Kentucky golfer, Jessie Massie, shoots 56 at Glenmary in Louisville, but would give it up
With each circled number Jesse Massie marked on his scorecard, it became more real.
For Jack Ridge, head pro at Glenmary Country Club in Louisville, Ky., it was nearly unreal.
“I’m behind the counter when Jesse comes in with his playing partners. He is acting real fidgety and you can tell he’s real nervous,” Ridge said. “I said, ‘What’s wrong?’ And he said, ‘I’ll need a couple of extra score cards.’
“I said, ‘For what?’ And he said ‘You’re not going to believe me, you’re not going to believe me, you’re not going to believe me. … ‘I just shot a 56.’
“Naturally, when he said 56, my jaw dropped a little bit. I said, ‘Did you play USGA?’ and he said, ‘Yes, I played the ball down, matter of fact, I had a penalty stroke in my round.’
“I said, ‘You did what?’”
Massie sunk putt after improbable putt – he had 21 overall – and hit 17 greens in regulation en route to his remarkable 56. His scorecard includes a remarkable 14 birdies, one eagle and three pars.
“When I got to hole 12, I made about a 35-foot putt for eagle, it snuck in on the left side. I gave one of my buddies a look like we might have something here,” Massie said. “Once I got to 14 under I was like how can I finish this round and get to the clubhouse so I can sign the scorecard and get out of here?”
The penalty stroke Massie incurred came as a result of an unlikely foe – a cedar tree planted in a fairway. The tree used to serve as a 150-yard marker for the course’s fifth hole.
“I went up to (the tree) thinking please go through it, but there it was about 2 ½ feet off the ground right in the middle of the tree,” Massie said.
The result of Massie’s misfortune? A par after an up-and-down.
Massie, a 2005 graduate of Louisville Trinity High School, and a former Eastern Kentucky University golfer. He currently plays in the Carolina Series of the NGA Pro Golf Tour, and is familiar with the 6,540-yard, par-72 course, but never beat the previous course record at 66.
“There’s trouble on every hole,” Ridge said. “We’ve got water hazards on eight holes on the front, it’s pretty well bunkered and there’s out of bounds on every hole.
“It’s a subdivision golf course, so if you knock it left or right, with the exception of two or three holes, there’s out of bounds. I don’t have enough paint to even mark all the hazards.”
Massie played alongside two friends, Chris Miller and Kevin Purcell.
“Kevin and I were acting like the pitcher was throwing a no-no. We tried not to talk to him too much; we were almost more nervous than he was,” Miller said. “When he got to 14 under he was like don’t even worry about it, I got this. Jesse was cool and collected on the outside, but Kevin and I were pretty nervous.”
Massie, 25, said big-time tournament experience has helped shape him into the golfer he is. He participated in a U.S. Junior Amateur and four U.S. Amateur Public Links tournaments. He currently plays on the Carolina Series of the NGA Pro Golf Tour.
Ridge said he’s done research on the lowest recorded round of golf, and said he can’t find a lower score on a par-72 under similar circumstances. Because of that, he plans to submit Massie’s round to the Guiness Book of World Records.
The Guiness Book of World Records press office hasn’t received that submission yet, but says that the lowest golf score over an 18-hole course is 55. That feat was accomplished by Rhein Gibson at the par-71 River Oaks Golf Club in Edmond, Okla., in 2012.
World record or not, Massie hopes to use the momentum from his round in his professional endeavors.
“The biggest thing I can take from it is that I have the capability to shoot a really good score,” Massie said. “I’m not going to try and shoot that score every time I play a round, it’s not going to happen, but to be able to know I have that ability, it really gives me confidence going into the future.”
What matters most to Massie? Just getting a chance.
“I would trade this 56 to just qualify for a Web.com or PGA event,” Massie said. “I know it’s a really great number, but I’m a golfer and my true dream is to make it on the Tour.”
He said he doesn’t want to make a big deal about the 56, instead giving credit to his coach Kevin Greenwell, the golf pro at Seneca Golf Course. “I’m just a golfer from Kentucky,” he said. “A lot of good people have contacted me and congratulated me. People didn’t have to do that and went out of their way, I appreciate that.”