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Who actually holds the world record for most golf played in a year? It's worth a closer look

November 11, 2022
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Photo by Joe Agostine.

Six years ago I had the pleasure of playing alongside avid golfer Barry Gibbons. Only avid doesn’t even begin to describe this retired IBM VP of Sales. Barry doesn’t play rounds of golf, he devours them like his beloved tubs of chocolate ice cream.

I met up with Gibbons on, what was for him, a typical day. He had completed a morning 18 at Ridgefield (Conn.) Golf Course. We played a middle 18 together and then I left him for his final loop of the day. Again, this was a typical day for him. Ernie Banks famously said, “Let’s play two,” but that wouldn’t be enough golf for Gibbons, who would go onto play an unofficial world record of 878 rounds that year. And consume an undisclosed amount of ice cream at night. Hey, when you spend all day every day walking, you deserve to treat yourself.

I hadn’t thought much about Barry the past few years until a Wisconsin man named Nolan Krentz made headlines by becoming the latest golfer to break the record for the most golf in a calendar year by playing 17,820 holes or 990 rounds—an accomplishment chronicled by Wisconsin.Golf’s Gary D’Amato and that resulted in Krentz recently receiving a plaque commemorating the feat. But as impressive as this new mark was—especially considering Krentz isn’t retired and he basically did it all in Wisconsin—I found myself defending my guy Barry for doing it on longer 18-hole courses (Krentz plays a nine-holer, Norsk Golf Club in Mount Horeb) and for carrying his own bag. Krentz uses a push cart. What a slacker. (Kidding!)

Apparently, others were thinking about Barry, too. And it prompted him to contact me all these years later.

“It irritates me that I have all these friends blowing up my phone telling me this guy beat my record!” Gibbons said.

Wait a minute. So Nolan Krentz doesn’t have the record?

That’s right, folks. Apparently, Gibbons shattered his own mark in 2020. And he didn’t even bother to tell me about it. A quick Google search, though, shows he told a couple other people, including the National Golf Foundation, who acknowledged his mark last March. C’mon, Barry! You gotta give me that scoop!

Anyway, it turns out Barry was motivated by another golfer, Yancy Methvian, who had topped Gibbons’ mark with 911 rounds of golf played in 2019. After hearing that, Gibbons decided to put the record out of reach by playing more than 100 rounds per month in 2020. He wound up playing an astonishing 1,235 rounds.

Yep, that’s ONE THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED AND THIRTY-FIVE rounds of golf in a single year. Heck, I was happy breaking the 30-round mark in 2022. As Gibbons neared the finish line his goal was 1,234 because it sounded better, but he just couldn’t help himself from playing one final round. What a nut.

Suddenly, Krentz’s 17,820 holes had been topped by Barry’s 22,230. Well, had already been topped. And the rest of the numbers surrounding Barry’s year-long accomplishment are just as amazing.

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Playing all of his golf in Austin, where he and his wife (yes, he has a wife and four grown kids) are members at The Hills at Lakeway, Gibbons averaged 3.4 rounds per day. He only took three days off the entire year. And that wasn’t by choice.

“Two days were washed out due to weather,” the 63-year-old Gibbons says, “but I also took a rest on Christmas day.”

Gibbons also wore a Fitbit during every round and walked an absurd total of 8,424 miles. He took 16,824,607 steps while burning 1,749,289 calories. He spent a total of 3,561 hours on the golf course, which comes out to nearly 10 hours per day(!) and more than 148 full days of playing. And would you look at all the golf shoes he went through!

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Unfortunately, Barry believes his Herculean effort did long-term damage to his knees so he’s really cut back on his golf. You know, to only one round per day. As a result, he’s cut back on the ice cream as well.

"When you’re not playing three rounds per day," Gibbons says, "you have to watch your weight."

Like Krentz, Gibbons’ milestones haven’t been recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records, which requires witnesses for every round among other things. Well, I witnessed one round, and I can assure you that Barry is the real deal. He also keeps a spreadsheet with information from all of his rounds.

But despite being in contact with Guinness and submitting paperwork, Gibbons says it hasn’t been good enough for official recognition, and he shares Krentz’s frustration in that. But to be clear, he doesn’t wish to share the record for most golf played in a year with anyone.

“I’d like to get in contact with the guy in Wisconsin,” Gibbons said. “I’d tell him, ‘Maybe next year.’”

He’s joking—to an extent. Actually, both Gibbons and Krentz asked me about contacting each other. Clearly, they have a lot in common—and a lot of admiration for each other so there's no controversy here. Also, you can make a case that they both deserve their own records.

Gibbons has played and walked the most, but Krentz only has about a nine-month window in Wisconsin to get his golf in compared to the Barry's year-round course access in Texas. And at 31, Krentz, a grocery store worker and high school golf and basketball coach, doesn't have as much free time as the retired Gibbons.

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Nolan Krentz gets recognized by the Wisconsin State Golf Association. (Photo: Gary D'Amato, Wisconsin.Golf)

By the way, they both putt everything out and are really good players. Gibbons had an average score of 78.46 for his 1,235 rounds and Krentz says he’s a scratch at his home course, where his best score was a six-under-par 30.

So both deserve plenty of recognition for all the (good) golf they've played. In any event, Krentz doesn’t seem too broken up over not having broken the rounds/holes played record.

“It’s really for my own personal satisfaction,” says Krentz, who added it was a couple great members at his club who pushed for him to be recognized. “So no, I’m not bothered by him having the record in the slightest. It's just, you know, if I was at 10,000 holes, my goal the next year would be 10,001.”

Or, 17,821, because Krentz is actually on pace to top his mark this year. So Wisconsin weather permitting, he will. It just won’t be enough to catch Barry Gibbons. For now.