Steve Bate played 366 rounds in less than a year despite a global pandemic, all to raise funds for children's mental health - by Mark Townsend

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Golfer Completes 366 Rounds In One Year For Children’s Mental Health

When Steve Bate discovered that his son had contemplated suicide he set off to try and raise £10,000 by playing an incredible amount of golf

It’s been lashing it down all morning but that doesn’t bother Headingley member Steve Bate. It’s his birthday and the now 48-year-old is set to play his 366th and final round in less than a year.

He’s played in far worse than this, including three named storms, and the shorts and smile are both on show.

“Part of my preparation was to play through a hurricane at St Annes Old Links last October. I’ve stood here looking over the clubhouse to the east and waiting for the sun to come up. I’d hit a 7-iron, somehow find it in the gloaming and then the light would come and I’d be away.

“My base fitness is good though my current body shape belies that. Have I lost weight? No, I eat cake and bacon butties. I’ve had three sets of multiple blisters, numerous calluses and the usual niggles.

“When the weather turns it’s always on the 7th, the furthest from the clubhouse, and you might be the only person out there, but this challenge is much bigger than me.”

Steve sets out for the final round of his challenge

The reason behind all this stems from a life-changing moment in October 2018 when his 12-year-old son, Seb, came home from school and explained that he was feeling suicidal. There were signs but nothing on this scale and Bate and his wife Natasha, through their son’s school, were put in touch with the Oakdale Centre in Harrogate.

They were fortunate in that they could afford immediate help – going through the NHS they might have had to wait six months – and after a few sessions things began to improve.

To help with their understanding of the situation Bate and his wife also had counselling for a year and they then decided to try and turn a negative into a positive.

“We have given specific donations of £280 as that will help two children, one who is self-harming and suicidal, and they will now receive the right help. It doesn’t have to be huge sums to be crucial in someone’s life.

“As a family we could have clammed up about what happened to Seb but why should we? None of us have done anything wrong so why not talk about it? It doesn’t have to be a big thing to make a difference and so many people have opened up to us.

“We always made a point that there were no taboos in our family. Seb gave a presentation to his class mates about this and he’s always been on board with my challenge but he doesn’t want a share of any publicity.

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“A few of us will have a drink tonight after my final round, I don’t know if he’s coming down. He’s been an inspiration to us and his friends.”

Much like his dad. Aside from the sheer enormity of running your own business, Bate is a construction lawyer, his wife breaking her ankle just after the challenge began, those middle-aged niggles and trying to cram in a round a day – ‘I was kindly reminded by a mate that 2020 is a leap year’ – Bate then had to contend with a global pandemic.

“We started on November 21 as that was the date this year that Oakdale GC said they would kindly put on a gala dinner for us. The idea was to, if possible, get a few 36-hole days in to build up a cushion for any holidays.

“I got 18 rounds ahead and we were into March, with the prospect of better weather and longer days, and then we got locked down. I couldn’t bring myself to touch a club and we lost 49 days.”

The vast majority of his efforts have come at his home club Headingley. If you were to pick a club to accommodate such a lot of golf you’d pick this one. It’s everything that a golf club should be; warm, fun and friendly and any concerns of clogging up the course were soon put to one side.

“I got back in touch with the manager Jon Hall and told him that the challenge was still on and he has been brilliant. Our default position is to worry about this and that but everyone has been so supportive. I’ve made a lot of proper mates at the club through this.”

The first 35 days after the restrictions were eased were spent with Bate getting back up to speed with 36 holes every single day and from there it’s been been a race to the line with the possibility of a second lockdown looming.

“Even if it is just one person who we might help it would be worth it. The most gratifying thing is we got a text from a friend whose colleague had asked for the name of the person who helped my son as their child was experiencing similar issues. So that’s massive. One person as a result of this has reached out and is going to get help.

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“I’m playing golf in bad conditions but I’m not about to kill myself or take a pair of scissors and cut my arm and I’m not in that dark place where I can’t see another way out other than to take my own life.”

The rain is still tipping down in West Yorkshire as an emotional Bate, who is now down to single figures from 17 a year ago, completes his 6588th hole, one of which was his first hole-in-one, in the past 10 and a bit months. His son Seb is there to welcome him home.

And now the chance for Bate to put his feet up and have a little sabbatical from the game.

“I’m playing 36 at the weekend, I’ve got a comp in the morning and then a friendly in the afternoon.”

To read more about Steve’s challenge and to donate visit www.wellbeinggolf.com

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