20211101 Gabby United Way 001.jpg

Cliff Williams / The Outlook Gabby Witherington poses with Lake Martin Area United Way executive director Sharon Fuller and staff while taking a break from his 100-hole golf marathon Monday.

Every year Stillwaters golf professional Gabby Witherington races around the golf course for the Lake Martin Area United Way.

Witherington, like so many other golf course professionals, use a 100-hole marathon to raise money for a good cause. Witherington was trying to decide what cause when he ran across

Lake Martin Area United Way executive director Sharon Fuller at a Dadeville Kiwanis meeting where he is a member.

“There are so many great causes that are worthy,” Witherington said. “I just prayed about it that morning for God to put it on my heart and make it obvious. I went to Kiwanis and she was the speaker. I said right then I knew who to give it to.”

Five years later the golfing marathon is still going. It started out with a goal of raising $3,500 and has grown to raising more than $6,000 this year for the Lake Martin Area United Way campaign. A lot of the donations Witherington gets are from StillWaters residents and Stillwaters Golf Club members. There is also the Dadeville Kiwanis Club.

“I do so much with Kiwanis, I do everything they ask; I keep giving and giving,” Witherington said. “It’s the same with the members here. I’m always asking them to play in my events. What I tell them is this is the one time of the year I’m going to ask you for money and all you get is the feeling of benefiting a great cause. They don’t have a chance to win prize money. They don’t have a chance to play. They don’t come out and play 100 holes with me.”

By noon Monday Witherington had played 59 holes and was taking a lunch break sharing stories with Fuller about how he plays 100 holes in a day.

“I play speed golf in the morning and now members and the public are on the course, so I’m bouncing all over the place trying to find a hole where we are not interrupting anybody,” Witherington said. “I’ve got plenty of daylight so I’ll be on cruise control.”

Witherington starts his annual 100-hole marathon before sunrise.

“If I can get enough light to where I can see the ball and follow its movement just slightly, I will start,” Witherington said. “I know where I normally land. I can go out and find my ball.”

This year started without a natural alarm clock Witherington found on his first hole of the marathon.

“I found my ball in the rough after the first shot,” Witherington said. “I never knew that turkeys roost in trees. When I hit that second shot, it freaked him out. It’s just dusk. I hit that shot and he went ‘blahhahabulla’. I’m down on my knees and I’m like, ‘They are not going to make any money cause I only did half a hole. Don’t let me die.’”

Witherington has conquered even more golf in a day, but it was before his joints required a little help. A professional at Old Overton was going to do 200 holes in a day and Witherington wasn’t going to let go of a record.

“If he is going to do 200, I’m going to do 200,” Witherington said. “That’s different than 100. With 100 I can blaze in the morning and slow down the rest of the day because I’m not going to run out of daylight.”

With 200 holes in a day Witherington had to stay on the course from before sunrise to sunset. It happened to be at Stillwaters before he was doing the marathon for the United Way.

“We were going to close the old course,” Witherington said. “I did the marathon the day after it closed.”

With no other golfers on the course and the greens about to be torn apart, Witherington was able to drive up on the greens almost putting from behind the steering wheel of a golf cart. The effort required changing golf carts on the go too.

“I was radioing my assistant pro, ‘Ok I made three rounds with this cart, bring me another cart, bring a sandwich, two Reeses and chips and a Coke,” Witherington said. “While I’m running to the tee box, he is switching my bag to the new cart. We had to synchronize everything.”

Witherington found out the pro at Old Overton had done either 206 or 216 holes, but he couldn’t let a long day get in the way.

“I’m like I got to do 217,” Witherington said. “I had about 20 minutes of daylight left when I finished. I didn’t stop all day. I was eating on the run. When I got done, the pit wizards helped me walk up the stairs. They were scared because they hadn’t seen Gabby like that before. They were like he shouldn’t drive home. I was younger then.”

Fuller is proud Witherington has continued on with the marathon as it provides a way to get the message of the United Way out and raise much needed funds for its 27 agencies.

“In doing it, we have a lot more people who know about United Way because of this fundraiser,” Fuller said. “They may not typically see our stories or agencies. I can’t thank him enough.”

Cliff Williams is a staff writer for Tallapoosa Publishers.

Recommended for you