Golf: Cross-country road trip, driver needed

2013-05-25T00:00:00Z 2013-05-25T14:01:33Z Golf: Cross-country road trip, driver neededZack Rosenblatt Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
May 25, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Forrest Gump's motivation for running across country was simple.

He just felt like it.

Luke Bielawski loves golf. He also loves philanthropy.

In October, Bielawski was looking to find a way to combine his two passions. He was having trouble coming up with a new, unique idea, though.

"Then," Bielawski said, "one day I was watching 'Forrest Gump' and it just hit me - why not golf across the entire country?"

So the idea for "From Tee to Shining Tee," a cross-country fundraising and awareness event, was born.

Bielawski began his 3,000-mile, 110-day journey in Ventura, Calif., with the goal of hitting a golf ball along country roads from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean. Twenty-five days into his journey, Bielawski made a stop in Tucson. He spent Friday talking to students at San Miguel High School.

The Star talked to Bielawski about his journey, his mission - and his motives:

The logistics

Bielawski, 24, will be covering roughly 3,000 miles and playing the ball "as it lies" along country roads the entire way. It's important to note, though, that he will not be hitting the same golf ball across the country.

"If I lose it, and it's clear I'm not going to be able to get to it because of a fence or something like that, the next shot on the line at which it crossed, or if I see it bounce and then I can't find it, I drop it," he said.

Bielawski said he plays according to United States Golf Association rules.

After leaving Arizona, he will travel through New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia before finishing off in Charleston, S.C.

The cause

Bielawski is raising scholarship funds for Providence Cristo Rey High School in Indianapolis with the goal of raising $100,000, enough to fund 12 scholarships. He has raised $20,000 so far.

Cristo Rey school takes in students from economically disadvantaged homes.

Cristo Rey, like San Miguel - they're sister schools - takes part in the Corporate Work Study program. Students take classes four days a week and spend one day a week in the workplace.

"I'm doing something that I love and helping kids in the community," Bielawski said. "I'll see the benefits of that first-hand since that's the community where I live."

The reactions

When Bielawski tells people about "From Tee to Shining Tee," he gets three types of reaction.

"It's either 'You're crazy,' 'Oh, cool!' or the ones that don't really understand exactly what we're doing," he said. "We're not playing golf courses, and that's one of the biggest challenges to explain to people: 'No, we're not playing golf courses, we're actually hitting alongside the road.' "

And seeing someone hitting golf balls along the side of the road isn't exactly a routine sight.

"We get a lot of smiles from people driving by," Bielawski said.

Luckily, he hasn't had any scares with hitting golf balls at cars or people. At least, not yet.

"I have hit a car," Bielawski said. "But it was on a bounce. It just kept rolling. It was one of those 600-yard shots. I think it did tap the windshield, but at that point his car was stopped and it was bouncing along. It didn't do any damage. That was the only run-in, it wasn't a scare at all."

coast to coast

Luke Bielawski will try to hit a golf ball from Ventura, Calif., to Charleston, S.C. We crunched some numbers for his trip:

110

Estimated days to travel from coast to coast

3,000

Miles covered from Ventura to Charleston

48,000

Estimated swings taken during his journey

Track his progress

Follow Bielawski's journey on his website at getonthegreen.org and Twitter @getonthegreen

Contact reporter Zack Rosenblatt at zrosenblatt@azstarnet.com or 573-4145. On Twitter @zackblatt.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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