Michael Jordan and Justin Timberlake – get ready to tee off with a Phoenix cop.
After weeks of stuffing the online ballot box, voters selected Lt. Larry Giebelhausen out of a group of amateur golfers to complete a foursome with Jordan and two other celebrities at an event next month before the U.S. Open.
Giebelhausen received more than 32,000 votes as part of the Golf Digest U.S. Open Challenge six-word essay contest, edging a Pennsylvania physician by about 1,300 votes for the right to play the round of a lifetime.
The 58-year-old Desert Horizon Precinct supervisor will join Jordan, Timberlake and Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger on the Black Course at Bethpage State Park in Farmingdale, N.Y. the week of next month’s pro tournament.
The goal is for an amateur to break a score of 100 on a course designed for the best players in the world.
“It will be an experience in golf unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before,” said Giebelhausen, who until recently only golfed a couple times a month.
Golf Digest tallied the votes and announced Giebelhausen as the winner this weekend after his six-word essay, “I’m a cop, I’ll shoot low,” impressed judges and online voters. Giebelhausen and three other amateur golfers were selected out of a pool of more than 73,000 entries.
The judges placed Giebelhausen in the running with two doctors and a Maryland fire chief who battled votes in advance of the May 1 deadline. The lieutenant has spent weeks lobbying at the police department and around town, from his favorite northeast Phoenix lunch spots to his church, to get people to vote multiple times every day.
“The difficult part was as the weeks went on, to keep people excited, and keep them interested – to the keep the enthusiasm ramped up to keep them voting,” he said.
The veteran police officer, who began his career in 1973 as a Chicago patrol officer, said he is already “besieged by requests” from police sports fans who want him to reach out to Jordan, Roethlisberger and pro golfers.
Giebelhausen said he will begin practicing daily with an instructor at Kierland Golf Club at the Westin Kierland Resort and Spa in northeast Phoenix. But despite the excitement of the upcoming trip to New York, he is trying not to let golf become a distraction so he can remained focused on the 40 officers he supervises at a precinct which serves a large part of northeast Phoenix.
“The department has really been good with me about this, with my time and giving me the opportunity to promote myself as an officer,” Giebelhausen said.