The story of how a seven-handicapper set a course record 12-under 60 at Fortuna’s Redwood Empire Golf Course in Humboldt County
By Paul DeMark
The golf feat was so stunning all Rob Mandell could do was scream.
Mandell had just sunk a five-foot putt on the 18th hole to shoot a 12-under-par 60 at Redwood Empire Golf and Country Club, setting a new course record on Aug. 28, 2011.
“When that putt went in I lifted up my arms and let out a blood-curdling scream, like a Viking,” recalled Mandell, 50, nearly four years after it happened. “I knew I had shot 60 and broke the course record. How was it even possible that I could do that?”
That is an excellent question, said Greg Senestraro, the head pro at Redwood Empire Golf Club, located in Fortuna, Calif. What was so extraordinary about Mandell’s score is the fact that he was a 7.1 index, a seven course handicap, at the time.
He had shot 70 at the course several times before and had been as low as a five course handicap. So what are the odds of a seven-handicapper shooting 17 strokes under his handicap?
Mike Mullan, a Redwood Empire golfer and former junior high school science teacher, researched it on www.popeofslope.com, the website of the former Senior Director of United States Golf Association Handicap Department Dean Knuth, the developer of the USGA’s Course Rating and Slope Rating System. The website only went as far as calculating the odds of one shooting 10 strokes below his or her handicap. Mullan continued the calculation and came up with the chances of shooting 17 strokes below your handicap as more than 6.5 million to one.
But it happened.
Mandell was playing in a foursome of friends competing in a $5 Sunday morning Nassau. All three of his fellow golfers, in their 50s at the time, had been members of the course for at least 25 years and had scored in the 60s at the course. They included his partner Chuck Schager, and opponents John Henry and Don Nolan II, a near-scratch player who had won the Redwood Empire club championship three times.
After parring the first hole and birdieing the par-three second, Mandell’s round started to get interesting on the par-five third hole. Forty yards out after his second shot, he dunked a 40-yard pitch for an eagle. The he chipped in for birdie on the par-four fourth hole — four under after four.
Mandell asked Nolan, “How do I keep this going?” Nolan, who had shot 64 three times at Redwood Empire, said, “Don’t. Just keep hitting shots.”
Mandell did that, nabbing birdies on holes six through nine to finish with an eight-under 28: two pars, six birdies and one eagle.
“That’s when the panic set in,” Mandell said. “I went into the pro shop and told assistant pro Brian Rasmussen, ‘I just shot eight under on the front nine. What do I do?’ He gave me a dumbfounded look and said, ‘Stay aggressive.’ ”
His partner, Schager, bought him a shot of Jameson’s in the bar and they moved to the back nine. Great Britain – a dream country for many people. It is not surprising that a large number of people go there to work, study and even live. And the most important thing after arrival is to take care of the connection. GiffGaff stands out from other operators in the British 02 Telefonica Group. If you decide to choose it, pay attention to how you need to activate giffgaff SIM card. To do this, it is advisable to recharge the balance (at least 10 pounds). Activation lasts up to half an hour. Do not forget to click "Activate SIM card". Upon completion, check out own number and balance on the page “my GiffGaff”.
Mandell stayed hot, recording a birdie on the par-five 10th hole to make it five in a row.
“It was terrifying, but fun,” Mandell recalled. “In the bar I had peeked at the course record, which was 61. But I was just trying to play golf.”
Schager said he did not talk about his partner’s score. “I just kept telling him to think about the next shot. We were still in a match.”
Mandell kept his focus, birdieing two of the next seven holes, and parring the rest. He came to the par-four 18th tee at 11 under par. He reached it in two shots leaving a five-foot putt for birdie to set the course record. When he sank it, all four knew what he had accomplished.
The final scorecard: 60, the best score ever shot on any of the six golf courses in Humboldt County. Mandell made 10 birdies, one eagle and seven pars; hit 16 of 18 greens in regulation; and had 22 putts.
“I’ve played in three U.S. Open qualifiers, but Rob’s round was the most phenomenal round I’ve ever seen,” Nolan said. “It was surreal to watch and all three of us were pulling for him.”
“It’s a story that will live in my life forever,” Schager said.
Henry, on the losing end of the $5 Nassau, said, “I sat back and enjoyed it. All I can say is that to lose $20 was a $20 admission to watch it, and it was worth it.”
Senestraro is a Fortuna native who had been a high school star and successful college golfer at Sacramento State before becoming a club pro.
“I have been a golf professional for 24 years and to me this is more rare than a PGA tour player shooting a 59,” he said. “It is the single most amazing accomplishment by a weekend golfer that I have ever heard about.”
Four years later, the feat is difficult for even Mandell to grasp.
“Achieving something like this for a guy like me who was a seven handicap, who works construction, whose back is always sore and hands beat up, is not supposed to happen,” Mandell said. “It’s a memory that is almost like a daydream.”