Lowe Bibby of Garner says he played 1,114 holes of disc golf over the weekend in a bid to smash the loosely verified world record for holes played in 24 hours for this Frisbee-based derivative of the far clubbier sport.
Bibby, 51, estimates that he walked at least 65 miles through Elon's Beth Schmidt Park from noon Saturday to noon Sunday as he played a sport that has steadily gained popularity. A revolving cast of caddies carried his discs, and his family escorted him some of the way.
Bibby's plan was to play at least 12 hours. But by midnight Sunday, Bibby had played 572 holes and knew he was on pace to break the record. Last month, three men said they played 1,035 holes in Minnesota. "I was making really good time, so let's go for it," Bibby said.
Getting it on the record
Bibby said he will notify the Professional Disc Golf Association about his feat in hopes the group will recognize it as a record. But the verification standards aren't rigorous. A statistics team with the PDGA tracks records, but the association's website says it depends on players to be truthful and notes its records are always changing. It also notes that some claims turn out to be erroneous.
Bibby has considered a disc golf marathon for years. He was introduced to the sport three decades ago in college, where he and his friends played what they called "Frisbee golf" at the University of Virginia. When he moved to North Carolina in 1998, Bibby began to play at Kentwood Park near the N.C. State University campus. "That's when I got really enthusiastic about playing," he said.
Bibby used to play regular golf, but he prefers disc golf, he said, because it's faster - he can play an 18-hole course in about an hour - and it's free. He's not the only one fascinated with the sport.
Unlike golf, there are no clubs or dimpled golf balls in disc golf. Players try to get weighted discs into baskets scattered around a course in as few throws as possible.
In 2009, the Professional Disc Golf Association had more than 14,000 members, according to its website, compared with 6,200 members nine years before.
Discs fly across N.C.
North Carolina is one of the leading states for the sport, with 556 members, according to the PDGA. It had 95 disc golf courses and 37 organized events last year.
Hard-core players take part in the PDGA tour, which handed out nearly $2 million in prize money last year.
Bibby turned his record-breaking quest into a fundraiser for Bridges International, a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ at NCSU, where he works as a campus minister.
For about six months leading up to the weekend's disc golf marathon, Bibby trained by walking long distances about four times a week.
Bibby's wife, Yvonne, said she was shocked at the amount of planning her husband did for the event. To prevent blisters, Yvonne said, he applied corn pads with duct tape.
And Bibby didn't stop for meals during the marathon. Instead, he stocked a table at the park with pickles, pretzels, Fig Newtons, Gatorade and other snacks.
"I would grab something to eat or drink as I would pass by," Bibby said.
He rested for at least one minute every hour. Bibby took longer breaks to change socks or pop ibuprofen to ward off aches.
His wife said she worried about him, but she knew it would turn out. "My son and I weren't surprised, because he's kind of competitive anyway," she said.
When the sun went down, Bibby relied on discs that light up and LED lights placed on the baskets to guide him.
"Definitely worth it," Bibby said. "It was a lot of fun to do, to challenge myself."
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