The Aiken Hickory Classic isn’t an ordinary golf tournament.
“It’s pretty much a step back in the time; we even ask people to wear vintage clothing, but that’s an option,” said Lorraine Morgan, golf shop manager at the Aiken Golf Club, where the event will be held March 1.
The tournament will begin at 10 a.m. with a shotgun start. A practice round is scheduled for Feb. 28 at 10 a.m.
Players will compete using clubs that have hickory (wooden) shafts and replicas of vintage gutta-percha golf balls, which also are known as gutty balls.
“The use of the clubs and golf balls that are provided let you feel what it was like to play golf 80 years ago,” Morgan said. “It’s almost like going on a field trip with your kids. It’s a learning experience.”
It’s also a challenge, according to Morgan.
“You have to come with a sense of humor,” she said, “because you’re probably not going to score what you normally would. There is none of the modern technology built into these clubs. You don’t get the distance you usually get. Off the tee, you don’t even know you’ve hit the ball because it doesn’t make the ‘ping’ noise. It sounds like nothing. It’s like hitting a marshmallow.”
The Aiken Golf Club’s course “is an amazing setting for such a tournament,” Morgan added. The club, built in 1912, is one of the oldest in the nation and was among the first in the country to offer tees especially for women. Professional golfers Babe Didrikson Zaharias and Patty Berg played there.
The Aiken County Historical Museum is sponsoring the tournament and will use the proceeds to preserve and document hickory golf in and around the county.
“I want to make Aiken the hickory golf capital of the United States,” said Elliott Levy, executive director of the museum.
The cost to participate in the tournament is $75 per person and is due by Feb. 26. Entry forms can be obtained at the museum or the Aiken Golf Club, which located at 555 Highland Park Drive. Checks and entry forms can be mailed to the museum (to the attention of Mary White) at 433 Newberry St. S.W., Aiken, SC 29801. They also can be dropped off at the museum.
For more information, call the museum at 642-2015 or the golf club at 649-6029.