April 29. 2009–The big Las Vegas golf story at the 2009 Masters was Las Vegas golfer Chad Campbell–he starred for two years at UNLV–battling for his first major title. But a cool Las Vegas golf story under the radar was the continuing emergence of 59 Belts, a customized belt buckle company that was founded by respected Las Vegas golf teaching professional Trevor Derrheim. Three golfers in the field sported a buckle by 59 Belts, including golf's potential next big thing, Danny Lee, who told Sports Illustrated that his most notable possession was his 59 buckle.
Derrheim and his company got the free publicity from Lee via the Masters Preview edition of Sports Illustrated that hit the stands in the week prior to the world's biggest golf tournament. SI editors surveyed golf's next big stars Lee, Rory McIlroy and Ryo Ishikawa, and one question was what about most notable possessions were. Lee responded that it was the customized 59 buckle that he wears, complete with the engraving of "2008 U.S. Amateur Champion". Ishikawa said his was a private practice range he owned while McIlroy said it was his Audi S5. Pretty good company for a belt buckle.
"A few people have told me about it, but I haven't seen the article yet, but that is definitely pretty cool and nice of him to say," says Derrheim, who first met Lee at the U.S. Amateur at Pinehurst last year. The other players wearing the belt buckles at the Masters were McIlroy and former Masters champion Mike Weir. Weir is a longtime friend of Derrheim, but wasn't originally sold on the concept of the new company.
"I have known Mike forever, but when I first approached him about the idea at the U.S. Open last year, he thought the original buckles were too big," says Derrheim, who works out of the private Las Vegas golf course DragonRidge Country Club. "So we went to work and created a smaller buckle with his own logo, and that's the one he has been wearing for awhile and in the Masters." Derrheim said that he was approached by a writer from Golf Digest Ireland who thought McIlroy would like the buckle, and then Rory's uncle contacted him about getting a new one for the Masters.
Other Tour stars and notables who are wearing or have worn 59 buckles include Annika Sorenstam, Paula Creamer, Las Vegas golfer Tommy Armour III, Hunter Mahan, Vicki Hurst, Reilly Rankin, Chez Reavie, and most recently, Major League Baseball Hall-of-Famer Mike Schmidt. But 59 buckles aren't just for the game's best and the fashion accesory is taking hold on everyday golfers. The company recently introduced the new and specially-priced "59 Switch" that allows for new and different colors to be added that allows a golfer to match each outfit on a daily basis without purchasing a belt for each round. Click now to order pre-made 59 buckles or begin your own personal or corporate customized buckle. Pricing for 59 buckles starts at $165. Derrheim also says that 59 Belts will feature a new line of colored belts to go along with the 59 Switch product.
Lee, 18, won the Johnnie Walker Classic in Perth, Australia, in February as an amateur, earning him a two-year exemption on the PGA European Tour and a spot in this year's WGC Invitational. He turned professional following the Masters. "I'm very proud of what I accomplished as an amateur, but felt like the time was right to challenge myself at a higher level as a professional," Lee said in a statement upon turning pro. "I have already gotten a good sense of how much I can learn and grow from competing against the pros, especially last week being around so many great players at the Masters."