The 59 Club: Sherrill Britt Sets Record at SPGC
It started as your average pickup fivesome at the golf club. It ended in an explosion of birdies that made Sherrill Britt a member of a very select club.
The 59 Club.
You may have heard of Britt a couple of times. He's the reigning Moore County Amateur champion. A former professional, he regained his amateur status a few years ago and has since won four county championships. So he can obviously play a little.
But this was just a friendly match at Southern Pines Golf Club. Yeah, there may have been a couple of little side bets or something, but it was supposed to be a nice little clambake affair ending in handshakes all around and then maybe the sharing of a cold one. Or two.
The fivesome consisted of Britt, Rodney Brecheisen, David Allen, Russ Sweet and Tony Yearby.
Britt served notice early that he was hot, making birdies on the first two holes. Then he served notice that it was going to be a pretty good day on the fifth hole when he chipped in for an eagle.
He went on to birdie 6 and 7 and shot 29 on the front. There may have been a lot of wallet checking among the other four.
Then just to prove that the front wasn't some kind of illusion, Britt proceeded to make birdies on 10, 13, 14, 15, 16 and 18.
"I just played good, that's all," Britt said. "I made a lot of putts. A lot of putts that I don't normally make."
While Britt may have been downplaying his accomplishment, which beat the course record of 62 set by J.D. McNeill in 1999 by three strokes according to golf shop attendant Arte Bohmaker, the other four guys didn't mind showing their excitement.
"The most amazing thing to me was how effortless Sherrill's round was," Brecheisen said. "After he birdied 16, there was a kind of 'stay away from the guy who's throwing the no-hitter mentality.' Then when the birdie putt dropped in on 18, everyone went nuts.
"We knew we had just witnessed the rarest feat in golf."
The feat is so rare that it has been accomplished only four times in PGA and LPGA history. Al Geiberger, Chip Beck and David Duval did it on PGA Tour and Annika Sorenstam on the LPGA Tour.
"We're all friends and play together at the Elks Club, but not necessarily as a regular group," Brecheisen said. "It just worked out that we played together that day."
The 44-year-old Britt, who is now a building contractor, admits that he's playing "pretty well" and says he's scoring as well as he ever has, but he isn't sure about what the future may hold. He's definitely planning on defending the Moore County title, and there may even be a return to professional golf.
"I don't know if I'll try to qualify for the Champions Tour when I turn 50," he said. "We'll see when it (50) gets here. But if I keep playing the way I am now, I'll probably play some professional tournaments."
There are a lot of Moore amateur players who are hoping Britt does turn professional again. But they'll have to wait at least a couple of more years. Golfers can begin competing on the Sunbelt Senior Tour when they turn 47.
Britt feels his game is as solid now as it's ever been, maybe even better in some departments.
"I putt better now," he said, "and I'm probably close to being as long off the tee as I ever was."
And what were the emotions surging through him as he approached that magical 59?
"It was kind of like when you're about to break 80 or 90 for the first time. "You just try to keep from thinking about it and play golf."
Brecheisen is still thinking about it, though. "We played the blue tees and preferred lies in the fairway, so maybe it wasn't totally kosher," he said. "But there were some bets involved, so please believe that a close watch was kept. I don't remember if there were any putts conceded to Sherrill, but if they were, they were definitely in the grip.
"I'm telling my friends that I shot 32 on the front nine and got beat by three shots. And I shot 71 for the 18 and got beat by 12. You should see their reaction."
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