Published on : Saturday, January 12, 2019
Three-time cancer survivor Nick Edmund has revealed plans to undertake two more marathon golf-walks during 2019 – just weeks after completing his second epic walk carrying a set of golf clubs on his back, this time around Scotland.
The 57-year-old golf industry veteran, formerly Managing Director of Faldo Design, raised the iconic 4-Flag of his Global Golf4 Cancer campaign after playing the 4th hole at Royal Dornoch, where almost 60 people including members of the club’s junior section helped create a giant 4 sign in celebration of the achievement, at the end of his Scottish walk three days before Christmas.
Remarkably, Nick had been forced to take a four-week break during his latest challenge, which saw him start at Turnberry in mid-October after summer operations on a tumour on his forehead and walk the Ayrshire coast, to undergo four weeks of radiotherapy yet he resumed his walk from Edinburgh’s Leith Links only three days after completing the physically-draining cancer treatment.
The 250-mile (400km) walk saw Nick visit 25 golf clubs over five weeks to play the 4th hole and raise the 4-Flag on each – this after he successfully finished a two-part golf-walk along the entire 2,000km length of Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way last May, stopping off at 40 golf courses en route.
Having barely had time to put his feet up and relax after his latest endeavour, the intrepid cancer battler has announced he is already planning a third golf-walk in Northern Ireland this spring, followed by a fourth heroic venture along Spain’s Camino de Santiago later in the year.
After resuming his Scottish expedition, Nick golf-walked the Lothian coast to Dunbar via courses including Gullane, Muirfield and North Berwick before crossing the Firth of Forth in a tiny, two-man boat with his clubs in a squall that whipped up big waves – “not very advisable in late November and one of the most frightening 50 minutes of my life!” he admits.
Safely back on dry land, Nick continued through the Kingdom of Fife to Carnoustie Country and on to Aberdeenshire, playing notable courses including Crail, Carnoustie, Montrose, Royal Aberdeen and Cruden Bay. Avoiding heavy snow in the Scottish Highlands, he then made his way to Inverness via stops at Moray, Nairn and Castle Stuart, before reaching the finishing post at Royal Dornoch after a brief detour to the Glenmorangie Distillery – “to keep the spirits up!”.
The highlight for Nick, though, was playing the first four holes of the Old Course at St Andrews on 30 November, St Andrews Day, with the two surgeons who had operated on his head and neck cancer three times during the summer and who had flown up from London with his family.
“The captain of the R&A was in the R&A headquarters, which they open to the public once a year on St Andrew’s Day, and they gave me a wonderful welcome,” says Nick. “But stepping onto the Swilcan Bridge with the two surgeons who effectively saved my life was a very emotional moment.”
Nick is not letting the grass grow under his feet, however. His next golf-walk challenge will involve “marching forth” on 4 March to trek for four weeks from Lough Erne Resort around Northern Ireland to Royal County Down, visiting 18 courses and raising the 4-Flag at each.
Then in late 2019 he is planning to spend six weeks on a golf-walking pilgrimage along the Camino route in northern Spain, travelled by thousands of pilgrims each year. One of the main objectives is to play the 4th hole of the Real Golf de Pedreña course, where Seve Ballesteros learnt to play, along with a member of the late maestro’s family and his erstwhile golf partner José María Olazábal. Seve, who died from brain cancer in 2011 at the age of 54, set up the Seve Ballesteros Foundation cancer charity after being diagnosed with cancer and Nick says one aim of his walk is to highlight that.
Nick isn’t stopping there, either. He is taking his cancer awareness campaign global. Before his Northern Ireland trek he will be flying to South Africa to visit 16 leading golf clubs across the country to present them with 4-Flags. Then he plans to visit North America to encourage 40 prestigious golf clubs to fly the flag from 1 July, which is Canada Day when he plans to visit the continent’s oldest golf club, the Royal Montreal Golf Club, to America’s Independence Day, on 4 July. He wants the 4-Flag flying at key golf clubs on all six continents by the end of the year.
Beyond 2019 he has no definite plans for any further marathon treks, saying: “At some point I wanted to put a ceiling on how many walks I was doing so that people were aware that the campaign wasn’t just about golf-walking. If I manage to do all my four walks by 2019 I will not be spending weeks away in 2020 but can devote more time to growing the campaign generally.
“Each golf walk is not an end in itself. Their main purpose is to draw attention to the overall Global Golf4 Cancer campaign, to encourage and inspire the golf community to ‘fly the flag’ and support various cancer-fighting initiatives around the world.
“So aside from these two awareness-creating golf-walks, my focus this year is on growing the campaign and turning it into a genuinely global one – the path to achieving this being the organisation of themed regional flag-flying campaigns and various flag-flying-fundraising events.”
Nick adds: “My goal is to get 1,000 clubs all around the world flying the flag at least four times a year – on 4 January, 4 April, 4 July and 4 October – with ideally each holding an annual fundraising event. If 1,000 clubs raised, for example, an average of £1,000, that would raise a £1 million, not to mention create huge awareness and exposure for lots of cancer fighting causes around the world.”
Of his next golf-walk plan, he says: “People might think I’m mad lining up another walk in Northern Ireland so soon after completing the walk in Scotland, but if I didn’t have those goals I’m absolutely sure I would be thinking ‘when is the next cancer; is it going to happen again?’ So this enables me to push it to the back of my mind and focus on all the positives associated with growing a global cancer-fighting campaign”.