BY JEFF FALK
So what happens when a very good golfer gets on a roll, catches fire and then his stars align? He goes low, a course yields to his will and history is made.
I think what intrigues us so much about the concept of golf course records is that it flies in the face of the knowledge that we do indeed have physical limitations, that for one fleeting moment perfection seems almost attainable. Or it could be the idea that a game that has frustrated us for all of our lives has, all of a sudden, become so surprisingly simple?
While some have done a better job of documenting it than others, each of Lebanon County’s eight golf venues sports a course record. A course record is the lowest score ever shot at any given course, on any given day.
“Everything seemed to slow down,” said Blaine Peffley. “I saw the lines on my putts much better. When I’m putting well, I can start my putt exactly where it needs to be.
“I’m a very streaky player,” continued Peffley. “When I go in one of those streaks, I have a lot of confidence in my driving. I knew something good was going to happen that day.”
“You kind of get into a zone,” said Brian Auman. “But you don’t keep track. If you do, you press. My philosophy is: ‘Just go out and hit it. Just play’. You do get in the zone. It’s hard to explain. It was relaxing. That’s when you play your best round.
“We just had a bunch of guys,” Auman continued. “We were playing a money match. When you play your best golf, more than likely it’s a recreational round. The company is what makes the round. We were laughing and giggling and carrying on.”
Unbelievably, Aumun is the holder of not one, but two, Lebanon County course records.
On May 10 of this year – Mothers’ Day – Auman carded an incredible 58 – or 13-under par – at Lebanon County’s shortest test, the 6,059-yard Blue Mountain Golf Course in Fredericksburg. His round included nine birdies, two eagles, seven pars and an eight-under par score of 27 on the back-nine.
“To be honest with you, to be as good as I am, I don’t think I ever imagined I could shoot a 58 anywhere,” said Auman. “Think about it, 58 shots in 18 holes. For me, to play around without a bogey, that’s pretty good.
“At Blue Mountain, that was as low as I could’ve gone that day,” continued Auman. “I don’t think I birdied 17 at Fairview. I could’ve probably squeezed one or two more shots out of the Fairview round. At Blue Mountain, that’s all I got. That was as low as I could go.”
Thirteen years earlier, Auman had fired a ten-under par 61 at Fairview Golf Course in Quentin, a round during which he was five-under on both the front- and back-nines. Auman registered ten birdies and eight pars that day and birdied three of Fairview’s four par-threes.
“With the one at Fairview, it’s almost like a new course now with the trees,” said Auman. “But I had my day in the sun. It’s tougher to play with the kids any more. When I had the 61 at Fairview, I had a 61 at Blue Mountain the same week. Those back-to-back rounds are never heard of. It’s hard to back up a good round.
“If you want me to put them in order, I’d have to put the two Sullivans (Better-Ball-of-Partners championships at the Lebanon Country Club) at the top of my list of accomplishments, just because of the fields they get,” Auman added. “But this is an individual thing. When all is said and done, the two course records would probably be the highest honors in my golf legacy.”
On July 19, 2004, on the Lebanon Country’s Club’s par-72, 6,562-yard layout, Peffley, then a college player, was three-under par when he holed his approach shot on the par-four fifth hole for an eagle. He converted six more birdies after that, and a total of seven pars, on his way to an 11-under par 61 and LCC’s course record.
“I was playing really, really good golf at the time,” said Peffley, a former touring professional who retired in 2012. “I told Gebby (Chris Gebhard), ‘I’m going to break the course record’. I was putting well. The course was firm. I was practicing hard. I was working with Swish (LCC head professional, Mike Swisher). But yeah, that was the goal. That’s why I made that outlandish statement.
“It was important that I knew the course,” added Peffley. “I know the holes. If I’m hitting the shots I need to hit, I know the holes to take advantage of. A lot of it comes down to driving the ball well. If I am, that golf course sets up well for me. I think after (numbers) seven or eight, I knew I had a possibility of posting something really, really low.”
But what might be the most impressive part of Peffley’s course record is the group of players he had to beat to get it – Swisher, Greg Lesher and Stu Ingraham.
“It wasn’t by one shot, it was by two,” said Peffley of the previous record of 63 held by the threesome. “That’s very high in the accomplishments of my career. I had to beat the score of some outstanding PGA touring players.
“That was pretty close to the best I’ve ever played,” Peffley added. “The best I ever played was when I had a 62 two days in-a-row, and in one of those rounds I had a 27 on the back-nine. That 61 was probably the second best I ever played.”
On August 22, 2009, Tim Leeper fired an 11-under 60 to establish the 6,136-yard, par-71 Lebanon Valley course record. In 1985, Frank Ferguson, Jr. carded a 62 to set the course record at Monroe Valley Golf Course in Lickdale.
Also impressive was the course-record 64 that Harrisburg resident Jeff Daniels fired at the tough Iron Valley Golf Course in Rexmont in 2001, a year after the course opened. A 59 is believed to be the lowest score ever shot at Royal Oaks Golf Course.
“I’m very proud of the 58,” said Auman. “To do it when I was 50 years old was special. I have those and two holes-in-one.. Golf has kind of been completed for me. How many people can say they have those two records?”
“Me being a competitor and having shot back-to-back 62s, yeah I think I could’ve gone lower,” said Peffley of his 61. “I don’t know how much lower. If I didn’t think so, I wouldn’t try to do it every time I played.”
Officially, Pine Meadows Golf Course in Fredericksburg lists three course records, from three different sets of tees, and two of them are held by head professional Andy Signor. Signor registered an 11-under par 61 from the white tees on December 28, 2014 and a 64 from the blacks in August of 2007, while Cody Kersey carded a 65 from the blue tees on May 27, 2013.
“I think it could happen,” said Auman of the possibility of having his records lowered. “Golf is ever-changing. These kids are getting bigger and stronger. The equipment is better. I could see it happening. If it did, I’d like to shake the guy’s hand and buy him a beer. I think the one at Fairview could be beaten. But someone would have to shoot a 57 at Blue Mountain, and I don’t see that happening, just because of the number. If someone would shoot 57, that would be amazing.”
“Yes, it could happen,” said Peffley of his record being eclipsed. “The right quality player on a good day. Heck, yeah. Definitely. It’s doable.”
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Lebanon County Golf Course Records
Blue Mountain – 58, Brian Auman (May 10, 2015)
Fairview – 61, Brian Auman (July 6, 2002)
Iron Valley – 64, Jeff Daniels (2000)
Lebanon Country Club – 61, Blaine Peffley (July 19, 2004)
Lebanon Valley – 60, Tim Leeper (August 22, 2009)
Monroe Valley – 62, Frank Ferguson, Jr. (1985)
Royal Oaks – 59
Pine Meadows – White Tees, 61, Andy Signor (December 28, 2014)
Blue Tees, 65, Cody Kersey (May 27, 2013)
Black Tees, 64, Andy Signor (August, 2007)
FOR THE RECORD, THE COURSE RECORD FOR 9 HOLES AT HAMLIN GOLF CLUB IS 29 (4 UNDER PAR). HELD BY TRISTAN WHITE.