The 2013 Death Valley Challenge

with 3 Comments

WOW. That about sums up this year’s Death Valley Challenge.

For many reason too.

The first being the most important and that is we hit our goal of raising $4,000 for the Wounded Warrior Project™. I set the bar kind of high for this one and really challenged my guys to come through and they did! With a few weeks to go it didn’t look like we were going to come close but in the end everyone put forth a valiant effort and we accomplished something I feel is remarkable. Four friends from Vegas came together and raised $4,000 to help out our nation’s true heroes and for that I couldn’t be more proud of my friends!

Death Valley Challenge

The next WOW is what we actually accomplished on the golf course.

Let me first start off by saying I don’t recommend, EVER that anyone plays a round of golf when the temperature outside is in the 130’s. That’s no typo, at one point in the third round when we got to the 16th tee box the thermometer I had with us in the cart read 132°!

132 Degrees - Death Valley Challenge


When Bill and I were comparing last year’s DVC to this one we both realized how lucky we were. The heat never really was a factor for us in 2012 and since there were only two of us we pretty much breezed through the course in relatively perfect conditions.

Death Valley Challenge

That wasn’t the case this year. When we walked outside the hotel rooms to head to the course it was already 109° and that was at 4:50am in the morning with the sun not even being in the sky yet! We were in for a hot one. Arriving at the course before the was enough light to see we did some chipping on the 18th green and took our practice swings on the tee box of the first hole. We tee’d off as soon as we had enough light to see the ball and made our way around the course in a pretty good time considering there was four of us.

We needed to average 3hr rounds in order to reach 81 holes and the first one we were successful at that time, but as the heat kicked it up a notch and the wind decided to blow in we knew it was going to be a challenge to get in the next 63 .

The wind was brutal and I mean BRU…TAL!!! There are 3 pretty long par 4’s that all played into the wind and even though I was hitting the ball rather well the wind still kicked my ass. Imaging turning a hair dryer into your face on the hottest setting blowing at the highest speed. Now try and hit a 175 yard approach shot, get the idea? The elements are what made the Death Valley Challenge so challenging this year! Mother nature whooped us!

Death Valley Challenge

By the time the second round had begun at 8:40am the temperature was already in the high teens and when we finished that round and for the rest of the day we were fully enveloped by 125° temps.

Heat and wind aside for a moment and I can tell you about another WOW, the golf course.

Last year the course played pretty tough. It was the first time Bill and I had ever played in Furnace Creek so being a new course there was a learning curve. I had hoped that with my course familiarity and playing much better of late that I was going to be able to rattle off some decent scores. Furnace Creek had a different take on the situation though.

The course was mystery at times. Some greens held the ball some didn’t. Some putts were super fast and others like you were putting on Velcro. The fringe had us all mystified. Land your chip shot on the fringe and the ball basically stopped, but carry the fringe and your ball was gone.  Sounds reasonable right?  Had that been the case on every hole we might have had a chance but it seemed to change with each hole we played. The rough was just as challenging. Sometimes the ball we leave the face of the club exactly how you had anticipated it but the results were far from what was expected. Those combinations can lead to some rather disappointing scores and that how my day went.

Death Valley Challenge

I was driving the ball better than I have in years and my putting was excellent, I averaged 30 putts a round. That just goes to show how bad I played from my approach shot.

Everyone felt the wrath of the course though not just me. The combination of the heat the wind and the difficult course condtions made any chances of us scoring well non existant. Bill, who’s is quite the golfer maintaing a 6 HDPC, averaged 82 per round for the day. Under normal conditions, I have no doubt; he would have lit the course up.

Death Valley Challenge

After 13.5 hours in the heat, 110 water bottles and close to 30 GolferAID’s consumed the sprinklers coming on all over the course was the last sign we needed to let us know we were done. Well done to be more specific. Having completed 75 holes was short of our intended goal of 81 but I had I known the conditions were going to put last year’s DVC to shame I would have only planned on 54! It was that brutal.


None of this could have happened without the support of some pretty amazing people.

   Phil Dickinson from the Furnace Creek Ranch was a life saver for me and this year’s DVC . He helped me elevate the DVC to an entirely new level by going above and beyond anything I could have asked for. I’m eternally grateful for his help and his hospitality, had it not been for him there is no way that we could have done all that we did!

    Josh Coughlin from I Need the Ball took a chance on us and was willing to supply us with their amazing golf ball for the DVC. That would have been more than enough but he didn’t stop there. He and his partners at I Need the Ball all each contributed to the fundraiser and showed their support of the event from the first time we made contact all the way through to the day we left. A very new company in the golfing industry it would have been very easy for them to pass and say no thank you, but they took a chance with us and I’m forever grateful. Thank you Josh, Steve and Glenn, your support of the DVC was truly amazing!

