Click on images below for full-sized renditions. Results from recent events are posted below.
AUGUST 11, 2018 – GUTTIES & DIMPLES, EAGLES PRIDE GC, TACOMA, WA
Roberta Robbins, event organizer, was worried we were going to be rained or stormed out today, but the weather held off enough for six groups to have an enjoyable round. Our winners at 131 were the team of Kit Ledbetter, Gerry McFaul, John Wise and Steve Malmquist (blind draw). Second place team at 132 was Barry Field, Jimmy Bucher, Larry Borgert and Sandy Bucher (also a blind draw). Low net of the field was Kevin Austero with a net 68. Kit was low gross of the field at 80. The course was a treat to play in spite of intermittent rain, heavy at times. Five intrepid players brought out their pre-1900 clubs and acquitted themselves with a modicum of respect.
JULY 21 & 22, 2018 – GEARHART HICKORY CLASSIC, GEARHART, OR
The Northwest Hickory Players again hosted the Gearhart Hickory Classic, this being the 5th playing of the event on the Oregon coast at the 126-year-old classic course. The group was pleased to welcome players from 7 states, including Tad Moore from Alabama and Bill Geisler from Florida. A good contingent of our California friends as well as players from Idaho, Arizona, Oregon and Washington joined in as well. As the event and the course grow in popularity in the hickory world, it just gets better every year. It’s always a treat to have players traveling from across the nation to join in the fun.
Jim von Lossow returned to the Open division to regain the title of Gearhart Hickory Classic Champion with a two stroke victory over fellow PGA professional Gabe Tonan. Californian, Kris Surano, won the Senior division over Tom Tracy after a one-hole playoff, Tom Driscoll was the Super Senior champ and Sandy Bucher gained the Woman’s winning medal.
The 5th Gearhart Hickory was played in typical Northwest Coast temperatures–60s-70s–with early morning fog giving way to bright sunny blue skies, with breezes coming off the Pacific making the days pleasant and comfortable. The course was in great shape, the greens rolling true and the fairways firm and fast. A truly great weekend.
One new twist for the tournament was playing the practice round as a four-ball with teams matched by handicap. Many players enjoyed the format as everyone got to play all the shots and most of the matches were pushed right to the final few holes. Other highlights of the weekend was spending time at Gearhart’s new 20,000 square foot putting course and relaxing at the nearby pub/halfway house. Getting to use the newly opened virtual golf room was intriguing aspect of the new building project at the course.
Winners in the net divisions were Bill Geisler–Open Net; Peter Yagi–Senior Net; Pam Rowland–Women’s Net; and Ray Tokareff–Super Senior Net.
We look forward to the 6th playing of the GHC in 2019, dates already set at July 19, 20 and 21. Save the date!!
JULY 8, 2018 – TOMBSTONE TOURNAMENT, AUBURN G.C., AUBURN, WA
On a sunny, warm summer day thirty hickory players took part in the Tombstone Tournament held at the Auburn Golf Course at Auburn, Washington. Tombstone Tournament is a competition format in which golfers begin the round of golf with an allotment of strokes, then play the golf course until their strokes run out.
The game gets its name from the fact that tombstones will be placed in the ground at the point from which their final shot is played. The golfer who’s tombstone is the farthest around the course is the winner. All of the players had given a great deal of thought to their last words, their epitaphs. The award of the best epitaph went to Steve “Dog” Franich for Ode to the Dog “He did his best.”
With me chest pumped out
my hardest I try
No Idea’r how
me ball did fly
Many they were
the strokes they mounted
Each and e’er one
With the help of passed gas
Between tight cheeks
me ball was discharged
An honorable group,
to the man, “no one lied”
Yet without shame
there were those that cried
Still others remarked
“with 24 strokes all awry’ied
“Dog that he was,
he should never have died…
From a puppy dog eye
a tear did roll
and he was heard to curse
“Devil, take your toll…”
His arse was drug
to this lonely of spots
and together they gathered
to count all the dots…..
And to all be it known
“Hey man I did my best”
Marked by this stone
Dog finally came to rest….
(so be it)
Authored by Stephen John Paul Franich, Jr., III
Several other epitaph’s were really good. One of my other favorites was by Gene Pavola
Here lies Gene
The golfing machine
He who made bogies routine
And was hoping to finish eighteen
But his scores became so obscene
That he never reached the last green
Over $450 was given away, the overall winner was Gene Pavola with 3 strokes left to play (note his epitaph above did not come true) and a score of 97, Open winner was Matt Cassarino finished the 18 hole with the best score of the day with a 74, Senior winner was Barry Field just off the 18th green with a score of 86, Ladies winner was Paula Anderson finished in the 18th fairway with a score of 101. Congratulations to all the winners.
All of the players enjoyed the format and making new hickory golfing friends. And a big thank you to the City of Auburn and especially Daryl Faber, Parks and Recreation Director and Chris Morris Head Golf Pro for their support of our tournament.
JUNE 2-3, 2018 – PACIFIC NW HICKORY CHAMPIONSHIP, WING POINT COUNTRY CLUB, BAINBRIDGE ISLAND, WA
Thirty-eight hickory players, including six fabulous ladies, took part in the 4th Annual Pacific Northwest Hickory Championship held at the historic Wing Point Golf and Country Club on beautiful Bainbridge Island, Washington.
Day one greeted the players with brilliant sunshine and gentle, marine breezes on this island course, which is but a cannon’s volley from Seattle. Stately fir trees and lush vegetation covered the grounds where golf was first played in 1903.
Despite perfect playing conditions, the course played difficult with its multitude of bunkers guarding the greens like Scylla and Charybdis. The unwary and the wayward golfer fell victim to the deep maws of those traps again and again. A skilled golfer, or perhaps a lucky one, upon reaching the greens, may have thought he or she had found safe haven. That too proved to be too hopeful as they soon discovered the fast, sloping greens, which confounded many. The ever dangerous 10th and the devilish 13th, with their OBs and hazards finally sunk the hopes of many fine players.
Not all was lost, however, for the battered and dashed players as they made their way into port. Their spirits were lifted by the music of the roaring twenties emanating from the clubhouse. The salmon dinner was fabulous and the band divine, and the spirits (this time of a different sort) were lifted once again.
Lest visitors from out of town thought the weather in Seattle was always this perfect, day two greeted them with some of that wet stuff from the heavens. The locals thought it was but a spit; the visitors thought it a deluge. In reality it was somewhere in between. The intrepid sailors (I mean, the golfers) battled Scylla and Charybdis once again.
Defending his title in the Open Division was Jeff Olsen from Shoreline, Washington. Runner-up was Steve Henneuse from Santa Cruz, California. In the Senior Division, Tom Tracy from Star, Idaho won by a shot over John Henry Williams from Shoreline, Washington. In the Statesmen Division, Tom Driscoll of Redmond, Washington hung on by a single shot over Lyle Rowland of Neskowin, Oregon. In the Ladies Division, Sue Tracy, also from Star, prevailed over member Alina Dean of Wing Point G&CC.
In the Net Divisions, Open net winner was Jimmy Bucher, runner-up John Lavendoski. Senior net winner was Steve Franich and runner-up was Dale Hallock in a tie-breaker. Statesmen net winner was Ray Tokareff and runner-up was Jerry Olson. Ladies net winner was Roberta Robbins and runner-up was Pam Rowland.
JANUARY 1, 2018 – 5TH ANNIVERSARY OUTING, WILLOWS RUN GC – COYOTE CREEK, REDMOND, WA
A frosty morning turned into an afternoon of brilliant sunshine on New Year’s Day for the 23 hickory players who came out to Willows Run GC to celebrate the 5th year of the founding of the Northwest Hickory Players. We welcomed several “new-to-hickory” players David Foreman, Brock Bowen, Rich Tokarzewski, and Mark Persinger. We hope to see all of you again in future events.
Players were grouped into teams of four for a fun, “1-2-3 Cha Cha Cha” competition. In first place winning $20 each player was Team Forgan with a score of 131. Second place winning $10 each went to Team Paxton. Final results:
Team Forgan – 131
Team Paxton – 133
Team Stewart – 134
Team McEwan – 136
Team Condie – 139
Team Carrick – 142
Players gathered in the clubhouse after the round for some good cheer, and a bit of buying and selling of clubs. John Quickstad showed off his newly acquired 19th century line-cut ball mold. Cool stuff! Martin Pool announced the venue for this year’s Pacific Northwest Hickory Championship to be held at the renowned Wing Point Golf and Country Club on Bainbridge Island, WA on June 2-3. We are all excited to play this historic course where golf was reportedly first played in 1903.
Happy New Year everyone! We look forward to a great season of hickory golf in the Pacific Northwest in 2018.
OCTOBER 21-22, 2017 – C.O.W. CUP, CENTENNIAL GC, MEDFORD, OR
“C” Putts the Hurt on “OW”. Twenty-four hickory players teed it up in the second annual COW Cup match between the team from California ( C ) and the team from Oregon and Washington ( OW ) at the beautiful and challenging Centennial Golf Club in Medford, Oregon on October 21-22. The competition was played straight up, with no handicaps, and no quarter given.
Under threatening skies, the matches commenced with a Chapman format on Day 1. The Oregon/Washington players, mudders that they are and seeking any advantage it could against a strong California team, secretly hoped for rain. Surely, the surfer dudes (and dudette) would melt under the wet stuff from up above. Alas, the predicted rain never came, and California jumped out to a 4-2 lead.
Day 2 was a concurrent Singles/Fourball matches with a whopping 18 points at stake and plenty of time for the OW players to mount a charge. California Team Captain Steve Henneuse threw a 73 against OW Team Captain’s Jim von Lossow’s 75, and the puddle jumpers from the Northwest slipped further behind. But then things got interesting as the team of Glenn Thatcher and Martin Pool gained three points against the juggernaut team of Erik Beer and Dana Niehaus to even up the score at 6-6.
But slowly, inexorably, the might of the “C” team asserted itself as match after match came in on the side of California, that is, until the last. The final match between the two ladies in the field, Roberta Robbins of OW, and Stacy Brown of C, proved to be a doozy, as back and forth it went, coming down to the last hole with Robbins finally prevailing by the narrowest margin: 1 up. Final score: California 14 ½ Oregon-Washington 9 ½.
