Little did 59-year old Rancho Bernardo resident Ken Norton know, when he had his fifth heart attack in 2008, and when the housing crisis was taking his construction business downhill fast, he would soon find a new passion – hitting over 80,000 golf balls.
As a payback for his recovered health, Norton is now the world champion for playing consecutive games of golf. On July 18, Norton celebrated the anniversary of his fourth year playing at least 18 holes, sometimes 36, every day. Sports media has labeled him the “Ironman of Golf.”
It started when he won a prize at a charity golf tournament — five years of free golf from JC Golf Courses, operators of seven courses in the North County area. He’s now a featured invitational player at fundraising tournaments around the country and is considered an expert on golf, with segments on the Golf Channel and ESPN.
Sponsored with clothing and clubs by Taylor-Made and Adidas, Norton now raises money though his foundation, Norton Golf 365. He supports Wounded Warriors, Make-a-Wish, and on his July 18 anniversary he was raising money for Rady Children’s Hospital at a tournament at the Twin Oaks Valley course in San Marcos.
Norton already holds several Guinness Book of World Records for golf, such as the most holes-in-one — 28. But later this fall, Norton will break one of sports’ biggest records: 2632 – that’s the number of consecutive games played in any sport. Baseball’s Hall of Famer, Cal Ripken, Jr., currently holds that record, established in his 21 seasons with the Baltimore Orioles. On November 15, at a local golf course, Ripken will join Norton as Norton plays his 2633rd consecutive game of golf.