Thumb’s Up for Long Driver at The Broadmoor

COLORADO SPRINGS— In order to enter the Guinness Book of World Records for hitting the most 300-yard shots in an hour, Greg Stafford of Colorado Springs knew he would have to drive golf balls at a blistering pace.

He didn’t know, however, that a blister on his left thumb would derail his quest.

Stafford, who once hit 1,000 consecutive 300-yard drives in 12 hours and whose 60-minute record is 211, staged Friday evening’s record-setting attempt at The Broadmoor as the denouement of the Springs Rescue Mission’s inaugural Drives4Lives Golf Tournament, which took place earlier in the day.

After a gallery of supporters—many of whom donated as much as $5 per 300-yard bomb—gathered around the third tee on The Broadmoor’s fabled East Course, the resort’s bagpiper played, the Mission’s pastor led a prayer, and a Guinness official explained that in order to set the record, Stafford would have to hit a minimum of 250 balls within a 157-yard-wide area 300 yards away.

The official adjudicated from the landing area, commencing and concluding the event with an air horn.

Hitting from an elevated tee at an altitude of 6,230 feet above sea level, Stafford appeared to be a lock for the record. His previous 60-minute best was 211 300-yard drives at sea level, and he had worked hard on his stamina and strength. The night before the event, he said he wanted to get off at least 400 drives, which equals one every nine seconds, and he expected at least 90 percent of those to stay on the grid.

That would be a record of 360 drives.

But between the first and last ball teed up by his friend Kent Brown, Stafford seemed to struggle more than anyone would have expected. He split the fairway with numerous powerful parabolas, but the pines lining the left side of the fairway knocked down dozens of drives that would easilly have traveled the requisite distance and stayed well within the grid.

In addition, unbeknown to the fans exhorting him, about 40 minutes into the attempt the thumb on Stafford’s glove wore through. A blister quickly formed, making it harder for him to grip the club in his usual fashion. His pace slowed to about one drive every 12 seconds, with two out of every three shots appearing to have a chance of counting towards the record.

With the digital timer zeroing out, Stafford hit his 312th and final drive, yanked off the glove and fell to the ground. He gave the applauding fans a thumbs-up with his blistered digit.

A half-hour later, at a reception on the balcony of The Broadmoor’s Ross Room, the crowd applauded again when it received word from the Guinness official. Greg fell “slightly short” of the 250-ball baseline, he said. “He had 195. Which sounds a little sad, but I’d like to remind you that 195 balls hit longer than 300 yards in an hour is truly amazing. It’s incredible.”

Although disappointed and exhausted, Stafford takes great comfort and pride in supporting the life-saving work of the Springs Rescue Mission. Between pledges by fans and sponsors and a golf tournament earlier in the day, Drives4Lives raised approximately $100,000.

There’s no doubt he’ll continue to put to good use his God-given ability to make a golf ball get real small real fast.

Come next year, another record could be at hand. As long as that hand and the glove covering it stay in one piece.

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