Belvedere Golf Club Will Host 2023 Hickory Grail Matches

Belvedere members and the pro (from left to right) Tom Hays, Marty Joy, and Jerry Esselman) represented the US at the 2021 Grail Cup at St. Andrews in Scotland

Belvedere Golf Club Will Host 2023 Hickory Grail Matches 

The highly acclaimed Ryder Cup style event will bring hickory golfers from Great Britain/Europe to compete against the U.S. 

Belvedere Golf Club in Charlevoix has been selected to host the 2023 Hickory Grail, a Ryder Cup style event where hickory players from the United States and Great Britain/Europe compete.

Belvedere is a classic William Watson design from 1925 that has in recent years been restored to its golden age glory with the discovery of a set of the original drawings in an old building in Charlevoix that was slated for demolition (see GolfBlogger’s Belvedere Golf Course Review at the link.

The Hickory Grail is the oldest of golf’s international history matches. Belvedere is a hickory golf mecca that has sponsored the Belvedere Hickory Open since 2006 and in 2019 hosted the national U.S. Hickory Open. More than forty Belvedere members play with hickory golf clubs, dressing in period appropriate apparel, including knickers, ties, and jackets.

Conservative estimates of the total number of hickory players in the world now total about 3,000 and growing.

Belvedere members Ross Hays and Jerry Esselman, along with head pro Marty Joy, were all named to this year’s U.S. Grail team who competed in the event last month at the famed St. Andrews Old Course in Scotland. Since 2000, the U.S. team and Great Britain/Europe have tied 6-6 in retaining the cup in the friendly matches played in the spirit of the game.

“With Belvedere’s history and the passion that our club members have for hickory club play, it was a natural fit for us to be selected to host The Grail Cup”, said Joy. “To have been able to participate in this prestigious event at St. Andrews, the home of golf, and now to play host is a dream come true for all of us at the club. We are very proud to welcome this event and fellow hickory players from across the Atlantic to play the game as it was meant to be played.”

The Hickory Grail was founded in 2000 by American’s Ralph Livingston III and Tom Stewart, both hickory pioneers and experts, along with Scotland’s David Hamilton, one of today’s premier golf historians. The biennial event is conducted under the auspices of The British Golf Collectors Society, with current membership of 700+ members in Great Britain, America and around the world. The tournament is noted for selecting many of the world’s most prestigious historical courses for its venues. Among them are St. Andrews; Baltustrol; Kilspindie, Scotland and Falsterbo GK, Sweden. Visit https://thehickorygrail.com.

Belvedere, with its classic parkland layout designed by William Watson in 1925, has always been the perfect venue for hickory club play. Watson’s masterpieces include famous classic and major championship designs like Olympia Fields in Chicago, Harding Park in San Francisco, Interlachen in Minneapolis, The Olympic Club in San Francisco, and others.

Belvedere, named 2016 Michigan Course of the Year by the Michigan Golf Course Owners Association, has been a respected tournament venue for nearly a century, having hosted the Michigan Amateur 40 times. Beginning in 1963, Belvedere hosted the event for 26 consecutive years. The 41st hosting of the Michigan Amateur at Belvedere will come in 2025, the club’s centennial year.

Stretching to 6,906 yards, Belvedere isn’t long by modern standards, but the challenge lies in the short game around the dynamic green complexes, which features subtle undulations, ridges and slopes that fall off to chipping areas. Belvedere recently went through a major restoration bringing the green complexes back to the original drawings. Leading golf architects describe Belvedere’s greens as on par with those at renowned courses, such as Augusta National and Oakmont.

The course has long been a favorite of many golf greats, including legend Walter Hagen, who won the first Great Lakes Open at Belvedere, and five-time British Open winner Tom Watson, who as a youngster honed his game playing summers at Belvedere. He remains a member today and calls the short par-four 16th hole one of the great par fours in America.

For information about Belvedere Golf Club visit www.belvederegolfclub.com.

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