It's not uncommon for golf enthusiasts to play as many as 36 holes, or two full 18-hole rounds, in a day.
Any more than that is bordering on overdoing it, especially for a game played outdoors and often in hot weather or other adverse conditions.
But don't tell that to Donna VanKirk, Bob and Brad Belcaster or St. Peter Catholic Church pastor Tony Mullane, who all played at least five full rounds during last year's inaugural Take Stock in Children Golfathon at Florida Keys Country Club in Marathon.
The event was conceived by Belcaster, a Florida Keys Country Club member, and Centennial Bank South Florida President Teresa Condas as a means to boost Take Stock fundraising efforts in the Middle Keys.
Take Stock is a mentoring program that includes 247 Keys kids from nine different middle and high schools. There were 56 new student contracts signed in 2013 alone.
Every $17,000 raised is matched by the Florida Prepaid College Foundation and allows students who meet grade requirements, stay drug- and alcohol-free and don't run afoul of the law to attend four years of college at any of Florida's 28 colleges and/or 12 state universities, with tuition and fees fully paid.
"The whole idea is to get people to donate so much per hole that you play. It all adds up in the end," said VanKirk, a Middle Keys charter captain who completed 202 holes.
This year's event begins at sunrise (roughly 6:50 a.m.) Saturday morning and lasts until sundown (roughly 6:30 p.m.) the same day. Participants golf as many holes as they can in that time period.
VanKirk said golfers are allowed to hit two balls on par-three holes and only have to get the ball within six feet of the pin to complete a hole.
VanKirk is a 13-handicap golfer and typically shoots in the mid- to upper-80s during a round. She said the golf-a-thon is a different animal.
Last time, "I didn't take my time. It was just get out of the cart and hit; get out of the cart and hit. It really wasn't too bad. What hurt me the worst was my upper thighs from getting in and out of the cart."
At one point during last year's event, VanKirk learned she was earning Take Stock in Children $18 per hole, which motivated her to continue on. She earned $7,500 for the charity and had roughly 35 sponsors.
"This year, a lot of them are just writing a check for a set amount," VanKirk said. "But I have people who have pledged so much per hole. I'm going to do the best I can to do at least what I did last year."
Bob Belcaster, 75, completed 100 holes last year and hopes to do the same this time. His son Brad completed 235 holes, but is playing a tournament out of state this weekend.
The golf-a-thon, which will also feature a separate team scramble tournament and chipping contest, was conceived by Belcaster and Condas, who chairs this year's edition.
"I've gotten to know this whole Take Stock issue and I think it's critical to the Keys. They raise their own money to supply the matching part of the contract for Take Stock and it's pretty important," Belcaster said.
Condas said marathon golfers are required to have at least $1,000 worth of pledges to participate in that event. Scramble players are required to pledge $500.
The scramble is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Saturday and participants can still sign up. The chipping contest is slated to run from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Sunday.
It's $20 for three balls and you can have as many tries as you want.
Condas said marathon participants will receive cash rewards based on the amount of money raised and that the top two earners would be awarded one of two Royal Caribbean cruise packages. The chipping contest winner gets a four-night stay in Curacao, including airfare.
"Last year we netted $37,000 and this year we'd love to get to $50,000," Condas said.
For more information, contact Condas via e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 942-1426 (cell) or (305) 676-3002 (office).