I Have a “Hickory” Dream
Before I outline my dream, let me note that the Oakhurst Links in West Virginia is acknowledged as the earliest golf course in the USA and has recently been acquired by a Foundation committed to its preservation. Secondly, that the SoHG and the HGA represent the Hickory Players of the USA and are committed to the promotion of hickory golf.
In the dream, the two Societies merged into one Players Organization, and formed an alliance with the Foundation for the permanent benefit of Oakhurst and the Players.
An Oakhurst Golf Club was formed, with Membership available to all Members of the merged Organization; the USPGA; Senior Tour, and other Professional Golfing Associations. Fees were at a “nominal” $150 p.a. range, so as to provide funds for the upkeep and development of Oakhurst and its museum. At such a reasonable annual fee, Golfers jumped at the chance of bragging rights to be members of the oldest Course, and fellow members in the same Club with the Nicklaus’ and Palmers of the World!
The fee included one free round each year at Oakhurst and opened the experience of hickory golf to those who took advantage, although in terms of total membership those who availed themselves of the opportunity were minimal.
Within a few years, enough income was generated to fund the development of the second Course envisaged by the Kellers; instead of a Nicklaus design, it became the 5,000+ yards post-1900 Course for hickory play, securing Oakhurst as the Home for all forms of hickory play, and with its own Membership.
Under the Alliance, the merged Organization reached a worldwide audience with its periodical Bulletins, and advanced the interest and playing of hickory golf far beyond current capabilities.
“Unfortunately, Scotch-induced hickory dreams, unlike the preamble to other pleasures, tend to be simplistic, and the sober judge will readily see the many obstacles to overcome. In the interests of the art we all love and to promote its pleasure to a much wider audience, I trust that the Reader will imbibe sufficient nectar to see the possibilities!”