Lost in the annals of history is the fact that Sam Snead was the first to shoot a 59 in a competitive round. He doesn’t get credit, however, because it was in a non-sanctioned event.
According to the West Virginia Register-Herald , Snead shot his 59 on May 16, 1959 at the very Greenbrier where Stuart Appleby would shoot one 41 years later. Snead was playing in the The Greenbrier Open, a pro-am tournament staged at the annual Spring Festival at The Greenbrier.
Although Jack Snead was young when his father played his unprecedented round of golf, he recalls he and his father had talks about that long-ago day.
“He was really tickled,” the younger Snead said “He got a telegram from Queen Elizabeth the next morning.
“He said that he could have shot a 58 if he hadn’t missed a three-foot putt on the 17th hole, which was a par three then.”
Buddy Cook, host golf professional at The Greenbrier when Snead carded the enviable 59, remembers the excitement it promoted among the fans and sports writers at the Spring Festival.
“I was in a foursome playing right behind Sam,” said Cook, who lives in White Sulphur Springs.
“He missed several putts coming in or the score would have been lower than 59. Sam was jubilant. Everyone was celebrating.
Sam Snead is one of my favorite golfers, and his swing is one that I think anyone would do well to emulate:
Sam was snake-bit in the US Open. Otherwise, I think an argument would be made for him as the greatest golfer of all time.