- The Washington Times - Friday, April 5, 2002

The trip sounds like a duffer's dream: 48 days, 48 states, 48 rounds of golf.

But consider the long hours on the road, the string of hotels and penny-pinching meals, the demands of 18 holes each day, and it becomes clear this isn't a dream it's a mission.

Tony Ballard has picked up his clubs to crisscross the country for his mother, who will remain home battling cancer. His goal is to play one round of golf each day in the continental 48 states to raise money for brain cancer research.

The Falls Church resident begins his quest today, playing the first of his daily rounds on Penderbrook Golf Club in Fairfax.

From there he will head south to Florida, move west and then north along the West Coast to play one round of golf each day. After reaching Washington state, he will head back east through the northern states and circle through New England. Finally, 11,000 miles later, he will play the last round May 22 on Maryland's Worthington Manor Golf Club in Urbana.

"The only thing that's going to stop me is Mother Nature or a freak accident," said Mr. Ballard, 41. "The first 16 states and the last 17 will be easy, but those middle 15 in the Midwest well, that's gonna be tough."

Mr. Ballard's mother, Pat Ballard, 62, was diagnosed with brain cancer on May 8 and had the tumor removed two days later on Mother's Day.

Mr. Ballard was going to play golf that day, but spent it with his mother in the hospital instead. That's when he decided he would do what he could to help further cancer research.

He decided he would play golf.

"Anyone can have a golf tournament," said Mr. Ballard, a paint contractor by trade who has been playing the links since he was 13. "I wanted to like that Chef Emeril would say bump it up a notch."

Over the next several months, he planned his trip to aid the American Cancer Society. He mapped his route, choosing 48 golf courses from more than 19,000 courses nationwide. He tried to stay close to major highways the better to cut down on travel time.

The self-dubbed "Cart-Man" will be riding the range alone, but he'll hardly be roughing it on the golf course, anyway.

His customized golf cart has a leather interior, color TV, a 40-watt stereo system, tinted windshield, exterior running lights and a video camera to film his games.

He will tow the cart all those miles behind his Chevy Tahoe, and plans to restock his food supply every five days or so.

He estimates the trip will cost more than $7,500, and he is budgeting $25 per day for food, $75 per day for hotels and about $1,700 for gas. The 48 golf courses are donating the rounds of golf, saving Mr. Ballard more than $500.

Mr. Ballard has set up a Web site (www.dabstuff.com) and a bank account for donations. Mr. Ballard will write a check to the American Cancer Society on June 16. Along with the lump-sum donation, he also must submit copies of all the checks he received.

All donors should receive a thank-you note from the cancer society after Mr. Ballard donates the money. To make a donation, send a check to the Tour of the Lower Forty-Eight, P. O. Box 2638, Falls Church, VA 22042.

Mr. Ballard's daily adventures will be chronicled on his Web site, and he will be in touch with his mother every day.

A friend in the computer business gave Mr. Ballard a laptop so he could update his Web site with daily photos and e-mail his family and friends.

"He's worked very hard on this tour," said Mrs. Ballard, who recently moved in with her son after selling her painting business and McLean home. "It's great that he's working for cancer research."

Although the brain tumor is gone, the cancer has spread to Mrs. Ballard's lungs. She spends most of her days taking naps and does not like driving because she tires easily, she said.

The golfer acknowledges how daunting his trip will be.

"If you think it will be tough you're right," Mr. Ballard wrote on his Web site. "But it is not as tough as what any cancer patient and their family members go through."

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