• Alistair Tait

That Dream 54 Might Just Be Possible


Urban golf myth says Ben Hogan had a recurring dream. The Hawk would play 17 holes in his sleep and birdie every one of them. He’d reach the 18th hole, stand over his birdie putt and wake before he could achieve the perfect round of 54.


South Africa’s Christiaan Burke got within two shots of Hogan’s dream score when he returned a 16-under-par 56 over his home course of Potchefstroom Country Club in the club medal. Burke didn’t birdie 16 of the 18 holes. As his scorecard above shows, he just made four eagles, eight birdies, six pars and no bogeys. He played the front nine in 26, 10-under-par, and came back in 30 blows. Needless to say, it is a new course record, one that might stand for a very long time.


Read his scorecard and weep, especially if you find this game difficult.


Just as well he shot 56. As a plus eight handicapper, his net score was 64.


Potchefstroom Country Club is a 6,415-yard par-72. It’s not Carnoustie off the back tees but it’s still impressive, even if Burke is a member of the South African national team.


Hmmm, wonder if we should remember the name: Christiaan Burke?


Al Geiberger made history in 1977 when he became the first player to break 60 on the PGA Tour. Geiberger returned a 59 around Colonial Country Club in Cordova, Tennessee in the second round of the Danny Thomas Memphis Classic, which he won. It earned the American the tag Mr 59.


Geiberger’s milestone moment wasn’t matched for 14 years, until Chip Beck returned a 59 in the third round of the 1991 Las Vegas Invitational. Another nine players have recorded that number on the PGA Tour, with Scottie Scheffler becoming the latest in the second round of last year’s Northern Trust tournament.


Jim Furyk is the only player to shoot 58 on the PGA Tour, which he achieved in the final round of the 2016 Travelers Championship over the par-70 TPC River Highlands course.


Only one player has returned a sub 60 score on the European Tour. England’s Oliver Fisher recorded the first 59. He did it in the 2018 Portugal Masters.


Seems odd to think Fisher’s the only sub-60 man in European Tour history considering how good today’s players are, and the equipment they use. Can’t be long before he has company considering so many players nowadays are reaching par 4s with drivers and wedges, and hitting medium irons into par 5s.


Annika Sorenstam remains the only woman professional to shoot below 60. She recorded a 59 in the second round of the 2001 Standard Register PING at Moon Valley Country Club in Phoenix, Arizona. Sorenstam shared Hogan’s fantasy.

“I have always dreamed about shooting 54,” Sorenstam told the LPGA website.

She was certainly in a dream like state that round.

“I wasn’t worrying about anything. I would stand on the tee; I would just swing it. I would stand on the fairway; I was just trying to hit the green. I wasn’t worrying where the ball was going; same thing on my putting, I wasn't worrying about my second putt. I was just looking at the hole and that is what I was concerned about. I was so free in my mind, there was no excess or whatever you call it around me.”

And an actual 54? Well, that previously seemed to be pie in the sky.


Former European Solheim Cup captain Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott set up their highly successful Vision54 teaching academy with the tag line:

“Bring possibility to life. “

Nilsson and Marriott believe 54 is possible. Maybe they know what they’re about, maybe that dreamy 54 isn’t so illusory after all. Especially with today’s equipment.


#JustSaying: “In golf there is never any reflex action possible. Every stroke must be played by the mind – gravely, quietly, deliberately.” Arnold Haultain

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