Four years ago, Will Grimmer fired the only known 59 in Pinehurst history. He returns to Pinehurst and the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball seeking another claim to fame
By ALEX PODLOGAR
Following his round on a typically warm and humid mid-summer Wednesday, a 16-year-old Ohio kid as skinny as the shaft on his 5 iron slipped into the famed clubhouse at Pinehurst Resort. Little did he know it then, but Will Grimmer had just walked into history at Pinehurst.
Moments before, he had signed his scorecard for the second round of the North & South Junior Amateur championship. Still flush from having made an 18-foot birdie putt on the last hole of Pinehurst No. 1, Grimmer had written golf’s magic number – 59.
“The game’s greatest players have won at Pinehurst, and it would be an honor to be able to follow in some of those footsteps.” -Will Grimmer
For a few minutes on July 10, 2013, there were only whispers and rumor of Grimmer’s score. Pretty astute about golf history himself, Grimmer almost seemed embarrassed when fellow competitors and friends came up to him and asked how his round went. He understood news of his score would send murmurs through the clubhouse.
Grimmer was wrong, though. Just hours later, he became the biggest story of the week in golf.
“It changed my life,” Grimmer says now, nearly four years later. “First it started trickling out on social media, and then it just exploded. Later that night in my hotel room, I was watching myself being interviewed on The Golf Channel’s Golf Central.”
Grimmer’s 59, it turns out, is the only known recorded 59 in competition in Pinehurst’s long and storied history. No one has done since – at least not before the playing of the 3rd U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship on Pinehurst No. 2 and No. 8. Grimmer returns to the Four-Ball playing with Ohio State teammate Clark Engle, and the pair got off to a fast start, winning medalist honors after two bogey-free rounds to earn the top seed for match play at 12-under 129.
“I definitely got a lot more exposure in junior golf after the 59,” Grimmer says. “I’d say some colleges and others around junior golf knew who I was, but the 59 definitely helped me stand out more as a capable golfer on the junior and collegiate golf scene.”
Grimmer’s play has continued to turn heads since that fateful day. Less than a year later, at just 17 years old, Grimmer was the youngest player in the 2014 U.S. Open, which too was played at Pinehurst. His image pointing to the 59 on the North & South manual scoreboard was broadcast on ESPN following footage of Grimmer’s birdie on the 17th hole during the second round.
Standing mere feet away from the likes of Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler on the putting green during Monday’s practice round, as hundreds of spectators looked on, Grimmer seemed as awestruck then as he was just 11 months before.
“I can’t believe this is happening,” Grimmer said that day as he rose from his putting stance and looked around. “It’s a little different than the North & South Junior.”
Grimmer, though, has since become accustomed to large-scale events. He’s emerged as Ohio State’s top player as just a sophomore, and the Four-Ball will be his 10th USGA championship. Grimmer has also played in the last two North & South Amateurs at Pinehurst, one of the nation’s elite amateur championships.
“The game’s greatest players have won at Pinehurst, and it would be an honor to be able to follow in some of those footsteps,” Grimmer says.
Grimmer, though, has footsteps of his own at Pinehurst.