Plaudits go to the following players who won all three points for their respective teams: Steve Henneuse ( C ), Chuck McCollum ( C ), John Sweeney ( C ), Ray Tokareff ( C ), and Martin Pool (OW).
The two teams wish to thank the gracious hosts Steve and Cindy Wilt of Medford who invited us to their lovely home for a Saturday night bash. We also wish to thank the Centennial Golf Club and the local newspaper Medford Mail Tribune who provided this coverage:
Thank you also the folks of Medford who came out to watch our matches and expressed their interest in joining us the next time.
OCTOBER 7-8, 2017 – GAMBLE SANDS HICKORY OPEN, GAMBLE SANDS GC, BREWSTER, WA
Yet Another Playoff at Gamble Sands Hickory Classic… This time it only went two extra holes, capped by a birdie-birdie finish (including an unlikely 75-foot putt) by Port Townsend pro Gabe Tonan, to capture the 2017 crown of the Gamble Sands Hickory Classic over Beau Forrest. Earlier this summer, the title of Pacific Northwest Hickory Championship was settled after five extra holes.
The third rendition of this tournament began under clear blue skies at the renowned Gamble Sands Golf Links (recently voted the best golf course in Washington State) with twenty-four players. As the round progressed, the winds picked up, dark clouds moved in, and scoring became more elusive. Uncharacteristically, no one broke 80 in the Open division, with two PGA professionals, Jim von Lossow and Gabe Tonan sharing the lead at exactly 80. Beau Forrest, first time hickory player playing on his home course, followed closely behind at 81.
While the Open players struggled on day one, the Senior division saw a pair of fine 77s turned in by Kit Ledbetter and Martin Pool.
Day two was a different story as the Open Division showed off its mettle. Beau Forrest came back with a strong 74 to tie Gabe Tonan (75) at 155. The two players returned to the par 5 18th hole which they matched one another with birdies. On to hole number one they went, whereupon Tonan won with his monstrous long birdie putt.
In the Senior Division, Kit Ledbetter followed his terrific first round with another (77-78=155) to capture the title, three shots ahead of Martin Pool (77-81=158). Tom Driscoll won the Statesman Division with a come-from-behind 89-80=169 over California’s Chuck McCollum’s 88-84=172. In the Women’s Division, Roberta Robbins won her third consecutive Gamble Sands title with a 94-91=185.
This year we were joined by Jake Varnell, grandson to the late Jack Wilson, who used his grandfather’s clubs to take his place among the Northwest Hickory Players. We hope to see more of young Jake to carry on his grandfather’s legacy.
For more photos of the event, go to Northwest Hickory Players facebook page.
AUGUST 19 & 20, 2017 – PACIFIC NW HICKORY CHAMPIONSHIP, WA
The fairways were baked, running hard and fast. Plumes of dust rose in the air with each mashie shot. (Yes Virginia, there is dust in Seattle.) With a recent record of 56 consecutive days without rain, the sites of the 3rd Annual Pacific Northwest Hickory Championship, played at Snoqualmie Falls Golf Course and Mount Si Golf Course (est. 1927), offered unfamiliar tests for the Northwest hickory players. As it was in the ‘20s, the roughs were rough, and the fairways rougher. But the hard grounds also had its advantages as 270 yard drives were not uncommon for the long hitters.
Day 1 at the par 71 Snoqualmie Falls GC, played at 5649 yards, saw some very fine scores with six players at 75 gross or better: Scott Miller 71, reigning U. S. Hickory Senior Champion Jim von Lossow 72, John Lavendoski 73, Dave Paremski 74, Jeff Olsen 75, and Kit Ledbetter 75.
Day 2 was played at the par 72 Mount Si GC at 6008 yards. In a stirring finish, Jeff Olsen of Shoreline, Washington came from behind to tie Scott Miller of Issaquah, Washington in regulation, both finishing the two rounds with a score of 147. Olsen and Miller went to a playoff and in an epic battle, Olsen prevailed after going five extra holes. It was yet another heart break for Miller as he has finished runner-up each year of this event.
John Lavendoski of Bainbridge Island took the low net honors in the Open Division.
In the Senior Division, Kit Ledbetter distanced himself from the field backing up his fine round on the first day with another on the second with a two day score of 149. John Quickstad took the low net honors. In the Super Senior Division, Larry Hardy followed his victory in the Arizona Hickory Classic to win yet another title. John Wise won low net. In the Women’s Division, Paula Anderson shot 97-89 to come from behind to defeat Roberta Robbins, the reigning U.S. Women’s Hickory Champion.
Before the second round got under way, we received the sad news of the passing of our dear friend Jack Wilson. Jack was passionate about hickory golf, as a collector and as a player. He was one of the founders of the Northwest Hickory Players, and few in the world could match his knowledge and passion for hickory clubs. A perpetual trophy for the Pacific Northwest Hickory Championship will be named in his honor. We will all miss him very much. To read more about Jack, see Rob Birman’s tribute to Jack: Remembering Jack Wilson.
JULY 11-12, 2017 – 10TH ANNUAL U.S. HICKORY OPEN, DEL MONTE GOLF COURSE, MONTEREY, CA
Exasperating. Astonishing. Taxing. These words characterized so many players’ rounds at the 2017 USHO. I suspect all traveled to Del Monte links in Monterey in mid-July presuming the 1897 design would be ‘less than’ a “major” challenge. After all, how hard can an old track, and the least in-demand of those in the Pebble Beach Resort portfolio be? On first sight, many felt, “this should be a birdie fest.” But after the opening practice round, every player knew better.
Del Monte’s defense is two-fold. Tiny greens and abrasive, penalizing rough. The fairways and greens were in fine nick. Lush, cushy, true, and that was just the fairways! The greens were quick, diminutive and pure. And, visually, nearly every hole seemed fairly straightforward.
To the casual observer, one can easily see, there aren’t any water holes. The bunkering seemed reasonable, not devilish. Competitors took note of the subtle color variations in the bunkers – some pure sand, others more grit and dirt, but all fair. Lesson number one, approach shots had to be exacting. These were among the smallest greens many have seen in a long while- it was a trait that this writer found engaging, perversely, half way through. What a great test!
The diabolical nature of Del Monte includes surprising slope in greens that, at first, appear fairly benign. Players found few flat spots anywhere on greens, period. And, the dilemma that caused many to add strokes to their tidy scores, stemmed from balls that trickled three inches into the gnarly rough around those small greens. It is hard enough to judge speed out of thick, grabby rough, but adding break made it a major-level challenge for all.
The weather could not have been more ideal. Steady, low winds. Not a cloud in the sky either day. High temps around 70 degrees.
98 players from several countries and a dozen or more states gathered to mark the tenth playing of our Open. Tournament Chair, Rob Ahlschwede organized an impressive three-day event with superior service (as expected), high grade food, an impressive trade show and tee gifts and awards the envy of tournaments three times the size.
Net scores in the upper 60s were tops on the first day (Rich Schmidt in the Championship Division with a net 69, and five players in the Senior and above divisions). And – as is becoming traditional now – a sudden-death playoff was required on day two to crown the eventual champion. After two days of play, two players were tied at the top, with gross scores of 153 – both Californians – Cliff Martin (runner-up last year) and Nico Bollini. Bollini settled the score on the opening playoff hole – the par 5 17th, to cement his victory.
Northwest Hickory Players had a strong showing at the event, with winners in multiple categories including Jim Von Lossow, Senior Open Champion with a gross score of 159 and Roberta Robbins, Ladies Open Champion, with a 203. John Lavendoski took 2nd place in the Open Net Division with a score of 145; Martin Pool took 3rd place in the Senior Net Division with a score of 139. In the Super Senior division, Ray Tokareff took 1st Net with a 140, and Buck Barrie took 2nd Net with a 148. We also want to congratulate our California friends Steve Viskochil (Senior 2nd Net) and John Sweeney (Super Senior 3rd Net). Well done all!
A very moving keynote speech by John Fischer III, head of GCS, inspired all of the players on Tuesday night. He regaled players and their guests with the story and legacy of his father, who was a top hickory player in the US even after steel became the norm. Fischer, and his son, were on hand to present the course with two framed collectible items commemorating Del Monte’s place in the great old courses of the West, and to inaugurate a new trophy, to be presented each year to the low amateur of the Society’s US Hickory Open. In this case, Bollini also accepted that honor late on Wednesday afternoon.
Numerous SoHG board members were in the field, including current Board president, William Geisler, and past-president, Dave Brown.
Many regional hickory societies were represented at this, the first-ever USHO on the West Coast. A full field pleased the tournament organizers, and it appears that a strong percentage of contestants were first-time USHO participants – a fitting testament to the SoHG’s goal of serving its members by moving championship series events around the nation.
A very special note this year were numerous youth among the ranks, including young lads from Australia and one junior female player from the US – they were popular figures on the putting green! Congratulations to all.
It is worth noting how gracious and attentive the Del Monte staff were to our competitors. Everyone noted their generosity and kindness, and we all took a special moment to appreciate the life-size portrait at the entrance to the Club of the early caddies at Del Monte, all boys – two becoming legendary figures in the Pebble Beach golfing community, and a third (believe it or not), Phil Mickelson’s grandfather.
Tradition and history pervade Del Monte’s links. While the course included expansive areas (not in play) that were left without irrigation (a nod to the modern trend to minimize over-watering), the state of the course was grand and nearly every player hailed this event as a winner for everyone involved.
JUNE 24-25, 2017 – GEARHART HICKORY CLASSIC, GEARHART, OR – 125TH ANNIVERSARY!
