"I don't think anybody will think any less of me for playing 100 holes instead of 108," Joel Zuckerman said Friday evening as he walked the front nine at Beaufort's Secession Golf Club for the sixth time.
No doubt. What Zuckerman accomplished Friday was quite a feat.
The Savannah-based golf writer played 100 holes of golf to raise money to research and fight lymphatic malformations, a rare condition where cysts form, usually in the neck region, making eating, breathing and swallowing difficult.
Zuckerman, 51, had hoped to play 108 holes -- six complete rounds -- but, late in the game, decided he'd stick to the 100.
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"I don't know if I'll ever do that again," Zuckerman said of the 100-hole effort.
"I may have only met the man five times," Zuckerman said of Joe Steffen. "That's in 15 years in Savannah."
So how did Zuckerman come to raise money for the cause of Steffen's son?
"We got to talking at a mutual friend's Christmas party," Zuckerman said. "We started talking about playing golf together, and he mentioned his son with a medical problem."
In honor of Liam Steffen, their 2-year-old son born with lymphatic malformations, Joe and Janet Steffen established Liam's Land, a nonprofit group to advance research and identify possible causes of the disease.
After hearing of the Steffens' plight, Zuckerman recalled a story he heard recently.
Jim Colton, a golfer from Chicago who belonged to a club in Colorado, heard a caddie there had become paralyzed skiing, and Colton organized a golf marathon to pay for the caddie's medical bills.
This was the beginning of Colton's Hundred Hole Hike, a website that allows golfers to earn donations for the charity of their choice in return for their 100-hole commitments.
"In the same way that Jim Colton didn't know the caddie, it was a kind of pay-it-forward effect," said Zuckerman, who decided to play for Liam's cause.
"It came from out of nowhere," Joe Steffen said. "I don't even know him that well. It's just an amazing act of charity."
"Sometimes it's simply amazing what other people will do for you out of the kindness of their hearts," Janet Steffen said.
When Zuckerman decided he would play 100 holes, Secession was the easy choice.
First of all, Zuckerman is a member. Second, the course is flat.
"It's a walking golf course," Zuckerman said.
The club put Zuckerman up Thursday night, club employees constantly checked to see if there was anything he needed and he had the course virtually to himself as the club had just reopened after three weeks of maintenance.
"We tried to help," Secession general manager John Marsh said. "We actually have a number of charities we try and help each year. Any time a member comes to us with something he wants us to support, we look at it to see what we can do."
Zuckerman teed off at 6:39 a.m. on No. 1 and immediately put his ball in the marsh. Luckily the tide was low and he was able to hit out of the sand. But this would become a trend.
The pace of play didn't bother Zuckerman, but may have affected his putting.
"I'm a fast player anyway, often to my detriment. I do feel the pressure to keep up the pace. That's probably why I've missed six or seven putts this long," said Zuckerman, holding his arms spread wide.
After five complete rounds (90 holes), several changes of shoes and socks, a break for lunch and even a quick shower, Zuckerman seemed to get a late second wind.
For the first time in six tries, he put his drive on the fairway on the first hole.
"Yes sir!" Zuckerman shouted.
He then birdied No. 3 and No. 5 on the way to a 38 on the front nine, his best nine-hole score of the day.
"Maybe one of the reasons I was playing so well late was that I realized didn't have the back nine to play," Zuckerman said.
After he two-putted No. 10 just after 7:30 p.m. to complete his 100th hole, Zuckerman celebrated on the green. Roughly 11 hours and a lot of sweat later, Zuckerman had finished what he started.
Zuckerman said he was just as impressed with his ability to challenge himself and come through as he was with the act of charity.
"I did enjoy it, I'll admit that," Zuckerman said. "But I'm really glad I'm done."