Hickory sticks

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 4, 2008

A tribute

to golf&8217;s past and its traditions


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The Masters golf tournament is called “a tradition unlike any other.”

Much the same can be said of the Tad Moore Hickory Golf Open.

The two events may differ in grandeur, but they have unusually close ties.

“The idea was to have a hickory golf tournament with a partner, best ball format a week before the Masters,” Moore said of the tournament that started six years ago in LaGrange, Ga. “We wanted to get everybody to come from all parts of the country and get out of the snow and come play. That way, if they wanted to go play a practice round at Augusta, they could do that.”

More than 40 golfers are at the Selma Country Club this weekend to play in the “Woodie,” as they affectionately call it. The nickname comes from the crafted hickory shafts, which went out of style as the game evolved.

To honor the early roots of the sport, golfers dress in attire from the mid-1900s and play with clubs designed for that era.

Participants come from all across the country, and even as far away as Scotland, to play in an event whose popularity has grown over the years.

Moore relocated to Selma two years ago, and this is the first time the tournament has been held in the city. It has brought a loyal following to its new home.

“Hickory clubs were made for older courses like this one,” said Randy Jensen, a resident of Omaha and seven-time National Hickory champion. “This is a shorter course, and you don’t hit the ball as far with these clubs. There are hickory events all over the world, so it’s very popular. This is probably one of the top events in the Southeast.”

A lot of that has to do with the influence of the tournament’s organizer. Moore is a globally known club designer who specializes in making hickory clubs. He is also president of the Society of Hickory Golfers.

His influence coupled with similar tournaments elsewhere has helped golfers discover a new way to play the game.

“There’s a real good mix of golfers here with players like Randy and other guys,” said Andy Moye of North Carolina. “I began playing hickory clubs with my dad, then I started collecting them, and I got hooked.”

Avid golfers commonly talk about getting caught up in the game and feeding off the personal challenge it presents. That’s before they give this style a try.

“It’s an addiction,” said Ted Kopec of Niceville, Fla. “It’s so much more difficult to hit that perfect shot.”