28 players from five states and Canada contested the 2017 Gearhart Hickory Classic, marking two historic occasions! The first was the grand links’ 125th anniversary. The second, record-setting temperatures on the Oregon coast of 92 degrees on Saturday. Aside from the simply awesome spirit that the players bring to this event every year, 2017 was made memorable for a pre-tournament outing on Friday with NW Hickory players and the membership of the august club. NWHP members were paired with the regular Gearhart loyalists – everyone playing hickory sticks without exception. 68 players walked the links, including course owner and visionary advocate for the game, Tim Boyle and two of his children. Conditions were spectacular and the course (with continued investment by Boyle) is as splendid as any in the state. The anniversary scramble yielded a 66 to the winning team of Jim Von Lossow and Gearhart Mayor (and PGA pro) Matt Brown. There were several 67s too. The day was capped by video recognition from USGA head, Mike Davis, tour player Peter Jacobson, and PGA President, Paul Levy. Oregon Historical Society director, Kerry Tymchuk, shared special remarks and allowed everyone to pose for selfies with Meriwether Lewis’ 1804 branding iron; a relic left near Gearhart during the Lewis and Clark expedition. Food, drink, and live music capped a very special day for all. Players awoke on Saturday for conditions befitting Palm Springs, and found fairly challenging shifting winds on the course, and correspondingly high scores! Oregon’s John Hoffert lead the super-senior division on day one with an impressive 84, Washington’s Kit Ledbetter (seniors) with an 82, and California’s Steve Henneuse and Idaho’s Tom Tracy in the open division with 80s. Day Two saw opposite wind conditions and temperatures in the 70s – a welcome respite for all. But most agreed that scoring conditions were not one bit easier. In the end, Henneuse claimed the open division trophy by three strokes with rounds of 80/82, bravo! Von Lossow was the senior champ with 76/79, and Hoffert, super-senior winner with 89/92. Roberta Robbins won the ladies division with tidy scores of 99/113. A slew of medals were conferred on the win-place-or-show ponies in each division (way too many to mention!) Rob Ahlschwede served as tournament chair and is to be recognized for special appreciation given that he is also leading the committee to present the US Hickory Open at Pebble Beach Resorts (Del Monte) in less than a month! During the awards ceremony, a commemorative Calamity Jane replica putter was presented to the staff on behalf of Tad Moore, who was not able to join us this year – a classy move. Finally, NWHP salutes PGA head professional, Jason Bangild and his amazing team at Gearhart for making this event one of the finest hickory events in the country. He and his team out perform most facilities with ten times the staff; we are grateful and eagerly look forward to returning next July, when we will again mix with the members, now an annual event by popular demand!
APRIL 29, 2017 – TROPHY LAKE GOLF AND CASTING CLUB, PORT ORCHARD, WA
Sixteen players registered for the April outing at Trophy Lake, many seeing the course for the first time. After a 30-year-record-high winter for rainfall, residents in the NW have seen the most infrequent play this winter in living memory. But spring has emerged, and – in spite of some soft conditions – Trophy Lake was in fairly good shape; the greens being the best of all the surfaces. Robert Birman served as host for the event, with Martin Pool in the role of bookie. An “opt-in” game of total skins for about 11 players was arranged, with modest pay-outs for gross and net skins, and KPs. Scott Miller took high honors for winning 3 of the 4 KPs. Nice work! Five or six of the contestants walked away with skins dough. It was great to see several players who we don’t see as often as we would like. Following a nice meal together after the round, all agreed a return to this varied layout would be smart, especially in peak summer conditions.
JANUARY 1, 2017 – 4TH ANNIVERSARY OUTING, OAKBROOK GC, LAKEWOOD, WA
As has become tradition, the intrepid players in the Pacific Northwest convened on New Years’ morning for a celebratory walk in the park among friends and nary another soul. More than 24 players signed up for the outing scheduled for Fort Steilacoom GC, only to rise and find a blanket of snow on the Olympic Peninsula and a closed course at Steilacoom. The 18-or-so enthusiasts who can’t be labeled “fair weather golfers” met instead at Oakbrook for what turned out to be a lovely day of spirited competition and good cheer. And, following NWHP tradition, we welcomed a new player or two at this event as well. Players enjoyed a casual club swap after the round over ribs and a few pints at a local watering hole. Temp greens were the recipe for the day, which did nothing to dampen spirits. Most felt it was closer to what the auld greens would have putted like “back in the day.” This only led to greater determination and grit as one battled snow and ice on some of the front nine “greens.” Oakbrook, as always, is a good track for the hickory game. Our members look forward to a great 2017 and the welcoming of the U.S. Hickory Open to our shores in July under the watchful committee leadership of Rob Ahlschwede and a host of our cousins from the West Coast play groups. We count ourselves fortunate to have such immense pleasure at our outings, driven by a volunteer spirit to do no more than enjoy the lore and creativity of the game as it was meant to be played. Happy New Year!
OCTOBER 22-23, 2016 – COW CUP, CRESWELL, OREGON
COW Cup: California vs. Oregon/Washington Match Play Competition
Nine players from California and nine players from Oregon and Washington met at the Emerald Valley Golf Course in Creswell, Oregon for the inaugural match play competition for the coveted COW Cup. Under beautiful fall weather, Day 1 began with the introduction of each player and Captain Jim von Lossow handed out customized brass cowbells as tee prizes. One long-time hickory competitor promptly pronounced it the best tee prize ever!
First day competition was a Chapman format and after some close matches in which three of the five matches came down to the final hole, the Oregon/Washington team held a narrow 3-2 lead. After the round, the teams re-gathered at the local sports bar where, amid much merriment, they watched an epic 52-49 football game in which the Cal Bears beat out the Oregon Ducks. This proved to be a fore-shadowing of things to come.
Second Day competition were the singles matches combined with simultaneous fourball competition. After some incredible shot-making (including a hole-out by Erik Beer from an impossible bunker lie), the two teams were tied after seven matches at 7 1/2 points each. Acknowledgement must be given to the gutsy performance of Peter Yagi who birdied the final hole to square the match with Beer to earn the half point. Also deserving praise were the performance of the two Captains Jim von Lossow and Steve Henneuse who both shot 72s in their match.
The coup de grace came in the form of Dr. Bob Wolfensperger and Steve Viskochil who played some very fine golf to lead the final group to victory, and hence, California to a final 10 1/2 to 7 1/2 win over Oregon/Washington. The three point margin was strangely reminiscent of the three point Cal victory the previous night.
Immediately, talk began of a rematch in 2017.
OCTOBER 8 & 9, 2016 – GAMBLE SANDS HICKORY CHAMPIONSHIP, BREWSTER, WA
Thirty-six determined golfers gathered for the second annual Gamble Sands Hickory Championship, hosted by Northwest Hickory Players and Gamble Sands. The course is one of the latest additions by David Kidd, architect of famed Bandon Dunes. And, while decidedly inland [200 miles inland from Seattle], the links resemble Bandon Dunes in many respects – tight fescue grass from fairways to green, brilliant drainage, sweeping but generous (and challenging) fairway systems that promote colossal shot-selection options and now and again favor less-than-driver off the tees (depending on the prevailing winds which can be intense, and often are), and a level of remoteness that makes one wonder why on earth anyone would build a golf course so far away. What vexes us, often keeps us coming back for more, and that has proven to the be the case in Oregon, and it is trending in the same dynamic direction in Brewster, Washington. Wow, is this place cool.
Locals love to brag about Chambers Bay and the fact that the course has only one tree on it. Well, Gamble Sands has zero. This is among the very best of American links golf, hands down.
This second-annual hickory classic of Northwest Hickory Players yielded players from eight states and Canada, and took place over two days in brisk fall conditions that were ideal for a long contemplative walk with both new and old friends. With high temperatures in the low sixties and harmless, overcast skies, many commented that the conditions were ideal for this layout. Set against the lush greens and vivid golds on the course, the surrounding arid hillsides of parched earth and distant hay fields slope to greet the expansive shores of the Columbia River, the very waters that fuel the infamous apple industry from which Washington State gets part of its fame. Some quick stats:
• 10–12 billion apples are harvested in Washington State each year. Each Washington apple is picked by hand. There are no harvest machines to pick apples.
• If you put all of the Washington State apples picked in a year side-by-side, they would circle the earth 29 times.
• About 2,500 known varieties of apples are grown in the United States. More than 7,500 are grown worldwide.
• Last year, the average U.S. consumer ate 19 pounds of fresh apples.
• Apples are the largest agricultural product grown in Washington State.
Taking place in the immediate aftermath of the U.S. Hickory Open, NWHP was honored to be joined by clubmaker and hickory golf advocate, Tad Moore, as well as by the reigning senior division champion at USHO, Tom Tracy. (Association Captain Jim von Lossow came in third at this years’ USHO.) Players this year benefitted from the brand new Inn at Gamble Sands which, just one year ago, was nothing more than a sketch and some blueprints. The Inn is fantastic. The hospitality staff and course attendants are highly-trained and focused on customer service, as one will find at resorts 20-times the scale of Gamble Sands. A 80-yard 18-hole putting course is being built on the grounds of the Inn, which players anticipate enjoying at our 2017 Classic. Per usual, golf pro Dave Christenson and his wife, Jennifer, attended to every detail with great care, including another superlative dinner after Round One with an equally well-received scotch tasting; a tradition started at our inaugural affair.
Following a recap of the rules and a welcome from the NWHP founders, players assembled on the first tee for a brief tribute to honor the recent loss of Mike Just, of Louisville Golf. Rob Ahlschwede and Tad Moore offered brief remembrances, followed by a ceremonial drive by Jerold Olson who likely has the last left-handed long nose club Mike built. The scene epitomized what we all love about the game – respect for one another and the spirit of camaraderie that serves as the primary attraction for golfers of extreme proficiency or otherwise. (LOL)
A fly-over of the course simply tells the tale. We expect this event to grow to be one of the largest in the county as the reputation of the course grows. In tandem with our annual event at Gearhart Golf Links in Oregon, we Northwesterners feel like we won the hickory golf lottery.
The set up was quite fair, with most players playing from a distance of 5,631 yards and a slope index of 114. In fall conditions, players could anticipate a roll of about 20-30 yards on a well-struck drive, sometimes (in the right conditions) five-times that! Players had options on the fescue to putt from more than 100 yards, including from the tee on two downhill par threes. Generous backboards and course contouring also allowed inventive types to strike shots up to 40 yards offline, letting the lay of the land assist with the outcome. Many were seen with pure delight on their faces as they learned to embrace the challenge and play the ball on the ground. It was pure fun.
Divisions were divided into Open, Senior, Ladies, and Super Senior, with pay-outs for net winners and elegant crystal decanters for the winning gross scores. Jim von Lossow deserves special praise for organizing another top-class event, especially while most others were out enjoying practice rounds and retiring to the 24-person Jacuzzi to sooth their feet. (Thanks, Jim!)
