The RGV Golf Tour: 500 courses, 365 days, one golfer
Patrick Koenig is attempting something no other golfer has ever done before. And he’s gone to extreme lengths to make sure as many golfers as possible can be part of his world record attempt…
Patrick Koenig is living every golfer’s dream. Today he is out walking the Old American golf course in Texas, taking in the views, and capturing pictures with the drone he has flying overhead. A weather delay means his tee time has been pushed back, but he still has time on his side. Patrick’s life revolves around playing golf. Just not in a way you might expect.
Yesterday he was at Southern Hills, host of last year’s US PGA Championship, in Oklahoma. Next week he’ll be in Alabama to experience eight courses on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail. After that, he’ll make the near 500-mile drive to Florida where he’ll play another 30 times. Possibly more. It sounds almost too good to be true, but Patrick has turned a passion into a job.
He’s currently chasing down a world record for the most 18-hole golf courses walked and played in a calendar year. The current record, set by Jonathan and Cathie Weaver in 2009, stands at 449, but Patrick reckons he can get to 500 before his time is up. It’s an ambitious goal, but the 43-year-old has previous when it comes to attempting crazy challenges.
In 2018, he quit his job just so he could play golf every single day. He gave up his Seattle apartment, put his belongings in storage, and spent 12 months (and $60,000) touring the country as part of his first-ever golf marathon. He did all the driving himself — a total of 35,576 miles in a 26ft motorhome – and played golf with 793 people on 405 golf courses. The fact he raised $20,000 for charity in the process made it even more memorable.
“This was an idea 20 years ago, to get an RV, drive to a course, play it and drive to the next one,” explains Patrick. “You can see so many courses, much more effectively, that way. It was never super practical, especially back when I was a sales guy. I didn’t have that ability to make it a reality. But once I started getting a following on Instagram, that’s when I realized there’s an audience around it.
“I started putting some things into place and I got so far down the line with it that I was like, ‘Man, I want to do this more than I’ve ever wanted to do anything in my life’. So… I did it. In 2018, I quit my job and went on a year-long golf trip which really changed my life. I ended up leveraging a career in golf course photography out of it.
“So, when I say it changed my life, it really did change everything I do day-to-day. I haven’t had to go back to sales. I’m now selling myself in the photography space and playing golf every day.”
Patrick doesn’t like to describe himself as a social media influencer, but it is hard not to be impressed, nor inspired, by his passion for the sport. As well as creating his own blog, he has over 100,000 followers on Instagram and regularly receives invitations to visit golf clubs, some of which are willing to pay up to $10,000 per visit for videos and golf course photography. He even spent 10 weeks playing 50 rounds as a paid intern for Wisconsin State Golf Association in 2021.
His new-found fame has led to some fantastic experiences, such as photographing Tiger Woods at Pebble Beach, playing the Old Course with actor Bill Murray, and bumping into Bill Clinton in New York. More recently he has struck sponsorship deals with ECCO, Stewart Golf and Golf GameBook, who approached him about embarking on the RGV Tour 2.0. He didn’t take much convincing.
“At the time, I had been fantasizing about it, like what could be better, and the main hook was to set a world record. I played 405 different courses before and once I learned that the record was 449, it kind of pissed me off that I didn’t have that record. I want that record.”
With Golf GameBook offering to foot the bill, Patrick bought an RV for around $160,000, built a makeshift driving range on the roof, and pledged to raise $100,000 for First Tee, a youth development organization that empowers youngsters through the game of golf. He even stocked up on hundreds of branded tops, keychains, and mugs to sell while on the road.
Despite being pelted with water balloons by his friends and family for a video that went viral, Patrick struck his first tee shot at Monarch Beach Golf Links in Southern California on January 3 and has played every day since – with the blessing of his girlfriend. So far, he’s shot everything from a four-under 67 to an 86, and kept every scorecard from every round to prove it.
“The goal is to play 500 different courses, but that seems kind of insurmountable at this point. But then I do the math and I’m like, ‘OK, I’m on world record pace’. I just need to remind myself it’s just playing golf every day.
“We’ll get there,” he says, puffing his cheeks out, “but it’s a massive undertaking. I say ‘we’ because I feel like it’s not just me that’s a part of this. It’s everybody who joins in and participates or donates or invites me out to their golf course.”
Part of what makes the RGV Tour so unique is that Patrick is inviting anyone and everyone to join him in making history. When he is not on the golf course he is living and working from his ‘recreational golf vehicle’, often responding to requests from people asking to take part. So far more than 300 golfers – including 2002 PGA Champion Rich Beem and Paige Spiranac – have been in touch, extending invitations to play a course, or signing up to play in a monthly event.
The support has been so extensive that Patrick is now running a year-long competition for everybody who spots the RGV on the road and posts about it on social media. The winner and their buddies will join him for a free round at one of America’s finest courses. He just hasn’t decided which one it will be yet.
“I think that’s the ultimate compliment, that 300 people – strangers even – have shown that support and want to come out and play golf with me. I think that’s an incredible accomplishment in terms of whatever persona I’ve built online. My main goal is to have fun and to be charitable and productive in terms of the content we create and the photography I am able to deliver.”
It sounds like a glamorous lifestyle but there is another side which people don’t see, which includes sleeping in car parks and being without running water for days on end. After driving to and walking every one of the courses he plays, Patrick typically spends up to eight hours a day editing pictures, dealing with logistics and updating his scores and posts on the Golf GameBook app and his own social media channels. The undertaking is huge, but the unknowns and experiences are keeping it exciting.
The marathon will end at Chambers Bay in Washington on January 2 next year, but between visits to TPC Sawgrass on April 1 (no joke) and a 54-holes-a-day trip to Finland and Iceland in the summer, there are still plenty of gaps to be filled in. The unpredictability means he still doesn’t know when he is going to break the record yet, but he assures us he will.
“Each day is like a puzzle,” he admits, laughing. “I don’t have all 500 tee times booked in yet, but I’d love to get to the point where I just have to play 18 holes a day to get to the record.
“I’ve got to play 90 days of 36. It’s a big hurdle to get over, and then I’ll go above and beyond. I’d love to get to the point where I get up every day and go and set a new world record. That would be really cool.”
You can follow Patrick’s journey and donate to First Tee by visiting www.pjkoenig.com
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About the author
Michael Catling is Today’s Golfer‘s Features Editor and an award-winning journalist who specializes in golf’s Majors and Tours, including DP World, PGA, LPGA, and LIV.
Michael joined Today’s Golfer in 2016 and has traveled the world to attend the game’s biggest events and secure exclusive interviews with dozens of Major champions, including Jack Nicklaus, Jordan Spieth, Tom Watson, Greg Norman, Gary Player, and Justin Thomas.
A former member of Ufford Park and Burghley Park, Michael has been playing golf since he was 11 and currently plays off a handicap of 10.
Away from golf he’s a keen amateur chef and has his own healthy recipes website. He also loves playing squash, going to the gym, and following Chelsea FC.
Michael uses a Ping G driver, Ping G 3-wood, Ping G Crossover 3-iron, Ping G Series irons (4-PW), Ping Glide wedges (52º, 56º, 60º), TaylorMade MySpider Tour Putter, and Srixon AD333 golf ball.
Get in touch with Michael via email and follow him on Twitter.