Belvedere Members, Pro Represent US In Grail Cup

Belvedere Members, Pro Represent US In Grail Cup From left to right, Tom Hays, Marty Joy, and Jerry Esselman
Belvedere Members, Pro Represent US In Grail Cup From left to right, Tom Hays, Marty Joy, and Jerry Esselman

Belvedere Members & Golf Professional Represent United States in Grail Cup Matches at St. Andrews October 24 – 29

Belvedere Golf Club, a classic William Watson design in Northern Michigan, has established itself as a hub of hickory golf activity. Belvedere has some 44 antique hickory club players and hosts Hickory tournaments annually including the Belvedere Hickory Open since 2006. In 2019, Belvedere hosted the national U.S. Hickory Open.

It is no surprise, then, that Belvedere is sending three members to play in the semiannual Hickory Grail competition. Ross Hays, Jerry Esselman and Belvedere head pro Marty Joy will be among sixteen US hickory players to challenge a European team in the Grail Cup matches October 24 – 29 at St. Andrews.

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 semiannual 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.

Hickory golf competitors dress 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.

“With Belvedere’s popularity for Hickory play, it was perfect to have three representatives from the club selected to the team,” said Joy. “Ross, Jerry and I have been passionate hickory club players and supporters for decades. To be able to participate in this prestigious event at St. Andrews, the home of golf, is a dream come true for all of us.”

A view of the green on the ninth hole at Belvedere.

Dating to 1925, Belvedere is a perfect venue for hickory club play. William Watson, whose father was a member of the R&A, emigrated from Scotland to the US in 1898. In addition to Belvedere, Watson designed more than 100 courses in his career. Among those are Olympia Fields in Chicago, Harding Park in San Francisco, Interlachen in Minneapolis, and The Olympic Club in San Francisco.

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.

Recently, Belvedere went through a restoration based on plans that came to light in an old building in Charlevoix. The restoration removed trees, expanded fairways, restored bunkers and rebuilt greens to their original specifications.

Belvedere is one of my favorite courses in Michigan. While not long by modern championship standards at 6, 906 yards (plenty long enough for ninety percent of players), Belvedere offers a tremendous amount of strategic challenge. The course was a favorite of Walter Hagen; Tom Watson spent the summers of his youth there and remains a member.

Here’s wishing good luck to Belvedere’s members and the entire US team at the Hickory Grail competition.

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