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In golf, 59 is the new black

We’re out there chopping around, rattling trees with our Titleists, three-putting every patch of grass that has a flagstick stuck in it, raging at the heartless gods of golf and then we come into the clubhouse and up there on the TV, somebody else has shot something absolutely silly.

Well, the announcer tells us, Joe Logo narrowly missed a 40-footer and had to settle for a 60.

Poor Joe.

When did even par become reason to break your clubs? This is nuts.

When he returned to the PGA Tour after three months away for thumb surgery, Anthony Kim took note of the 59’s Stuart Appleby and Paul Goydos had shot, as well as a handful of 60’s others had posted, and said, “Looks like everybody’s gotten a lot better since I’ve been gone.”

Tour veteran Ernie Els said he’d like to see the courses toughened up a bit, adding “...you don’t want to make it look like a Mickey Mouse tour” with so many extraordinarily low scores.

Actually, we probably shouldn’t be surprised that there’s so much spectacular scoring.

Give these guys soft, smooth greens, windless days and all that artillery they have in their bags and they are going to paint you something you can hang on your wall. And on the days when the putter is in a really good humor, there will be smoke hanging over the course.

And there’s more to come. Kids who weren’t born when Ernie Els turned pro are shooting the lights out.

Ryo Ishikawa is only 19 years old. In Japan, where he has won several tournaments on the Japan Tour, he is known as Hanikami Oji – Bashful Prince—but there is nothing bashful about his golf game. Earlier this summer, he shot a 58 in a Japan Tour event.

In the Alabama Golf Association Junior Boys Championship at the Country Club of Mobile this year, 17-year-old Bobby Wyatt shot a 14-under-par 57 on a course that measured 6,628 yards.

Don’t these people know how hard this game is?

Although there are conflicting reports about record scores, the Guinness Book of World Records, which recognizes only scores shot on courses 6,500 yards or longer and in competition, says Jason Bohn and Shigeki Maruyama hold the world record with 58’s. Ishikawa will join them. Of course, if Wyatt’s 57 is recognized, that’s the record.

How about a 55? It’s happened. Because it was shot on a course that measured 5,002 yards, Homero Blancas’ 55 in the final round of the Premier Invitational, an amateur event in Longview, Texas, in 1962, is not recognized by Guinness but a 55 is a 55 no matter where you do it.

Blancas, who would later play on the PGA Tour for several years, had 13 birdies and an eagle, needing only 20 putts in shooting nines of 27-28.

(It was a nine-hole course. Competitors used a different set of tees for the nines.)

Making Blancas’ score even more remarkable, on the 36-hole final day he had played the morning round in 62. That added up to a 23-under-par day.

He won the tournament, but his 72-hole total of 256 was only six shots better than that of his old University of Houston teammate Fred Marti.

There was another 55 recorded. Alfred Edward Smith of England claimed a 55 in 1936 but that course measured only 4,428 yards, so it has kind of been kicked into the corner. But, to repeat, a 55 is a 55 no matter where you do it.

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