Alexander Hughes had just played South Lakes Golf Course like no one ever had in its 31 years. Hughes had just played like he never had in his 24 years. Hughes had just played, quite possibly, as only one person ever had. Across the 6,413 yards of the Jenks, Okla., muni course, he shot a 55, 16-under.
His hardest yards on Thursday were a few yards away.
How are you freaking going to tell the clubhouse you just shot a freaking 55? Or, really, anyone?
“I really didn’t know how to start that conversation,” Hughes said Friday. “When I walked into the clubhouse, ‘OK, I’m about to tell him I shot a 55.’ Even at South Lakes, they’re going to be like, ‘No chance.’
“I was just thinking in my head, ‘How can I make this as not-jerky as I can? Not come across as some sort of hard ass or something like that?’ So I just asked them, ‘Hey, what’s the course record?’ And he’s like, ‘Well, 59 is the course record.’ And I was like, ‘Oh, OK, I shot 55, so I was like, ‘I think I got it,’ you know?”
Hughes got it.
He parred the par-4 1st hole and the par-4 3rd hole. He made only three more pars the rest of the round. He aced the par-3 2nd. He birdied 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 and eagled 9 for a front-nine 26, his lowest score for nine holes by four shots. He played the first five holes of the back nine at just 2-under, then birdied his final four for the 16-under 55 (which was first reported by Golfweek). He got the course record. He got his personal record, which had been 60. He got a share of the world record, according to the Guinness book. In 2012, Rhein Gibson shot a 16-under 55 at River Oaks Golf Club in Edmond, Okla. – about 90 miles southwest of South Lakes.
Hughes convinced the clubhouse. They filled out some paperwork. They got Hughes a beer even though he doesn’t really drink. “It was kind of obligated,” he said.
Hughes himself needed convincing. At least after nine.
Until the 9th tee, he didn’t fully know his score. He was 7-under through eight. He could bogey the par-5 and still beat his personal best for nine by a shot. He eagled it. Driver, 5-iron from 230 yards out to about 20 feet, one putt. Twenty-six.
“Yeah, at that point, shooting 26 on the front nine, I was thinking this is starting to get a little absurd,” Hughes said.
Hughes made a “bad” par on 14. He missed an 8-footer for birdie. He made his third eagle of the round on 15. He birdied 16. He birdied 17. Hughes had been grouped with three other people, and one, 14-year-old Grant, “was freaking out.”
“He was keeping my score. I wasn’t even keeping the score,” Hughes said. “He was like, ‘Do you know where you’re at? Do you know where you’re at?’ and I was like, ‘Yeah, I have an idea, but I’m not really thinking about it too much.’”
On the 494-yard, par-5 18th, sitting at 15-under through 17 holes, he drove it 330 yards. His wedge approach “knuckled” out, but it settled safely, and he nearly chipped in before ramming home the putt for birdie, his 10th of the day. Personal record, course record, world record.
Unbelievable. Believe it.
Hughes hits it well over 300 yards off the tee. Hughes has also been hitting it for a while. He recently played four years at Division II Central Oklahoma. Then, hours before his round, he had his putter regripped, and suddenly, the holes were looking as big as those drives.
Hughes hopes to be a pro. He has entered three mini-tour events. He has missed three mini-tour event cuts. The players are good, he says.
None may quite be believing like he is.
“To do that on any golf course and record that score, it’s just pretty mind blowing,” Hughes said. “It gives you a lot of confidence. It gives me a lot of confidence. I always had that belief that I could maybe pursue golf as a career. Golf is such a mental game – you fight yourself all the time thinking if you can do it or if you can’t do it. Pretty much what this does is it’s just a positive boost that i can do it.
“It’s remarkable to be on such a short list of people who have shot in the mid- to upper-50s. It’s incredible. I’m just blessed to be able to shoot a score like that and be a part of history in some sort of way. It’s very humbling.”