Playing his 2,000th round Sunday, Charlie Simpson reflects on years playing Breckenridge Golf Club
BRECKENRIDGE — If you ask Breckenridge locals Erroll Miller and Charlie Simpson if Simpson’s 2,000th round on Sunday at Breckenridge Golf Club is the most in club history, really, there is no way to know. That said, it’s a fair assumption that Simpson’s 2,000 rounds at the Breckenridge Golf Club, where he’s been playing since June 1990, are some of the most in club history. Beyond that, Simpson’s meticulous detailing of all the golf he’s ever played in his life has to be the most careful collection of data from any golfer in the history of the sport in Summit County.
Over the past three decades Simpson — a retired Air Force service member with years of experience working with missiles — has added up 1,999 rounds, an average of 60-some-odd rounds per summer. He’ll mark Sunday’s 2,000 round milestone with his daughter Debie, son-in-law True and friend Mark Thomas.
The 82-year-old Breckenridge resident has used his methodical approach to life, learned as a mechanical engineer, to quantify and classify most of the golf he’s ever played, and he’s played a lot of it — seemingly everywhere and anywhere.
“The weather’s looking good for Sunday,” Simpson said. “Better than today was. We got rained on four times today — a lot. And it was cold. I think I shot 92, which, for me is pretty good. It didn’t used to be, but it is now. I was shooting, even in my 70s, shooting the occasional score in the 70s. But then in my late 70s, once I turned 80, it was harder. I can hardly break 90 anymore. It’s hard to do.”
At all those rounds per year, golfing in sunshine, rain or snow (lots of snow, through the years), Simpson has played Breck more than anywhere else. He’s played here ever since he and his wife Carol’s first summer as Breckenridge residents in 1990, after his retirement from the Air Force the same year.
But he’s played seemingly most everywhere else. His passionate practice of keeping track of all his golfing started back when he was stationed with the Air Force on a base in Turkey in the 1980s, where he often played at a 9-hole. At first, Simpson kept his detailed notes by hand on paper, but in recent years that has given way to a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. It’s a table that can tell you, or him, all of the 755 courses Simpson has played in his lifetime. That includes courses from all 50 states in the U.S., a lifetime goal Simpson achieved eight years ago.
Tracking his golfing may be a practice of precision, but for him it’s also an enjoyable outlet for his engineering aptitude.
“For the fun of it,” he said. “Engineers keep track of things, numbers. You know, I keep track of ski days the same way. I used to keep track of how many vertical feet I skied every day, and how many days per year. It was my goal back in the early days for a million feet of vertical per year. I was always just barely short of it. And a big reason why was because golf took priority. I would get 98 ski days, the golf course would open up, ‘to heck with it.’”
In all those years, he’s never gotten a hole-in-one at Breckenridge — though it’s not out of the realm of possibility Sunday on one of the four par-3 holes at the Bear and Beaver. He does have two hole-in-one shots on his record — one at Meadow Hills down in Denver and one at Coral Canyon in St. George, Utah.
His best 18-hole round ever at Breckenridge Golf Club is a 78, which he has shot three times. He’s had his fair share of the frustrations associated with the distinctly-Summit golfing experience of losing golf balls in full-on snow banks, but for Simpson those are mainly eclipsed by more uplifting memories. They include the three times he’s shot eagles on the course.
For those like me, a relative hack of a golfer who was born four months after Simpson first started playing Breck, an eagle was the furthest thing from my mind during my first 9-hole round at the club last week.
As my golf ball went for a swim exactly where Simpson had advised to watch out for water hazards, and amid my numerous other classic golfing mishaps, I had to acknowledge the words of wisdom Simpson shares with any and all golfers out there.
“Enjoy the beauty of this golf course,” Simpson said. “Don’t worry about how you play. It’s a difficult golf course. Just enjoy being out here.”
Boy, has Charlie Simpson done just that, oh so many times.
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