National Hickory Open
U.S. Hickory Open: Rick Woeckener Wins at Belvedere with Hickory Shafted Golf Clubs
Charlevoix, MI – Golfers tend to feel a deep connection to the sport’s storied history. The passion for golf’s roots runs particularly deep among the growing number of throwbacks who, for fun and to feel linked to the past, play hickory-shafted golf clubs from the early 20th century.
Just ask Rick Woeckener, who just won his second U.S. Hickory Open Championship held this weekend at the historic Belvedere Golf Club in Charlevoix, Michigan, located along the shores of Lake Michigan in beautiful Northern Michigan.
“This is a great honor. There's a lot of good players in this field, and I'm just happy that I played well enough to win,” said Woeckener. “Belvedere is the best course I have played for the U.S. Hickory Open and the greens are as good as any course I have played in Scotland.”
Woeckener shot rounds of 75-78 for a 36-hole total of 153 in the gross division edging out Peter Lory and Taylor Jones by two shots. Rounding out the other division winners were William Ernst in the Senior Division, Michael Shiff in the Super Senior Division, and Kate Tomkinson in the Ladies Division.
Woeckener, who is from Ohio, was introduced to hickory clubs by his father when he was young. Now after 13 years, he finds himself winning and walking the same course as legends like Walter Hagen, Gene Sarazen, and Tom Watson.
“It's a similar feeling when you find these historic clubs and play with them. You wonder who might have had this club or hit this club. Walking in the footsteps of these great players on this historic course and winning with these clubs is really special,” continued Woeckener.
The U.S. Hickory Open annually attracts an international field of golfers who play with antique pre-1935 hickory shafted golf clubs or authentic replica hickory clubs. Belvedere is the only club in the U.S. to have as many as 44 antique hickory club players. Competitors dressed in period appropriate apparel, including knickers, ties and jackets. The Society of Hickory Golfers celebrates and promotes the hickory game of the 1910s – 1930s. Conservative estimates of the total number of hickory players in the world now total about 3,000 and growing.
Dennis “Marty” Joy II, the head golf professional at Belvedere and a competitor in the U.S. Hickory Open this weekend, said the club couldn’t be happier with how the event was presented at Belvedere.
“Belvedere, with its history and classic parkland design by Willie Watson, was the perfect venue for hickory players”, said Joy. “We had already held an annual hickory tournament for the past 13 years, so bringing the Society of Hickory Golfers national Open and marquee event was a natural for us.”
CLASSIC MAJOR: Belvedere Golf Club Selected as Host of 2019 U.S. Hickory Open
Charlevoix, MI – Historic Belvedere Golf Club, which has hosted an annual Society of Hickory Golfers major championship since 2006, has been selected to host the major among hickory majors – the U.S. Hickory Open in 2019. The tournament is being planned for June 20-22 of 2019.
“Belvedere is a classic, classic course,” said Rick Meyer, the club’s president. “It is old-school in small town America. When dry and firm, it plays fast and requires a hickory style ground game. Our club and the Charlevoix community are committed to and will host a great championship.”
Meyer lends a unique perspective at Belvedere. The St. Louis resident and entrepreneur is a former board member and green committee chairman at Bellerive Country Club, which in August this year will host the world’s top golfers in the 100th PGA Championship. He has also been part of five championships, including three major championships at Bellerive in the 20-plus years he chaired the Future Championship Committee.
He said the U.S. Hickory Open next year at his summer club will be a “classic final major for me.”
The U.S. Hickory Open annually attracts an international field of golfers who play with authentic pre-1935 hickory shafted golf clubs or can also play replica hickory clubs. Belvedere is the only club in the U.S. to have 44 authentic hickory club players that will participate in the championship. Competitors also dress in period appropriate apparel, including knickers, ties and jackets. The Society of Hickory Golfers celebrates and promotes the hickory game of the 1910s – 1930s.
“The club is very excited about it,” said Dennis “Marty” Joy II, the head golf professional at Belvedere and a competitor in society tournaments.
“Here at Belvedere we have the most hickory society golfers of any club in the country. We have 44 men and women who are members here who play with authentic hickory golf clubs. They are very excited we are hosting the U.S. Hickory Open and a lot of our members will be playing in it.”
The Belvedere Hickory Open has been played 12 times at the course and is considered one of the four major championships by the Society of Hickory Golfers. It will not be presented in 2019 because the Open is coming to Belvedere but will be presented again this year June 14-16.
“I think it was just a matter of time for Belvedere to host the U.S. Hickory Open,” Joy said. “Having our restoration finished last year when a lot of the golfers came for the Belvedere Hickory Open allowed them to see some of the changes. Also, Belvedere takes care of the players and I think they feel like members for the weekend.”