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A wacky fundraiser made a difference to many — especially to the 4 guys that made it happen

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Swing Away
The members of the 444 golf team, after playing four courses in four states in one day in 2011.

Several years ago somewhere in the Midwest, four guys played three golf courses in three states in one day.

My friend (and golf buddy) Bruce Robinson told me about this while playing a round of golf two years ago at Highlander Golf Club. He said, “I think we can play four courses in four states in one day.”

By the end of the round, the vision was clear: play on the longest day of the year by starting in Oregon, then into Washington, over to Idaho and finish in Montana and do it for a worthy cause. The 444 vs. Cancer was created.

The foursome would be me, Bruce, his son-in-law Lamar Lewis and Bruce’s son Shea. Emails were exchanged, phone conversations ensued and the plan was set.

Our charity of choice would be Coaches vs. Cancer, Spokane chapter. This worthy organization is affiliated with The American Cancer Society and has raised millions of dollars in the fight against a terrible disease that has touched us all. We set a goal of raising $1,000 each by June 22, and thanks to the generous giving of friends, family and businesses, we were able to raise over $6,000.

The four of us met in Umatilla, Ore., on Wednesday evening and stayed at the Desert River Inn right next door to the golf course.

We teed off at 5 a.m. June 23 at Big River Golf Course just as it was getting light. Our theme on the first tee: “We rode at dawn.”

At 7 a.m. we hit the road to our next destination: Liberty Lake Golf Course in Liberty Lake, 180 miles from Umatilla. On the fifth hole, we were met by KHQ-TV requesting an on-camera interview. Bruce did the spokesman honors, and were told it was to air that evening at 6 and 11 p.m. We missed it.

Next up was The Highlands Golf Course in Post Falls, Idaho, where we battled a tough nine holes but remained in good humor.

Off to Montana and our final round at Trestle Creek Golf Course in St. Regis, Mont. We even had a gallery for the final few holes, and they applauded tee shots and putts like we were pros. By the way, Trestle Creek was voted the No. 1 nine-hole golf course on Interstate-90. It is a beautiful wooded track in great condition.

We teed off on No. 9 at about 8:40 p.m. mountain daylight time, and we all felt like we could play another nine holes, but the local members were waiting at the clubhouse for for the celebration to begin. As you can see by the picture (on page B1), we were a little bit rummy by the end of the day … but it was a good rummy.

What started as a crazy idea turned into an event that was meaningful, purposeful and rewarding. To a person, the four of us felt like we were making a difference and contributing to an important cause, and that just felt good.

As I look back at this, I’m thinking I will never shoot down a goofy idea again... but please don’t ask me to play 555 in 1.

See you on the first tee.

Dan Sollom can be reached at