In the end, “Von” and USHO Tom Tracy tied at 146, with Tracy prevailing in a scorecard duel due to a birdie at the par-five 18th hole. A new Open champ emerged, none other than young Andrew von Lossow, who is eyeing a run at the pro circuit in the year ahead. Roberta Robbins took the ladies prize with a score of 180, and big Rob Ahlschwede took super senior net accolades with a net score of 124.
For many players in the Northwest, the opportunity to meet and play with Tad Moore was a special treat. Moore and Ahlschwede took the liberty to arrive a day early and stay a day later than most, something many working stiffs envied, some facing more than a six-hour commute home on Sunday. We also want to thank Canadian, Kenn Looten, for coming down, Michael Sloan from Texas, and Robb Stuart from New Mexico.
The event is booked again for next fall, so save the weekend before Columbus Day and have a thrill of a lifetime with some great folks!
SEPTEMBER 17, 2016 – GOLD MOUNTAIN GOLF COURSE (OLYMPIC), BREMERTON, WA
Eleven players braved a light rain for a walk around the championship course at Gold Mountain on a fall afternoon. The course was playing long due to an overnight rain, so the group teed from the yellow tees at 5,600+ yards. Steady play was exhibited by Kit Ledbetter, Goose Guenette, and Galen Peterson, but low gross honors went to Devin Harmala, with an 81 under fairly challenging conditions. New member, Pat Kurz, joined us and NWHP founders Rob Birman, Rob Ahlschwede and Jack Wilson provided the on course entertainment clocking in with nearly 300 swipes for the trio. It was nice to hear the elk bugling in the woods. Who knows? They might have found a few of our golf balls in there! The course is in superb condition and all players hailed the track. We’d like to return with fast and dry conditions next time!
AUGUST 27, 2016 – PORT TOWNSEND HICKORY SCRAMBLE, PORT TOWNSEND, WA
Fourteen players came out for the inaugural Port Townsend Hickory Scramble, hosted by NWHP pro, Gabe Tonan. A good share of the players were local members of the course, and therefore, new to hickories. Jack Wilson and Rob Ahlschwede furnished rental sets, and we were pleased to see some of the novice players very quickly grasping the changes that lead to a satisfying and productive day on the links as a first-time hickory golfer. The course was a treat for everyone, and low gross honors (and $80 per player) went to the two-man Team Lossow, with low-net (and $40 per player) going to Team Birman. Birman earned k.p. honors on the 170-yard hole #7, with one of Gabe’s staff members winning k.p. on #2. Captain Jim brought out his new, handmade replica of the Gassiat putter and acquitted himself nicely with it! Whidbey Island’s Ben Biggers parked his 40-foot yacht in the marina at Point Hudson, and several players retired to the deck of the “Dog Gone It” for a casual dinner and story-swapping as the sun set over the Salish Sea for the perfect end to a fun and relaxed day of golf. With only one club casualty for the day, all-in-all it was a triumphant success.
JULY 16 & 17, 2016 – GEARHART HICKORY CLASSIC, GEARHART, OR
Forty-three players from seven states converged on the northern coast of Oregon for a spectacular weekend of challenging hickory golf, camaraderie and high spirits at the third annual Gearhart Hickory Classic hosted by Northwest Hickory Players. The event unofficially began on Friday afternoon, July 15 as sixteen players participated in the club’s “superintendent’s revenge;” a mix of vintage and modern enthusiasts organized by the long-time pro at Gearhart Golf Links, Jason Bangild. Players teed off from “the stones” playing at a 6,501 yards, with challenging hole locations and a scramble format to support the local community. Mandatory left-handed tee shots, a blindfolded drive, and one par three with six hole choices characterized the nature of the affair. While not necessarily a relevant preview for the Classic, it proved to be an enjoyable means to support the professional staff at the course who have been so hospitable and welcoming to Northwest Hickory Players for so many years. With a field of 88 players, the hickory golfers earned praise and accolades for the longest putt on hole number five (Team Hudson) and “k.p. in two” on the 330-yeard opening hole (Jim von Lossow) at which the cup was cut on the downslope of the front left edge. After the Revenge an evening social hour for the hickory players was hosted at a house near the 14th hole.
Players rose on Saturday morning to catch the closing holes of The Open Championship with Mickelson leading a strong field at Troon, and made their way to the course for a robust and high-yielding club swap, followed by a group photo and an opening competitive round under overcast, yet nearly ideal conditions for links golf. In four divisions, including a newly-initiated super-senior division, the competition was strong and well balanced. Open Division players competed at a distance of 6,176 yards, the furthest distance ever for this event, and perhaps a bit too far (perhaps a reaction to the creation of the additional division?) Seniors played at 5,741, women played from 5,100 yards.
Mirroring events on the coast of Scotland, the day ended with two players in the lead (Washingtonian, Jim von Lossow and Virginian, Deal Hudson), separated by just one stroke. Open, Senior and Super Senior divisions all averaged scores in the 90s on day one (91, 93, 98 respectively), a reflection of the quick putting surfaces and enduring challenges of this 1890s seaside layout. Contestants gathered at a nearby restaurant for a group dinner and mild ribbing following the round.
Players awoke to find one of the greatest head-to-head matches evolving in the conclusion of the 145th Open, but were pulled away from the duel in order to reach the outcome of their own Classic. Under brilliant sunshine and low 60s on the thermometer, the field battled on Day Two, with 82% of the Open Division contestants beating their prior day’s totals, but unexpectedly the same percentage of the Senior players posting higher totals compared to the opening round. Northern Californian, Steve Henneuse, shined as he posted the low round of the tournament with a gross score of 76.
In the end, echoing events across the pond, the leaders ended the event, having decided the outcome only in the closing holes, with NWHP captain, Jim von Lossow prevailing by two strokes. Steve Henneuse graciously took honors as runner-up. Low gross winners in each flight included Kit Ledbetter, Matt Nelson, and Donna Richmond. Individual metals were furnished for the top three players in each division, and tournament director Rob Ahlschwede then shared the good news that the 2017 US Hickory Open will be played on the West Coast for the first time next July, likely causing the Classic to be either postponed or deferred one year in support of SoHG’s efforts to cater to a broader segment of the hickory golfing community in the United States.
A handsome perpetual trophy was presented, courtesy of organization founders Rob Birman and Rob Ahlschwede, which will be proudly displayed in the Gearhart pro shop, year-round. Players were unanimous in their praise for the course, accommodations and competitive play at the event. Northwest Hickory Players looks forward to increasing participation in the years ahead!
JUNE 11 & 12, 2016 – WHIDBEY ISLAND GOLF WEEKEND, OAK HARBOR, WA
11 golfers came out (including one newcomer – thanks Cash!) for varying levels of play and hours on the links during a cloudy but pleasant weekend on Whidbey Island. Day One saw two five-somes off the tee for a very enjoyable morning at Whidbey Island Golf Club with fast and true greens and some challenging landing areas off of the tee. Players enjoyed a hearty BBQ after the round at the home of a local member, then on Day Two, competed at the Gallery Course, one of the very first tracks played by NWHP a few years ago. Two players had very steady rounds on both days – net winner, Devin Hamala, and gross winner, Jim von Lossow. Limited evidence can be viewed here, including images of Jim’s seeing-eye dog, Driscoll Boyd.
MAY 24-25, 2016 – WORLD HICKORY MATCH PLAY, PHILADELPHIA, PA
The third World Hickory Match Play Championship was held at the Philadelphia Cricket Club, on the historic St. Martins Course, May 23-25. Sixteen champion hickory golfers and 16 hickory golf gentlemen came to America’s oldest country club for a unique-to-hickory match play competition that would test both skill and stamina.
Each player in both the Champions Division and Players Division play five 9-hole matches, where each hole is worth a point and each hole halved is worth a ½ point. At the end of the matches, points are tallied and the four gentlemen with the most points compete in third place and championship matches in traditional elimination match play.
The Champions Division had 16 of the finest hickory golfers in the world, including winners from the following hickory tournaments: Canadian Hickory Open; World Hickory Match Play Championship; U.S. Hickory Open; World Hickory Open Low Amateur; U.S. Amateur Hickory Championship; Southern Hickory 4-Ball; Belvedere Hickory Open; Mid Pines Hickory Open; C.B. MacDonald; Onion Creek Hickory Classic; Mountain Valley Hickory Open; Michigan Hickory Open; Vermont Hickory Open, and the National Hickory Championship.
The Players Division also had 16 hickory golfers from various regional hickory groups around the United States, including: the Philadelphia Hickory Golf Society; Northwest Hickory Players (represented by NWHP co-founder Robert Birman); Michigan Hickory Tour; New England Hickory Society; Carolina Hickory Golf Association; Hickory Golfers of Massachusetts; Metropolitan Hickory Society, and the Vermont Hickory Golf Association.
The Philadelphia Cricket Club, as it has proved in the past, was the perfect venue for this championship. The St. Martins course was the site of the 1907 and 1910 U.S. Open Championships, and is now a wonderful 9-hole course. It also served as the site of the 2013 National Hickory Championship.
MAY 14 & 15, 2016 – PACIFIC NORTHWEST HICKORY CHAMPIONSHIP, SALEM, OREGON
Northwest Hickory Players Captain Jim von Lossow of Seattle successfully defended his title in the second annual Pacific Northwest Hickory Championship held at the historic Salem Golf Club (est. 1927) in Salem, Oregon and the OGA course in Woodburn, Oregon on May 14-15, 2016.
Pre-tournament festivities began on Friday with a gutty outing at the Woodburn Golf Club (est. 1925), the only sand green course in Oregon. Armed with their Forgans, Carricks, Condies, Parks, and other ancient implements, players flailed, scraped, and foozled their way around this historic tract. Many discovered a new respect for the “auld gawfers.”
Overnight the temperature dropped 35 degrees, the clouds moved in, and amid intermittent drizzle, the day began with a trade show at the beautiful Salem Golf Club. Some horse trading, some tough negotiations, and some interesting stories were exchanged among the attendees.
Day one of the tournament saw some fine scores with a 74 (von Lossow) and a pair of 76s (Miller and Driscoll) among the twenty-two who teed off under less than ideal weather conditions. A fabulous salmon and prime rib dinner followed in the clubhouse.
Day two competition was conducted over the OGA course, home of the Oregon Golf Association, in Woodburn, Oregon. The greens proved to be quite challenging as they were unexpectedly fast given “Northwest” conditions. The course was in immaculate shape and von Lossow came in with another 74 to retain his title.
