In addition to a shrinking playing field, the modern pro also has a lot more help to fine-tune his performance. On his payroll Appleby has a swing coach, a sports psychologist, a personal trainer and an osteopath. How big was Geiberger's entourage? "Me, myself and I," he says with a laugh. "Now it's a team sport."
Yet 59 retains its aura. But for how long? Goydos is not an alarmist. "I think we're going through a phase—especially last year, the weather was so good," he says. "We'll see how things go this year. Golf courses aren't getting any easier. I think the players are getting better. But no, I think it's a pretty cool number. I don't see an outbreak of 59s anytime soon."
Beck has a different take. "It amazes me that no one has shot 58 on the PGA Tour," he says. "It will happen. Soon. And I expect we'll see more 59s too. The courses simply can't contain these guys anymore."
As more players reach the 50s, does it devalue the accomplishment? "I don't think so," says Geiberger, who is still widely referred to as Mr. 59. "It's fun for those of us who have already done it. It calls attention to our accomplishment and makes us relevant to a different generation of fans and reporters."
Indeed, it is left to the rest of us to debate the merits of the 59s and attach a larger meaning to them. For the five men who have shot that number on Tour, doing so remains an intensely personal experience. Near the end of a long interview Geiberger drifted into a dreamy reverie. "I was out of my mind," he said softly. "I'd have to say it was the best four hours of my life."
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