Vintage Golf: U.S. Professional Hickory Championship


Vintage Golf: U.S. Professional Hickory Championship

February 22, 2011

Temple Terrace G&CC outside Tampa hosted the inaugural U.S. Professional Hickory Golf Championship Feb. 21. A Tom Bendelow design, the course was the site of the $5,000 Florida Open in 1925 won by Leo Diegel and featuring some of the best golfers of the era. To celebrate that event, hickory golf buff Mike Stevens wanted a modern field to play Temple Terrace using vintage equipment. Here are the competitors prior to teeing off.

This wasn't a day for 460 cc-size drivers and graphite shafts. A sampling of hickory-shafted woods.

Players were competing for a trophy named in honor of pioneering American golf professional John Shippen.

Some of the vintage irons were marked to help golfers figure out how far they could hit them.

Ten-time PGA Tour winner David Frost, who currently plays on the Champions Tour, was the biggest name in the tournament. The day had a retro theme, but there were signs of the 21st century.

Long a fine putter, it didn't take Frost too long to adjust. He finished with an eight-over 81, good for second place.

Competitors used replica rubber golf balls with a square mesh pattern that simulated balls used by golfers in the 1920s. Tee shots could be struck more than 200 yards.

Lee Chill of Orlando dressed the part.

Not only was Richard Bullock of Clearwater, Fla., in period attire, so was his caddie.

Gary Vogelsang of Amherst, N.Y., found the tiny period golf bag easy to carry.

Jennifer Cully, a teaching pro in Apollo Beach, Fla., was the only female in the tournament. She hadn't used hickory equipment before but wants to try it again. She was surprised she hit the vintage fairway wood farther than the modern model she has been using.

David wasn't the only Frost in the field. This is his son, Sean, who was playing his first event as a professional.

John Benson of Wesley Chapel, Fla., shot an 83 to finish third.

Kody Kirchoff of Florida Hickory Golfers helped Stevens organize the tournament.

Leroux Ferreira, a 25-year-old native of South Africa who competes on the NGA/Hooters Tour, tees off on No. 17 as David Frost and Lee Chill look on.

Ferreira, who played golf at Lamar University, hit one tee shot 280 yards.

Despite one triple bogey and one double bogey, Ferreira was the class of the field, shooting a 79 to win the $1,500 first prize, the same amount Diegel won in 1925.

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