Recently, I attended the 2022 Fall Hickory Classic hosted my the Golf Historical Society of Canada. This two day event was designed to bring together like minded golfers who have an affinity for delving into the roots of golf. Dressing up in old style garb, using hickory shafted clubs, and playing challenging courses were only a few of the fun aspects of my weekend. Overall, it was a resounding success and I want to thank Allan Lew, GHSC/Hickory Ambassador/ Fall Tourney Event Co-ordinator, for the fantastic event he hosted on behalf of the GHSC. His continuous efforts resulted in a must attend event for us novice hickory stickers in the future.
The first day of this event was held at Whirlpool Golf Course. From the moment I arrived, I felt the buzz of the hickory stick golfers preparing for this great event. The garb of the players was fun to see, the variety of clubs used by the participants was amazing and stories I heard were entertaining. The amount of golf history bottled up in such a small group was overwhelming. My expectations were exceed in all areas and the unknown of playing hickory golf quickly abashed as my conversations with the different golfers grew.
Bill was a fountain of knowledge. He offered a glimpse on the types of hickory clubs that were available and talked about the evolution of golf. He was our only international player (I am pretty sure), but he more than made up for the small United States participants by effortlessly talking about golf and camaraderie of playing events such as the Fall Classic. I am very happy I had a chance to chat with Bill and look forward to meeting up with him in the future.
During the opening ceremonies, we were piped to the first tee in procession of golfers. This was a unique experience as I have never participated in a parade of sorts outside the military. This added a touch of unique class to the golf tournament I was happy to make the march.
My group consisted of Bill (famous club maker and repair guy) Dave, and John. Bill and John are very experienced players and it was obvious by their ability to control their ball flight through solid contact. Dave and I took a few holes (7 to be exact for me) to understand that my normal swing would not suffice with hickory shafts. I needed to slow my tempo down to a point where I thought I was not even swinging the club to make solid contact. At the end of the round, I was able to make good contact most of the time. The old adage of playing golf with better players paid off for me because Bill and John helped in my speed up my learning curve adjustments when using pre-1935 clubs; they offered club selection advice, swing advice and putting advice. If one thinks that playing hickory shaft clubs is easy, I recommend you give them a try; it is not as easy they made it look. Bill, Dave and John were great guys to play golf with. We had lots of chuckles, witnesses some superb shots, and encouraged each other to play well. Overall, I felt our round was what golf is all about. On a side note, I feel good about my roller coaster 88 on a fantastic golf course.
Whirlpool Golf Course was in great shape. This Stanley Thomas designed course offered a challenge on every shot regardless of the distance. Playing from the forward tees, the 5100 yard loop was such that all the hazards were in play. The conditions were damp, so Whirlpool played every inch of the 5100 yards. The most striking part of the course was the placement of the sand traps. They were a concern during my course management process and unfortunately I found a few of them during my round.
The greens were small, fast and full of subtle breaks. Normally a good putter, I found that hitting the flat stick at Whirlpool was very challenging. Not only was I adjusting to the course conditions, using an old style putter compounded my woes. I never really found a putting groove, however I was able to reduce my three putts during the back nine.
Whirlpool was a fun track and I would like to play there again. Next time I would use my modern clubs because being able to apply spin to the ball on approach shots is really a must if one plans to score well. Maybe in the future I will have another opportunity to play this fantastic course.
The first day of the Fall Classic was fantastic fun. I did not think I could top this round, but the second day offered different opportunities to have a great round with wonderful hickory stick golfers.
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!
4 thoughts on “Fall Hickory Classic – Day 1”
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Jim You are lucky to be right handed, I really enjoy playing hickory clubs but am envious of all the right handed clubs available. With modern equipment being a lefty does not present any equipment issues however lefthanded hickory clubs are as rare as hens teeth.
My set of 6 mis-matched clubs are all different lengths, flex and mfg but still lots of fun.
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I will keep an eye out for left handed clubs. When I was down at Niagara a couple of weeks about there was a trade show for hickory shafts and there were some left handed clubs there. There was quite a selection of equipment, very interesting.