Their game was no different from the countless games played around the world that day, except for one not-so-small difference: it wasn’t finished until the next morning.
Father and son Chris and Cole Hetzel, Tony Center and Bob Schuttinger all stopped through 2,097 holes on their beloved local 18-hole course to break the current record by 657.
The idea began as a joke with a passing comment by course owner Kevin Shea during one of her weekly tournaments last October. It wasn’t a baseless joke, however, as the Hetzels duo happens to have a serious pedigree for world record-breaking endurance efforts in specialized sports.
In June 2020, Hetzel Park in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky, was converted into a wiffleball stadium for an 11-player marathon match of 30 hours and one minute of a baseball-like game. The following May, the pair went another minute setting a Guinness World Record for longest marathon run of four squares in 30 hours and two minutes.
To say that Chris and Cole had complained about the error was an understatement. When he broke the wiffleball record by 17 minutes, they reassembled the team and reclaimed the crown in emphatic style, setting a stunning new standard after 36 and a half hours.
“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 in a row. It’s such a fun time.”
The Big Picture
Of course, after Cole tracked the current record of 1,440 mini golf holes in Germany in 2005, it didn’t take long for the joke to turn into a full-fledged application. The process was no small undertaking given the strict and thorough Guinness guidelines, but with the papers finally submitted, July 31 was circled as the significant day.
All that remains is to pave the way and complete the team. Putt-Putt’s Shea previously took charge, organizing tacos, ice cream, cookie trucks, a live DJ and a host of other festivities to attract support and turn the center into a 24-hour “neighborhood” Erlanger.
Fundraising for the organization demonstrated the “big picture” of Schwettinger, who had previously volunteered with the group. Having raised nearly $3,000 directly, Schuttinger added that the M25M had informed him of a “massive increase” in donations around the time of the event.
“I understand first-hand how amazing the help they are and what a wonderful organization they represent,” he said. “What better link to a world record attempt than a world-wide charitable organization?”
hair in motion
The Hetzels were aware of the positions and Schoettinger of the weekly tournaments, but their decision to enlist them in the team wasn’t sentimental. The centers were miniature golf shooters with a penchant for piercing, while Schuttinger, who has a background in bike racing, served as the team’s strategic and emotional anchor.
“The core skills we were looking for include the ability to consistently defeat the crush, stamina, and a positive attitude,” Chris said.
“There were more players to choose from, but we picked the team that we knew was all fast and we could get through 24 hours,” Cole added.
After setting off at 8 a.m., the quartet sprinted toward the current record. Chee and volunteers helped at their fierce pace, who were willing to keep score and deliver much-needed refreshment as temperatures peaked around 88°F (31°C).
“It is important to make sure that you are eating in the 24-hour endurance event,” Schuttinger said. “It’s no different than a bicycle race or a running race – it’s just a Guinness World Records race in this case.”
“We were like a well-oiled machine, it just looked like hair was moving,” added Centre, who settled on his own cool beat with the best 897-hole punch of the group.
hit the wall
At 10:45 p.m. Schuttinger tapped to take the world record, to the delight of a loyal audience who remained 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 expand the record, the work was far from over.
“There was no question of whether we were going to pass the record,” Chris said. “It’s a question of stamina – how long can we do that and push ourselves?”
Despite hitting the inevitable wall of fatigue in those early morning hours, Schwettinger rolled home to sink 3,197 holes in one hit 14,664 and the last on the ninth hole—twenty seconds shy of 8 a.m., 24 hours after the first hit.
“I don’t think we could have picked a better team; we just went out there and pushed and had fun and enjoyed seeing everyone who came in and supported us,” Centers said.
“It was a day where we could sit for years on the road, dig into it and be able to tell our stories about something so wonderful.”
For now, all eyes will now turn to the annual Guinness Book of Records, due out in mid-September. Having never even gotten in, the duo hope to see their latest achievement among the myriad of amazing and wonderful achievements in the world.
“We’re not in the book yet because we don’t have long nails and we’re not long,” Chris joked. “I think this person has a good chance of being there.”