Al Geiberger: The Original 'Mr. 59' of Golf

Biography of the first golfer to shoot 59 on the PGA Tour

Al Geiberger
Al Geiberger became the first golfer to shoot 59 on the PGA Tour in 1977. Above, he plays the Champions Tour in 1993. Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Al Geiberger won more than 10 times on the PGA Tour, including a major championship. But he'll forever be remembered as the first tour player to break 60.

Date of birth: September 1, 1937
Place of birth: Red Bluff, Calif.
Nickname: "Mr. 59," for reasons that are obvious. Or will be in a moment. Earlier in his career, Geiberger was sometimes called "The Peanut Butter Kid" or "Skippy" because of his penchant for loading his golf bag with the peanut butter sandwiches and munching on them throughout his rounds.

Tour Victories:

  • PGA Tour: 11
  • Champions Tour: 10

(Geiberger's wins are listed after his bio below.)

Major Championships:

1

  • 1966 PGA Championship

Awards and Honors for Al Geiberger

  • Member, U.S. Ryder Cup team, 1967, 1975

Quote, Unquote

  • Al Geiberger on his kids telling his wife about his round of 59: "When we got back to the hotel they raced up to the room to tell my wife I had a 59. She said, '59 what?'"
  • Lee Trevino, after Geiberger's 59: "Al Geiberger should have to take a test to prove he's a member of the human race."
  • Curtis Strange on Geiberger's 59 round: "That course was one of the 3, 4, 5 courses I would have bet you would have never seen a 59 on. I think it's one of the greatest feats in the history of the game. I really do."

Al Geiberger Trivia

  • Al Geiberger was the first golfer to shoot 59 in a PGA Tour tournament round.
  • According to pgatour.com, Geiberger is the only player to win a PGA Tour tournament (outside of the majors) without shooting a round in the 60s. Geiberger shot rounds of 72, 59, 72 and 70 in winning the 1977 Danny Thomas Memphis Classic.
  • Geiberger packed his golf bag with peanut butter sandwiches to help keep his stamina up. After winning the 1966 PGA Championship - where he munched on those sandwiches throughout - he went on an exhibition tour sponsored by ... a peanut butter company.

Biography of Al Geiberger

He won 11 times on the PGA Tour, including a major championship, and 10 more times on the Champions Tour.

But Al Geiberger will forever be remembered as the first man to shoot 59 in a PGA Tour event.

The date was June 10, 1977, and the tournament was the Danny Thomas Memphis Classic. It was the second round at Colonial Country Club in Memphis, Tenn., and Geiberger shot 30-29--59, making a 10-foot birdie putt on the final hole to finish off the historic round. He had six pars, 11 birdies and one eagle, at one point scoring 8-under during a 7-hole stretch. It's still one of only a handful of 59s shot on the PGA Tour.

The round was very unlikely: The golf course had bumpy, grainy greens; it was 100 degrees that day; and Geiberger wasn't knocking down the pins with his approach shots. But his putter was on fire: His shortest birdie putt of the day was eight feet.

Ever since that day, Geiberger has been known as "Mr. 59."

Geiberger grew up in California and his first big tournament win was the 1954 National Jaycee Championship. After graduating from the University of Southern California, Geiberger turned pro in 1959 and joined the PGA Tour in 1960.

His first Tour win was the 1962 Ontario Open Invitational. Geiberger was a consistent player through the mid-1960s, although not a star, and then he won the 1966 PGA Championship.

His career seemed ready to take off, but stomach and intestinal problems slowed him down. In fact, after the PGA Championship victory he didn't win again for eight years.

Then, in the mid-1970s, Geiberger enjoyed his best seasons, winning twice each in 1975-76 and recording his record round in 1977. His last PGA Tour victory was the 1979 Colonial.

Medical problems returned, however, and emergency surgery in 1980 removed Geiberger's colon. Despite that major procedure, Geiberger went on to win 10 times on the Champions Tour, the last victory in 1996.

Geiberger was noted for a smooth, rhythmic form that led many to want to copy his tempo. He made several instructional videos, including Golf with Al Geiberger, (later renamed Sybervision's Muscle Memory Programming with Al Geiberger) which contains no narration - just repeating images of Geiberger's silky, repeating swing (here's an excerpt on YouTube).

He also worked on the instructional book Swing for a Lifetime and wrote the instructional book Tempo.

Geiberger has six children. One, Brent, is a 2-time winner on the PGA Tour; another, John, is a national championship-winning college golf coach.

List of Geiberger's Tour Victories

On the PGA Tour:

  • 1962 Ontario Open Invitational
  • 1963 Almaden Open Invitational
  • 1965 American Golf Classic
  • 1966 PGA Championship
  • 1974 Sahara Invitational
  • 1975 MONY Tournament of Champions
  • 1975 Tournament Players Championship
  • 1976 Greater Greensboro Open
  • 1976 Western Open
  • 1977 Danny Thomas Memphis Classic
  • 1979 Colonial National Invitation

On the Champions Tour:

  • 1987 Vantage Championship
  • 1987 Seniors International Golf Championship
  • 1987 Las Vegas Senior Classic
  • 1988 The Pointe/Del E. Webb Arizona Classic
  • 1989 GTE Northwest Classic
  • 1991 Kroger Senior Classic
  • 1992 Infiniti Senior Tournament of Champions
  • 1993 Infiniti Senior Tournament of Champions
  • 1993 GTE West Classic
  • 1996 Greater Naples IntelliNet Challenge