The perks of being the Scottish Open winner and kicking off the 2018 Open at Carnoustie with a 68: Brandon Stone breaking in his hickories at the Home Of Golf:
Golf has its drawbacks. It is possible, by too much of it, to destroy the mind. WALTER SIMPSON
The Golf Gods clearly endorsed Brandon Stone's affinity for links and hickories and they might have even guided him to victory in the 2018 Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open at Gullane.
A final round 60 came agonizingly close to the European Tour's first ever 59. Alistair Tait on a breakthrough win for a highly touted player who has struggled, especially on links.
Here is what Stone had to say after about hickories:
Q. And you have a wedding present now of Hickory Golf Clubs. Is that correct?
BRANDON STONE: I do indeed. I don't think it's going to last until the wedding, though, if I'm brutally honest. I think I'm going to get home; I just had a Southwest green put in my house and probably picked up the purist putter I've ever seen in my entire life. It's probably got about 12 degrees of loft on it, 29 inches, but it just sits so flush. So I'm going to be on that. My fiancée was under no illusions that when she bought them for me that they wouldn't be boxed and wrapped up until the wedding. But hey, what are you going to do?
Q. How did that come about? What prompted that?
BRANDON STONE: Just drove past the store, if I'm brutally honest. I mean my fiancée is always giving me a little bit of sticks in that she can't buy someone who has everything something. So when we drove past the Hickory store on Monday afternoon, I said, that would be quite cool. So she was like, perfect. So we went and popped in there yesterday afternoon, and obviously I went to college at the University of Texas, and there was just this beautiful set of burnt orange, untreated leather-gripped Hickories, and I was like, bang, go, 400 pounds later, smiling. Been chipping in the garden at the house all week. I think that might have been helping me because that wedge has got zero bounce on it, so the moment you get a little bit of bounce you feel like you can conquer the world.
Hook 'em horns.
I wrote about Patrick Reed's interest in old clubs for Golfweek and his interest in Lietzow's work. It all started with the Hickory Challenge earlier in the week. And now we have active and very good players into hickories!
Here are some photos of the shop, Reed's set and Boris Leitzow at work:
During the 2018 Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open pro-am the European Tour players to his restored hickories and gutta's in a closest-to-the-pin contest.
Looks like we have a few converts! I believe the clubs were supplied by the Jack White shop in Gullane, a must visit if you get here!
An unbylined East Lothian Courier report says former Musselburgh pro Fraser Mann has taken the 2017 title with rounds of 70-71 to edge Rick Valentine by four strokes.
The World Hickory organizers shared this in their game story by Ginny Lawson:
As in past years, the field reflected most of the best exponents of hickory golf in the world. Indeed, the organisers were delighted with support from more than a dozen countries. Out of the 120 competitors, 28 arrived from Switzerland, where their game is centred on Engadine near St Moritz, where members also tend indulge in toboggan racing in the winter on the infamous Cresta Run. But don’t be bluffed by these remarkable facts, the Swiss are serious hickory golf experts. For example, Paolo Quirici is one of the top seeds this year, and he was Championship winner in 2013.
It also true that the game is sufficiently challenging to eliminate the wanabes. Indeed 80% have competed in the past. That said, the game continues to grow in this extraordinary but incredibly beautiful new location of Scotland’s Golf Coast.
Sweden is the other European country to embrace hickory golf at a very accomplished level. With literally thousands playing the game back home. The World Hickory welcomed 19 of them this year.
The next largest team was not unsurprisingly from the USA, where former champ and one the world’s best known known hickory adherents, former US champion Mike Stevens, comes from. In addition, England led by Andrew Marshall from Norfolk has been well represented this year. Andrew was our Open champion at Carnoustie in 2015. Other nations entered included both Austria, Denmark and another half dozen countries, emphasising the rapid growth of the game at a European level.
Whilst Fraser Man was one of those representing Scotland, a small team of talented international junior golfers from Loretto’s much vaunted Golf Academy, led by former Hickory Champion Rick Valentine have also been playing this week.
The World Hickory Open was played with original or pre-1936 replica hickory shafted clubs. The 2017 edition took place at East Lothian's marvelous Kilspindie Golf Club, a must visit on the East Lothian trail.
