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MailTribune.com
  • Long day of golf puts him on short list

  • Tom Wimmer isn't going to win a long-drive contest. He doesn't even carry woods in his bag.
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  • Tom Wimmer isn't going to win a long-drive contest. He doesn't even carry woods in his bag.
    The 52-year-old golfer also isn't likely to threaten course records, and he's not made a hole-in-one in more than 30 years of play, so there's no guarantee that will happen.
    But what he can do is play fast, which gives him the chance to cover a lot of holes in a short period — like 108 in one day. That's right: One-Oh-Eight.
    The Medford resident played the equivalent of six rounds in less than 10 hours three Mondays ago at Rogue Valley Country Club, taking advantage of a cloudy, drizzly, slow day on the course, the 27-hole layout and three fully-charged electric carts. He started at 7 a.m. and finished at 4:30 p.m.
    Wimmer, who owns an online Ford Bronco parts business, had considered doing the endurance challenge for a couple years.
    "I knew I was hitting 50," he says. "It was kind of a bucket-list thing."
    A 13-handicapper from the men's gold tees, Wimmer played from the senior blues, something for which, age-wise, he qualifies. When he encountered other players, he'd go around them, then try to return to play the hole or holes he skipped.
    It didn't always work, but he got nearly four pure rounds in — he came up one hole short on the fourth round — and two hybrids that had a handful of par 3s that replaced longer 4s and 5s.
    He totaled 480 strokes, shooting 80 twice and 84 on the three pure rounds. If he took a bogey on the hole he skipped on the 17-hole would-be round, it would have been a 79. He did play a hole to fill in the blank spot, so the total of 108 is legitimate.
    Among the figures he came up with:
    The holes he played amounted to about 21 miles, and estimating the distance between each, it was like playing from Medford to Grants Pass.
    He averaged about five minutes per hole.
    He had four birdies, four double bogeys and came close to that elusive ace on No. 13 on the outside, hitting it to within four inches. Three of his doubles came on the par-five ninth hole on the inside, but in men's league the following week, he birdied it.
    Wimmer used a club cart for the first 45 holes, then was joined by Gary Bendickson and his "hot-rod cart." Bendickson chauffeured him for 20 holes.
    "He'd race up to my ball, then I'd grab a club and hit it, then he'd race up to my ball again," says Wimmer. "He'd park out of the way at the green while I putted out. I didn't take any practice swings. I figured that would be a lot better for my elbows."
    The pace with Bendickson was breakneck, and Wimmer's technique didn't always make an adequate adjustment.
    "I didn't have a double bogey until that darned Gary showed up," he chuckles. "I think I had three with him. That kind of threw me out of my routine."
    When Bendickson left, Wimmer rented another cart. He had 35 holes to go for 100, then decided to make it 108 for an even six rounds.
    The seed for Wimmer's expedition was planted about 10 years ago, when a number of players traveled to play Shastina in northern California. They played 36 holes on unlimited golf, then he and three others worked up a speed-golf team competition.
    With two on each side, they raced around for nine holes, alternating shots, one driving ahead while the other tapped in, jumping in and out of moving carts. It wasn't the safest round. There were a few missteps entering and exiting the carts, and Wimmer ran over the putter he's had since he took up the game at age 20.
    "That bummed me out a little," he says.
    Still, he allows, it was the most fun he's had playing nine holes.
    Wimmer dallied with a couple endurance rounds last year, playing 50 holes each time in less than five hours.
    Granted, his effort isn't insurmountable and isn't any kind of an official record. If he had the energy, and given his pace, there was time for two more rounds.
    "I could have gone more, but I was just too tired," says Wimmer, who packed a lunch and water for the day. "My arm was hurting a little and I thought I'd better not push my luck."
    He played 18 holes with his regular group two days later, nine more on Thursday in men's league and 18 on the weekend for a week's total of 153.
    It took awhile, but his sore arm is back to normal.
    He's been asked the obvious question: Why?
    "Not many people can say they played six rounds in a day," he says, "so I have kind of a record with all my buddies up there. It was a lot of fun, and it's kind of a conversation piece. There are guys who have played 60 years and never heard of that."
    U
    SPEAKING OF RARE FEATS: Kenny Gentry has shot his age so many times, he doesn't bother to keep count. In fact, it's a bad day if the 78-year-old with a handicap index of 6.6 doesn't do it.
    Astoundingly, the average of his 20 scores in the most recent posting period is below his age, 77.3.
    "I've never heard of that," he muses.
    So, while others marveled at a recent 71 he shot at Stone Ridge, putting him seven shots under his age, Gentry was relatively ho-hum. He's done better, shooting 68 two years ago for eight shots under his age.
    The most strokes under one's age, as verified by Guinness World Records, is 17. James Morton, 89, shot even-par 72 at Valleybrook Golf and Country Club in Hixson, Tenn., in 2001.
    That's not to diminish the remarkable accomplishment of Gentry, who turns 79 June 30. In home-and-home competition against Salmon Run's men's club May 25, he made three birdies and two bogeys for a 1-under round.
    He never got in trouble. It was simply down the fairway, on the green, a couple putts and move on.
    Sound boring?
    "I don't get bored on the golf course, I just love it," says Gentry, who works once a week behind the counter at Stewart Meadows, plays in that men's club and also enjoys regular senior play at Centennial and Stone Ridge.
    "Even when I'm playing crappy," he says, "just being out there, my God, I'm so lucky with my health and being able to get around. I feel so thankful for everything. I'm not really braggadocious, but I'm proud to be able to do it."
    As an aside, the Salmon Run gang didn't know what hit them in the two-man competition. The club's top two players both shot in the low 80s against Gentry and Guerin Fischer, who, by the way, fashioned a 73, one stroke below his age.
    Have a local golf story idea? Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 541-776-4479, or email ttrower@mailtribune.com
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