Kid 59: One round at Pinehurst changed Will Grimmer’s life and path in golf

Eleven months after recording the only known 59 in Pinehurst history, Will Grimmer returned to Pinehurst as the youngest player in the 2014 U.S. Open. He’s back with teammate Clark Engle for the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball.

Five years ago, Will Grimmer fired the only known 59 in Pinehurst history. It changed everything for him.

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 it since.

On July 10, 2013, a then 16-year-old Will Grimmer shot the only known 59 in Pinehurst history at the North & South Junior.

“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 2017 U.S. Men’s Amateur Four-Ball at Pinehurst a year ago was his 10th USGA championship. Grimmer has also played in the last three North & South Amateurs at Pinehurst, one of the nation’s elite amateur championships.

On Thursday, Grimmer was the low amateur after posting a 3-over 73 at Shinnecock Hills at the 118th U.S. Open – four strokes better than Mickelson, five better than Tiger Woods and seven better than Rory McIlroy. It is his first U.S. Open appearance since 2014 in Pinehurst, winning his sectional earlier this month. Grimmer will return to Pinehurst for the North & South again in two weeks.

“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.

Reservations

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