50 courses in 50 days: East County man charts cross-country golf trip for charity

Neighborhood All-Stars

SAN DIEGO – Clay Phillips is playing 50 different golf courses in 50 states in 50 straight days. But why?

“Well, probably because I’m insane,” he said.

The La Mesa native isn’t just doing it for fun, though. He’s hoping to bring awareness to bringing easy access to clean water around the world. Phillips is raising money for two charities: Project Blue and Water First International.

“It’s really remarkable once you bring clean water, readily accessible, how dramatically people’s lives change and entire regions change,” he said.

Driving across the country and back sounds like a lot for someone traveling alone. But Phillips said he already has people asking to join him in various areas.

“My big brother contacted me and he said, ‘I’m concerned about your health and whether you’re going to be able to safely drive, so I think I should join you for a week,’” he said. “So I’d say about half the time, someone’s tagging along.”

He’s self-funding the trip, but does have people sponsoring his journey in the form of donations to the two charities. Some have donated as much as $1,000 if he gets a hole-in-one while other are donating for every round where he doesn’t swear.

“And a number of states I don’t get a speeding ticket,” Phillips said. “I hope I can do at least 49.”

At age 66, Phillips has some concerns about how much his body can handle. Even his physical therapist limited him to walking two rounds in a row. And then there’s the rules his wife has for him.

“I have to stay in touch,” he said. “I have to call her every day. She’s making me put this Starguard on my car so she can follow the car in case I get kidnapped or something, I don’t know.”

After more than 50 years of playing, Phillips also wonders if he’ll get better or worse, noting he’s committed to just playing, not necessarily playing well.

He plans to start his journey on Aug. 24 in Hawaii and ending on Oct. 12 back in San Diego.

Donations can be made to his cause online at 50in50in50golf4water.org.

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