24 hours of mini-golf: Quartet smashes world record to raise money for Kentucky flood victims

Their game was no different from the countless others played around the world that day, except for one not-so-small difference: it didn’t end until the following morning.

After 24 hours, 116.5 rounds, 14,664 strokes, and nearly 20 miles of walking, Putt-Putt Golf Erlanger became home to a new Guinness World Record for the most holes of miniature golf in 24 hours by a foursome.

Stopping for nothing but the occasional short break, father-son duo Chris and Cole Hetzel, Tony Centers, and Bob Schoettinger raced through 2,097 holes of their beloved 18-hole local course to break the current record of 657.

The idea began as a joke in a passing comment by course owner Kevin Shea during one of its weekly tournaments last October. But it’s not a joke without basis, because the Hetzels are a duo with a serious pedigree for world-record-breaking endurance efforts in niche sports.

In June 2020, Hetzel’s home garden in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky, was turned into a wiffleball field for an 11-player, 30-hour-and-one-minute marathon of the baseball-like game. The following May, the pair went one minute further in setting a Guinness World Record for the longest marathon playing four squares at 30 hours and two minutes.

To say that Chris and Cole have caught the bug is an understatement. When their wiffleball record was pipped by 17 minutes, they reassembled a team and took back the crown in emphatic style, setting a remarkable new benchmark just shy of 36 and a half hours.

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“I think it’s safe to say we have an addiction to these endurance events at this point,” Cole, a cross-country athlete at DePauw University in Indiana, told CNN.

“There’s nothing like doing the same thing for a whole day straight. It’s a fun time.”

Cole Hetzel (center) and father Chris have a history with record-breaking attempts.

Big picture

Of course, after Cole tracked down the existing record of 1,440 mini-golf holes set in Germany in 2005, a joke soon became a full-fledged application. The process was no small task given Guinness’ notoriously strict and extensive guidelines, but in the paperwork that was eventually filed, July 31 was circled as the big day.

All that remains is to set the stage and complete the team. Putt-Putt’s Shea spearheaded the former, organizing tacos, ice cream and cookie trucks, a live DJ and other festivities to drum up support and turn the center into Erlanger’s “neighborhood” for 24 hours. time.

Beyond personal glory, the event served to encourage donations for Matthew 25: Ministries (M25M), an international humanitarian and disaster relief organization. Based in Ohio, the group worked to provide support during the devastating flooding that hit Kentucky in August, as well as during the December 2021 tornado outbreak.

Fundraising for the organization proved a “big picture highlight” for Schoettinger, who previously volunteered with the group. Having raised nearly $3,000 directly, Schoettinger added that M25M informed him of a “tremendous surge” in donations at the time of the event.

“I understand firsthand how much help they give and what a great organization it is,” he said. “What better tie-in for a world record attempt than a charitable organization that reaches the world?”

Schoettinger in action during the record chase.

Motion poems

The Hetzels are familiar with Centers and Schoettinger from weekly tournaments, but their decision to draft them to the team was not sentimental. Centers is a mini-golf sharpshooter with a penchant for hole-in-ones, while Schoettinger, who has a bicycle racing background, will serve as the team’s strategic and emotional anchor.

“The key skills we look for include the ability to consistently knock down aces, stamina, and a positive attitude,” says Chris.

“There are more guys to choose from, but we picked the team that we all know is fast and can make it in 24 hours,” Cole added.

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After setting off at 8 am, the quartet blitzed towards the existing record. Their breakneck pace was aided by Shea and volunteers, who were on hand to keep score and provide much-needed refreshments as the temperature soared to around 88 degrees Fahrenheit (31 degrees Celsius).

“It’s important to make sure you’re eating during a 24-hour endurance event,” says Schoettinger. “It’s no different than a bicycle race or a running race — it just happens to be a Guinness World Record race in this case.”

“We’re like a well-oiled machine, it’s like poetry in motion,” added Centers, who settled into an impressive rhythm of his own with a group-best 897 hole-in-ones.

Centers had the fewest strokes of the group (3,509) as well as carding the fewest rounds (13-under 23).

Hitting the wall

At 10:45 p.m., Schoettinger tapped in to claim the world record, much to the delight of the loyal crowd that stayed outside to support the group. There was time for a quick group hug and a celebratory glass of champagne, but with more than nine hours left to extend the record, the business wasn’t done.

“There’s no question we’re going to pass the record,” Chris said. “It’s a question of endurance — how long can we do this and push ourselves?”

The group strengthened the tiredness of the early morning.

Despite the inevitable fatigue of those early morning hours, Schoettinger came back to sink the 3,197th hole-in-one on the 14,664th and final stroke on the ninth hole — twenty seconds shy of 8 am, and 24 hours later the first putt.

“I don’t think we could have picked a better team; we just went out there and clicked, had fun and enjoyed seeing everyone come out and support us,” Centers said.

“It’s a day when we can sit down over the years on the road, think and talk about something good.”

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The Hetzels are already pointing out pickleball — the new American sensation — as a potential sport for them to target once the sound of the wooden ball hitting and the ball landing in the cup stops between their ears. . According to Chris, such echoes are the true effects of endurance records, which last for days at a time.

However, for now, everyone is focused on the annual Guinness World Record book, which is scheduled to be released in mid-September. Not yet entered, the duo hopes to see their latest print success among the many weird and wonderful achievements in the world.

“We’re not in the book yet because we don’t have long nails and we’re not tall,” Chris joked. “I think this one has a good chance of being there.”