White Sulphur Springs, WV – USGTF Level III member Mike Stevens from Tampa, Florida, came from six shots back to capture the National Hickory Championship at historic Oakhurst Links on June 9. The teaching professional at MacDill AFB used precision driving and timely putting to overcome Randy Jensen of Omaha, Nebraska. Stevens hit 15 of 16 fairways, staying out of the severely penal rough surrounding the 1884 layout. His 15-foot putt for birdie on the ninth hole pulled him even with Jensen, and he took the lead for good on the tenth hole as the Nebraska native and eight-time champion Jensen faltered on his approach effort. Canadian Hugh Cameron, meanwhile, mounted a charge of his own, pulling to within one shot on number 17, but Stevens’ birdie on 18 nailed down the victory and his third NHC title.   The National Hickory Championship was established in 1998 as a way to join golfers who enjoy playing with vintage equipment with Oakhurst Links, America’s oldest golf course. Oakhurst has been restored to its 1880s glory, complete with replica 19th century clubs and gutta-percha, or guttie, balls.   Asked about the key to his win, Stevens replied, “It’s extremely important here to stay out of the rough. Even the first cut will generally cost you a stroke, but in the tall stuff most often it is unplayable and that is a two-stroke penalty under 1890 rules. I managed to avoid it while my opponents unfortunately did not.”   This is the fifteenth year that golfers from across the United States and Canada have assembled to play in the premier two-day hickory golf event in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. The NHC is unlike any other hickory event; the golfer that masters 19th century equipment, rules, and course conditions is crowned as America’s National Hickory Champion. Open to all, the NHC draws the most ardent and accomplished wood shaft golfers from across America and Canada. Competitive, yet fun, it is America’s hickory championship—the ultimate test of hickory golf.
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