Scottsdale resident Bob Kurtz spent March 25 celebrating his 80th birthday year the only way he knows how: Racking up his seventh Guinness World Record at Scottsdale TopGolf, where he hit more than 1,000 drives in less than 12 hours.
Kurtz is “The Ironman,” after all.
“That was really satisfying — very satisfying,” he said.
But the best part of the accomplishment for Kurtz?
The event, dubbed Ironman 1000, raised $20,000 from sponsors and individual donors to benefit the Mesa-based nonprofit, A New Leaf, which provides homes and essential items for homeless families and veterans in the Valley.
“I get double pleasure out of it: the pleasure out of doing something that’s extraordinarily difficult that a much younger man can’t do, and the true pleasure of doing something for a charity,” Kurtz said. “And I just think the world of A New Leaf. What they do is incredible.”
Kurtz’s goal was to hit 1,000 drives in 12 hours.
Each drive had to travel at least 200 yards and stay within a 40-yard grid.
But for a pro who owns several world records for golf marathons and endurance marks, it came as no surprise that he exceeded the goal with 1,115 drives.
“It was a long day as Bob started the record attempt at 10 a.m. He took very few breaks because he wanted to keep momentum going, so his pace was faster than anticipated,” recalled Joe Dulin, Chief Philanthropy Officer for A New Leaf. “Bob hit his 1,000 drive around 8:30 p.m. and we cheered his success.”
Those donating to the event gave anywhere from 10 to 50 cents per completed drive.
“We are grateful for their support,” Dulin said. “The dollars raised will have an immediate impact on families who have been impacted by COVID-19.”
A New Leaf provides multiple services to the community to help domestic violence victims find protection, provide shelter to the homeless, help children find family and help veterans find peace.
Amid the pandemic, it has seen an increase in demand for its services.
“A New Leaf provides support and services to around 30,000 people annually. That number will certainly increase this past year due to the impact of the pandemic,” Dulin said.
In response, A New Leaf partnered with the City of Mesa to provide millions of dollars to families through rental and utilities assistance in an effort to help keep people stable in their homes.
“A New Leaf will continue to work with state and local governments over the next year to utilize funds provided by the American Rescue Act to stabilize families and help those seeking employment find good jobs,” Dulin said.
The idea of the Ironman 100 was the brainchild of Kurtz, who approached A New Leaf about the fundraising event.
He was more than familiar with the nonprofit, as his wife is a volunteer and donor.
“Bob has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for charity through his endurance golf records. Because Bob is turning 80 years of age in May, he wanted to take on a couple of new challenges this year,” Dulin said.
Raising money for a charity as part of his world record attempts is something Kurtz started in 2006, when he played his first marathon, playing 168 holes in a row and averaging 18 holes in less than one hour.
Kurtz’s other world records include most times for a golfer to score their age or below in 24 hours; 500 consecutive holes without rest or sleep, which he accomplished in 39 hours; most holes played in one week, 1,850; completing 72 holes of golf in three hours and five minutes; and completing a round of golf in 39 minutes, shooting a 71.
“There’s no better feeling than to accomplish something of significance, but then to have it have a significant outcome, which is the money that was raised for A New Leaf, that was very, very rewarding,” Kurtz said.
This year is a milestone year for both A New Leaf and Kurtz.
Founded in 1971, A New Leaf celebrates their 50th anniversary this year and will host its 50th Anniversary Camaraderie Gala on Oct. 23 at JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa in Phoenix.
Kurtz, on the other hand, plans to ring in his 80th birthday by doing what he does best: adding another world record to his growing list of accomplishments.
This time, he plans to golf his age 10 times in one day, in July.
To prepare, he’ll train on the course, much like he did for the Ironman 1000 event, where he spent several hours each day for three months on the driving range at Ancala Country Club in Scottsdale.
“People say age is just a state of mind,” Kurtz said. “I’m 80 years old, and I’m doing things that a 30-year-old can’t do. And that’s very satisfying.”