The highlight of the tournament was the enthusiastic reception we received from the pros and the members at each of the three clubs. We had a delightful meeting with Mr. Tom Kay, the ninety-three year old owner and operator of Salem Golf Club. Mr. Kay’s father, Ercel Kay, founded and built the club in 1927. It has been owned and operated by father and then his son for the past ninety years. Complete photos can be viewed here.
We welcomed seven new Oregon players to the Northwest Hickory Players family: Gary Kilgore, Joe Martinbianco, Pam Rowland, Lyle Rowland, Dennis Stafford, Ray Tokareff, and Rick Williams.
Winners of the Second Annual Pacific Northwest Hickory Championship were:
Open Champion: Jim von Lossow – 148
Open Runner Up: Scott Miller – 156
Open Net Champion: Devin Harmala – 137
Open Net Runner Up: Richard Canapo – 148
Senior Champion: Tom Driscoll – 164
Senior Runner Up: Ray Tokareff – 175
Senior Net Champion: Craig Healy – 139
Senior Net Runner UP: Jack Wilson – 139
Women’s Champion: Roberta Robbins – 208
Women’s Net Champion: Pam Rowland – 182
APRIL 17, 2016 – MAPLEWOOD GOLF COURSE, RENTON, WA
Twenty-five hickory players teed off on a spectacular day at the historic Maplewood Golf Course (est. 1927) in Renton, Washington. It seemed half the golfers in Seattle were also there to enjoy the sunshine making for a slow round. But patience is a virtue, so they say, and good things come to those who wait. And a good thing indeed came to Chelsea Guenette who waited until the 18th hole to record her first hickory birdie in her first hickory round. Nice one, Chelsea!
We were excited to have six more new players join the Northwest Hickory Players: Michael Adams, Kevin Biegel, Jimmy Bucher, Greg Cooper, Tim Wiebe, and of course Chelsea. Welcome all and hope to see you out there again soon!
We held a best two net out of four team competition and the winning team with a fine score of 126 was: Jack Wilson (whaaa?), Steve Franich (waaaa!), Tom Driscoll, and John Wise. The team’s hero was Jack Wilson who shot a net 68, which will no doubt require a future handicap adjustment.
The runner-up team, made up of Dave Paremski, Devin Harmala, John Quickstad, and Kevin Biegel, finished one stroke behind with a 127. KP prizes, donated by Roberta Robbins went to: No. 2 – Jack Wilson (9’8″) (whaaa?), No. 6 – “Mr. KP” Kit Ledbetter (12’1″), No. 12 – Ben Biggers (12’11”), and Devin Harmala (1’7″).
More photos can be seen here.
APRIL 2, 2016 – WHITE HORSE GOLF CLUB, KINGSTON, WA
Following one of the nicest weather weeks of the year, fourteen hickory hackers were eagerly anticipating a glorious walk in the wooded glen of Kingston for NWHP’s outing at White Horse Golf Club on April 2. Four days of sun and dry weather had everyone licking their chops for a fast and dry track. En route to the course, everyone, from the North, the South and the East encountered what we thought was “marine layer.” “Surely this will burn off by 10 a.m. and we’ll shed these layers and slather on the sunscreen.” Nope. We teed off at 9:58 a.m. in a steady drizzle, and it persistent for more than half of the round; umbrellas were out and the rooster tails were waving at every shot as if to taunt us. Nine players managed net scores in the 70s and gross scores ranged from 74 to 115! Captain von Lossow took home the low-net honors at 69 and Larry Hardy, net runner-up at 71. A certain “Driscoll Boyd” scrawled his name on the KP sheet on hole 6 in what every other players believed was a 2’6″ ending point. Funny… No one beat that proximity. The group shared a hearty laugh on learning that what we thought was “Boyd” was actually “13 yards,” so the listing actually credited a tee shot that landed 41 feet from the stick! Thanks, Boyd! John Wise took the actual KP at 18 feet, and Rob Birman, the day’s host, won the KP on number 13 with a shot to 5’4″. With soggy feet and faint misgivings, the group consoled itself with a little IPA and good natured ribbing at the Clubhouse as a freshly-minted juvenile eagle practiced his “touch and go” landings on the pond aside the final hole. Thanks to Martin Pool for taking photos.
MARCH 5, 2016 – LYNNWOOD GOLF CLUB AT EDMONDS COMMUNITY COLLEGE, EDMONDS, WA
Special thanks to NWHP co-founder Jack”son” Wilson for arranging what turned into the first hickory golf outing of the spring season on a near 60-degree afternoon on a challengingly short muni course that everyone agreed was a thrill to play with antique clubs. Playing 4,741 from the tips, this course still had a great variety of hole designs, some false fronts, some smart, menacing bunkers and narrow fairways with plenty of trees, doglegs and subtle demands on strategy. With a par of 62 and no par 5s at all, all of us were still able to hit brassies off of many tees – simply put, this was cool. 11 players joined the day, with Jim von Lossow shooting a net 60, Jerry Olson, net 62 and Jack Wilson, net 63. There was an impromptu club swap in the parking lot and some good pitchers of local IPA after the round at a local establishment. We recommend this little course!
JANUARY 1, 2016 – HAWKS PRAIRIE LINKS COURSE, LACEY, WA
Twenty-two intrepid souls of the Northwest Hickory Players gathered on the coldest day of the year (28 degrees at tee time, though under brilliant skies) at the Hawks Tundra … er … Prairie Golf Course in Lacey, Washington on New Year’s Day.
We were excited to welcome new hickory players Sharon McCarty, Rick Plumb, Goose Guenette, Joe Scorcio, and Tom Kennedy to the second anniversary celebration of our distinguished group.
Kit Ledbetter won the low net honors and cash prizes with a fine 69 (78 – 9) followed by Jim von Lossow’s 70 (76 – 6). Newcomer Tom Kennedy was next at 72 (88 – 16), then Steve Simmons (89 – 16) and Martin Pool (86 – 13), both with 73s picking up the scraps. John Quickstad, Tracy Skinner, and Kit Ledbetter won KP prizes.
The story of the day involves Jack Wilson, he a collector of many exotic and fine clubs, who played his “waterfall” mashie niblick (who would play a waterfall?!?) over a pond. Aghast, Jack watched in horror as the shaft broke and the head of the precious waterfall sailed into the pond. Actually, it would be more accurate to say it sailed onto the pond, for the pond was still iced over. The head clattered across the frozen surface to the other side where Jack was able to rescue the darn thing.
After the round, the group gathered at the home of Rob and Susan Ahlschwede to thaw out and to celebrate the occasion. Susan prepared a delicious pot of stew and other goodies. There were lots of oohs and aahs over Rob’s collection of hickories and other treasures. Thanks Rob and Susan for hosting!
Complete photos available here! Happy 2016!
OCTOBER 3 & 4, 2015 – GAMBLE SANDS HICKORY CHAMPIONSHIP, GAMBLE SANDS, BREWSTER, WA
The first-annual Gamble Sands Hickory Championship was a thrilling experience for everyone involved. Held in early October, conditions were brisk, to say the least. 30 MPH gusts greeted players as they arrived for the first round, and only grew in strength as the day progressed. However, the sun shined and the troops (including two foursomes from Southern Wine and Spirits all new to hickory) marched on. The conditions lent themselves to the true Scottish links feel of the miraculous David Kidd design that opened in August 2014.
Jim Von Lossow, a Washington-based golf professional, won his third northwest hickory title in as many weeks. On Sept. 19, he won the inaugural Pacific Northwest Hickory Championship over the historic Foster Golf Links in Tukwila, Wash. On Sept. 26, he claimed the Washington State Hickory Open title on The Home Course in Dupont, Wash., in the process setting the modern hickory course record of 75. He capped off his three-week run with the current victory at Gamble Sands, shooting a brilliant 76.
Club professional David Christenson and his wife Jennifer lead an expert team of support staff, from their celebrated chef to the caddie team and wait staff – amazing, all. Gamble Sands created gorgeous decanter-trophies for winners in three divisions, Open, Senior and Ladies. The course has an auld-school layout, with nine holes out and nine back. This meant prevailing winds for the front nine and head winds coming in! The vistas from the 300-acre site are spectacular and groups often paused to watch distant teams play their approach shots with awe.
Massive green complexes included steady and vexing subtle breaks, making the all-fescue experience reminiscent of Chambers Bay for many players. Scores on Day One averaged in the low 90s, making von Lossow’s 76 quite impressive. The Captain, in response to the wind, set tee markers at 5,600 yards on Saturday, and 6,200 yards on a fairly calm and sunny Sunday morning. High points of the weekend included a top-shelf dinner and extensive Scotch tasting and discussion coordinated by our friends from Southern Wine and Spirits in Seattle as the sun nestled into the mountainous surroundings.
A thoroughly generous affair, the Gamble Sands Hickory Championship also set its awards for the net winners of each division, with prizes for first-time players as well as an assortment of raffle items including a $300 Steuer & Jacoby Model 50 golf club carrier (won by John Quickstad), a custom-etched flask set won by a member of the Scotch contingent (fittingly) and more.
As though things couldn’t possible improve from the first day, players were rewarded with a presentation by author Tony Dear after Sunday’s round and the debut launch of his new book, “The Story of Golf in Fifty Holes.” Dear joined Christenson and von Lossow in the presentation of the trophies to a receptive and sated group who could talk of nothing else of the return to this stunning course in 2016.
As with many NWHP events, we had a strong showing from our friends in Oregon and we all joined in celebrating Port Townsend pro, Gabe Tonan’s 41st birthday on Sunday. Tonan and Birman gave the new “golf boards” a whirl at the course, but admittedly, there is something disjunct about the knickers and surf boards! Tim, one of Gamble Sands’ caddies, played both days with a total of three clubs and broke 100 each day. Many competitors were cajoled into putting from the 120-135-yard tee boxes on several par threes, which was entirely do-able due to the fine conditioning of the fairways and greens.
In the pantheon of hickory events, this has the strong potential to become one of the greats in the Northwest. We thank the owners and operators of Gamble Sands for their warm embrace of our traditions and look forward to topping the inaugural effort in 2016!
Congratulations to Open champion, Jim von Lossow, Senior champion, Martin Pool, and Ladies champion, Liz Keeler, for their fine play!
Complete photos are available here.
