When the Belvedere Golf Club hosts the 12th Belvedere Hickory Open on June 15 – 17, players will find a course newly restored to the classic William Watson design.
The demolishment of a building in Charlevoix last year led to the discovery of Watson’s original 1923 drawings, and set in motion a restoration project by architect Bruce Hepner.
“The original drawings by Watson were in an old print shop, and the original blueprints of the clubhouse, too,” Dennis “Marty” Joy II, the head golf professional and a two-time winner of the Belvedere Hickory Open said. “It was totally out of the blue. We started doing the work in the fall.”
In the restoration, greens were enlarged to their original sizes. Bunker work, including elimination and addition in a few spots, is being completed in 17 areas of the course. Adjustments were made with a few tees, and trees were removed in some areas for a return to the original strategies Watson intended in the design.
“Some changes you see right away, like the trees removed on the hillside on No. 9, the bunker added green-side at 16 on the left, but others the members might not even realize,” Joy said.
The Belvedere Hickory Open is one of four tournaments deemed a hickory major championship.
A field of 60-plus golfers from across the U.S. and Canada will compete at Belvedere’s event which is part of the Hickory Championship Series of five tournaments held throughout the year. Cliff Martin of Los Angeles, Calif., is the defending champion.
The three-day competition is played with authentic pre-1935 hickory shafted golf clubs and competitors dress in period appropriate apparel, including knickers, ties and jackets. The competition is held under the auspices of the Society of Hickory Golfers, a national hickory organization which celebrates and promotes the hickory game of the 1910s – 1930s.
The Belvedere tournament separates the competition between those with authentic restored sets of clubs, and those who play the replica hickory clubs, but welcomes all.
“Starting last year our tournament went this direction with two division, authentic and one with the replica clubs,” Joy said. “We’re trying to set a trend for hickory golf, and make that the standard for tournaments, and we have met a lot of resistance. We just believe you can find, repair and restore original clubs still. The set I play with I’ve had for 10 years and I haven’t broken a club yet.”
Joy said while Belvedere was already a great fit for the event given its history and design that allows for the game of the hickory era, it is even more appropriate now that it is hosting one of the hickory majors.
“Everything fits together perfect now,” he said, “the course and the equipment being used, and we play at the appropriate distances for the clubs as well. It’s going back in time.”
Spectators are encouraged to take in the return to historic golf by attending the event free of charge.
For information about Belvedere visit www.belvederegolfclub.com or call 231-547-2611
For information about the Society of Hickory Golfers visit www.hickorygolfers.com.
via Kevin Frisch