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Golfers We Like: Be Like Mike - Australian Golf Digest Golfers We Like: Be Like Mike - Australian Golf Digest

This 85-year-old has shot his age more than 1,000 times – and he keeps breaking his own world record. 

Breaking your age is an achievement most dream about. For 85-year-old Mike Barber, he is as prolific at this coveted skill as any other golfer in the world.

Last April, Barber broke the Guinness World Record for the most rounds shooting your age or better (1,140 times). He hasn’t stopped there. At the time of print, Barber had shot his age or lower 1,266 times.

The Canadian accomplished the feat for the first time at 70 years old. He reached 100 rounds of his age or better by 76, when he said he became interested in pursuing the record.

“Someone asked me if I knew what the record was, and I didn’t, so I looked it up within the Guinness Book of World Records,” Barber said. “Ever since, I had that 1,137 number in the back of my mind. I never thought I would actually accomplish it but as I got older and stayed healthy and kept on playing, I got closer and closer to it,” said Barber.

The year before he broke the record, at 83, Barber got quite good at shooting his age – doing so an astonishing 199 times. To date, that’s the most times he’s done it in one year. Since he was 80, in less than six years, he’s scored his age or lower 930 times – and because he’s doing so on a weekly basis (sometimes multiple times a week), he’s confident he’ll hit 1,000 rounds of his age or better in his 80s by the end of the year.

Barber broke the record last April at The Heights Golf Club in San Diego, where he’s a member. The club informed its members about Mike’s record, and the 9-handicapper found himself walking down the 18th hole with at least 100 people surrounding the green. Mike knew he needed a bogey or better on the 18th to beat the record.

“I was more nervous walking down that 18th hole than I was walking down the aisle to marry my wife,” Barber jokes.

Barber found himself in a greenside bunker at the last hole, which might make others nervous – but he says sand play is one of the best parts of his game. On cue, he blasted the bunker shot out to about a foot or less from the hole for a tap-in 4.

“I couldn’t believe that I did that,” Barber says, “because I was shaking in my boots.” Barber putted his ball in and celebrated with his friends around the hole.

The Heights Golf Club threw him a big party that weekend and they all celebrated his huge accomplishment. Barber was later interviewed by local TV stations, and he remembers thinking with that crowd watching him, he “can’t imagine what it would be like trying to win a Masters”.

The record-breaker isn’t slowing down. On average, Barber plays five rounds a week and last year he played 280 18-hole rounds. In the northern summer, he’ll head to his club in Canada, the Kanawaki Golf Club in Montreal, and he hopes to get in touch with the Guinness Company at the end of the year with a new record number, which he envisions will be quite high, being as he’s shot his current age (85) or lower 67 times since his birthday in October.

Despite open-heart surgery at 78, and living with a pacemaker, he doesn’t have a “secret” to staying in shape. He stretches minimally and keeps two five-kilogram weights near his bed to do a few curls at night. That’s about it, he says.

Let that be inspiration to the rest of us to play more golf – and play better golf later in life. 

Photos by:  matt furman