What did Indiana golfer Ben Berger call tennis pros John Isner and Nicolas Mahut after they completed their record setting 11 hour and 5 minute match? Pikers! Slackers! Wusses!
I’m kidding. Please, no letters.
Marathon golfer Ben Berger is too tender for that. Berger would have said “Well done!” even though Berger’s 16-hour, 34-round day of marathon golf leaves our tennis heroes in the dust. Remember, John and Nicolas played their 11-hour match over three days, with two nights of rest. Ben Berger went from dusk to dawn swatting golf balls…at a brisk, brisk pace.
Ben Berger did his final “Par for the Cause” golf charity event Friday, June 25th, teeing off to flashlights at 5:29 and finishing after sunset at 9:30 pm. When I say brisk pace, I’m talking Lipton Tea-slapping-your-face-brisk; Usain Bolt as your caddy brisk; New York minute around a par 72, 6400 yard Indiana golf course brisk.
That’s 18 holes every thirty minutes, some holes finished in less than 90 seconds. Ninety seconds! Jack Nicholas took that long on one putt. No strike that; three times that long on one putt!
And Berger set these records for a good cause—autism awareness—while raising $200,000 over five years. Plus, 32-year-old Ben wasn’t too shabby in the scoring department. It was an average course with lots of water hazards, which his thirsty golf balls found, and yet he never scored over 82.
How about this: 95 birdies and five eagles in one day, 12 rounds of par or better.
We think his high school golf coach, Steve Read, in Lakeville, Indiana, taught him well. “Our coach always said,” Berger tells us “I don’t care how bad you shoot as long as you play fast.” Berger’s coach was a no-nonsense guy and a master of the back-handed compliment. “You’ve done the most with the least talent,” Read would say. Berger credits Coach Read for being a good teacher and for helping him pare all wasted motion from his game.
“I got the idea twelve years ago that I could do marathon speed golf,” Berger says. “I didn’t start doing it as a charity event until 2006. For four years we did it at Eberhart where I was the club pro. Each year we’d complete more rounds and each year my team became more skilled. This year I set a goal of 600 holes but Juday Creek is 140 acres and Eberhart was only 90 acres. Even though it was 50 acres more the course superintendent helped tremendously.”
So he didn’t mind you scooting on your 30 mph gas golf cart or parking near the green, we asked. “No, he was great and he placed the pins where I asked, pretty much had the course ready for speed.”
Ben was thrilled with his team, “I never touched the golf ball. One guy picked it up from the hole, another teed it up. We went through cases of water, ate very little, and I never stepped into the club house.
"When we gassed up, that’s when I stretched, for five minutes… once the entire match.”
Ben did change his socks a lot, shirts a few times, shoes once from spiked shoes to tennis, and lost ten pounds for his day’s efforts. And it wasn’t like he was alone on the course.
“Oh, no. There was a golf scramble as part of the charity event. There were some foursome’s I lapped eight times. ‘Don’t I know you? Let us finish three holes before you come around next time.’ That sort of thing.”
Yeah, exactly. Like Isner-Mahut’s, Berger’s record may never be broken. Nor should it.