Last week, Anne van Dam placed 10th in the LET’s season-ending Andalucia Open de Espana. This week: She’s hoping to finish a half Ironman race in less than six hours.
Players last week in Spain told her she’s crazy. The triathlon’s total distance is 70.3 miles, and it begins with a 1.2-mile swim, followed by 56 miles of biking and a 13.1-mile run.
Players, however, also believe the inspiration behind van Dam’s decision is pretty amazing. She’s racing for Grace Godfrey, the 2-year-old daughter of LPGA player Jane Park and husband Pete, a long-time caddie on tour.
In the summer of 2021, during the Volunteers of America Classic in Dallas, Grace was hospitalized with seizures and brain swelling.
As van Dam noted in her social media post last month, Grace is still having seizures and undiagnosed epilepsy. Some of the needed equipment, hospital treatments, specialized therapies and accessibility features in the family’s home are not covered by insurance.
The Dutch player set a goal of raising $50,000 and many in the golf community have already stepped up to donate. Even players who aren’t in van Dam’s close circle have done what they can.
“That’s special,” she said.
A five-time winner on the LET and a member of the victorious 2019 European Solheim Cup team, 27-year-old van Dam first began competing on the LPGA in 2019. While she often runs during the season and takes long bike rides to clear her head, swimming, she said, messes up the feel that she needs for golf. She got back in the pool this week to train.
The race is slated for Dec. 4 in Indian Wells and La Quinta, California.
“So far this week I’ve done two 1,500 meter swims,” she said, “which were a little tougher than I expected.”
One of the longest players in women’s golf, the ultra-athletic van Dam said she got into racing triathlons when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the tour for several months in 2020. Nothing quite like this though.
Certainly nothing that carried so much meaning.
“She called me and told me her plans and, of course, I burst into tears,” Park told lpga.com. “I can’t imagine doing any of those things (in a triathlon) but to do them all in a row is just mind-boggling. And to do them in California when you played in a tournament in Spain last week, it’s insane. But we are so grateful. For her and for everyone.”