The need for speed: Superintendent chases record for fastest golf hole

GCSAA member Josh Heptig was in a hurry to play golf. The prize for his effort? A possible world record.


Filed to: California

Josh Heptig
As director of golf course operations with San Luis Obispo (Calif.) County Parks & Recreation, Josh Heptig oversees three golf courses: Morro Bay, Chalk Mountain and Dairy Creek. He has earned national accolades for his work to transform Dairy Creek into a zero-waste operation. Photo by Tony Hertz

As a youth in Winfield, Kan., Josh Heptig would turn each page of the Guinness Book of World Records in anticipation and fascination. In the coming weeks, his own name may just be among the record holders.

No pace of play issue here: On March 9, Heptig set what could be the Guinness World Record for fastest golf hole played by an individual (minimum 500 yards). He achieved the feat in 1 minute, 47.13 seconds at his place of employment, Dairy Creek Golf Course in San Luis Obispo, Calif. Heptig, a GCSAA Class A superintendent and the director of golf course operations with San Luis Obispo County Parks & Recreation, surpassed the current record of 1:50.6, set last year by Steve Jeffs at Tiverton Golf Club in the United Kingdom.

Heptig submitted the paperwork to Guinness World Record officials, and tells GCM that it could take up to 12 weeks for his information to be processed. In the meantime, he’s thrilled by the possibility. “It’d be really cool to have a record like that,” says Heptig, an 18-year GCSAA member who received the association’s President’s Award for Environmental Stewardship in 2017.

How did this come about? It all started when Heptig was on a local radio show, “Jeff & Jeremy in the Morning” on KZOZ’s 93.3 FM, to promote the El Chorro Pitchin’ Regional Bark Charity Fun Run and Speedgolf Classic, which is hosted by San Luis Obispo County Parks and is scheduled for March 31. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Frace family, who recently lost their daughters, Brynn and Brittni, in a car accident. During the broadcast, Jeff and Jeremy looked up the Guinness World Record for the fastest golf hole played, and then challenged Heptig to break the record.

They targeted the right guy. “When I was an assistant superintendent in Indiana (at Coyote Crossing Golf Club in West Lafayette), I’d take my 5- or 6-iron, and even sometimes a 3-wood, and play 18 (holes) in about an hour in the late afternoon,” Heptig says. That’s speedy. So is Heptig, who led his high school cross-country team in Winfield to a tie for the state championship his senior year (Winfield lost in a tiebreaker).

There was certainly a need for speed a few weeks ago at Dairy Creek. Heptig used a 6-iron on No. 7 to tackle the test. After his tee shot, he chased down his second shot and struck it at 37.15 seconds. He sprinted to his third shot, hitting it at the 1:17.19 mark. His fourth, a chip from the fringe, came at 1:40.15. That left Heptig with a 5-footer. Talk about pressure: The chance to break the record would have gone down in flames if he didn’t knock the ball in the cup.

Well, mission accomplished. The people (Jeff and Jeremy) documenting Heptig’s quest on video and with a wristwatch timer flashed what could very well be a new record. (It actually took Heptig two takes to make it happen. On his first try, his errant third shot missed the green to the left and rolled back down the hill. He got it right, however, when presented with a mulligan.)

Heptig, who is steadfast in doing his part to advance the golf industry, says he wouldn’t be shocked if someone breaks his record before it’s ratified. Regardless of whether that materializes, Heptig isn’t done yet. “I know I can do it faster,” he says. “I will try it again.”

Howard Richman is GCM’s associate editor.