Neil Hanna captured this wonderful image:
Finally catching up here on long reads and not surprisingly as a lover of hickories I thoroughly enjoyed Curt Sampson's Golf World story on the Americans traveling to Scotland for the Hickory Grail and Scottish Hickory Championship.
Maybe it's not quite Darwin playing the Walker Cup at The National Golf Links in 1922, but Sampson is an embedded contestant and does a fine job capturing the spirit of the trip along with the joys of hickory golf.
This band includes many recovering hickory players.
“December 2014,” said Mark Wehring, a Houston-based corporate compliance officer, and the best player among the American contingent.
Those weren’t dates of last drinks. Both Deinlein and Wehring had Tennent’s ale in their recent past and near future. They were instead the month and year they’d last hit a ball with what Ingvar Ritzen of Stockholm disparaged as “hollow clubs” (Ritzen joined the woodmen in 2011). Why, oh why, I asked, are you—all of us—making a hard game harder? Some pointed out recent offenses: the preposterous sight of a player looking at a topo map instead of the ground before a putt. How 460cc drivers obliterate the traditional size ratio of clubhead to ball. No matter how much bodacious Brooks Koepka’s biceps bulge, when an average drive in the U.S. Open is 392 yards, or whatever it was, something ain’t right. It’s time to turn back the clock, the uber-traditionalists agreed, to remember why the ancient Scots picked up a club in the first place.
“Hickory makes it like a game again,” said Carolyn Kirk, of Ganton, England, the lone woman on either Hickory Grail team. “You do it all by eye, you bump it in. You get huge pleasure when you hit a good shot and when you don’t, well, it’s a hard game anyway.”
Martin Dempster reports that Sandy Lyle was unable to defend his World Hickory Open title, so Englishman Andrew Marshall gladly took the title with rounds of 67-76 at Carnoustie's Buddon and Championship courses.
After finishing as runner-up to Lyle 12 months ago, Marshall, who is attached to Dereham in Norfolk, went one better as he followed an opening 67 on the Buddon course at Carnoustie with a 76 on the Championship layout in the Angus town.
He finished a shot ahead of American amateur Cliff Martin (69-75), with Carnoustie’s Fraser Mann (71-75) two shots further back in third in an event that featured 120 players from 18 different countries.
“The scoring was pretty good and I’d say that was down to two or three things,” said Lionel Freedman, the event’s brainchild and chairman. “The quality of the players, first and foremost, and also the quality of the courses, which were both in superb condition, while we were blessed with very good weather on this occasion, too.”
Next year's event is at Panmure.
Special shoutout to all who played, including fifth place finisher Alistair Good, professional at Gullane.
Rodney Page of the Tampa Bay Times reports on the National U.S. Pro Hickory Golf Championship.
The only professional hickory tournament was played at Temple Terrace Golf and Country Club last week.
"It appeals to a person with an historical sense of the game," said Mike Stevens, tournament director and head professional at MacDill Golf Course in Tampa. "It's how the game was originally played in this country, with wooden shafts and on older golf courses."
Paolo Quirici, a 45-year-old club professional and former PGA Europe player from Lugano, Switzerland, shot the low round of the day, 2-over-par 74. He beat out Richard Bullock and John McCann by one shot.
Quirici has been playing with the hickory clubs since September. He is in Florida for the PGA Merchandise show in Orlando and found out about the tournament through an Internet search.
The search paid off when he won the $1,500 first prize. The tournament had a $5,000 purse, the same amount offered at the 1925 Florida Open played at Temple Terrace.
A video feature accompanied the story as well:
This summer I had the privilege of playing a round with hickories at Musselburgh Links, recognized as the oldest course in the world by Guiness. The first documented play was in 1672, though its believed Mary, Queen of Scots whapped something resembling a ball around here in 1567.
I chose to focus in on the fourth hole for now because it's a sensational par-4 that incorporates the surrounding racetrack. There is also the hole's ties to Mrs. Forman's restaurant behind the green. Through the hatch in the wall where she sold refreshments to golfers is now a window, the charming restaurant and pub pays homage to its predecessor with numerous wall photos of the old days along with excellent food. And of course, they still serve golfers on the back patio.
Musselburgh and its race course, to be featured in a separate video and included in a story next July for Golf Digest's Open Championship preview, are must stops for any golfers making the pilgrimmage to East Lothian.
The YouTube video, which I recommend watching at the enlarged size for full effect compared to the embedded version below.