Father and son to play 100 holes of golf so others can access the sport

Two years ago, in the throes of the coronavirus pandemic, Ethan Bartlett and his father, Keith, fixed up a 1993 pop-up camper and took a six-week road trip to the West Coast, where they saw family, visited several national parks and played a round of golf at Poppy Hills, the newest course in the nirvana that is Pebble Beach, Calif.

Bartlett played for just $5 thanks to his membership with Youth on Course, a nonprofit that subsidizes rounds across the country for young players.

“Going out west and playing this really hard golf course, it taught me things that I would never have learned playing municipal golf courses nearby — and all for the price of five bucks,” Bartlett said.

To pay it forward, Bartlett will participate in the 100 Hole Hike charity event Monday at Hollows Golf Club in Montpelier, Va., northwest of Richmond. He will play 100 holes and walk roughly 33 miles with his golf bag around his shoulder and his father playing by his side.

The two immediately signed up upon receiving an email from the Virginia State Golf Association advertising the event, and together they have raised nearly $1,200.

They have prepared for the hike by playing as much golf as possible, often at least 18 holes per day. They are expecting Monday’s challenge to take roughly 8½ hours to complete.

“It’s definitely going to be a bonding thing; it’s just going to be 5½ rounds of golf straight,” Bartlett said. “I’m nervous about it because I also have an 18-hole tournament the next day for high school.”

Bartlett, a senior at Meridian High, accelerated his interest during his freshman year, when his friends told him the team would take a trip to Topgolf, which sounded like fun. He had played a bit with his dad but never took the game seriously to that point. His love for it has grown over the past three years and flourished during the pandemic, when he would practice six hours a day.

Keith Bartlett is grateful to Youth on Course for providing his son with golf experiences he was never able to attain at such a young age. The elder Bartlett picked up the sport while working at a golf course during his sophomore year of high school in his hometown of West Hartford, Conn. He had aspirations of continuing to play in college but said he was told by the athletic director at Connecticut that he would need to take a year to sharpen his skills before he would be considered for the team. Without a car to get to the driving range to practice or the funds to play at many courses, he gave up the sport for several years.

Through events such as the 100 Hole Hike, Youth on Course provides its 130,000 members with access to nearly 2,000 golf courses in the United States and Canada. A number of local courses participated in the program, including East Potomac Golf Course and the Courses at Andrews.

The Bartletts are anticipating a strenuous day but looking forward to demonstrating their commitment to the sport and Youth on Course.

“This organization 100 percent helped me with growing my love for the game, playing these nice golf courses, experiencing what golf can actually be in its truest form,” Ethan Bartlett said.