NorCal Hickory Sticks Group Tees it Up at Del Monte Golf Course
September 12, 2014
If you had your tam o’ shanter and knickers on, you would’ve fit right in.
Friday was turn back the clock day at historic Del Monte Golf Course as 24 players from Northern California Hickory, a group who enjoys playing classic courses with 100-year-old wood shafted hickory clubs, hit the links for 18 holes of some seriously retro golf.
The group, which has created a community bulletin board on the web (www.norcalhickory), has hosted a number of tournaments this year including a trip around the new Poppy Hills back in July.
“There were guys in the Northern California region who were enthusiasts. The group came about from everyone coming together,” member Steve Henneuse said.
While more popular on the East Coast, the Northern California Hickory group is hoping to get more players interested out west.
Some members of the group teed it up old-school style at the third annual Alister MacKenzie Save Sharp Park fundraiser back in May. At this year’s Apple City Championship in Watsonville, there was even a hickory division with 14 players competing.
As for Del Monte, the venue couldn’t have been more perfect. The course first opened in 1897 and is the oldest course in continuous operation west of the Mississippi.
So what’s it like playing with hickory sticks? For one thing, don’t expect to hit it anywhere near as far as you would with a modern club. A “monster” drive with roll (using a wound ball circa 1950) is gonna get you about 250 yards off the tee.
“The key is to swing slow and then slow it down from there,” said Dana Niehaus with a smile. “You’re going to get 75 to 80% of the distance of a regular club, even if you hit it pure. You want as soft a ball as possible too.”
You’re also likely to see your score rise. Niehaus, regularly a 7-handicapper, is a 13 when playing with hickory. But low scores can still happen. Henneuse once shot a bogey-free 67 from the blue tees (6,143 yards) at Spring Valley Golf Course.
“You get a real sense of what Bobby Jones and Walter Hagen were able to do,” said Tim England.
Scoring though, isn’t what it’s all about. It’s about having fun.
“The thing I tell someone who’s playing for the first time is to not put too much pressure on themselves,” Henneuse said. “Be realistic. It’s just golf. If you think you’re going to come out and tear up the course, you’ve missed the point.”
The group gets together monthly at numerous different venues. Next up will be an outing at Lincoln and Sharp Park Golf Courses in San Francisco, to be held the weekend of October 11-12. For those interested, please visit www.norcalhickory.com for more info and how to enter.