Hickory shafted golf clubs? Knickers? Argyle as far as the eye can see? No, these golfers are not extras on some movie set. They are proud ‘Hickory Golfers’; players who forgo modern golf equipment for throwback gear. I caught up with Brian Schuman, tournament director for the upcoming Long Island Hickory Open, to get the skinny on the old school sticks and newsboy caps.
LIGN: How’d you get involved with hickory golf?
Brian Schuman: I have been playing golf for about 40 years…since I was 10 years old. I played a little golf on the college team and have been playing competitively in many tournaments over the past 6 years or so.( LIGA, MGA, USGA, Golf Channel Amateur Tour, Minor League Golf Tour in Florida). This past October while looking for new tournaments to play in I stumbled upon the Mid-Pines Hickory Open in Southern Pines, N.C. It is a very historic golf resort and the thought of playing a tournament with hickory clubs was very interesting and intriguing to me. I then did some research on Hickory Golf and found that there are several Associations and Societies dedicated to Hickory Golf. I also found that many of the folks who play Hickory Golf ONLY play Hickory Golf….they have given up on Modern Golf…I had thought that it was just a fun, unique thing to do, but after playing Hickory for nine months now, I can see why they got hooked. It is just FUN! It really feels like you are playing ‘authentic’ golf. The way it was meant to be played. Bump and runs, working the ball, playing strategy, etc…..it is not the modern game of ‘grip it and rip it’. It is much more a game of finesse than that. It really feels like every shot you hit , you are hitting a shot with history in your hands. It really is for people who have a passion for the history of the game.
You have to realize that these clubs are original clubs from around 1900 – 1930. Many were made in St. Andrews…and were made by the name club makers of the day. For instance, I play with hickory clubs that were made by Tom Stewart. He was the club maker for Bobby Jones. (Certain reproduction clubs are allowed to be used as per the Society of Hickory Golfers rules).
LIGN: How many players do you expect?
Brian Schuman: For this first time event I am expecting 20 – 24 players…The largest Hickory events in the country ( such as the recent US Hickory Open in Indiana) draw over 100 players, but they have been around for a while. We will hopefully be able to build the interest in the event after the first year. In addition to the amateur event, I am trying to get Professionals interested in playing for Prize money as well. The Pro portion of the event will be run the guidelines set by the US Pro Hickory Association.
LIGN: Are their some old school golf balls played?
Brian Schuman: In most Hickory Tournaments modern balls are allowed. The best balls to use are Low compression balls, such as the Wilson 50/50 ball, or a Precept Laddie, or a Noodle Soft. Many players use a ProV1.
In the Pro events, the US Pro Hickory Association uses a McIntyre ball….which is a replica of a ball from the early 1920’s.
LIGN: What’s up with the clothes? How does that fit in?
Brian Schuman: The clothes just make for an authentic feel. (Think of the great old photos of Bobby Jones or Walter Hagen). It also shows the level of respect and honor for the heritage and history of the game. Plus-fours or knickers are not mandatory, but do add to the feel of the authenticity. Button down shirts and ties with the newsboy type cap are mandatory, but slacks may be worn.
LIGN: What’s a newcomer likely to expect playing Hickory Golf?
Brian Shuman: Biggest surprise about Hickory Golf…..the irons go the same distances as the modern clubs…and straighter! The woods don’t go quite as far…..and the scores are pretty much the same….but hickory events are played from approx. 6,000 yards.
LIGN: Tell me about the event’s namesake…
Brian Schuman: This event honors the heritage of the great game of golf, and pays tribute to all the generations of fathers who introduced the game to their sons and daughters. The players will be competing for the Theodore Walter Schuman Trophy. The trophy is named for my dad, who introduced the game to me, and who passed away a few years ago. Proceeds from the event will go to various Children’s golf related charities.
Find all the tournament here at their website: www.LongIslandHickoryOpen.com
September 16th ( Practice Round)
September 17th ( 1st Round)
September 18th ( Final Round) Awards dinner to follow completion of play.
Host Course: Long Island National Golf Club
Clubs: Hickory Demo clubs are available at Long Island National GC for interested players to try out in advance. Rental clubs will be available at the tournament.