CNN

On a balmy July morning at a small mini-golf center in northern Kentucky, four local regulars hit their first shots.

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.

After 24 hours, 116.5 rounds, 14,664 strokes and almost 20 miles of walking, Putt-Putt Golf Erlanger has become the seat of a new Guinness World Record for the most holes in miniature golf in 24 hours. by a quartet.

Stopping only for the occasional short break, father-son duo Chris and Cole Hetzel, Tony Centers and Bob Schoettinger completed 2,097 holes of their beloved local 18-hole course to smash the existing record of 657.

The idea had started as a joke with a comment from course owner Kevin Shea during one of his weekly tournaments last October. Still, it wasn’t a baseless joke, as the Hetzels happen to be a duo with a serious pedigree for world-record endurance efforts in niche sports.

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

To say that Chris and Cole had caught the virus was an understatement. When their wiffleball record was broken by 17 minutes, they assembled a team and reclaimed the crown in emphatic style, setting a stunning new benchmark of just 36½ hours.

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“I think it’s safe to say that 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 a fun time.

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

Naturally, after Cole regained the existing record of 1,440 mini-golf holes set in Germany in 2005, it didn’t take long for a joke to turn into a full-fledged app. The process was no small task given Guinness’ notoriously strict and extensive guidelines, but with the paperwork finally filed, July 31 was circled as the big day.

All that remained was to prepare the ground and complete the team. Putt-Putt’s Shea took the reins at the former, hosting taco, ice cream and cookie trucks, a live DJ and a host of other festivities to drum up support and turn the center into Erlanger’s “neighbourhood” during 24 hours.

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 floods that hit Kentucky in August, as well as during a tornado outbreak in December 2021.

Raising money for the organization proved to be the “highlight of the situation” for Schoettinger, who has previously volunteered with the group. After raising almost $3,000 directly, Schoettinger added that M25M informed him of a “huge increase” in donations at the time of the event.

“I understand firsthand how great the help they provide and what a great organization they are,” he said. “What better connection for a world record attempt than a world-class charity?”

Schoettinger in action during the race for records.

The Hetzels knew the centers and Schoettinger from the weekly tournaments, but their decision to bring them into the squad was unsentimental. Centers was a mini-golf sniper with a penchant for holes-in-one, while Schoettinger, with a bicycle racing background, would serve as the team’s strategic and emotional anchor.

“The main skills we were looking for included 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 was quick and could go through the 24 hours,” added Cole.

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After setting off at 8 a.m., the quartet set off for 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’re eating into a 24-hour endurance event,” Schoettinger said. “It’s no different than a cycle race or a foot race – it just happens to be a Guinness World Record race in this case.”

“We were like a well-oiled machine, it felt like poetry in motion,” added Centers, who settled into a remarkable pace of his own with a record 897 holes in one.

Crosses fired the fewest shots of the group (3,509) and had the lowest round (13-under 23).

At 10:45 p.m., Schoettinger clinched the world record, much to the delight of the loyal crowd who had stayed to support the band. There was time for a quick group hug and a celebratory glass of champagne, but with over nine hours left to extend the record, business was far from over.

“There was no question if we were going to break the record,” Chris said. “It’s all about endurance – how much longer can we do it and push ourselves?”

The group went through the fatigue of the early morning hours.

Despite hitting the wall of inevitable fatigue in the early morning, Schoettinger returned home to sink the 3,197th hole in one with the 14,664th and final shot on the ninth hole – twenty seconds before 8 a.m. and 24 a.m. after the first putt.

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

“It was a day that we can sit back years later and linger on and be able to tell our stories about something pretty awesome.”

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The Hetzels are already touting pickleball – America’s new sensation – as a potential sport to target once the sound of the wood hitting the ball and the ball landing in the cup stops ringing between their ears. According to Chris, such echoes are very real side effects of endurance records, which last for days at a time.

For now though, all eyes will now be on the annual Guinness Book of World Records, due out in mid-September. Having never succeeded, the duo hope to see their latest feat printed among the world’s myriad wacky and wonderful achievements.

“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 in there.”

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