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Golf 101: These Coquitlam pros rallied to raise $18K for ALS research

The Vancouver Golf Club in Coquitlam hosted an annual campaign that saw its representatives play from sun-up to sun-down on June 27, 2023.

Longer days at the end of June allowed Jordan Rourke and Michael Grabowski to squeeze five full rounds at the Vancouver Golf Club in Coquitlam in a single day.

The certified professionals completed 101 holes on June 27 at the Austin Avenue course, equating to five-and-a-half trips around the local fairways and greens.

Three other pros joined them along the way — Shania Remandaban, Sean Thompson and Rachel Wiebe — as well as members Jay Frizzell, Bob McCusker and Grace McCusker, combining for 427 holes in a span of over 15 hours.

Some may argue that getting to play from dawn 'til dusk is an amateur golfer's dream, but the purpose of this marathon went beyond fully mastering VGC's natural elements.

Rourke, Grabowski and the VGC team also raised $18,300 for advancing research efforts to find a cure for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).

Known as the PGA of BC Golf-a-Thon, the Coquitlam course, and 45 others, chipped in the money for the ALS Society of BC.

The objective is to play "hit-and-run" golf as those who choose to donate may pledge a certain amount of money per hole a participant completes.

So, why would someone do this?

It's estimated that 400 people in B.C., and 3,000 across Canada, live with ALS, of which there's no cure. Since its inception, the ALS Society of BC has raised roughly $2 million for research.

The disease exacts a physical toll as it can lead to voluntary control of arms and legs, tight muscles, cramping and breathing issues.

Rourke told the Tri-City News, with that in mind, every stroke felt more relevant than the last, especially when his own body started to slow down.

"It means a lot for VGC to participate in the Golf-a-Thon every year; one of our older members, Don McCusker, passed away from ALS," he explained.

"Each year, his son also participates and plays and is a major organizer for the fundraising efforts."

Rourke said the team set an initial fundraising goal of $12,500 for VGC's 11th Golf-a-Thon, believing the final result shows how generous the Tri-Cities community truly is.

The first swing was clocked at 5:45 a.m. on June 27. The final putt at 9 p.m. when darkness settled in.

Rourke and Grabowski, both associate golf pros at VGC, made things interesting by engaging in a friendly match-play contest. Grabowski prevailed, winning six-up with five to play over 100 holes.

The highlight of the day came at the Par 4 17th hole where Wiebe landed an eagle (two under par) in her first round, cashing in on some extra member donations. 

And, even more impressive, no balls were lost among the eight Golf-a-Thon participants and no wildlife encounters.

In 2022, Rourke and Grabowski finished 72 holes with their team combining for more than $11,000 in funds raised.

If you wish to contribute to the cause, which is still ongoing, you're encouraged to visit the VGC's page on the Golf-a-Thon's website.