The Best Places to Experience "Golf as it Used to Be"

There is a hickory golf revolution of sorts going on.

There dozens of hickory golf enthusiast societies around the world.

There are companies that sell and rent hickory golf clubs.

There's full schedule of hickory golf tournaments anyone can enter.

And not only are there a bunch of hickory golf courses, at least two of them are located at top golf destinations you may already be planning on visiting.

For instance, only four miles from The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, W. Va., is Oakhurst Golf Links, the oldest course in America. This 1880s layout annually hosts the National Hickory Championship.

This next one is a bit of an outlier, but on Michigan's Mackinac Island you'll find Wawashkamo Golf Club (wawashkamo.com). Dating from 1898, it's the oldest, continuously played golf course in the state. It also rents hickories.

You can even get your hickory on at The Home of Golf. Kingarrock Golf Course (www.nts.org.uk/Kingarrock-Hickory-Golf/) is 12 miles inland from St. Andrews. Open seven days a week from Easter through October, "all players will be provided with original hickory clubs, an old golf bag, together with balls and tees that represent the early 20th century golfing experience."

Now, could you theoretically bust out a mashie and cleek on any course you play? Sure, but at least at the ones above you won't get funny looks.

(Speaking of funny looks, I now understand why that, "Golf Knickers" ad is in the back of every issue of Golf Digest.)

Some people say "playing hickory" is the most enjoyable golf experience they've had; that the "step back in time" promotes a deeper connection to the game.

What do you think? Have you ever played hickory golf or have any interest in trying it?

Please share your comments or see what others are saying below.

Craig Better is one of the founding editors of Golf Vacation Insider. In addition to traveling to 15 foreign countries, he has twice traveled across America to play golf courses in all 50 United States. Prior to joining Golf Vacation Insider, Craig was a freelance writer who contributed to GOLF Magazine, Travel + Leisure Golf, Maxim Magazine, USAToday.com, and co-authored Zagat Survey’s book, America’s Top Golf Courses.
24 Comments
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Bob

Learned to love and play golf with old hickory shaft clubs in a farm pasture

Bill langlands

Love playing hockey. Wish there were more courses. Thanks for this site.

Pat Costello

I found an old hickory golf club, then picked up a few more, and eventually found a few my grandfather made in the 1920s and started to play with them. I've renovated each club to make them playable. It's been years since I've played with anything but the antique hickory clubs. My enjoyment of the game has greatly improved. Although I still get a few odd looks and comments, most just wonder how much better I would play with new clubs. (I have no desire as I went through the competitive and gambling stage years ago). I am the only person on the island (and possible in Alaska) who plays exclusively with hickory clubs.

Learnedithere

Foxburg has been played continuously since 1887 - interesting track to play whose conditions mirror that time period. Also a "museum" on the premises. Logo balls are a tad expensive though. Old Musselburgh (where some of the early Open Championships were held) is also a fun place to play with hickories.

Jim Thomas

Another hickory course, especially for pre 1900 play is Foxburg Country Club, in Foxburg, PA. A hickory tournament is played there as part of the "Gutty Slam" in the middle of August.

earl

Niagara on the Lake golf course in Ontario, Canada is said to be the oldest golf course in North America. You have to bring your own hickory clubs though.

Randy

You're welcome Felix-and I neglected to mention that Banff also offers(offered??...it's been a couple years) the opportunity to play the course with hickorys and play the Thompson course in it's original routing(teeing off at current #15) and finishing on (current) #14 green with the Hotel as the backdrop.

They changed the routing of the course in 1989 to accommodate the extra 9 holes and the current #1 tee was originally the 5th hole. They only offer a handful of tee times(with the original routing) in the summer months due to logistics but you might get lucky.

Jeremy Barth

My Grandfather taught me to play using hickory shafted clubs. Cleaning out my dads garage I found them again and begain playing them. I had such a good time I filled in the set with some reproductions. The best part was shooting an 86 and beating my friends who used their modern clubs. They even gave me strokes, which I didnt need. It just lakes a little practice to get the nuances and you can't over swing.

J D Hart

It is totally refreshing that the 3 + million of us that play "hickories" are now being recognized as being the saving grace to the longest standing game on this planet. Why would any one fall for that "you can play forgiving golf with this volkswagen on the end of a stick", forgiving only a lack of skill and tenacity. Join a hickory golf organization and enjoy "feel" and real camaraderie.

dave brown

I have enjoyed hickory golf for the last five years and have a new love in my life! great guys and tournaments around the USA. But the best experience is playing hickories in the UK. Just like Bobbie Jones and Harry Vardon. Sweet feel when you hit a Brassie on the sweet spot

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The Best Places to Experience "Golf as it Used to Be"
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