SEPTEMBER 19-20, 2015 – PACIFIC NORTHWEST HICKORY CHAMPIONSHIP AND TRADE SHOW, FOSTER GOLF LINKS, TUKWILA, WA. and WEST SEATTLE GOLF COURSE, SEATTLE, WA
The Northwest Hickory Players conducted its inaugural Pacific Northwest Hickory Championship and Trade Show on Sept 19-20 over the historic Foster Golf Links in Tukwila, Washington and the Chandler Egan-designed West Seattle Golf Course. In a thrilling finish Jim Von Lossow of Seattle edged Scott Miller of Issaquah, WA by a single shot with a fine score of 148 (73-75) in the Open Division.
Both von Lossow and Miller chased down the first round leader Dave Paremski of Sammamish, WA who led with a 71 at Foster. Paremski and Miller are new to hickory golf and were playing in their first hickory tournament. What a performance by these fellas!
Rob Ahlschwede of Olympia, WA was the champion of the Senior Division and Roberta Robbins of Kenmore, WA was the champion of the Women’s Division. Martin Pool was the net champion in Open Division, Steve Franich in the Senior Division, and Paula Anderson in the Women’s Division. The champions had the honor of taking the first drinks out of an 1864 Royal Burgess Golfing Society Quaich trophy.
Shot of the day on day one goes to Dave Paremski who hit a towering Stewart 2 iron from 200 yards on the 420 yard #6 hole at Foster to fly it to the green and stop the ball five feet from the hole to make his first hickory birdie on his first hickory round.
Shot of the day on day two goes to Devin Harmala who on the par 3, 11th hole at West Seattle, hit his tee shot, struck von Lossow’s golf bag left greenside, knocked the bag over, caromed straight right onto the green where Harmala was able to save par. That shot is now known as a “baggie” and no doubt contributed to Harmala winning the honey pot.
Thanks also to Peter Yagi, world-renowned purveyor of fine golf books, who hosted a Trade Show at his house on the lake following Saturday’s round where players traded stories as well as clubs. The group also honored the birthday of Rob Ahlschwede with a special ceremony – the number is too high to repeat!
JULY 10-12, 2015 – GEARHART HICKORY CLASSIC, GEARHART GOLF LINKS, GEARHART, OR
Thirty hickory players participated in the 2015 Gearhart Hickory Classic at the historic Gearhart Golf Links (est. 1892) on the beautiful Oregon coast. A strong contingent of California players and a Texan joined us for Northwest Hickory Players’ first major event of the year.
During Friday’s practice round, we held a fun Ryder Cup style match with WA/OR against CA/TX with the northern side prevailing 7-3 in singles matches (and 23-7 in the singles and fourball points competition). Joining us in the match was first time hickory player Wedgy Winchester, matched against Rob Birman playing his pre-1900 longnose and other ancient implements. Wedgy, a well know trick-shot artist, entertained us after the round. We renamed him “Niblick” Winchester.
Day 1 began with a trade show with many fine clubs and golf memorabilia for sale and for barter. The golf competition began under glowering skies, perfect Scottish weather conditions, to remind us of golf’s origins. A wee bit of wind, a wee bit of rain, and a wee bit of sunshine. The day saw some high scores on the difficult, heavily bunkered course. In the Open Division, Jim von Lossow and Steve Henneuse led the field with a 78 and a 79 respectively. In the Senior Division, Matt Nelson led with an 86 followed by Martin Pool with a 87. Liz Keeler from Oregon City led the Women’s Division with a fine 103.
Day 2 was played under smiling skies and sunshine. In the Open Division, Jim von Lossow ran away with the Open title with a steady 79. In the Senior Division, Galen Peterson came back from behind with an 83 to nip three players by one stroke for the Senior title. Liz Keeler won the Women’s Division net title. Special mention goes to Stacy Brown from California who shot a fabulous 92, a mere 21 shots better from day 1!
Open Division Winners:
Open Champion: Jim von Lossow – 157; 2nd Gross: Steve Henneuse – 169; 3rd Gross: Dave McDonald – 177
Net Champion: Devin Harmala – 136; 2nd Net: Rob Birman – 151; 3rd Net: John Quickstad – 156
Senior Division Winners:
Senior Champion: Galen Peterson – 173; 2nd Gross: Chuck McCollum – 174; 3rd Gross: Mike Kosich – 179
Senior Net Champion: Matt Nelson – 144; 2nd Net: Martin Pool – 144; 3rd Net: Steve Wilt – 149
Women’s Division Winners:
Women’s Net Champion: Liz Keeler – 143; 2nd Net: Stacy Brown – 155
Congratulations to all the winners! And a special thanks to Jason Bangild, the gracious club professional at Gearhart Golf Links for his enthusiasm and support. Complete photos are online here.
MAY 18-20, 2015 – WORLD HICKORY MATCH PLAY: PHILADELPHIA CRICKET CLUB, PHILADELPHIA, PA
The Pacific Northwest was represented again this year at the second annual World Hickory Match Play by NWHP co-founder Robert Birman, and for the first time, by young Grayson Gibbony from AP National. The Cricket Club has recently been designated as the permanent home for the World Hickory Match Play, and it offers a tremendous historic setting for this event. Players from the United States, Canada, Finland and Switzerland hickory golf associations were on hand. The weather cooperated this year, producing relatively cool temperatures and low humidity. The event includes two divisions. A champion’s division for winners of 2014 tournaments, in which Gibbony appeared. And a player’s division for hickory players selected by invitation, under which Birman appeared for the second time. The field is limited to sixteen players in each division and players are grouped in two-person, nine-hole matches by blind draw with no strokes given. Contestants play under 1928 rules of golf, with the stymie rule in effect. Rob won his first two matches 6-and-3 for a strong start, and halved his third. By the end of round two, he was in second place in the player’s division. By round three, in fourth place with a total of 16.5 points for Day One. He was pitted against two seven-handicappers on Day Two (one of whom won the entire division) for the final two rounds and ended in 10th place overall (the “buzz saw” effect). The Club’s historian was on hand for a dinner presentation on the opening night, and Louisville Golf’s Mike Just was honored for his lifetime achievement in hickory golf. He appeared, along with World Hickory Open founder Lionel Freeman who provided Mike’s nomination, via video, to accept the award. The PCC hosted US Opens in 1907 and 1910. Just nine holes remain today on the St. Martins course. It is a terrific test of golf and a thrilling event through which to be associated with the greats of the game.
MAY 16, 2015 – CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION OF JEFFERSON PARK GOLF COURSE, SEATTLE, WA
The Northwest Hickory Players were well represented on Saturday, May 16, 2015, at the opening of the new club house at Jefferson Park Golf Course in Seattle. Because it was the centennial anniversary of the course as well, a celebration of its history was also in order. Rob Ahlschwede and Jack Wilson brought several dozen putters, various spoons, niblicks and mashies, as well as an interesting sample of “old” golf balls and tees for the patrons to touch, try out and enjoy. The first Jefferson Park trophy, won by Claire Griswold in 1918, was also on display, provided by NWHP member Martin Pool. Sharing the history of the grand old game with folks of all ages made for a delightful day at Jefferson.
MAY 11, 2015 – TACOMA COUNTRY & GOLF CLUB, TACOMA, WA
Eleven hickory players played the historic and beautifully conditioned Tacoma Country and Golf Club. Medalist of the day was Rob Ahlschwede with a fine 84 on a difficult layout featuring its many strategically placed bunkers and diabolically fast greens.
We played a two best net of team competition and Team Anderson (Paula Anderson, Rob Birman, Rob Ahlschwede, Steve Franich) ran away and hid with an unbelievably good score of 123 (-21), followed by Team Ledbetter (Kit Ledbetter, Martin Pool, Roberta Robbins, blind draw Steve Franich) with a 132 (-12), followed by Team Peterson (Galen Peterson, Jack Wilson, Jon Klingler, Chuck McCollum) at 138 (-6).
“Shot of the day went to Martin who hit a screaming mid-iron shot 175 yards through a wee hole in the trees (pictured above) to save par on #11.
MAY 9, 2015 – JEFFERSON PARK, SEATTLE, WA
Fifteen hickory players celebrated the Centennial of the Jefferson Park Golf Course (opened May 12, 1915) with fun-filled outing on a gorgeous day in Seattle. We were joined by Colin Gants, multiple winner of the Washington State Hickory Championship, Roy Niznik, former Seattle Amateur Champion, Chuck McCollum all the way from Sacramento, Devin Harmala, and Durel Billy. We received well wishes from Bob Lorentzen, the 2000 Washington State Hickory Champion and winner of numerous tournaments at Jefferson Park, and who had hoped to join us. See you out there soon Bob!
To mark the occasion, several players played with golf clubs associated with Jefferson Park including clubs made by Joe Jefferson (first pro at Jefferson from 1915 – 1944), and Robert Johnstone and “Long Jim” Barnes (Jefferson’s architects). A tailgate party followed with home brew provided by Captain Jim von Lossow, who played with a full set of Joe Jefferson clubs.
Medalist honors went to Martin Pool with an 81, followed by Jim von Lossow (82), Durel Billy (85), Peter Yagi (87), Chuck McCollum (88), Rob Ahlschwede (88), Roy Niznik (89), Devin Harmala (90), Larry Hardy (91), Paula Anderson (95), John Quickstad (96), and Roberta Robbins (97). Colin Gants, Jon Klingler, and Jack Wilson were not able to complete the round due to family obligations. Shot of the day went to Colin Gants who hit a beautiful brassie shot into No. 8 which left him with a 15 foot eagle putt.
APRIL 27, 2015 – INGLEWOOD COUNTRY CLUB, KENMORE, WA
Twelve NWHP members enjoyed a magical day of 75-degrees in the sun on one of the immaculate courses in the state of Washington. In partnership with our colleagues at the Puget Sound Golf Association, nearly 150 golfers competed in a gathering at the 1919-designed Inglewood Country Club.
We welcomed back John Wise who was one of pioneers of hickory golf in Washington some 15-20 years ago. Port Townsend NWHP member, Gabe Tonan, may have had the low round of the entire day (with hickory or modern clubs) as he posted an impressive round of 77. Birman shot an 89; Pool 91; Ahlschwede 97; Klingler and Wise 102; new member (and first-time player!) Kent Ahlf; club historian at Inglewood, posted a strong 107; and Robbins 113. Other players failed to save their score card at the end of the day. A portent of their day on the very challenging track? You make the call. With a slope rating from the regular white tees of 131 and nary a flat spot on the fairways, many players found this test to be wondrous.
