Desert Mtn. Golfers’ “marathon”: six courses, 116 holes = 26.22 miles!

By Pete Mohr | June 3, 2009

Feat submitted to ‘Guinness Book of World Records’

Hope CoatesDESERT MOUNTAIN – At a lean-and-mean 6’5”, Chiricahua Course 1st Assistant Jake Sand, 28, hailing from Bemidji, Minn., looks more like a small forward for the Minnesota Timberwolves than a golf professional. Yet on May 28, at 5:35 a.m., Sand launched a booming tee shot on Chiricahua #1. His playing partner, Director of Golf Shawn Goben, 40, Yerington, Nev., followed suit, with the second twosome, Assistant Director of Golf Keith Cunningham, 40, San Antonio, Texas, and Chiricahua Head Professional Cam Ludwig, 30, Huntsville, Ala., going off minutes later. Running from tee box to their drives (as they would on every shot), “Medal Play Marathon” was underway!

Their goal, ambitious, to say the least: play all six Jack Nicklaus-designed courses at Desert Mountain (in order: Chiricahua, Geronimo, Cochise, Apache, Renegade and Outlaw). From the Gold (Championship) tees, plus an extra eight holes on Outlaw, they would have played/run a 26.22 miles golf “marathon!”

Exactly 9 hours, 57 minutes and 116 holes later, Goben and Sand putted out on Outlaw Course #18. For the 116 holes, Goben shot 567; Sand, 494, including … a four under par 68 on Cochise. These men played real golf.

Earlier, cloud lightning had wisely ended play for the Cunningham-Ludwig duo after finishing 100 holes – no small accomplishment. Goben is submitting the event for consideration by “Guinness Book of World Records.” He hopes to receive a response by the end of July.

For the cumulative play of Goben-Sand, do the math: 600 minutes (ten hours) divided by 116 holes means that these two golfers played at a clip of just over five minutes per hole – including transportation from course to course. This writer opines, “Close enough for government work to incredible!”

golf groupAs the event progressed, the four players were cheered on by 14 Special Olympians, who, under the guidance of Desert Mountain members and staff, tended flagsticks and raked bunkers at Cochise, Apache and Outlaw courses. These youngsters also proudly handed putters to the four golfers. “No question,” Goben pointedly told Sonoran News, “these kids were our inspiration. They kept us going. We all learned a lot from their upbeat presence.”

May 28 was Southwest Section, Professional Golfers Association’s (Arizona and Las Vegas) “Golf Day,” with donations/contributions from the day’s events at each member course benefiting equally the Section’s charitable foundation and Special Olympics Arizona. Goben emphasized, “Desert Mountain members were more than generous with their donations, also our families and friends. We should reach $40,000. We’re very pleased with that total, considering that this was a first-time event, with little advance publicity. Keith, Cam, Jake and I want to express our appreciation to everyone who contributed to the success of ‘Medal Play Marathon’ – and to Sonoran News for coming out so early to report our start on Chiricahua.”

Special thanks are due to cart “caddies” Dan and Daryl Dubrovich, Bobby Foleno, Monica Cunningham, Holly Ludwig, David Thompson and Desert Mountain staff, “running partner” Keith Hershberger, event trainer John Crow (Owner and Manager, CORE Life in Balance, Glendale), who nutritionally stocked the players’ carts, and all Desert Mountain member volunteers. “There’s no way we could have done it without them,” Goben gratefully acknowledged.

Is there a future for “Medal Play Marathon?” “Youngster” Jake Sand: “I had a great time! I’m going to do it again next year.” Concept originator/ coordinator Goben: “Well, we definitely learned a lot in ten hours. I believe we can make it bigger and better next year.” You can already hear his creative “wheels” turning!

Congratulations, gentlemen – and thanks to Desert Mountain.

Courtesy Photos/PHYLLIS LERNER
Hope Coates and event trainer John Crow

“Marathoners” and friends