Cion Hueske used to run 10Ks until her knee couldn’t take the pounding anymore. Now she regularly walks the distance.
“I love to walk,” said the Village of Gilchrist resident, who has hoofed it from her front door to Spanish Springs Town Square and back on more than one occasion.
Hueske plays golf, too. And when she’s so inclined, she’s been known to combine the two.
Two months ago, Hueske walked four rounds on The Villages’ executive courses — 36 holes — in the space of a day. Then she did it again a week later. Not challenging enough. She began August by striding her way through six executive rounds in a day. Still not enough.
On Aug. 15, she raised the bar again — eight executive courses, 72 holes. All while wheeling her clubs around on a pull cart.
“One of the starters asked if I was trying to break the ladies’ record for golfing (the most) holes in one year,” Hueske said. “I said no, I’m trying to set a record in one day.”
According to The Villages Golf & Tennis, there is no official record for the most executive golf holes played in a single day, much less achieved while entirely walking. No one, though, could recall any tally approaching 72.
“It’s summertime and so I’m able to do it,” said Hueske, a native of the Philippines. “In the middle of the day there’s hardly anybody playing, so I can play on my own.”
Hueske began her quest at 7 a.m. at Heron executive course, switching over to Pelican after completing her first nine. Then it was on to Truman and Roosevelt.
She played those rounds as part of a group, playing from the friendly tees while her fellow golfers teed off from farther back.
“They played the back tees and I played the green,” she said. “I wanted to save energy. I told them, ‘I want to play eight courses today.’ They were like, huh?”
Even after she explained her quest, she said, she encountered a certain amount of disbelief.
The typical reaction: “Oh really? More power to you,” Hueske recalled with a laugh.
“But I told them I’ve done it before. I used to run marathons before and I can do it.”
Indeed, Hueske was an avid runner when she and her husband, Lee, lived in California and Hawaii.
“I used to do a lot of 10K races back in Hawaii,” she said. “I’d usually be in the top 20 in the big races and top 10 in the smaller races.”
Eventually, though, an arthritic left knee forced Hueske to give up running seven years ago. “So I do a lot of walking instead,” she said.
Most days, Hueske estimates she logs 6 to 8 miles on the trails around her home. Then there are those times when she wants to challenge herself.
The first time she walked to Spanish Springs, she said, it was about a 30-mile round trip. The second time she did it, she found a shorter route and cut the venture to 27 miles.
After Truman and Roosevelt, Hueske played the rest of her golf marathon by herself. With the crowds thinning in the heat of the day, she headed to Turtle Mound to tee off at her fifth course of the day.
She didn’t even bother to stop for lunch, packing a sandwich to consume as she walked the fairways.
“I bring a lot of ice-cold water with me,” Hueske said. “In the middle of the day it’s really, really hot — but I’m used to the heat anyway.”
Playing by herself also allowed Hueske more time to get in some extra swings. She played multiple balls much of the way, walking to each one as she made her way down the fairways.
“My irons are not that great,” she said, “so I’m able to practice my irons more.”
Hueske currently sports an 18 handicap, though she said there was a time it was as low as 14. “It goes up and down,” she said. “That’s why I like to practice a little when I get out there.”
After Turtle Mound came nine at Sandhill, finishing with plenty of daylight remaining. Hueske hardly took a break, loading her clubs and pull cart onto her golf cart for the drive to Sweetgum and Mangrove.
“(The drive is) probably only 15 minutes, maybe less,” she said. “I knew they were pretty open.”
And when the final putt dropped on the 72nd hole, there was a sense of accomplishment but not fatigue.
“I still managed to get home and cook dinner for my husband,” she quipped.
She’d been out on the course nearly 13 hours. The eight layouts add up to 12,582 yards on the scorecard — more than 7.1 miles, not counting the distance between greens and tees, walking to multiple balls or the trip from the parking lot to the first tee.
And Hueske may not be finished. She’s thinking she might be able to walk 10 executive courses in a day if she limits herself to one ball all day.
That window might be closing for the summer, though. “The days (are) getting shorter; it gets dark earlier now,” she said. “I don’t know if I’m going to be able to do it this time.”
She’ll have to make a decision soon.
Meanwhile, Hueske also is keeping an eye on the bridges being installed in the southern part of The Villages for another challenge.
“My next goal is to walk to Fenney,” she said. “Once they build all those cart paths over the turnpike, I’m going over there and doing it.”