Inglewood has alluring vistas from all parts of the course, with lakes, streams, views of the mountains and hillside woods. NWHP extends our thanks to the members at Inglewood for making this special opportunity possible. PSGA had a sold-out event and managed the day with quiet expertise. We are proud to partner with Puget Sound Golf Association as we build interest in the auld game.
APRIL 5, 2015 – GOLD MOUNTAIN OLYMPIC COURSE, BREMERTON, WA
Easter Sunday 2015 was a nearly perfect day for golf on a nicely manicured and dry layout at Gold Mountain. Two groups went off the first tee starting at 10:33 a.m., including one brand new player (George Randels) and one very recent addition (Tracy Skinner). While the air was brisk, players were soon in their shirtsleeves for what was surely one of the nicer days in the past six months. The low gross of the day went to Martin Pool, with an 88. Birman and Wilson carded even-90s and Mr. Franich, a 92. Gold Mountain isn’t an ideal hickory course, but its setting and conditioning are rarely matched on the Olympic Peninsula. There was ample enthusiasm to plan for a gutty event in the near future for NWHP as players shared a pint or two in the clubhouse after the round. High points of the day were Pool’s birdie on #16 (par three) and Birman’s on the par-4 finishing hole. In honor of The Masters tournament this week, some players attempted to skip balls across the pond on #16. Randels and Pool achieved the most respectable results, with not a single player’s attempt making it to the opposing side!
MARCH 20-22, 2015 – RIVERSIDE, OR
The threat of rain didn’t stop our intrepid hickory golfers from playing at the historic Riverside Golf and Country Club in Portland, Oregon on Friday, March 20. Nine golfers teed off in the early afternoon under gray skies. We welcomed new players Scott Voetberg from Gresham, Oregon and Tim Vaughn from Arizona, and Peter Yagi from Seattle who finally made his long-awaited and much-anticipated hickory debut.
The medalist of the day was Jim von Lossow with a fine 79 on a difficult course. The shot of the day was Peter’s near hole-in-one on number four but who somehow managed to foozle his wee putt. The most unexpected shot was executed by Scott V. on the second hole when his tee shot caromed off Martin’s wooden bag stand amputating one of its legs. Gentleman Scott more than made amends in the clubhouse afterwards.
On Saturday and Sunday, players attended the 29th Annual Golf antique Show hosted by Pat Sutton, head professional at Riverside and also the Golf Collectors Society Region 8 Director. Thank you Pat for a great show and hospitality. Many fine golf antiques and clubs were on display and for sale.
FEBRUARY 28 & MARCH 1, 2015 – SUN CITY, AZ
Six members of NWHP ventured to Scottsdale for the Arizona Desert Hickory hosted by Ken Holtz. With a gulf-stream out of whack, and snowfall in Dallas the week of the event, forecasts called for 90% chance of rain both days of the tournament and highs in the upper 50s, lower 60s (normal is 80). Members Pool, Robbins, Birman, Peterson, Barrie and Hardy were on site. It rained like hell leading up to the opening tee time, but with the virtual first shot of the event, the skies cleared and the entire round was held under semi-pleasant, yet chilly conditions. Strong winds pushed scoring uncommonly high. The fairways were in pristine condition and the greens had been rolled before the rains, and they were speedy. Day Two was even better, with intermittent sun and low winds. Following the awards ceremony and lunch, the rain suddenly reappeared. For NW players, this is a terrific event and you are encouraged to join us next year! It is an SoHG function and drew large quantities of west coast players from California to Canada. Congratulations to Roberta Robbins for winning the net ladies division and to co-hosts Galen and Shelley Peterson. Barry Field and Dennis Scott from AP National Hickory Golfers joined as well – it was nice to reconnect with them on the links. Nearly every player earned a door prize at the Saturday night dinner reception, and raffle prizes galore were offered as part of the festivities. A large club swap/sale was also presented on the opening day. Bravo!
FEBRUARY 15, 2015 – FOSTER LINKS, TUKWILA, WA
NWHP hosted a fine outing on a 56-degree day in February at the 1925 Foster Links in Tukwila. Some concurred that, to their mind, this may have been one of the most enjoyable afternoons in the history of the association. While short and with a modest slope rating of 101, the course still carries a fair amount of defense. Wet underfoot, the greens ran slowly, but the members enjoyed the many two-tiered greens and the subtle design elements that make Foster Links a dandy of a hickory-era track. The group was assigned to groupings, and then into random pairings for a net score best-ball competition.
Jack 81; Larry H 94; Paula 103; Rob B 82
Rob A 87; Kit Ledbetter 84; Jim 77; Roy Niznik 82; Steve Franich 89
Martin 78; Roberta 108; Tracy 114; Larry B 86
Steve Simmons 88
JANUARY 25, 2015 – ALLENMORE GOLF COURSE, TACOMA, WA
Eleven hickory players turned out on a beautiful January day at R. W. Ball-designed Allenmore Golf Course (est. 1931) in Tacoma, WA. We had three new players join our intrepid group: Steve Franich, Larry Buckingham, and Tracy Skinner. We played a handicap four ball medal competition and in a close contest, the team of Buckingham and Hardy prevailed with a score of 68. Final result:
Buckingham – Hardy 68
Von Lossow 70
Wilson – Skinner 71
Ahlschwede – Klingler 72
Franich – Robbins 72
Pool – Anderson 72
Buckingham and Hardy each won a set of NW Hickory Players drink coasters, handcrafted and given by our Captain Von. Highlights of the day included a birdie two by our newcomer Tracy Skinner, in his first hickory outing, for a net zero. (Should that even be legal?) Captain Von debuted a Duncan Model Special little spoon from his arsenal of clubs. Asked to describe his birdie four on the difficult par five #11, he said: “It was a Duncan-Duncan-Duncan-Forgan!”
JANUARY 1, 2015 – KITSAP GOLF AND COUNTRY CLUB
A hearty band of NW hickory players convened on a brisk morning at Kitsap Golf & Country Club where it was 25-degrees in the shade and a balmy 32 in the sun. This was all in the spirit of honoring the first anniversary of this esteemed association. The group welcomed newcomer, Kent Quickstad to the group in addition to Larry Hardy, who was making only his second full-scale outing with his very own bag of antique clubs. Special permission was granted to the association for play on this day with thanks to head professional, Al Patterson. Due to the winter conditions, most of the course was playing to temporary greens with 8″ cups which added to the mystique of the affair. With no reliable distances, nor groomed putting surfaces, the low rounds of the day were shared by two players at a whopping 84! Good taste requires that all players are their respective scores remain unattributed. Players settled in for some grub following the icy stroll at the famed “19th Hole” nearby and ushered in the New Year with warm conviviality and good cheer.
11 players came out on a gorgeous but crisp December morning at Lynnwood Golf Club for the final outing of the inaugural year. New players Larry Hardy and Bill Razeto played their first hickory round. Sandbagger (LOL) Larry Hardy won low putts and $50, eliminating his amateur status forever. Deuce pot was split among Rob Ahlschwede, Martin Pool, and Captain Jim at $15 each. Low net was won by stylish Jack Wilson, Martin Pool, and John Quicksand for $15 each. Par 65; low net 61. Other players included Andrew von Lossow, Roberta Robbins, Steve Simmons, and Jon Klingler. A workshop regarding hickory club shafting was held at Vons Golf following the game, with plenty of home brew and sliders and lots of gabbing. Cheers!
DECEMBER 6, 2014 – BELLEVUE GOLF COURSE
The final outing of the year was held at Bellevue municipal golf course in Washington, in advance of the groups’s year-end holiday gathering at the home of Martin Pool and Roberta Robbins. Seven players participated on a cool, slightly damp morning. The course was in fine shape and the spirit of the golfers was high. One highlight of the day was a chip-in birdie on the 225-yard tenth hole by Mr. Birman who went on to post a 79 with seven clubs in his bag. Jim von Lossow also carded one birdie and shot in the mid 70s. We were again happy to welcome some new members to the group at the Holiday Party who were unable to play during the day. Pool and Robbins gave the group a tour of their impressive memorabilia collection and vintage golf items. All members look forward to the New Year and many fine outings ahead.
Nine hickory players, including new member Larry Hardy, teed it up at the challenging Oakbrook Country Club on a beautiful fall day. Martin Pool won the medalist honors with a 79, followed closely by Jim von Lossow (80), Rob Birman (81), and Tom Driscoll (82). The shot of the day goes to Larry Hardy, playing hickories for the first time, as he nearly holed his shot with a borrowed George Nicoll mid-iron on the par 3 #16, finishing just 8 inches away dead on line. Best dressed award goes to Jon Klingler who had the perfect pre-1900 garb. So good that the black and white photo above (circa 1890) from North Berwick shows a gentleman on the left whose resemblance is so close that he could have been Jon’s great, great grandfather or uncle. Well … it could be … you never know!
OCTOBER 12, 2014 – WHITEHORSE GOLF CLUB, KINGSTON, WA
Twelve avid auld school players convened at Whitehorse on a brisk, fall morning resplendant in their finery. Included in the outing were several new recruits, including two Olympic Peninsula golf professionals, Gabe Tonan from Port Townsend GC and Adam Barrows from Port Ludlow GC. New member, Galen Peterson, set the terms for “40-ball,” a team format in which each team selects twenty net scores per nine-holes, each being settled prior to arrival at the next tee box. While the game’s format engendered lively discussion over lunch following the outing, a review of the scorecards demonstrated that, when adjusted for handicaps, the team of Birman, Peterson, Ahlschwede and Wilson prevailed at -18 (net) for the round. Praise was lavished on Jack Wilson who had the only deuce of the day (in fact, two of them!). Wilson carded a chip-in on the first hole for a birdie-net-eagle and a holed sand shot on the back nine for the same. Wilson earned $80 for the deuce pot and the winning team shared the spoils of $120 among them. We were happy to welcome Paula Anderson and Jon Klingler to our fold. Thanks to all who ventured out. The course was in great shape, yet slower than normal due to heavy rain 24 hours prior to the event.
