Beginning with the excellent weather during the practice round on Thursday, Aug. 11, which we enjoyed for all three days of the Championship, and ending with a fine meal and award presentation, the Foxburg Hickory Championship was an exceptional event.
The championship is 36 holes played on the oldest continuous golf course in the country. Foxburg Country Club was built in 1887, and has a long and interesting history, but more on that later.
Foxburg Country Club is not extraordinary in length; fact is, at 2,200 yards, it is a perfect length for gutty golf. The rough in not exceedingly long and the course played fast. Conditions of this nature should produce good scores, and make the event extremely competitive. The scores were very close the first day, with most competitors within 10 shots of the lead. By the second day, competition winnowed out the hangers on and provided us with a list of worthy champions.
Congratulations are acknowledged for the competitors listed below, but hats off to the entire field on their performance, sportsmanship, and enthusiasm.
The 2011 Open Champion is Jim Wilhelm (Canada) with a score of 172, runner-up in the Open Division was JW McMath (Ohio) at 175, third was Tim Flynn (Kentucky) at 177. As a point of reference, the winning score in 2010 was 175.
Senior Open Champion is Terry Howarth (Pennsylvania) with a fine score of 178, runner-up was Doug Ellis (Ohio) at 180, third was Bob Reheard (Wisconsin) coming in with 184.
In the Reserve Division, Mike Just (Louisville Golf) walked off with another first place finish, adding to the hardware collection he began earlier this summer. Runner-up was Paul Dietz (Canada), earning third place was Ron Taylor (Pennsylvania).
In the Fownes Division (Post 1900) the Champion was Gary McNutt (Pennsylvania), runner-up was defending two-time champion Barry Markowitz (North Carolina), third was local favorite and Foxburg CC member, Don Smith (Pennsylvania).
Without knowing the scores from the second event of the Gutty Slam (All American Open) this writer is not sure of the standings at this time, but likely Jim Wilhelm is in the lead with wins in the All American and Foxburg, and one of the top finishes at the NHC in June. The Slam wraps up in Canada at the Niagara-on-the-Lake Golf Course the second week of September (Sept. 9, 10, and 11).
I would be remiss if I did not expound on the finer aspects of the Foxburg event off the golf course. The spouses and guests (henceforth known as the “Ladies”) bring a special charm and upbeat energy to the Foxburg Hickory Championship. The Ladies sincerely enjoy themselves with the several activities available, especially the shopping and visiting the local winery. It is becoming something of a tradition for them to set themselves on the porch of the clubhouse each day, partake in an excursion or two, then return to sample the several wines they have discovered and share the various snacks they brought. I believe they enjoy themselves as much as the gutty players; “The Ladies” have become a big part of the event’s success.
Other off-the-golf-course events were a fine meal at the Captain Loomis Inn where 36 of us gathered Friday night. I’m sure 36 people ordering off the menu in one sitting, threw the kitchen into a frenzy. We also enjoyed a fine luncheon after the final round on Saturday – roast beef, stuffed chicken breasts, and the homemade noodles we request every year. The desserts also were excellent; everyone loves the pretzel salad, an annual staple.
I have great respect for all the contestants, and sincerely acknowledge their participation in the Foxburg Hickory Championship. Pre-1900 golf, on a course built during that period, is not easy to describe. Fun, misery, pure joy, the championship is a unique opportunity to compete, and maybe more importantly, connect with the Morris’, Parks, Dunnies, and other great names. Hickory golf is a love in all of us, gutty golf is the next step back, and a tremendous challenge you will not appreciate until you complete a round.
Additionally, the Society of Hickory Golfers, as well as the GCS Region 2, deserve acknowledgement. The GCS is the primary reason most of us got to this point. But the SoHG has become the foundation, as well as the driving force in hickory golf. I sincerely appreciate both groups, and am proud to be a member of each.
The FHC was the first hickory event inviting 1st Tee youngsters to participate. This year was no different. Frank Rosenzweig (hope I got that right), and Bern Bernacki are driving forces in the Pittsburgh First Tee program. They not only provide opportunities to play and learn about golf, but they also teach the history of the game, and the type of respect it deserves.
Bern and Coach Frank arranged for three youngsters to participate. Mercedes Epondulan, Mike Kinney, and Zack Flynn were hosted this year. Not only do they have fine games and will be solid players as they grow; they display a respect and humility that is refreshing for this time in society. Well-done gentlemen and youngsters!
It was great to see everyone from the contestants to the ladies and other guests. Karen and I would like to thank everyone for attending, and look forward to seeing you next year, as well as new participants who discover this great game.
We especially offer a heartfelt “Thank You” to Jane Reheard for volunteering the time and energy to take and publish her wonderful photos. She has developed quite an eye, and has taken many excellent shots.
Speaking of Karen, of course she is my lovely wife. I cannot tell everyone how much I appreciate her help in the event. Everything fell into place with no issues; this is due to her making sure each part of the event was done correctly. Neither the Championship, nor I, would be as successful without her.
The 2012 Foxburg Hickory Championship will be held on Aug. 10 and 11. Please note the date. More information will be made available to you in the next few months. 2012 is the 125th year anniversary for the club, I am looking forward tomaking it a special event.
I’d like to take this opportunity to again congratulate the Division Champions, especially Jim Wilhelm. Well done!