U.S. Professional Hickory Championship

Historic preservation can mean different things to different people, but it’s not typically associated with golf. On February 21, 2011, I attended the inaugural U.S. Professional Hickory Championship at Temple Terrace Golf and Country Club, just north of Tampa. As the name suggests, players used hickory-shafted clubs along with vintage rubber balls in competing for a $5,000 purse. They even dressed the part.

The tournament was held by the Temple Terrace Preservation Society and the Florida Hickory Golfers Association to commemorate the 1925 Florida Open, also held at the Temple Terrace Golf and Country Club. The 1925 event was billed as the best collection of pro golfers ever assembled in Florida and featured golf legends such as Walter Hagen, Gene Sarazen, and Jim Barnes, who was also the resident pro at Temple Terrace. At just 6,414 yards, the National Register of Historic Places eligible course has changed little since then, making for an authentic experience.

I thought the tournament was an excellent way for the Temple Terrace Preservation Society to bring awareness to the course and celebrate its place in golf history. I wasn’t so impressed by the play. As can be expected by golfers using new — or should I say old? — equipment, scores were high; Leroux Ferreira was the only player to break 80 by shooting a 79. Champions Tour member David Frost came in second with an 81.

The 1925 Florida Open field. Sarazen is right-center with his arms crossed. Courtesy Burgert Brothers Collection

No 300 yard drives with this equipment.

The course opened in 1923 and was designed by Tom Bendelow, who was influenced by the Frederick Law Olmsteads and retained the landscape's natural features. It was the centerpiece of a Mediterranean Revival community.

Golf Digest has photos of the event on their website.

Here are the photos I took:

That caddy just had to ruin the vintage look.

The lone woman in the tournament.


1 Comment

Filed under Florida, Intangible preservation, Sports preservation

One response to “U.S. Professional Hickory Championship

  1. Leitha Bowles

    ….but did you have a good time?

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