2024 Front 9 Endurance Golf Recap

There was a pink glow surrounding Brockway Mountain and a deer walked up the fairway on hole 1 of the golf course. There was a stillness to the air, and it was completely quiet. There was nobody else around. This was the start of the longest day of golf on Thursday, June 20th, 2024 at 6:00 am at the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge.

A deer walks across Hole 1 fairway just before sunrise.

The occasion, the longest day of golf at the top of the Keweenaw, is the first edition of the Front 9 Endurance Golf event at the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge – a sister event to the Back 9 Endurance Run. Both events are designed to test your skill, strength, speed, and stamina.

For the last few years we have been putting around an idea for a golf event at the Lodge. We wanted to do something different, something that celebrated the summer solstice, the anniversary of the Lodge becoming an International Dark Sky Park, while also being aligned with our other outdoor events which we host. We nicknamed the event, “the longest day of golf” and began to envision what the event would be. The slogan for the Back 9 Endurance Run is, ”just one more round” which coincidentally works as a golf event as well. This connection was the foundation for the concept for the Front 9 Endurance Golf.

We would see who could play the most rounds of golf in a day, with tee times starting right after sunrise (5:54am) at 6:00am and let people play until sunset (9:52pm) at 10:00pm. This would allow the course to be open for 16 hours of play!

Next we set the rules and guidelines for the event. For any event at the Lodge we consider the optimal number of participants based upon getting people closer to nature . We want the Lodge experience, including events, to be intimate and welcoming. We capped the event at 24 participants – which would allow guests to enjoy the wilderness golf course while sticking with our focus of getting people closer to nature.

[ This philosophy is also exhibited in our regular daily golf operations, where we limit the number of golfers to 44 per day, with the first tee being 9am and the last tee-time being 5pm, with 20-minute intervals between tee times – all golfers off the course by 7pm each day. The longest day of golf is the only time we allow golfers to play outside of our standard times. ]

We then laid out the rules.

Overall Rules:

  • Golfers must make their first tee time.
  • Tee times are 20 minutes apart. The KML team has the right to group golfers together.
  • Golfers can play unlimited rounds.
  • Golfers must walk the course. Clubs can only be transported by the players themselves.
  • Golfers are allowed to take breaks then continue play.
  • Only complete 9 hole rounds of golf will count.
  • Only participants of the event are allowed to play golf that day.

Rules during play:

  • USGA rules apply
  • Players can tee off from the front tees or back tees
  • All Holes must be putted out – no gimmes
  • Players are allowed to pick-clean-and-place
  • Let faster players play through

Marking the Board:

  • Players must keep score and record it on the board after each round they complete

Since 2020 we have allowed Fling Golf to be played on the course so we felt it fitting to award two medals for the day, one for traditional golf and one for fling golf.

Ben Kipela, the first golfer to tee off, started at 10:00am. He has played the golf course numerous times over the years. He chose a steady and lightweight approach to the day. He used just one club during the first round – a 6 iron.

Ben Kipela tees of for his first round.

Next up was James West, starting at 10:40am and playing the course for his first time. Not knowing what to expect on the course, he used a push cart and brought along his whole bag of clubs.

James West tees off for his first round.
Using a pull cart to transport golf clubs.

One of the rules we established is that, “Golfers must walk the course. Clubs can only be transported by the players themselves.” We thought this was a critical part of the endurance aspect of the event. All the major tours, the PGA Tour included, believe that walking is an integral part of the game and require all golfers to walk the course. We also wanted to use the event as a way to educate golfers on the benefits of walking the course. We referred to the Walking Golfers Society in researching why golfers should walk (the president of the society, Ben Cowan, played the course last year) . We created a poster as an educational opportunity for our guests – education is one of our core focuses at the Lodge. Guests leave more knowledgeable than when they came.

Educational poster about the benefits of walking the course.

The day progressed, and Ben and James were making their rounds. They each switched up their strategies each round. Ben switched to different clubs, including trying a 7 & 8 iron, while James minimized his clubs and started to carry his bag, leaving the push cart behind.

I decided to join the fun between my responsibilities and get my fling on! I had not used a fling stick yet this year (I’ve been working on my traditional golf game), so I thought this would be a good way to get some practice in. I started mid afternoon on my first round.

Chris Guibert (the author) getting his Fling on.

Getting out on the course allowed me to do something that’s been on my mind for a while. I have been wanting to clock the mileage for walking the course. The mileage will be different each time one plays based on where one hits the ball and how much back and forth one does looking for your ball. However, I wanted a base figure to work with. I played from the Iron tees and used my Gaia GPS App to clock the distance on my first two rounds. For my first round, I clocked 2.33 miles and for my second round I clocked 2.18 miles. This averages to about 2 ¼ miles per round. Now we have a number to figure out how far each player walked for the day during the longest day of golf!

1st round distance measurements for walking the course – 2.33 miles.
2nd round distance measurements for walking the course – 2.18 miles.
Ben Kipela starting his 3rd round. All smiles!
James West making a putt on the 9th green.

Later in the afternoon Ben and James threw in the towel and put down their clubs. Ben had played five rounds and James had played four, however the day was not over yet.

KML team member John Mueller joined the fun at 6:00pm after a long day working on the course (he had one of the longest days of mowing before he decided to swing the golf for his first round of the day). He came out of the gate fast and played his first round in 31 minutes. He used the one club method (a 7 iron) and ran to his ball between each shot. I was inspired to follow him out for my third round during his first round.

John Mueller tees off on Hole 8

John continued his nimble pace even bettering his second time around, completing it in 25 minutes. Soon he found out that this pace could not be maintained (31 minutes, 25 minutes, and 29 minutes for his first 3 rounds). He slowed down for his fourth round and coaxed me out for one final round in the early evening. This would be the fourth round for both of us. We relaxed and enjoyed some camaraderie, traditional golf and fling golf uniting for an endcap of the day. In the early evening the wildlife becomes more active on the course. We had to wait on hole 8 for a sandhill crane to move out of the fairway before teeing off.

Even though this event was designed to test your golf skill, strength, speed and stamina, through the process we realized that this is also about celebrating the Lodge’s wilderness golf course. Seeing the sandhill crane made us remember that you need to slow down to appreciate nature, and this can even be done while playing multiple rounds during the Front 9 Endurance Golf Event.

A Sandhill Crane slowly wanders across the on Hole 9 green.

2024 Front 9 Endurance Golf Final Results:

Traditional Golf:

  • Ben Kipela – 5 rounds – 45 holes of golf – walked approximately 11.25 miles
  • James West – 4 rounds – 36 holes of golf – walked approximately 9 miles
  • John Mueller – 4 rounds – 36 holes of golf – walked approximately 9 miles

Fling Golf:

  • Chris Guibert – 4 rounds – 36 holes of golf – walked approximately 9 miles

Of note:

  • Best Score – James West shot a 39 on his first round of golf
  • Fastest Round – John Mueller completed his second round in 25 minutes

Join us next year for the 2025 Front 9 Endurance Golf held on June 20, 2025, the summer solstice. Bring a friend to enjoy the day or come alone and test yourself to see if you can play “Just One More Round”.

Last modified on June 24th, 2024 at 4:17 pm