Nick Edmund set for trek along Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way to benefit cancer research

Nick Edmund set for trek along Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way to benefit cancer research

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Nick Edmund set for trek along Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way to benefit cancer research

If you find yourself in Ireland this spring or fall, visiting some of the great links along the west coast, it’s quite possible you’ll pass an odd site: a middle-aged man walking the narrow, winding roads of the Wild Atlantic Way with a golf bag on his back.

That man is Nick Edmund, who spent 15 years running Nick Faldo’s course-design business. If you see Edmund, stop and say hello. Walk a few miles with him. He’d enjoy the company. Chances are, you’re going to the same place – the golf course. And by all means, give the man some money. It’s for a good cause.

On March 4 (get it: the day he will march forth), Edmund will leave Malin Head in the far reaches of northwest Ireland on a 1,282-mile walk that takes him to 40 courses over the span of four months. He’s doing all of this to raise money for Cancer Care West, a charity based in Galway.

This is all part of Edmund’s 4-Flag Campaign – a nod both to the 4 million U.K. residents impacted by cancer and the number’s significance in golf (four-balls, par 4s, “Fore!”). His flag will be flown on the fourth hole of each club he visits.

“My hope is that this gathers momentum as the walk progresses and flags go up around the west of Ireland,” said Edmund, who also hopes his campaign inspires golfers around the world to make similar charitable walks.

He’ll start at Ballyliffin, where he is a member, and play just the fourth hole at each course. And then he’ll move on, covering as much as 20 miles a day. That would seem like a lonely endeavor, walking long, remote stretches. But Edmund reasoned, “This is Ireland – you’re never really short of people to talk to.”

After leaving Faldo Design four years ago, Edmund hiked through the Himalayas to raise money for cancer research. That inspired him to start his own charity, Global-Golf4-Cancer (globalgolf4cancer.org). North and West Coast Links, which promotes golf tourism in the northwest, has helped promote Edmund’s walk.

Edmund, 56, initially planned to walk in England, where he lives, but then life happened. He was diagnosed with cancer in his head and neck in 2014. His right parotid gland and the lymph nodes on the right side of his neck were removed. The lingering side effect: He frequently has a dry mouth.

Last year he had a tumor removed from his forehead.

“When I got that removed, I thought, ‘I better do something about this now,’ ” Edmund said.

Ballyliffin GC, where Edmund will start his walk on March 4 (Getty Images/David Cannon)

Ballyliffin GC, where Edmund will start his walk on March 4 (Getty Images/David Cannon)

He decided to walk in Ireland rather than England because he became intrigued by the Wild Atlantic Way, a tourism initiative on the west coast. He hopes to draft off its popularity, and he plans to visit the chief attractions along the scenic route.

Another health scare nearly derailed his plans. In a Dec. 5 surgery, he had a ceramic hip replacement on his right side. He had been anticipating that procedure for the past eight years, previously having had the joints on his left hip resurfaced with a metal coating.

This isn’t an ideal medical history for a man about to walk nearly 1,300 miles, but Edmund is determined to press on.

“I don’t want to take shortcuts,” he said. “If someone offers me a lift, I’ll just smile, grit my teeth and keep going.”

John Farren, general manager of Ballyliffin Golf Club, has known Edmund for more than 20 years. Upon learning of Edmund’s plans, Farren said, “Madness was my initial reaction. It’s a testament to his will and determination that he’s going to do it.”

Edmund will make one concession to health concerns. He’ll stop walking May 1 in Galway, celebrate his 30th wedding anniversary May 2, and take the summer off because of concerns about skin cancer. He’ll resume the walk Sept. 4 and plans to finish at Old Head in Kinsale on Nov. 1.

The initial trek through the northwest could be the most difficult stretch.

“He’s going to be out in some of the worst weather we have to offer in Ireland, certainly for the initial part of the walk,” Farren said. “But I think he will garner a lot of enthusiasm from the locals in terms of what he’s trying to achieve.”

Edmund already gotten a sense of that. During a recent trial walk through Donegal, he stopped at a restaurant for lunch. He realized he looked out of place: carrying his golf clubs through “vicious weather,” miles from the nearest golf course. Edmund said some lady cyclists at the restaurant grew curious about the peculiar man with the golf bag. One of the ladies inquired, and Edmund explained his mission. The lady returned to Edmund’s table with a “bundle of money” for his cause, and they applauded him as he headed down the road.

“It was very moving,” he said. “To say I ran up the road … It just made me think, ‘Wow, this is a worthwhile thing I’m doing.’ That was very uplifting.”

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