Marathon Golf

24 July 2023

Marathon or Endurance Golf is one of the ways golfers try to make golf more exciting. But what exactly is it?

Many people think golf is the most boring sport in the world. At least, that is what a survey found in 2018.  Some golfers agree with them and have set themselves challenges to liven things up. Cross-country golf, which is playing to a distant target in fewest strokes, was one of the early ways that golfers did this, as outlined here.

Another way has been to try to play as many rounds of a golf course as can be done in one day. Naturally, this works better in the summer than the winter, which is why most of these attempts take place in June. This has become known as Endurance Matches or Marathon Golf. 

How Endurance Golf was born

As might be expected, marathon golfing was born in Scotland, on a bet. 

William G Bloxsom

William G Bloxsom

 William G Bloxsom was an insurance agent and golfer. He wagered that he could play 16 rounds of the 9-hole Old Musselburgh Links (144 holes), in a day. He achieved this playing against Bob Ferguson, the well-known golf professional. They started at 6 am and had finished 16 rounds by 7 pm. According to the reports they only gave up because Bob Ferguson's caddie, Fiery, refused to go on.

In July the following year, Mr Bloxsom was bet that he could not play 10 rounds on the course in Aberdeen in 24 hours. He raised the number to 12 rounds and added a 10 mile walk. As the course had just been extended from 14 holes to 15 holes the year before, the total golf played would be 180 holes. He started at 6 am and finished at 1.15 am the following morning and won the wager. 

This was not the last time Mr Bloxsom's appeared in the golf annals. In 1889, he co-invented a portable golf tee,  while he was Secretary of the North Berwick Golf Club.

Scotland Raises the Bar (to 216 holes)

It took 35 years before Mr Bloxsom's record was beaten. In between, there were several other attempts on fewer holes, though possibly over greater distances. 

In June 1909, H B Ferrier, the 'father' of the (Royal) Brugess Golfing Society, and T T Gray played a match of 8 rounds of the Barnton course, where the Burgess had moved in 1895 to be able to lay out 18 holes. They started at 3.45 am and finished the 144 holes at 9.45 pm. Gray won the match although he conceded 5 holes per round. It is said that 'they wore out two sets of caddies' and that Ferrier walked two miles home afterwards. This matched Mr Bloxsom's first record in 1874, though not his second one.

Harry B Lumsden was lawyer and graduate of Aberdeen University and later Cambridge. In 1908, he set a personal record of 9 rounds of the Balgownie course with an excellent average round of 83 for the 162 holes, supported by his caddie, Harry Martin. The Balgownie course was the Royal Aberdeen's new course, north of the old course that featured in William Bloxsom's record in 1875. Today it plays 6,245 from the yellow tees, and it would not have been much less in 1908.

The following year, another Scottish golfer played 192 holes, bettering Lumsden's total and taking the record from Bloxsom, which possibly spurred Harry Lumsden to push his record up.  In 1910, with Harry Martin again as his caddie, he completed 12 rounds of the Balgownie course. He started at 2.30 am and finished at 9.45 pm. It's been estimated that he averaged 2.5 hours per round, after allowing for lunch. Then he cycling home! Even more astonishing are his consistent low scores over the 216 holes. His best round was 77 and his worst 88, with an average of 82.5 strokes per round. 

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
85 80 81 81 77 73 84 80 88 86 85 80

Shortly after this, newspaper reports say that Harry Lumsden was appointed to a post in Sumatra. 

Marathon Golfing goes West (to the USA)

Marathon golfing was taken up in the USA big time in the early 20th century, especially during the 'roaring twenties' and depression laden thirties, when all manner of marathon challenges became popular and money making. Inspired by these, one golfer in Detroit played 92 rounds of the 9-hole Ridgemont course non-stop for a week. This included the double bonus of a hole-in-one among the 828 holes!

When I started researching this, I discovered an excellent history of the topic already published in 2019 by David Crockett on the Ultra Running History website in an article called Marathon Golfing (1874-2019).   Many of the details of the marathon golfing feats in the USA (and one in Australia) are extensively covered in the article above,  I won't repeat them here. There is no point in re-inventing the wheel! 

The record has been raised over half a dozen times over the last century. The last noted record was in 2019, showing that endurance golf is still very much alive, though the time between records is definitely getting longer.

Marathon / Endurance Golf Records

Below is the list of record golf marathons, based on the summary at in the article Marathon Golfing 1874-2019. Note that to qualify for inclusion, the attempt had to be made on foot and on standard length holes and not short courses. However, some of the techniques used might be a bit questionable!




if known

Golf Course

No of



William G Bloxsom

Bob Ferguson

Old Links Musselburgh 144

William G Bloxsom

King's Links, Aberdeen 180
1906 Leveson Gower Ottawa Golf Club 126
1909 T T Gray & H B Ferrier

Royal Burgess GS, Edinburgh

1908 Harry B Lumsden Balgownie Links, Aberdeen 162
1909 A Scottish golfer Scotland 192
1910 Harry B Lumsden Balgownie Links, Aberdeen 216
1923 Dan Kenny Glenbrooke CC, Houston 216
1923 William Lundberg Glenbrooke CC, Houston 216
1923 Nick J Morris

Brackenridge Municipal 

San Antonio

1923 Rudolph C Supan Highland Park, Cleveland 257
1923 Nick J Morris

Brackenridge Municipal 

San Antonio

1933 Bob Swanson Sunset Fields, LA 305
1934 Jim Ford Portland 335
1971 Ian Colston Bendigo Club, VIC Australia 401
2019 Eric Byrnes

Half Moon Bay Golf Links,



 Table produced with corrections, additions and modifications from Ultra Running History


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