USGTF professional Mike Stevens has been promoting the game of hickory golf to anyone who is interested, to the point of hosting the annual United States Professional Hickory Championship in the Tampa, Florida, area. He has met many prominent people from the world of golf as a result, including professional players and major champions. One major champion who enjoys hickory golf is Sandy Lyle, past winner of the Masters and The Open Championship. Lyle won the USGTF-sponsored World Hickory Open in 2014 with a set of clubs made by Tad Moore. During the Champions Dinner at this year’s Masters, Tiger Woods became apprised of Lyle playing a practice round with them at Augusta National. Woods was interested to the point that he asked Lyle twice about who made his golf clubs. I have played three times in the US Pro Hickory and once with Mike at the Southeast Hickory Four-Ball in Selma, Alabama, back in 2007. It’s a different game, and yet it’s the same game. The feel is certainly different, and expectations must be tempered. I have failed to break 80 in all three US Pro Hickory tournaments, although I did shoot a final-nine 35 during the Four-Ball to help us to victory. You have to account for more of a ground game, and hickories require a smooth swing. The benefit of playing with hickories is that when you go back to your modern clubs, the smooth swing tempo is still there – at least for a few days. It leads me to believe that hickory golf is a fine way to practice, if nothing more than to help your game with modern clubs. It also gives us a direct link to the past and makes us appreciate how well those champions from yesterday wielded their instruments. I know Mike is always happy to hear from fellow golfers who want to check out the hickory game, and he can be reached at By Mark Harman USGTF Course Director Ridgeland, South Carolina
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