Featured Story

Holy hickory sticks! Golfers to play like 1902 at Shelter Island Country Club

Brassies, mashies, niblicks and spoons. It’s a whole new game for golfers playing in the Shelter Island Country Club Hickory Golf Classic on Sunday, Aug. 7.

Each foursome will share a bag of genuine hickory-shafted golf clubs as they experience golf as it was played when SICC first hosted golfers 120 years ago. In fact, the Hickory Classic coincides with the dates when the first tournaments for men and woman were held at the nine-hole course we fondly call Goat Hill.

So as we ditch our graphite shafts and oversized drivers and get ready to don our knickers and argyle socks, here’s a wee bit of knowledge about these golf clubs of yore.

First thing to know: Early golf clubs were all given names that best described their characteristics, as were the holes on a golf course. For example, the brassie is so named because golf club makers fortified the face of the club with a brass plate. The niblick, with its stubby, oval-shaped club head, gets its name from Scots Gaelic and is a diminutive form of “nib” or nose. Mashie comes from the French word massue, which means “club.”

In the mid-1800s, Scottish club maker Robert Forgan crafted the first shafts out of American hickory that was originally intended for ax handles. Hickory was more durable and stronger and soon became the shaft of choice. Steel shafts were introduced in the U.S. in 1925, followed by graphite shafts in 1973.

So how do these traditional clubs translate to today’s game? And how the heck do you hit them? We turn to the Society of Hickory Golfers for help:

The Basic Set of Hickory Clubs

• Brassie — It’s a workhorse. You can drive with it, use it in the fairway and in the rough. It has 13-14 degrees loft.

• Mid-Iron — Use this club for long iron shots, and is ideal for low runners.

• Mashie — Think of it as your 7-iron for approach shots and is great for chipping on tight lies.

• Mashie Niblick — Equivalent to a 9-iron or pitching wedge.

• Niblick – Your pitching or sand wedge.

• Putter — Don’t be fooled, these are not like the today’s putters. They’re more lofted to help the ball propel over greens with longer grass.

These multi-purpose clubs are the mainstays in a hickory set. When stepping up to the tee box with a hickory club for the first time, waggle it to appreciate the club’s feel. It will be heavier than the clubs you are used to. Remember to tee your ball low on the drive (the brassie club head is about the size of a peach), grip lightly and keep your swing smooth to reduce torque. Keep in mind that hickory clubs will not give you the spin or stop faster on the greens that you might like.

Some advice? Pull up your knickers, relax and have fun. Deadline to register is July 15.

The nine-hole benefit tournament, part of SICC’s 120th anniversary celebration, is open to all; no handicap is required. The format is a four-person team scramble. All proceeds will benefit the SICC’s newly established Owen N. Dickson Junior Golf Program. Cost per golfer is $125 for those who need motorized carts and $100 per golfer for those who use their own private carts or choose to walk. Shotgun start is 10 a.m. However, should sign-ups exceed expectations, a second shotgun start will be added at 1 p.m.

Entry fee includes continental breakfast beginning at 8 a.m., lunch after play (or before if a second shotgun start is added), hickory clubs, caddy service and tee gift. Chipping and “Around the Clock” putting contests, hickory-style, will take place before the tournament begins. All players must fill out and submit a registration form with their payment. Forms are available online at shelterislandcc.org or at the SICC pro shop. They can be returned via mail, email or at the pro shop.

In need of knickers? Order yours today at the SICC pro shop. Sample sizes and colors are available, along with caps and argyle socks. Can’t or don’t play golf? You can still support the SICC Hickory Golf Classic by sponsoring a hole. The donation is $100 per hole and is tax-deductible. Please email [email protected] and we’ll get a form out to you right away.

Junior Golf Program: Slots are still available for young golfers 7 to 16 in SICC’s Owen N. Dickson Junior Golf Program. Weekly classes are held on Tuesdays from July 12 to Aug. 9. The first group for 7-to 10-year-olds runs from 9 to 10:30 a.m. and the second group for 11-to-16-year-olds runs from 10:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Cost is $75 per golfer with discounts for additional children in the same family. Clubs for junior golfers are provided. For more information, or to enroll you child, email [email protected].