59. What does it represent? Is it the gold standard of golf? Or, is it a number that has a diminishing value among the golf community?
Before fellow Cleveland Golf staff members Will Wilcox and Russell Knox accomplished this feat a mere two weeks apart, a 59 had only been recorded eight times in official tournament play on the PGA/Web.Com Tour. That’s eight times in 84 years. Since Al Geiberger recorded the 1st ever 59 at the Danny Thomas Memphis Classic in 1977, professional golfers have used 59 as a benchmark for greatness in a single round. To accomplish this means that a player must have everything in their arsenal working together in perfect harmony. From tee to green, a player has to be nearly perfect in their execution which, in the sport we know and love, is nearly impossible.
It has been said the true “perfect round” is a 54; the ultimate personal achievement for a single round of golf. While it has never been achieved in tournament play, the thought of shooting 54 has become a benchmark for professional golfers. The theory, titled “Vision 54”, has been popularized by renowned Swedish coach Pia Nilsson. The theory focuses on the idea that striving for perfection will ultimately result in better performance on the course, even if the goal is not met.
Some people believe mental training like “Vision 54”, in addition to physical advancements, better equipment, and easier course set-up, has made the magical number 59 somewhat “ordinary”. In a recent article by golf writer Jason Sobel, he states that shooting 59 has become the equivalent of a 4-minute mile. Once thought to be nearly impossible, it is now a regular occurrence in the running world. But, really, what is regular? Before Wilcox and Knox scored their respective 59’s, it had not been done in 3+ years in tournament play.
Yes, it feels like more and more often, you hear stories like this one about a mini tour players shooting 56 in a practice round. What is not accounted for in event like this is the immeasurable: what goes on between the ears. As a professional, knowing that, all the while, their performance directly affects not only themselves, but their family and their livelihood. Performing under that kind of pressure puts that achievement into perspective.
Say what you will, but we know that what Will and Russell did was amazing. Both work extremely hard at their craft and we are proud that they are representatives of our brand.