By John Strege
Former PGA Tour and Champions Tour player Al Geiberger has a tax issue, but he said that's not the reason he auctioned off much of his memorabilia, including the clubs with which he recorded the first 59 in PGA Tour history.
Geiberger, 75, said that his Champions Tour pension, an annuity on which he began collecting at age 65, expired at age 75 and that his PGA Tour pension pays "a whopping $128 a month."
Bidding, conducted through Green Jacket Auctions, closed on the Geiberger Collection on Saturday night, earning him nearly $130,000, including $54,754 for the Wanamaker Trophy he received for winning the PGA Championship in 1966 and $10,832 for the clubs from his round of 59.
Geiberger's name, meanwhile, had turned up on a California Franchise Tax Board list of the top 500 delinquent taxpayers, noting that he owed $219,060.
"No, not that's not the reason," he said about selling his collection. "We've been handling that with Bernie Gartland [of the Gartland Group, tax attorneys]. We settled with the IRS, but the state is ridiculous to work with. Bernie's been working with them."
He sold the memorabilia to generate cash to augment his retirement income. "I didn't make any retirement on the regular tour," he said. "The senior tour is where I built up some, but the annuity ends in 10 years."
The memorabilia, at any rate, had been locked away in a storage facility near his home in Palm Desert, Calif. "We've actually been in touch with Al for the last couple of years," Ryan Carey, president of Green Jacket Auctions, said. "We'd known he has been interested in selling his collection. It's been sitting in a storage locker for several years. He knew he wasn't really appreciating it."
The original World Golf Hall of Fame, then in Pinehurst, N.C., wanted the clubs he used in shooting 59 in the second round of the Danny Thomas Memphis Classic in 1977. "But I was still playing with them," he said. Instead, he sent the ball, a Hogan model that he used for all 18 holes, which has turned up missing, he said.
His auction take, incidentally ($129,983, to be exact), was more than he earned in all but two seasons in his PGA Tour career. In 1975 and '76, he earned $176,000 and $195,000 respectively.