PGA Apprentice cards a 59

By Jim Meehan
Published on

SPOKANE, Wash. -- Eight birdies, three eagles, six pars, one bogey.

That's how one writes 59 -- a magic number in golf -- on a scorecard.

Derek Barron was able to jot down those figures Wednesday, adding up to 13-under 59 at Indian Canyon in the pro-am that precedes the Rosauers Open Invitational. The pro-am is played at par 72; the tournament proper at par 71 when No. 1 becomes a par 4 instead of par 5.

The Tacoma Golf Center instructor eclipsed the course record by two shots.

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How Barron arrived at 59 is an interesting story -- not just the mindset he carried during that 18-hole thrill ride but also the unique path he's traveled in the golf world.

There are probably dozens in the Rosauers field that have flirted with 59, an unimaginable score to most players who get out once a week or knock the ball around on league night. Barron is an accomplished pro, fresh from winning the John Harbottle III Pro-Am in June at Palouse Ridge and the 2014 Oregon Open, one of four majors in the PGA's Pacific Northwest Section.

Barron has had several brushes with 59, each one stored in his memory and helping him better handle the moment the next time.

"Nobody knows when you're going to have a day like that," said Barron, who shot 67 Friday in the first round of the Rosauers. "The last time I had a chance to do it was at a course in Tacoma. I was 10 under through 12 on a par 71. I was feeling really good. I made bogey on a hole, and I was right in the middle of the fairway but in a divot.

"You get that anxious feeling of having to accomplish something you really want, and [experience] certainly helps. You know you're familiar with the feeling and what's coming."

Barron, who started on No. 16, drove within 2 feet of the cup on the 358-yard sixth. His lone bogey was on No. 8, the tough, 224-yard par 3, when his 8-foot putt lipped out. On the uphill, 341-yard par-4 ninth, Barron's drive reached the fringe and he made birdie.

"I drove it great," the 30-year-old said. "I was hitting the ball so well with driver that I pulled it out more than I would have normally. Almost every time I hit it within 5 yards of where I was looking."

He lipped out for eagle on the par-5 12th and made par at No. 13. He finished birdie-birdie, draining an 8-footer on No. 15.

"I really didn't feel nervous until that last putt," said Barron, who was low amateur at the 2011 Rosauers but hasn't had much success in two appearances as a pro. "I just threw my hands up, said, 'I did it.' The cart lady was right there and gave me a beer and said, 'It's on me.'"

The rare feat has happened six times on the PGA Tour, the last by Jim Furyk in 2013. Kevin Sutherland authored a 59 -- nearly the first 58 but he bogeyed the last hole -- for the first one on the Champions Tour last August.

The list of 61s at Indian Canyon includes Matt Cowell in 2013, Birk Nelson in 2007 and Joel Dahmen in 2006.

Barron had a late introduction to golf. He took up the game as a sophomore in high school, so "to play in college really wasn't an option."

Instead, Barron worked for his grandfather at a hydraulics company. He later became a construction foreman in charge of a crew of 15. He maintained his interest in golf, playing before or after work and competing in occasional weekend tournaments.

"I was making a good amount of money," he said. "Not that I didn't like the job, but the way I saw it if I could play [golf] well enough I could make more money in something I like to do."

He's been "serious" about the game for about six years. He hopes to complete the PGA management program in February. He's pretty much self-taught but absorbs tips from Todd Erwin, also an instructor at Tacoma Golf Center.

"Not playing in college is a little bit of a different route," Barron said. "Ultimately I'm trying to make it on the [PGA] tour but regardless of whether that happens or not, being involved in the PGA of America is great."

This article was written by Jim Meehan from The Spokesman-Review and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.