Gibbons out to set new mark for rounds of golf
After playing 878 rounds of golf in 2016 — and breaking what was considered the world record — Barry Gibbons said he would never try to out-do himself.
His never lasted barely more than three years.
Gibbons is back on the course (nearly 12 hours each day since January) in 2020, determined to play more than 1,000 rounds and set another single-year mark.
“I know I told my wife and my kids and basically everyone else that I wouldn’t do this again,” said Gibbons, who splits time between homes in Ridgefield and Austin, Texas. “I guess I’m either a liar or a fool.”
Gibbons has his reasons for the re-think.
“I enjoy the personal challenge and I feel as though there is unfinished business,” he said. “I left some rounds on the table in 2016 and could have gone farther.”
Then there is Yancy Methvien. A military veteran from Springfield, La., Methvien played 911 rounds last year to surpass Gibbons and become the unofficial world record holder.
“I have taken some motivation from that,” Gibbons said. “He [Methvien] used a push cart, which makes it easier than carrying your clubs, but some of my friends started razzing me about it, saying I was no longer the record holder.”
Although Gibbons and Methvien have received media attention for breaking Guinness Book of World Records, a representative from the company said those claims weren’t accurate.
“After researching within our database, I can confirm we do not currently monitor record titles similar to most rounds of golf (18 holes) in a single year,” wrote Amanda Marcus, a public relations manager at Guinness, in an email reply to the Press on Tuesday. Guinness does keep records for several other extreme-golf categories, including most holes played in one year and most rounds played in one day.
“I filed all the paperwork with Guinness in 2017, but it took them six months to respond and then they didn’t seem interested,” said Gibbons, 60, who took an early retirement from IBM at age 55. “I gave up after that.”
As of Wednesday morning, Gibbons had played 512 rounds this year — all in Austin, where he and his wife are members at The Hills of Lakeway and have access to its four courses.
“We live close by, so I am out of the house each morning by 7:10 and at the course about five or 10 minutes later,” he said. “I get home around 7:15 or a little later.”
In 2016, Gibbons played the first several months in Austin before coming to Ridgefield and continuing his quest at the Ridgefield Golf Course during the summer and early fall. He broke the previous unofficial record of 611 rounds while playing with his father in Colorado and then completed his 878th and final round on Dec. 31 in Austin.
To honor his father, who died in November 2018, Gibbons is aiming to play 1,234 rounds this year.
“My dad was born in February, the second month, in 1934,” he said. “That number, 1234, is also easy to remember.”
Gibbons thinks he and his wife will relocate to Ridgefield for some of the summer months and the early fall. “It’s not certain, but we are leaning in that direction,” he said. “A lot of it depends on what happens with the coronavirus and if it’s safe to travel. But it would be good to see everyone we know up there and play at the Ridgefield Golf Course.”
In the meantime, Gibbons is playing more than he did at a similar stage in 2016. He’s completed a minimum of 2.5 rounds per day (with a one-day high of 4.5 rounds), walked more than 3,500 miles, and taken nearly 40,000 strokes. At his current pace, Gibbons will reach 1,000 rounds sometime in October.
“The most rounds I played in one month in 2016 was 89,” he said. “I’ve played 100 rounds each month this year except for February, when I played 98. In January I played 108.5 rounds.
“I’m more determined this time,” Gibbons added. “In 2016, I took 22 or 23 days off; so far this year I haven’t skipped a day.”
Gibbons persevered despite experiencing severe knee pain in February.
“There were days where I was almost in tears. I really had trouble sleeping at night,” he said. “But my knees started feeling better in March, so I think I’m over that hill.”
Gibbons has also adjusted his eating patterns to stop losing weight.
“I must have dropped 30 pounds in the first few months,” he said. “I got on the scale and it said 164 pounds. I don’t think I’ve weighed that since eighth grade.
“I wasn’t eating most days until I got home,” Gibbons added. “My wife said I was getting too skinny, so she started packing me lunches. Now that the days are getting longer I am coming home between rounds to eat and rest for a little bit.”
Gibbons doesn’t yet know where he will play his 1,000th round — “that’s something I need to start thinking about,” he said — but he is adamant that this will be his last time pursuing the single-year record.
“No, there’s no way,” he said. “This is definitely the last time.”
He sounds certain ... at least for now.