The Hickory Corner: Making a gentleman out of a junior

Updated: August 3, 2015

By Brian Giboney, Special to Inside Golf
Welcome back to The Hickory Corner where we explore hickory golf (golf with pre-1935 equipment). This month we will talk about how hickory golf can help make a gentleman out of a lost cause.

The transition from professional skydiver to office worker and competitive golfer was very rough. I was used to freefalling at speeds up to 200 mph and then all of a sudden I saddle up to a mortgage and build a back yard putting green as my new release. The adrenaline rush was gone and the adrenaline rush from golf….well there isn’t really one outside of the occasional hole-in-one for those of us fortunate to make one. I have had two aces in 20 years of active golf. One adrenaline rush per decade is not enough for the system, so to keep at this golf thing – new ways of having fun had to be developed.

Prior to hickory golf, and I am coming clean on this, I have not always acted in the spirit of the game. My golf attitude was pretty poor and at times my actions just as poor. Never been a club thrower, a golf course wrecker, or a cheater, but was certainly verbally harsh with myself after a bad shot or hole and it was not always pleasant to be in my foursome. Consider this my mea culpa. While I am still a work in progress, the progress I have made is due to hickory golf.

A large part of this is from simply putting on the uniform. Once you put on a set of knickers, a button down shirt, and a tie you will be overcome by a sense of the history of the game. It is almost a mind game that will trick you into thinking you are more of a gentlemen than you really are. Perhaps you already are a true gentleman on and off the golf course, if so, a set of knickers will make you feel all the more grand on the golf course. For the rest of us lost souls seeking inner peace on the golf course – inner peace can be accomplished through hickory golf.

The Hickory golf can also make a gentleman out of a junior golfer. Recently, my son 14-year-old son flew back east and was fortunate enough to be in the field of 32 golfers who competed in the World Hickory Match Play that was held at the historic Philadelphia Cricket Club (est. 1854).

This was no ordinary match play, this was a world match play with the stymie rule (Google stymie rule if you are not familiar with the term), which is the ultimate test of patience. Grayson was the only junior in the field and by all accounts handled himself with class in his matches whether he won or lost a given hole or the match. In the end he won two matches and narrowly lost three and finished 7th, but more importantly represented hickory golf here in the Northwest the right way. He also made friends from all over the world for life.

One particular gentleman stood out the most. Neil Day a PGA pro from Arkansas. Grayson said Neil had the best golf attitude he had ever seen and made golf fun. As Grayson returned to Seattle and went back to competing against kids his own age, his experience at the world event with the gentlemen of the game became apparent.

His hickory golf experience with the best in the game had changed him for the better. If you also suffer from extreme golf frustration maybe it is time for a change of pace and to give hickory golf a try. Perhaps you have hit a wall with the modern game and are ready for a fresh new start to bring back the fun of the game.

For more info on hickory golf look into two local playing groups: AP National Hickory Players ( Contact Durel Billy, Northwest Hickory Players ( Contact Rob Birman. Both Durel and Rob are fine gentleman of hickory golf and can direct you in your hickory golf journey.