Two day hickory outing on the Olympic Peninsula. Gabriel Tonan was the medalist for the two days with fine scores of 73-78.
Port Townsend Golf Course:
Low Putts 28: Tie between Adam Barrows and Gabriel Tonan. $17.50 each. Skins: Roberta Robbins, Rob Ahlschwede, Martin Pool, Gabriel Tonan, Adams Barrows $5 each. Deuce Pot: none, carry over to Port Ludlow
Port Ludlow Golf Course:
Low Putts 29: Gabriel Tonan $35, Skins: Jim von Lossow, Roberta Robbins, Galen Peterson (3), Adam Barrows, Gabriel Tonan, Martin Pool (2). $3 each. Deuce Pot: Galen Peterson $13, Adam Barrows $27, Jim von Lossow $27
JULY 12-13 – GEARHART GOLF LINKS, GEARHART, OR.
Washington/Oregon defeats California 14 1/2 to 13 1/2 in an epic battle! Twenty-eight players participated in the first annual Pacific Hickory Cup over the historic Gearhart Golf Links (est. 1892) in Gearhart, OR. Hickory players from Washington and Oregon, representing the Northwest Hickory Players, were matched against players from California, representing the Pacific Coast Hickory Golfers and NorCal Hickory Golf. Matches were played straight up – with no handicaps given.
Day one morning rounds began with fourball matches. Washington/Oregon jumped to a 4 to 3 lead. The two sides then played the foursomes matches in the afternoon. California made a strong comeback with a 4 1/2 to 2 1/2 showing to overtake Washington/Oregon by a score of 7 1/2 to 6 1/2 to end the day.
Day two were the singles matches. It appeared California would claim the inaugural cup as they forged to a 12 1/2 to 9 1/2 lead in the early stages, but a string of five victories in a row in the late stages by Washington/Oregon turned the matches around and they prevailed 8 to 6 on day two. Final score: Washington/Oregon 14 1/2 and California 13 1/2.
Looking forward to the rematch in 2015! (Photos courtesy of Roberta Robbins, Roxanne Beer, and Gearhart Golf Links).
The Pacific Coast Hickory Golfers hosted the 3rd annual North-South Hickory Tournament at the beautiful and historic Pacific Grove Golf Links on the Monterey Peninsula. H. Chandler Egan designed the front 9 in 1932 and Jack Neville the back 9 in 1960. In a tight match which came down to the last foursome, the North prevailed over the South by a score of 15-12.
Steve Henneuse of NorCal Hickory Golf won the individual honors in the Open Division with a score 76-80. The Northwest Hickory Players represented itself well with Jim von Lossow winning the Senior Division with a score of 74-76 (tournament record), Martin Pool was second gross with 88-80, Roberta Robbins was 2nd gross in the Ladies Division with 99-93, and Rob Ahlschwede finished 3rd net.
Special thanks to Eddie and Darcie Breeden for organizing the event, and to Kris Surano and Steve Henneuse for their hospitality. Great time and looking forward to 2015!
NW Hickory Players represented at the inaugural World Match Play Championship held at Philadelphia Cricket Club. NWHickoryPlayers co-founder, Robert Birman, had the honor of representing the Pacific Northwest region at this year’s first-ever international match play event under the auspices of the US Hickory Players Club and the Cricket Club of Philadelphia. This event included two divisions of sixteen competitors each. The Champion’s Division included winners or runners up in the major international hickory tournaments, worldwide, and by invitation only, a Players’ Division composed of competitors who have entered Championship Series with the Society of Hickory Golfers or events recognized by the World Hickory Open in Scotland.
The three-day match play tournament was held on June 16-18 at the St. Martins course, located in Chestnut Hill, which was opened in 1895 and designed by Willie Tucker. It hosted the United States Open Championship in 1907 (won by Alec Ross) and in 1910 (won by Alex Smith). Nine holes remain open today and the course has been recently renovated.
The format of the event was a thrill. Each competitor was guaranteed no fewer than five nine-hole matches, no strokes given, to be played in full, allowing any golfer the opportunity to garner nine points, maximum, in any one match. Tied holes were worth half a point, winning holes were worth one point. In addition, players were subject to the Rules of Golf as they existed in 1925, which brought into play the stymie and ball drops over the right shoulder. At no time during a hole was a player permitted to touch their ball; only after the ball was holed. (There were a few exceptions to this rule, since groups were sent in fours. If an adjoining twosome’s match left a ball in the line of the other match’s putt, the ball could be marked but not cleaned, etc.) Not surprisingly, stymies came into play at key moments in numerous matches.
In addition, the St. Martins course features old-school design elements, most prominently a single cut line on fairways and on greens, creating many instances of shots “on the collar,” especially on greens. Temperatures were in the 90s with high humidity and Birman assures NWHickoryPlayers.com that the gnat population is most definitely alive and well in Philadelphia. The nine-hole format meant that modern match play strategies needed to be modified as players were eligible to earn up to four full points even if they were “defeated” 5-and-4 in the midst of the match. No such win-or-lose scenario existed under this event’s format.
There were some fearsome competitors, and a representative array of players with handicaps from scratch to eighteen. All players played from the same tee boxes at a total yardage of 2,617 at a slope rating of 117. An opening-day blind-draw foursome match allowed players from both divisions to mix and mingle while familiarizing themselves with the course. A dinner ceremony on the first night established the blind-draw for all five rounds. Final matches for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place in each division were scheduled at the conclusion of the fifth round. All players were required to play the McIntyre Ouimet mesh golf ball with equipment scantioned by the SoHG.
The course is phenomenal. While it may seem an easy test at 2,600 yards, every hole demands the use of strategy off the tee. Some holes require less than driver on the box, and treacherous rough and fescue areas add heavy penalties for wayward drives. There is significant sloping in the greens and clever angles to negotiate from numerous tees, some of which are purposely aimed away from fairways. At least four holes cross roadways and canted fairways add the final defense to a gorgeous layout and fitting test of traditional golf.
The winning point totals, in both divisions, were 30 (Champions) and 30.5 (Players). Birman earned 22 points over five matches and was the only player in the field to earn eight points in a single match. All players were provided with custom-engraved player badges and medals as part of the ceremonial dinners planned throughout the event. World Hickory Open founder, Lionel Freedman, from England, was on hand to provide a keynote speech on the second evening and to announce each player at the first tee for all rounds. A standard bearer and fellow compatriots followed the first-place match, which went to extra holes and was ultimately won, one-up, by golf professional Jeremy Moe (Hardscuffle Golf Club) over his Swiss playing partner, and six-year veteran of the European Tour, Paolo Quirici (2013 World Hickory Open champion). Bill Ernst (Wisconsin Hickory Golf Association) defeated Chris Ream (Canadian Hickory Association) for honors in the Players Division.
On July 4th, the US Hickory Players Club founder, Brian Schuman, announced that the Philadelphia Cricket Club will be the permanent host for this annual event. Players may qualify for an invitation to the tournament by entering events under the SoHG Championship Series or other International events. Those who place (1st, 2nd or 3rd) are eligible to qualify.
Birman was pleased to join a handful of players the day after the event for a private tour of the clubhouse and extensive archives at the Merion Golf Club, site of the 2013 US Open. Members of the club hosted the hickory enthusiasts for lunch on the patio by the first tee and a round of 18 holes on the Club’s West Course. Eight players enjoyed that rare opportunity despite heavy rainfall, high temperatures and the inglorious gnats. The event is scheduled to be held in May next year (2015).
MAY 31 – MEADOW PARK GOLF COURSE, TACOMA, WA.
AP National Golf Club hosted 26 hickory players in the Vintage Hickory Invitational at the Meadow Park Golf Course in Tacoma to commemorate the course’s 99 year anniversary. Jim Von Lossow was the Men’s low gross winner with a 77. Dennis Scott was the low net winner with a 68. Roberta Robbins won the Ladies low gross with a 90.
Eight hickory players turned out on a beautiful day in Skagit County. The team of Richard Canapo, John Quickstad, Martin Pool, Roberta Robbins played a best two net of four match against the team of Rob Ahlschwede, Rob Birman, Robb Howard and Jim von Lossow. Team Canapo won by default following a scorecard malfunction by Team Ahlschwede.
APRIL 26 – AMERICAN LAKE VETERANS GOLF COURSE, TACOMA, WA.
Jack Wilson reports that 43 participants took part in the St. Andrews Hickory charity event to benefit the Wounded Warriors program at the American Lake Veterans Golf Course. Over $5000 was raised from the tournament and raffle.
Nine hickory players played the fabulous and historic Chandler Egan designed golf course at the Riverside Golf and Country Club (est.1925) in Portland, Oregon. Four players from Oregon, four from Washington, and one Californian played a Oregon vs. Washington team best-ball match. Tied after 16 holes, Washington won the last two holes to prevail 2 up.
Representing Washington: Martin Pool, Roberta Robbins, Jack Wilson, Bernie Housden
Representing Oregon: Bill Keeler, Liz Keeler, John Sneed, Rick Reznick
Also playing from California: John Sweeney
Special thanks to Pat Sutton, GCS Regional Director and Riverside Golf Professional, for opening the course to us.
The AP National Golf Club hosted 26 hickory players on a frosty, crisp Sunday at Lipoma Firs. Format was one best gross of team and individual low gross.
1st place: 73 Team Anderson ( Lee Anderson, Mike Durham, Jim von Lossow) $100
2nd place: 74 Team Boyd (Gerald Boyd, Brian Giboney, Andrew von Lossow) $60
1st place individual: 75 Jim von Lossow Magnificent trophy (see photo above)
KPs: Rob Ahlschwede (2), Brian Giboney, Martin Pool $15
8 players. 20 ante each. match play one on one, draw for matches, low putts, deuce pot
Match 1 Richard Canapo vs Walt Bankowski R. Canapo 1 up
Match 2 Roberta Robbins vs Rob Birman Rob B 3 and 2
Match 3 Martin Pool vs Jim von Lossow Von L 2 and 1
Match 4 Bill Keeler vs Jack Wilson B. Keeler 1 up
Match play winner +$30 – low putts 30 Von L +$20 – ps/ no deuces, cash into match play pot
JANUARY 1, 2014 – CHAMBERS BAY GOLF LINKS, FEDERAL WAY, WA
OPENING DAY: NORTHWEST HICKORY PLAYERS