The Hickory golf making a come back

Updated: March 3, 2015

By Brian Giboney, Special to Inside Golf
How many times have we been out on the course playing the modern game with someone who is having a bad day, then all of a sudden they hit an amazing golf shot out of nowhere and tap in for a birdie? Or maybe they make a 40-foot putt for par after two doubles and a triple. The response is the old saying, “That will keep you coming back!” Smiles for everybody and all of a sudden the entire foursome is having a blast out on the golf course.

This is where hickory addicts like me keep coming back no matter the score. With the modern game we almost expect to play solid every time out because the equipment is so advanced. For most of us, it is more advanced than us. When we hit a bad shot it really feels like we are failures. Now with hickory golf, the equipment is very basic. There is a crude club head, a wood shaft, and a leather grip. It is almost as if failure is certain to happen anyway so we might as well enjoy it as part of the journey. In 2015 this might sound like a revelation, but during the hickory era (pre-1935) scores were much higher than they are today. A fun time on the golf course in the 1920s and 1930s was certainly different than it is today.

Most people have heard of the great Harry Vardon. Harry is a legend and a genius in the game of golf who won 7 major championships. Did you know Harry posted several rounds in the 80s in the majors he won? Golf is a much different game from the hickory era to the modern era and so is the fun.

I love the modern game. Over half my time on my backyard putting green is spent chipping and putting with modern equipment. What I am saying is no matter the score, you will have fun playing hickory golf! When you make your first par it will feel like an eagle and every par you ever make in hickory golf will feel like a birdie. You will have those “That will keep you coming back” moments much more often than you can imagine and your new found fun for the game will in turn have you enjoying the modern game from a fresh new perspective as well. If you have not made your first hickory swing yet, you will have many opportunities to do so in 2015.

Here is a list of upcoming hickory tournaments:
• March 21: Jefferson Park Seattle Old Sticks Hickory Classic (Centennial).
• May 2: Meadow Park 3rd Annual Vintage Hickory Invitational (Centennial).
• May 24: Chambers Bay “The Open before The Open” Chambers Bay Hickory Open.
• Oct 3: The Home Course Washington State Hickory Open Championship More details are available at: or contact the tournament director (Durel Billy) directly at