At the tail end of last year, a then 60-year old Englishman endured the worst weather the north coast of Spain had suffered for 30 years in order to play a few holes of golf. Five of them, to be precise. What’s this, you’re perhaps thinking? A bad-weather version of only ‘mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun’? Not at all. Nick Edmund is far from mad. Rather, he is indomitable and inspiring.
This was the fourth awareness golf-walk he had arranged to promote his Global Golf4 Cancer campaign, this particular one taking in San Sebastian and Santander, both of which lie on the famous pilgrim’s walk of Camino de Santiago. To make things tougher, he undertakes the walks carrying a set of golf clubs. This walk covered about 300 kilometres, 20 of which he did with José Maria Olazábal, the two-time Masters champion and 2012 Ryder Cup captain, who is a native of San Sebastian. The notion of doing this was something they had first discussed in 2017 but before it actually happened it had been postponed twice for a couple of different reasons – covid and cancer. Covid you know about. Not necessarily the cancer.
In late 2012, Nick engaged with Macmillan Cancer Support about potential fundraising opportunities within golf. He formulated a plan based on the number four, in part because one in four is approximately the odds of someone being affected by cancer and because four is a significant number in golf – e.g. par-fours being the most common holes, the formats of fourballs and foursomes, there are four major championships, etc. He was pretty confident about his concept except for one thing: “Among the typically conservative British golf clubs, would I be seen as a credible campaigner? After all, I hadn’t had cancer.” By spring 2014, he had – in his head and neck. It has since returned three more times, requiring several operations and other procedures, over 100 radiotherapy sessions and causing blindness in his left eye, but through it all Nick has kept on going. The best news is that he has been cancer-free since summer 2019.
The campaign has a flag with a golf club and the number 4 at the heart of its design. With Olazábal, Nick played the 4th hole at Real Golf Club de San Sebastian and the 4th at Real Nuevo Club Basozabal. Back on November 30, 2018, St Andrews Day, playing with the two surgeons who had been treating him, the flag was flown on the 4th hole of the Old Course. As Nick says: “If the Global Golf4 Cancer flag can fly at St Andrews, it can fly anywhere.” And of course he is right. His goal and hope is that by the end of this year it will have been flown at over 400 courses on six continents. The book of his journey, when he publishes it, should make for fascinating reading.
Nearly four weeks after playing with Olazábal, and after also getting his banner to blow in the wind and the rain on the 4th hole at both Real Zarauz and Real Sociedad de Golf de Neguri, Nick was at Real Golf de Pedrena, the former home course of the greatest-ever Spanish golfer, who passed away from cancer in May 2011. The flag was duly raised there in the company of Seve Ballesteros’ eldest son, Javier; Seve’s brother, Manuel; and Nick’s younger son, Max. By then, even the sun had come out to play.
Nick Edmund is a former barrister, a golf writer and for 15 years he was the manager of Nick Faldo’s golf course-design business. These days his attention is focused on helping cancer-related charities in his very own golf-specific way. “For now I am about raising awareness,” he says. “The fund-raising can come later.” You can find out more about Nick’s work and his walks by visiting his website at www.globalgolf4cancer.org
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