Jennifer MacCurrach wanted to do something different.
MacCurrach, the executive director of The First Tee of Greater Austin, a nonprofit that promotes golf as a way to build character in kids from elementary school to high school, was looking for a creative fundraiser for the nonprofit.
The easy choice would have been a 100-hole golf marathon, but “everyone does a golf marathon every year, so I wanted to think of something a little outside the box,” MacCurrach said.
After some online research and flipping through the Guinness Book of World Records, MacCurrach committed to attempting to break the world record for “Most Golf Holes Played By a Fourball in 24 Hours in a Cart,” recruiting three Austin-area golf professionals to try to play 235 holes from 6 a.m. Monday to 6 a.m. Tuesday at Lakeway Country Club’s Live Oak golf course.
The record that the quartet attempted to break: 234 holes played, set by a group of friends in 2008 in Ontario, Canada.
The foursome — MacCurrach; Bryan Benner, assistant golf professional at UT Golf Club; Aaron Chilek, director of golf at The Hills Country Club; and Mike Sizemore, club director at Barton Creek Country Club — embarked on their record-breaking journey Monday at 6:15 a.m.
At press time, the group was exactly 18 holes away from the record, but planned to continue play longer into the night.
The group planned to play through the night with the use of glow-in-the-dark balls, lights on the front of their golf carts, glow sticks lining the course and flashlights.
The group was allowed to break to go to the restroom, but the clock did not stop for them. Each participant had lunchboxes with enough food and drink for the day (MacCurrach planned on eating between 6,000 and 7,000 calories) and had six 10-minute breaks, mostly used to lie down and stretch aching backs.
Sizemore, who recently moved to Austin from Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., said he was originally intrigued by the idea of breaking the record because he was looking to get involved in the Austin golf community.
“I started right off the bat, feeling that sense of community and that sense of home. With that, I immediately reached out to Jennifer,” Sizemore said. “I feel like I’m going to be here for a long time and I want to get involved with the kids and the community.”
Setting a world record is no simple feat, especially considering that the cost of having a Guinness representative witness the attempt in person would have cost The First Tee $7,500. So they had to get creative.
Throughout the day and night, a group of 40 volunteers took turns driving the players around, acting as caddies and filming the group on GoPro cameras with rechargeable batteries. There was a shift log-in sheet that volunteers had to sign, and a PGA rules official had to check in on the group to ensure they played within the proper rules of the game, i.e. minimal practice swings.
A combination of the video footage, scorecards and testimonies from volunteers and rules officials would then be sent to Guinness for approval.
The goal of the fundraiser is $23,500. MacCurrach said that she did not have an estimate of how much had been raised, but that she had received “a lot of tweets, emails and texts” from supporters saying they would donate.
But, “a lot of people are waiting to see if we’re actually going to do this,” MacCurrach said. “Once we get into it, we’ll be able to raise a little bit more money.”
Prior to the start of the event, supporters were encouraged to pledge $5 for every birdie and $10 for every eagle, along with $1 for every hole played. Through the first six holes of the first round, Chilek had birdied every hole and Benner shot for eagle on the fifth.
Speed was the name of the game for these golfers, and after a practice round in which they completed a round of golf — all 18 holes, tee to green — in 95 minutes, Monday morning they upped the ante.
The first round came and went in 65 minutes. The second in 67.
By 10:30 a.m. Monday, the foursome had completed four rounds, but had started to slow down as the day warmed up. While challenging, the pros kept in mind that they were attempting this to raise money.
“I think it makes it easier that you’re doing it for someone else,” Benner said. “If we were just doing it for ourselves, I don’t think any of us would be here. It’s more of a drive to get it done for the charity for sure.”
The only spectator that joined the group at 6:15 a.m. for Monday’s first round was 13-year-old Lakeway resident Reid Powell, a knowledgeable golfer who frequents the Live Oak course as many as three times a week, he said.
“I think they’re going to break it,” Powell said. “They’re all really good golfers and are very serious about it.”
There are more than 80 world records associated with golf, as recognized by Guinness. Some of them include:
- Farthest golf shot caught in a moving car (820 feet, 2.5 inches)
- Most rounds of golf played in different countries – in one day (7)
- Most golf balls picked up with feet in one minute (9)
- Most holes of golf played in a year (11,000)
- Oldest male golfer to score his age (103)
- Lowest golf score in 18 holes using one club (70, 6-iron)
Source: Guinness Book of World Records
DID THEY DO IT?
Was Monday’s foursome of Bryan Benner, Aaron Chilek, Mike Sizemore and Jennifer MacCurrach able to break the five-year-old world record of 234 holes of golf completed in one day? They planned to play by flashlight, golf cart headlight and glow sticks at The Hills overnight to do it.
Go to statesman.com Tuesday morning to find out if they broke the record.