Golf Historical Society of Canada

National Hickory Championship (2022)

Left to right: Pete Georgiady, Bob West, Lydia Sly and Michael Bamberger

GHSC News Item: June 13, 2022 – National Hickory Championship (2022)

Reported by: Bob West, GHSC Board Member

The grandfather of gutty tournaments, the National Hickory Championship (NHC), celebrated its 25th Anniversary at the iconic Foxburg Country Club in Foxburg, Pennsylvania on June 2-4, 2022. Here is a link to the NHC website which espouses authentic, complete and rigorous hickory golf. 

The NHC is a three-day tournament requiring participants to use clubs made before 1900 (no grooves), strike balls made from gutta-percha and carry the clubs without a not-yet invented golf bag. Day 1 comprises a number of alternate shot competitions. The formal medal play event is on days 2 and 3. The tournament draws players from all corners of the US and often enthusiasts from more distant countries.

The Foxburg Country Club is the oldest American course in continuous play. It was founded in 1887 and houses the original American Golf Hall of fame. The teeing grounds are demarcated by large concrete blocks with compartments of both water and sand from which to build tees. Wooden tees were a couple of decades away.

I was able to return to the NHC for the 18th time having missed the last two because of Covid-19 restrictions. I was accompanied on the course by my granddaughter, Lydia, who, unaware of her forthcoming task, had volunteered to carry my five play clubs. I was fortunate to be paired with the Czar and originator, Pete Georgiady, and the gentleman and master golf writer, Michael Bamberger, in the first round and long-time Georgian and Texan friends in the second.  I survived my few hundred strokes (even winning one of the alternate shot events) and Lydia survived the many hours with strangely dressed players playing a strange game.

Gutty golf is a strange game that, when played, takes us back to our game`s origins. Holding a 120-year-old club that was once held new and feeling what can only be felt with a hickory club when the strike is pure is such a joy.

I will return to the NHC next year if I can. It is an event celebrating our history and attended by the most wonderful and knowledgeable golf historians and enthusiasts.

Webmaster’s note for next year: We should try to get a group of several GHSC members to accompany Bob on next year’s trip to the NHC. It sounds like a real hoot!

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