You can’t play too much golf
Much as I love golf, I am often happy to be off the course and taking a break. So it’s difficult for me to comprehend that an American played 878 rounds in 2016, walking and carrying his golf bag. For many, that’s a lifetime of golf packed into one year.
Barry Gibbons, a retired 57-year-old, set out to break the world record for most rounds walked in a calendar year, and that mark (611 rounds) went last September. He then shattered the record for most rounds in a cart (812).To provide perspective, if you played once a week without fail every year, it would take nearly 17 years to get to 878 rounds.“People are either envious,” said Barry,“or think I’m nuts.”
Barry never let up, averaging 43 holes a day in all weather, mostly at his two home clubs in Texas and Connecticut. He only played 21 different courses, so green fees were minimal. His biggest expense was golf shoes – he went through more than a dozen pairs, but then he did walk 10 300 kilometres.That’s Cape Town to St Andrews in Scotland. He discarded three golf bags. Starting the year as an 8-handicap, all that golf (67 840 strokes, average score 77.3) improved his game, because he was a 1-handicap at one stage.
Curiously, Barry’s wife Joy was his biggest supporter. She helped him with his schedule, and created a website, breakthegolfrecord.com, that followed his accomplishment. Good lateral thinking by Barry. The more golf you play, the more sympathetic your wife will be.“A good friend of ours died at age 57 in 2015, before he had a chance to retire and enjoy life,” says Joy.“That was a perspective builder.” Maybe it was Joy who persuaded Barry to become the world’s fittest golfer.
How do South Africans fare when it comes to playing a lot of golf?We have our own champions who tee up often without any thought of records or websites. Henk “Clutch” Maree, club captain at Bronkhorstspruit GC in Gauteng North, played 347 rounds in 2016, of which 308 were at his home course. No club captain in history has done as many course inspections. This wasn’t a one-off year for him either. He was also the SA golfer with the most rounds in 2015, when he played 331.
“I have a job where I have four days on and four days off, so there is plenty of time for golf,” said Henk, a 5-handicap. All that practice paid off on December 31, when he shot a 72 to end the year on a triumphant note.“It’s not as if I can play every day, so quite often I get in 36 holes; once there waere54 holes in a day.” Just wait until he retires. Henk admitted that most of his rounds were played using a golf cart, although he walks for scratch league and tournaments. Just to show that 2017 is going to be no different, he played 24 rounds in January.
Two Randpark members, who must be buddies, were next in terms of rounds, with 318 and 297 respectively. In the Cape, a Durbanville member did 295, and a Westlake member 282.Women golfers weren’t as crazy. Their enduro leader was a young Southern Cape woman with 208 rounds.
I obtained these statistics from Handicaps Network Africa, and the most revealing information was that as many as 87 percent of affiliated golfers play less than 50 rounds a year.That is poor commitment to the game by 117 685 golfers. Barry Gibbons was doing that every three weeks.
If you measure a core golfer as someone who plays 100 rounds a year, then they represent only three percent of the affiliated golfing population. HNA says that 3 825 golfers played more than 100 rounds in 2016.There were 516 who broke the 150-round mark, and 71 recorded more than 200 rounds.