Historic Hickory Golf

August 17, 2017

Historic Hickory Golf

The past few months have flown past quickly especially on the fairways of Hickory Golf. Since May, I have had a great time playing on many great historic, as well as a couple of young courses. Each offered their challenges, but left me with the memories of not only the beauty of each location but the tradition and spirit of the game of GOLF!

 Historic Courses:

Sara Bay Country Club, Sarasota, Florida.
This is a fair yet challenging design by Donald Ross which opened in 1926 as the Whitfield Estates Country Club.
 In February of 1926 Bobby Jones and Walter Hagen played what was known as the “BATTLE of the CENTURY” in which Hagen defeated Jones 10 and 11.
 There are many great matches that were played on this beautiful course over the years. In fact, Sara Bay hosts the LPGA Symetra Tour again this year. It would be well worth a few moments to visit their website; www.sarabaycc.org to see the great history of this club.
Temple Terrace Golf and Country Club, Temple Terrace, Florida.
Designed by Tom Bendelow in 1921 for the well-known Potter Palmer family of Chicago. He was the designer for over 400 courses including Medinah C.C. in Chicago and Palma Ceia located in Tampa. In 1925 the FLORIDA OPEN was held at Temple Terrance and it was bannered as the “Greatest Field of Golfers to Ever Play in Florida” Gene Sarazen, Walter Hagen and Jim Barnes were among them.
 Today the club is the host to the UNITED STATES PROFESSIONAL HICKORY CHAMPIONSHIP every year in early spring. This is fitting as the first head pro at Temple Terrace was "Long Jim" Barnes, winner of the first PGA Championship held in 1916 at Siwanoy Country Club, in Bronxville, N.Y and the second in 1919 at Engineers Country Club, in Roslyn Harbor, N.Y. There were no championships in 1917 and 1918 because of World War I. In 1921, Barnes won both the Florida Open and the 59th British Open held at Prestwick.
Every year the Knicker Bash is played on this course the weekend of the U. S. PROFESSIONAL HICKORY TOURNAMENT, Leitha Bowles is the chairwoman and for you northerners you should check out their Facebook page or the Temple Terrace website: www.templeterracegolf.com website and contact her as it is a “roaring” great time.
Originally designed in 1897 as a 9-hole course it was expanded in 1903 to 18 holes. In 1920, it was renovated under William Herbert Fowler, a British golf architect, into the present course. Today, it is one of the two oldest courses still being played. The other is the Presidio in San Francisco.
 This year it was the venue for the U.S. Hickory Open and what a challenging treat. My practice round was an early morning outing, 6:30 AM and how relaxing it was with a little fog laying on the course and a cool temperature of 60. Of course, seeing the local wildlife doing their early morning “thing” was a bonus. The committee that hosted the “Open” this year did a great job in every part: the reception, tournament and dinner. Too bad my score could not have been better, but that is my doing.
Again, if you go to Monterey, everyone wants to play at Pebble Beach, but you need to play here as well as the same management group handles this course and it is beautiful!
Located in Yosemite National Park this is the first regulation 9-hole course built in the Sierra Nevada’s in 1918. It was designed by Walter G. Favarque who wanted to blend this course seamlessly into the spectacular surroundings.
Mr. Favarque was a founding member of the PGA in 1916 and played in many tournaments and designed many other courses such as the Olympia Club.

 

Modern Courses:

Whistling Straits – Straits Course & Irish Course
These are two great links courses along beautiful Lake Michigan in serene Sheboygan County Wisconsin. Designed by Pete and Alice Dye they are challenging - yet fair. 
The Straits Course replicates the ancient seaside links courses of the United Kingdom and Ireland as you will also have the Scottish Blackface sheep in the gallery to watch your play. You have the “pot bunkers”, dunes, large rolling greens and of course the wind from the lake. If you close your eyes and open them quick you will be transformed to the coast of the Irish sea.
Even though the course is not ancient, it has been the sight for some great Championship play and in 2020 it will host the Ryder Cup.
The Irish Course is all inland and offers challenging sand dunes as well as large greens which at times have hidden pin placements because of the dunes.
Mr. Bill Ernst each year hosts a tournament on these courses and does a remarkable job. Just as exciting is many of the same players attend each year which creates great friendships. Both courses need to be on your “Bucket List”, for me these are on my list every year!
Built in 2007 among a South Florida Pine Forest and Oak Groves it has the beauty of a course that you might find in Georgia or the Carolinas. But when you see the “native” guards, alligators, you quickly remember you are in Florida. I believe that they also help keep the “pace” of play moving along as well.
 This was an enjoyable round with my good friend Joe Lauber from Davos, Switzerland. It was also a warm up round for playing the fore mentioned historic Sara Bay County Club a few days later.

 

I hope that sharing these great golf courses will give you some ideas of places to go and play. These courses are great for modern play as well.

My preference is that I just like the tradition of playing with the clubs that started the game, Hickory. As my late good friend, Mike Just, told me when he suggested that I try Hickory Golf, “the magic of the game comes to you!” He was so right, the spirit of friendship, the play (I can’t hit a 250-yard drive even if I was dreaming of it) and not the score and finally the course give you this “magical experience” in this game we call golf!





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