Local golf pro waiting for Guinness to make record official

Posted Monday, Jan. 28, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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From just the right angle, Michael Furrh looks like any well-disciplined golfer as he sets up his tee shot.

He measures the driver head to the ball, then spreads his feet, relaxes his knees and locks his eyes onto his target.

But that's where the similarities end. When the 44-year-old second assistant pro at Rolling Hills Country Club begins his backswing, the length of his 14-foot, 2.5-inch driver comes into view, and it's obvious that this is no ordinary shot.

Furrh's handmade steel driver helped him set what should be an entry in Guinness World Records last month when he used it to hit a ball 146 yards as measured by a TrackMan radar device.

The previous record, set in 2009, was held by Karsten Maas of Denmark, who had used a 13-foot, 5-inch driver to hit a ball about 134 yards.

The record won't be finalized for a few weeks. But Maas seems convinced of its legitimacy, even leaving a congratulatory comment under the YouTube video of Furrh's feat.

"Hi Michael," he wrote. "You just broke my nearly 4 years old World Record. Very well done! ... This is not so easy as it looks like!"

Fast turnaround

Despite the achievement, it's not like Furrh -- who also trains and oversees caddies for Caddie Club Golf -- has been playing around with golf gimmicks his entire life.

He became a golfer in the early 1990s only after suffering an injury that ended his tennis career. His experimentation with trick shots didn't start until much more recently. The quest for the record for longest usable club?

"I started looking into it about three months before I set the record," Furrh said. "I didn't start practicing until about four weeks before."

He researched what it takes for Guinness to even consider a record attempt. What he learned is that the organization requires a display of bona fides first.

"They won't let just anybody do it," he said. "People all over the world claim they can break records. They want to have some idea that you can do what you say can do. Then they can decide whether you are credible."

First came practice with an 8-foot club, then videotaped practice with an 11-foot club.

He sent Guinness links to the videos on YouTube, along with his information. He also assembled the 14-foot, 2.5-inch driver at a cost of $200 to $300.

In early December, the day before a previously scheduled practice session at Hank Haney Golf Ranch at Vista Ridge in Lewisville, he got the green light.

All along, he had urged his closest associates to warn him if they thought he was on the wrong track.

"I told them that if they thought I was crazy, tell me," he said. "Because I think I can do anything."

On Dec. 6, he went to Haney's facility along with about eight witnesses, including the independent steward who represented Guinness.

On the third swing, the driver head met the ball. Everybody watched as it sailed 137 yards, about three more than Maas' record.

But Furrh, ever the competitor, wasn't satisfied.

He took 13 more swings, the last of which proved to be the one he was looking for. When the ball landed, the computerized female voice of the TrackMan system announced, "One hundred forty-six point zero yards."

The high-fives and congratulations began.

Benefiting others

Furrh's record has been or is slated to be mentioned by media outlets worldwide, including Sports Illustrated, the New York Daily News, Golf Digest and Golf Week.

Rolling Hills, which will soon close its course for a makeover, has garnered attention.

"There's already been more publicity from this than from anything since the club opened in 1954," Furrh said.

When the course reopens in September, it will be the site of a fundraising tournament that Furrh is organizing to support Komen, A Wish With Wings and an after-school program at Rosemont Middle School in Fort Worth. Those who attend will get to watch him try to put the world record out of reach. He's already built an even longer graphite driver but isn't making public the length because he doesn't want another record-seeker to top it.

"I'm never satisfied," Furrh said. "I believe in setting goals higher than you can achieve because that way you always have room for improvement. That's something I've been saying since I was a kid."

"These golfers around the world will add two or three inches here and there to try to take the record back," he said. "I don't want them to know how long my new driver is so that they can't make one that is longer themselves."

Patrick M. Walker,

682-232-4674

Twitter: @patrickmwalker1

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