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September 28, 2023

Florence’s Phil Grimes shoots golf’s magic number

By Gregg Dewalt, Alabama Golf News Editor
Phil Grimes scorecard

Round of 59 carded at Blackberry Trail

As Phil Grimes continued to pile birdie upon birdie during his Aug. 26 round at Blackberry Trail Golf Course in Florence, Alabama, playing partners David Corl and Chris Rinehard remained eerily silent.

Kinda like somebody pitching a no-hitter. Only in this case, the 64-year-old Grimes was chasing golf Holy Grail score – breaking 60.

Phil Grimes
Phil Grimes with his scorecard and the Callaway Diablo ball he used to shoot 59 at Blackberry Trail Golf Course in Florence. (Photo: Gregg Dewalt)

“We didn’t say anything,” Corl, a former high school coach, recalled recently. “I didn’t want to screw things up.”

Finally, after another birdie on the 16th hole put Grimes at 11-under-par on the course owned by the City of Florence, the topic of breaking 60 came up.

“When we got over to the 17th tee, Phil told us that if he birdied the last two holes he would shoot 59,” Corl said.

That’s exactly what Grimes did, ending his round with a curling 7-foot birdie putt on No. 18 to finish his round with a 59. It was easily the best round of his life, bettering a 62 he shot when he was 60 years old. Grimes, who played college golf at the University of North Alabama, previously had shot 64 “a long time ago” at Goose Pond.

“I still remember that round,” he said. “I played in a pair of red Adidas tennis shoes because I forgot them at home and the course had a sign that said “Golf Shoes Only.”

Unfortunately, Blackberry Trail does not keep track of course records. Grimes., who works part-time at the course, said he knows a couple of players who have shot in the low 60s, but never anyone breaking 60. Grimes’s round came from the yellow tees which measure a quaint 5,330 yards and it was playing firm and fast that day. But that shouldn’t diminish the feat – after all, a player still has to get it into the hole.

Grimes made 13 birdies and used only 23 putts. Most of his birdie putts were within 5-6 feet. He made two nice par-saving putts – one on No. 7 and one on No. 15. The putt on No. 15 was from about 12 feet.

Phil Grimes: ‘I hit a lot of good shots’

“It was just one of those days when I hit a lot of good shots,” Grimes said. “I made a bunch of 6-footers that I normally don’t make. I hit the ball pretty good all day – I stayed out of the rough.”

Grimes birdied the first five holes before making three straight pars. He birdied the ninth hole to shoot 30.

Phil Grimes card
The scorecard on which Phil Grimes recorded his round of 59. It reflects his dogfight points from that August round at Blackberry Trail. (Photo: Gregg Dewalt)

“I’ve shot 30 on the front nine before and they usually double-bogeyed No. 10,” he said.

Not that day, though. He birdied the first four holes on the back nine to get to 10-under.

After he made a 7-footer for birdie on No. 16, Grimes was 11-under.

“I had never made 11 birdies in a round before,” he said.

“I knew he had a good round going,” Corl said. “I wasn’t sure how good, though. I didn’t know 59 was in play until he mentioned it after No. 16. I was afraid to open my mouth.”

No. 17 is a reachable par 5 with water up the left side and guarding the front of the green. A small marshy-type creek is in play along the right side of the fairway.

Grimes hit a 3-wood off the tee to ensure not hitting it in the water. His second shot was also with a 3-wood, although he didn’t catch it cleanly. But the Callaway Diablo ball he was using hit into the bank just over the water and hopped up onto the green. A two-putt birdie left him 11-under.

On the last hole, a 304-yard par 4, Grimes hit a gap wedge to six feet and he curled in the putt for 59.

‘He just got all the right bounces’

“It was incredible,” Grimes said. “I was just very excited. I raised my arms in the air and didn’t throw the ball away. I was on Cloud Nine.”

Corl said it was just one of those days when everything went right for Grimes.

“He just got all the right bounces,” Corl said. “It’s the best I’ve seen anyone play. He was hitting it so close. I knew I was taking a butt-whipping. I just tried to keep my mouth shut. I don’t even know what I shot. Putting is the worst part of his game, but everything he hit was a gimmee.”

Corl said you can’t dismiss the round simply because it came from the yellow tees.

“You still have to get the ball in the hole,” he said.

The threesome was playing in the course’s big team event. Grimes made 62 dogfight points.

How did Grimes do in his next round from the same tees a few days later?

“I shot 72,” he said.

Gregg Dewalt is the editor of Alabama Golf News

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Featured image by Gregg Dewalt

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