Their game was no different from the countless others being played around the world that day, except for one not-so-miniature difference: it didn’t end until the next morning.
Not pausing for an occasional short break, the father-and-son duo of Chris and Cole Hetzel, Tony Centers and Bob Schoettinger completed 2,097 holes of the beloved local 18-hole course to break the existing record by 657.
The idea started as a joke with a comment from course owner Kevin Shea at one of the weekly tournaments last October. It wasn’t a baseless joke, however, as the Hetzels are a pair with a serious pedigree for world record-breaking endurance efforts in niche sports.
In June 2020, the backyard of the Hetzel home in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky was transformed into a baseball-like wiffleball field for an 11-player, 30-hour, one-minute marathon game. The following May, the pair went one minute further by setting the Guinness World Record for the longest marathon, running four squares in 30 hours and two minutes.
To say Chris and Cole caught the bug is an understatement. Beating the Wiffleball record by 17 minutes, they assembled a team and reclaimed the crown in emphatic style, setting the new benchmark in just under 36 1/2 hours.
“I think it’s safe to say we’re addicted 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. It’s a fun time.”
As it turns out, after Cole discovered the 1,440-hole mini-golf record set in Germany in 2005, it didn’t take long to turn a joke into a full-fledged app. The process was no mean feat given Guinness’s strict and extensive guidelines, but with the paperwork finally in place, July 31 loomed as a big day.
All that was left was to set the stage and form the team. Putt-Putt’s Shea took over from the former, hosting taco, ice cream and cookie trucks, a live DJ and other festivities to rally support and turn the center into the Erlanger “neighborhood” for 24 hours.
Fundraising for the organization was a “big picture” for Schoettinger, who has volunteered with the group before. With nearly $3,000 raised directly, Schoettinger added that M25M reported a “tremendous surge” in donations during the event.
“I understand first hand how incredible the support they provide and what a great organization they are,” he said. “What better way to connect a world record attempt than with a worldwide charity?”
Poetry in motion
The Hetzels knew Centers and Schoettinger from their weekly tournaments, but the decision to join the team was not a sentimental one. Centers was a mini-golf shooter with a penchant for holes-in-one, and Schoettinger, with a background in bicycle racing, would serve as the team’s strategic and emotional anchor.
“The key skills we were looking for were the ability to consistently swing the bat, poise and a positive attitude,” said Chris.
“There were more guys to choose from, but they were all fast and we chose the team that could go 24 hours,” added Cole.
After starting at 8 in the morning, the quartet played the existing album. Their hard pace was aided by Shea and volunteers, who were on hand to keep score and provide much-needed refreshments as temperatures soared to around 88 degrees Fahrenheit (31 degrees Celsius).
“It’s important to make sure you’re eating during a 24-hour endurance event,” Schoettinger said. “It’s no different than a bike race or a running race – in this case it just happens to be a Guinness World Record race.”
“We were like a well-oiled machine, it seemed like poetry in motion,” added Centers, who settled into a remarkable rhythm with a team-best 897 holes.
Hitting the wall
In 22:45, Schoettinger achieved the world record, to the delight of the loyal crowd who stayed outside to support the team. There was time for a quick team hug and a celebratory glass of champagne, but with more than nine hours to go before the drive, business was a long way off.
“There was no question we were going to break the record,” Chris said. “It’s about endurance – how much longer can we go and push ourselves?”
Despite hitting the inevitable wall of fatigue in those early morning hours, Schoettinger rolled home in 3,197. to sink the hole, on the ninth hole 14,664. and with the final blow — twenty seconds after 8:00 a.m., and 24 hours later. first putt
“I don’t think you could have picked a better team; we just went out there and clicked, had fun and enjoyed watching everyone come out and help us,” Centers said.
“It was a day where we could sit back years down the road, be there and tell our stories about an incredible thing.”
For now, however, all eyes will be on the annual Guinness World Record book, which will be released in mid-September. Having never been involved, the couple hopes to see their latest feat in print among the world’s crazy 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 has a good chance of being there.”