holes Nicklaus North golf pro Andrew Smart and general manager Mike Zuccolin can play in 24 hours, but they're about to find out.

Starting on Monday, June 10 at 5:30 p.m., Smart and Zuccolin will be playing around the clock to raise money for ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) is a motor neuron disease that gradually paralyzes and often kills those affected.

The PGA of B.C.'s is hosting 34 Golfathon events across the province through the month of June, marking the eighth year for the fundraiser, but only one of them is a 24-hour challenge.

"We've been wanting to do a fundraiser for a few years, and this year we were able to schedule it and we said, 'let's go all in,'" said Zuccolin.

With long days at this time of year it will only be completely dark for about seven hours. There won't be much moon, but they're using glow-in-the-dark balls and flag pins on the greens, and will have a vehicle follow them with a generator and extra lights.

Using carts, the pair are hoping to play 15 or 16 rounds of golf, or roughly 250 holes. That's well shy of the record of 380, but it's still a tough challenge — they'll be hitting balls around 6,000 metres on every trip around the course and will cover over 90km in total.

Some members are volunteering to help the pair out driving carts and the light truck over the course of the challenge, and Zuccolin and Smart are continuing to recruit helpers.

While they'll have the course to themselves for about half the time, Zuccolin said they scheduled the fundraiser to coincide with Tuesday, local's day, and will warn golfers that they'll be playing through.

To raise funds and awareness, Nicklaus North is hosting appetizers and drinks at 4:30 p.m. on Monday, and will host a post-round barbecue on Tuesday. People can donate money or purchase tickets to a prize draw to support the golfers, while Nicklaus North will be donating $5 from every round played that Tuesday — from a local's rate of $52 for Sea to Sky residents — into the pot. They are hoping to raise a minimum of $15,000 but have set a goal of raising $20,000.

"I know somebody with ALS, and a few members know people as well," said Zuccolin. "It's just horrid what it does to you, and when you know somebody going through that you'd do anything you could to help."

Events held last year raised almost $150,000 for the ALS Society of British Columbia.

You can support the Whistler effort online at www.golfathonforals.ca/courses-dates, or by dropping by Nicklaus North during the challenge.

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