By Tom Tracy
Susan Tracy, of Star, Idaho, playing out of River Birch Golf Course, captured the Ladies Division of the 2022 World Hickory Open, played in the Highlands of Scotland on October 11-13. The W.H.O. annually draws hickory shaft enthusiasts from around the world to compete over classic Scottish courses. The great Sandy Lyle has won the men’s division twice. Tracy ran away with the gross competition, winning by 22 strokes on three difficult, world-famous links courses near Inverness.
The 54-hole stroke play event was held over the links of Nairn, Castle Stuart and Royal Dornoch Golf Clubs in cool, blustery and sometimes wet conditions. She bested competitors from Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, Spain, the U.S. and other countries.
High scores were the rule on the long, tough courses played with 100-year-old clubs. Brutal slopes, bunkering and wind made the tourney a test of survival for both gents and ladies. Tracey’s final round of 90 at Castle Stuart was far and away the best ladies’ score of the tourney, with the seaside wind howling over the last nine.
“The scoreboard was not quite up to date, so I wasn’t sure where I stood entering the last round,” Tracy said. “My husband, Tom, decided to caddy for me the third day, which helped with some decisions and especially in avoiding the bunkers, which are brutal, often with faces 5 to 8 feet high in front of you. I think I was only in two bunkers on the last day. It also helped that we arrived in Scotland a month before the event, and were able to play some great links courses like Brora, Tain, Golspie, Gullane, Kilspindie and Dunbar beforehand. And, I had a bunker lesson from the pro at Tain GC, which saved me a few shots!”
Tracy started playing hickory golf in 2018 after Tom talked her into it. She still much prefers her modern clubs, but she has won several events in the U.S., including the Pacific Northwest Championship four times, the Arizona Desert Hickory, and the U.S. Hickory Open—finishing as the runner-up in this event in 2021. Her next scheduled hickory event is the popular Arizona Desert Hickory in February 2023.