How to Play the '59' Golf Game (Also Called 'Geiberger')

A score of 59 is no longer the record-low on the PGA Tour, but it remains a magical number in golf — playing a round in fewer than 60 strokes. So how do you think the golf betting game known as "59" works? Let's find out.

First, note that 59 is also known by the name "Geiberger." That's for Al Geiberger, the golfer who in 1977 became the first to record a 59 on the PGA Tour (or any pro golf tour).

Second, the object of 59/Geiberger, is to not be the first golfer in your group to reach 59 strokes for the round. So long as you are not the first, you'll win the points or the money that is at stake.

Here's how 59, or Geiberger, works, and it's pretty simple: A group of golfers tees off and plays the round. The first golfer in the group to reach 59 strokes loses the bet. That's it. Don't be the first player to hit 59 on your scorecard.

Before the round starts, settle on the value of the Geiberger bet. You might want to include it as one of many games or bets you and your buddies will be playing during that round. In that case, you can make the payoff one of points. Or you can give the bet a set cash value.

  • If 59 pays off in points: Compare the scores of the golfers in your group at the point the first player hits 59 strokes. Let's say Golfer A reaches 59 first, and at that point Golfer B is at 58, Golfer C is at 53 and Golfer D is at 56. Golfers B, C and D earn points representing the difference in strokes. In our example, B (58) earns one point, C (53) earns six points and D (56) earns three points. If you are doing it this way, you are probably combining 59 with several other points games during the round.

  • If 59 pays off in cash: In this case, you can think of the Geiberger game as a standalone bet, or a sort of bonus game or honey pot for the round. Agree before the round how much the bet is worth. Is it worth $1? Then the golfer who hits 59 first owes $1 to each of the other three golfers. Or make it worth $1 per stroke difference. In that case, using the same scores as in the example above, Golfer A has to pay $1 to Golfer B, $6 to Golfer C and $3 to Golfer D.

(By the way, Jim Furyk, in 2016, became the first golfer in PGA Tour history to shoot 58. So if you want, you can call this same game "58" or "Furyk" and play to 58 rather than 59.)

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