What can be said about GolferAID other than WOW! When I reached out to them about the DVC I was expecting the typical “Thank you but No thank you” response so you can imagine my jubilation when the CEO of the company sent me an email throwing their full support behind the DVC. That was huge turning point for me in this year’s DVC. I knew that when GolferAID understood what we were trying to accomplish it was just a matter of time before others got the message.  They helped with promoting the event all the way up until we tee’d off! They had our backs and thankfully so because those GolferAID’s got us through a rough stretch of holes when the temperature got up in the 130’s!

  The Breakfast Ball crew! Not everyone I know is willing to sign a death waiver hop in a car with you and drive out to Death Valley to play 75 holes of golf in 130° temperature.  Are we nuts? Probably, but it was for an amazing organization and three of my closest friends put their own personal needs aside for one LONG day to do a very noble thing and support the Wounded Warrior Project™. I’m so glad that they joined me in this event and because of their hard work, determination and unrelenting will to get through 75 holes of golf in the most insane conditions I have ever seen, I have the utmost respect for them! Bill, Randy and Dan thank you so much for all that you guys did to make the 2013 Death Valley Challenge such a success and a day I’ll never forget!


There are a bunch of people that you’ve never heard of and have no idea how much they helped make this year’s DVC not only possible but successful as well.

My Wife and kids are my life and without them I’d be lost.  All of them put up with a ton of BS from me over the last several months as I devoted most of my free time to getting everything in order for the DVC. Without their support this could never have happened.

My parents did an amazing job getting the word out about the fundraiser. Both of them took it upon themselves to find creative ways to make people aware of what we were doing and they were very successful!

Adam Staelin from Three Guys Golf was my go to guy for ideas and a great listener on those days when things just weren’t going as planned, particularly when a certain individual decided it was a good idea to chastise my efforts of raising money for a noble cause.

I could honestly sit here and type out story after story and more than likely bore you to death. So instead of turning this into one of those drawn out uninspired Academy Awards speeches, I’m just going to list the names of the people that were so instrumental in making this year’s DVC a success.

  • James Fuetz from the UNLV Golf Team
  • Chad Coleman from Callawy/Odyssey
  • Orion Melehan, Erik Gundersen and Jim Melehan from GolferAID
  • Brad Zimmer from The Golf Sandbox
  • Jeff Kletter from KINeSYS Performance Sunscreen
  • My swing coach Wade Baynham for getting me ready
  • Mike McRae from Q.E.D. Style
  • The DfK Boys and their crew
  • Cody Knudson from True Linkswear
  • Trevor Derrheim from 59 Belts
  • GFore golf gloves
  • Gary Brewer from Chapman Chrysler Jeep
  • The Retired USAF Thunderbirds
  • Andrew Ganey
  • Three Guys Golf
  • Bunkers Paradise
  • MyGolf Spy
  • Golf Belles
  • Loren from Imperial  Automotive
  • Tom from Husker Automotive
  • Debbie Gerome from Chapman Chrysler Jeep
  • Jessie Carzoli from the Wounded Warrior Project
  • Randy Crist from the Furnace Creek Ranch Golf Course
  • Marty Sanchez from the Chapman Family
  • Tony Flores from Premier Services

Lastly I want to give a shout out to some people on Twitter who were awesome in helping me spread the word:

I know I’m probably forgetting some people it’s tough when you have smo many people willing to help! Thanks to all of you social media guru’s, you made this experience so much better!

Next year there are going to be some dramatic changes to the DVC. I’ll give you a little tease. Gone is the Marathon golf outing and in its replacement will come a golf tournament! That’s right a real golf tournament. The plan, and this is early so figure it to change, is to have ten teams made up of four players each competing in a 36 hole tournament!

I’m starting with ten because I’m not sure if there are 36 other people insane enough to join us! So far the few that I have discussed this with love the idea. Each team will be responsible for earning their way into the tournament by gathering donations for the Wounded Warrior Project much like I did this year.

With some new life to the event I feel that the 2014 DVC is going to be something special.

Again THANK YOU to all that donated, particiapted and promoted this crazy event. $4000 was raised for the Wounded Warrior Project and that trumps everything else by a mile!!

I’ll keep everyone informed about the 2014 DVC and if you’re interested in bringing a team send me an email.


Follow Mathew Wangrycht:

Writer and founder of the golf blog The Breakfast Ball. My wife will tell you I'm obsessed with the game, she's right! It's that obsession which drives me to become a better player and make this site enjoyable for everyone.

3 Responses

  1. Heather Mader
    | Reply

    Wow! $4,000. Amazing and for an amazing cause. All of you should be very proud. Thank you for your efforts and appreciation towards our heroes.

  2. Dan Snow
    | Reply

    Hey Matt, I can’t thank you enough for letting me be part of this event. Even with the EXTREME conditions we were up against, it felt good to know that we were helping a great cause! I look forward to next year and wanted to personally thank you and everyone who contributed to this successful event. YOU ROCK!!!!!!!

    Dan Snow

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