The Australian Hickory Shaft Championship Comes of Age – The Captain’s Report

The 21st staging of the event was held on Friday 25 September 2015 at Carnarvon Golf Club. The Society’s wish to move away from the November heat of previous years was rewarded with a day of 18°C, but showers and a good zephyr at times made for an interesting afternoon’s golf.

Our thanks to John Lock and Steve Fletcher – as Carnarvon committee members – and the Club’s management for their support of the event, to the catering staff for the meal, and to the grounds staff for the set-up of the course. There were many positive endorsements of the tee and pin positions.

SmallDSC01808SmallDSC01809 We welcomed to the Championships five new players – Warren Smith, Nigel Black, Mark Pullen, Steve Byrnes and Tony Kelly – competing for the first time with the “hickories”. We hope to see you all at future events.

SmallDSC01810 SmallDSC01811The start of the day saw our Treasurer Steve dispensing cards, local rules & John Lock performing as the starter for 36 players, thanks guys for all your assistance. Whilst they were hard at work, I was “wandering” meeting and greeting players, and then being drawn to the pro shop working bench where Lachie Wilson was performing “surgery” on some of Phil Baird’s irons by means of pieces of equipment the likes of which I had never seen.

SmallDSC01812 SmallDSC01813And here I was thinking acquired clubs remain as acquired, oh no, the technology involved in blade & shaft angles, was most interesting. Made me wonder if Grandpa Tom ever changed the clubs he played with in the hickory days apart from weights that I know about, I certainly cannot remember, in my days as “lackey” in the pro shops at Monash and Rosnay with Dad, ever altering lofts and shaft angles.

SmallDSC01815SmallDSC01817However, onto the actual event. The scratch leaders after 9 were closely bunched with scores of 37, 38, 40 and 41, being – respectively – Darron Watt, Phil Baird, Lachie Wilson and Brian Keane. Over the back 9, a couple of players reversed their front nine form and produced scores of 39 and 41 respectively, being Warren Smith and Luke Kavanagh.

SmallDSC01818But when the cards were in, the winner had recorded a 77 to win by 4 shots. Our 2015 winner was Darron Watt from Wagga Wagga after being a runner up on a number of previous occasions. Phil Baird finished 2nd with 81, followed by Mark Pullen on 85. Darron in a short speech expressed his great joy at winning, and having his name on the trophy alongside many notable former victors.

Phil Baird (l) congratulates Darron Watt on his victory.

After 9, the handicap leaders had net scores of 32, 34 and pair of 35.5s, being Brian Keane, Lachie Wilson, Steve Doorey and Darron Watt. The 2nd nine changed the final result with Steve Doorey winning with a net of 68, closely followed by Brian Keane on 69, and Andrew Wilson on 73. Of note is that the handicap runner up had a “10” on 17th which most certainly was not desirable.

Paul Gladwin and Ross Haslam won the coveted Treasurers Cup prize with their nearest the pins shots on the 7th and 16th holes respectively.

The gathering was also able to “sing” Happy Birthday to Julian Pickrell to celebrate his 81st birthday.

A toast was proposed to Tom Moore to recognise his commitment to the Championship since the initial event in 1995. Also on display was a set of “sheathed” irons once used by my grandfather Tom that have finally found their way “home” after a journey of over 80 years. My thanks to Phil Wood, Henry Paterson, and particularly to Tom Moore who has restored the clubs to be amazing examples of the early post hickory irons.

One for the calendar – 23 October 2015 – the Queensland Chapter of Australian Golf Heritage Society via Andrew Baker have advised that Royal Queensland Golf Club have indicated their willingness to host the inaugural Queensland Hickory Shaft Championship after receiving permission and unqualified support from Golf Queensland.

Lastly, the gathering was made aware of the idea of creating “the hickory experience”, whereby the AGHS take to Clubs the visions of the past gone days, tactile display items, short videos, and access to hired hickory sets. We have a couple of Clubs already interested in the idea, so more news soon.

Congratulations again to Darron on achieving a significant and notable goal and to all who played.

I trust you enjoyed the day.

Ross Howard – Captain