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 next morning.
Breaks for nothing but the occasional short break, father-son duo Chris and Cole Hetzel, Tony Centers and Bob Schoettinger made their way through 2,097 holes of their beloved local 18-hole course to break the existing record with 657.
The idea had started as a joke with a passing comment from course owner Kevin Shea during one of the weekly tournaments last October. Still, it wasn’t a joke without foundation, as the Hetzels are a duo with a serious pedigree for world record-breaking endurance efforts in niche sports.
In June 2020, the Hetzel home garden in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky, was transformed into a wiffleball field for an 11-player marathon game, 30 hours and a minute of baseball-like play. The following May, the pair went one minute further and set a Guinness World Record for longest four-square marathon at 30 hours and two minutes.
To say Chris and Cole got the microbe was an understatement. When their wiffleball record was up at 17 minutes, they put together a team and took back the crown in emphatic style, setting a dazzling new benchmark just before 36 and a half hours.
“I think it’s safe to say that we have an addiction to these endurance events right now,” Cole, a cross-country athlete at DePauw University in Indiana, told DailyExpertNews.
“There’s nothing like doing the same thing for a whole day at a time. It’s a fun time.”
Of course, after Cole tracked down the existing record of 1,440 miniature golf holes in Germany in 2005, it wasn’t long before a joke became a full-fledged application. The process was no small task given Guinness’s notoriously strict and comprehensive guidelines, but with the paperwork finally filed, July 31 was circled as the big day.
All that was left was to set the podium and complete the team. Putt-Putt’s Shea took the reins and hosted taco, ice cream and cookie trucks, a live DJ and a host of other festivities to gain support and transform the center into Erlanger “neighborhood” for 24 hours.
Fundraising for the organization proved to be the “big picture highlight” for Schoettinger, who has previously volunteered with the group. After Schoettinger raised nearly $3,000 directly, Schoettinger added that M25M had informed him of a “huge rise” in donations around the time of the event.
“I understand first hand how wonderful the help they are giving and what a great organization they are,” he said. “What could be better at a world record attempt than a global charitable organization?”
Poetry in motion
The Hetzels knew Centers and Schoettinger from the weekly tournaments, but their decision to include them on the team was not sentimental. Centers was a miniature golf sniper with a penchant for hole-in-ones, while Schoettinger, with a background in cycling, would serve as the team’s strategic and emotional anchor.
“The main skills we were looking for were the ability to consistently knock down aces, stamina and a positive attitude,” Chris said.
“There were more guys to choose from, but we picked the team that we knew were all fast and could make it to the 24 hours,” Cole added.
After the departure at 8 o’clock in the morning, the quartet raced towards the existing record. Their ferocious pace was aided by Shea and volunteers, who were on hand to keep score and provide much-needed refreshments as temperatures peaked at around 88 degrees Fahrenheit (31 degrees Celsius).
“It’s important to make sure you eat during a 24-hour endurance event,” Schoettinger said. “It’s no different than a bike or running race — it just happens to be a Guinness World Record race in this case.”
“We were like a well-oiled machine, it looked like poetry in motion,” added Centers, who settled into a remarkable rhythm of his own with a group-best 897 hole-in-ones.
hitting the wall
At 10:45 pm, Schoettinger tapped in to set the world record, much to the delight of the loyal crowd that had stayed to support the group. There was time for a quick group hug and a celebratory glass of champagne, but with more than nine hours to go to set the record, things were far from over.
“There was no question if we would make it to the record,” Chris said. “It’s a matter of stamina – how much longer can we do it and push ourselves?”
Despite Schoettinger hitting the wall of inevitable fatigue in those early morning hours, Schoettinger rolled home to sink the 3,197th hole-in-one with the 14,664th and final stroke on the ninth hole—twenty seconds to 8 a.m. and 24. hours after the first well.
“I don’t think we could have picked a better team; we just went out and clicked, had fun and enjoyed seeing everyone come out and support us,” Centers said.
“It was a day where we can sit back for years, keep up and tell our stories about something amazing.”
But for now, all eyes are on the annual Guinness World Record book, due out in mid-September. The duo, who have never entered before, are hoping to see their latest achievement in print among the world’s countless crazy and wonderful feats.
“We’re not in the book yet because we don’t have long fingernails and we’re not tall,” Chris joked. “I think this one has a good chance of being there.”