Hickory in Hallie

Lake Hallie Golf Course hosts second annual Hickory Classic

Rob Reid, photos by Rob Reid

DRESSED FOR FAIRWAY SUCCESS. A group of hickory golf club enthusiasts gathered June 2 at Lake Hallie Golf Course for the second annual Lake Hallie Hickory Classic. The golfers, including David Morley, right, wore period clothing and used authentic hickory golf clubs, some of which are more than a century old.
DRESSED FOR FAIRWAY SUCCESS. A group of hickory golf club enthusiasts gathered June 2 at Lake Hallie Golf Course for the second annual Lake Hallie Hickory Classic. The golfers, including David Morley, below, wore period clothing and used authentic hickory golf clubs, some of which are more than a century old.

A group of 16 golfers recently played 18 holes at the Lake Hallie Golf Course. What was different about this gathering was that all players in the Lake Hallie Hickory Classic on June 2 were using old-fashioned hickory clubs. And several of the duffers were dressed as if they were extras from the Shia LaBeouf movie The Greatest Game Ever Played, clad in knickers, vest sweaters, and flat caps. The golfers didn’t use modern-day numbered clubs like a 9 iron or 3 wood. Instead, the clubs have historical names like the Mashie, the Brassie, the Spoon, and the Niblick, as in “I am 120 yards from the hole so I will use the Niblick.”

Some of the participants have been using hickory clubs for years. For others, this was their first time using them in an actual game.

Dan Norstedt is acknowledged as the tournament’s “hickory guru.” He became fascinated with hickory clubs about six years ago. He wondered what it would be like to use them at an established course like Lake Hallie. He mentioned this to his friends Howie Nelsen and Paul Savides and they, along with David Morley, spearheaded the first local hickory club tournament. Last year’s winner, Steve Simer, refurbishes and sells hickory clubs, and drove up from Madison to compete.

What makes hickory clubs so special? Norstedt says that the clubs are not forgiving. One must swing slow and rhythmically, which helps make the course more interesting and more challenging. Bob Lesniewski believes the hickory clubs brings the game of golf back to its purest form, the way it should be played. Where today’s equipment is mostly about power and distance, the hickory clubs puts more emphasis on the golfer’s shot. Nelsen agrees and says that there is more “satisfaction when you hit a sweet shot.” He still marvels when he hits the ball down the middle of the fairway with a 100-year-old club. Hickory clubs have now become Ray Koch’s primary clubs, and he often golfs with them three or four times a month.

The 2018 Saturday session was once again won by Simer in the “Open Division” and Nelsen and Mike Bark tied for first in the “Senior Division.”

The tournament had a second fun day on another course near Mondovi. This course was built by Savides on his hobby farm. Savides is another fan of hickory clubs. Now retired, he has been playing golf since he was 13 years old, but at one point in his life, he said he was “getting sick of the game.” Using hickory clubs renewed his interest and he is now proud to have the second day of the Lake Hallie Hickory Classic relocate to his home course.

The group is already looking forward to a third tournament year in 2019.

To learn more about the Lake Hallie Hickory Classic, contact David Morley at demorley47@gmail.com.

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Rob Reid  author

Rob Reid is a senior lecturer of education studies at UW-Eau Claire. In addition to writing Children’s Jukebox (ALA Editions 1995/2007), Reid has also written two more books about children’s music: Something Musical Happened at the Library (ALA Editions, 2007) and Shake and Shout: 16 Noisy, Lively S

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