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VOL. 127 | NO. 107 | Friday, June 1, 2012

Dan Conaway

Dan Conaway

Everything’s Possible, Even a 58

By Dan Conaway

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WHAT THESE GUYS DO ISN’T PROFESSIONAL. IT’S IMPOSSIBLE. The other day, I played in a golf scramble – a format where four players hit every shot, pick the best, and turn in one score at the end. And we had two mulligans each (do-overs) and a toss (a throw yourself out of trouble when you’ve just hit a shot so nauseating you want to toss). We played well, making putts and clutch shots, using our mulligans and tosses wisely, and turning in a score two or three strokes better than we thought ourselves capable of – 62, 10 under par.

Three stokes worse than what Al Geiberger did all by himself in 1977.

We shot our 62 on Windyke’s east course from forward tees using metal drivers with heads the size of anvils and irons that look like they were engineered by NASA. Geiberger shot his 59 from the tips – the back of the tee boxes – on Colonial’s south course, then the longest course on the PGA Tour. From way back there, with just a little wind in your face, you can’t catch a taxi to the green in regulation and caddies are using binoculars to find the pin.

Geiberger birdied 11 holes and eagled another, using a wooden driver and blade irons more unforgiving than Lorena Bobbitt.

A score of 59 is impossible. And that’s why he was the first to ever do it in tour competition. And I saw it.

It was a Friday and the whole course was buzzing about Geiberger. I caught up with him on his 10th hole. He made an eagle putt that was harder to read than James Joyce and had more twists and turns than Dickens. He laughed. His playing partner, Dave Stockton, laughed. He birdied the next hole, and the one after that, going eight under in a stretch of seven holes. We were all laughing by then.

After all, it was impossible.

It was the Danny Thomas Memphis Classic then. Next week it’s the FedEx St. Jude Classic played at TPC Southwind. Then, saving as many kids as St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital saves now was just a dream for Danny Thomas. Then, the kind of breakthroughs that give lost lives back were just a family’s desperate hope.

After all, it was impossible.

Who would dream that Chip Beck, David Duval, Paul Goydos and Stuart Appleby would later post 59, and that St. Jude would today post a cure rate for all childhood cancers of 80 percent? It was 20 percent when the hospital was founded. Who could hope to cure 94 percent of acute lymphoblastic leukemia cases and 95 percent of both retinoblastoma and Hodgkin lymphoma cases?

We should all be laughing.

Next week, the pros will pull it back and let it rip for the kids, and every one of them thinks there’s a 58 out there. There is, and if the first one is here, you don’t want to miss it.

After all, there’s beer, pronto pups and laughter. And everything’s possible.

I’m a Memphian, and this is our stop on the PGA Tour.

Dan Conaway is a lifelong Memphian, longtime adman and aspiring local character in a city known for them. Reach him at dan@wakesomebodyup.com.

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