Members of the Michigan Hickory Tour and Society of Hickory Golfers were part of the early round action at the Senior PGA Championship at Harbor Shores Golf Club in Benton Harbor, Mich., on Thursday May 2.
The Senior PGA Championship is sponsored by Whirlpool Corporation and its Kitchenaid brand appliances. The Harbor Shores course is a Jack Nicklaus design and wanders through Michigan woods, wetlands, and near the Lake Michigan shoreline itself on holes 7-9.
Senior Tour representative Drew Spuller contacted Michigan Hickory Tour Commissioner Roger Hill about inviting hickory golfers to be part of the activities that day. They were invited to hit range balls and use the putting green during a lull between morning and afternoon rounds. Apparently it was all a nod to the game’s history.
Eight golfers responded to the call. Though Hill was absent for professional commitments, Davis, Jim Collins, Ed Ronco, Gary Trapani, Lloyd Slinglend, David Ramos, Paul Carson, and Tim Stroshine were happy to participate.
The day was beautiful, sunny with cool breezes off Lake Michigan. The club house area was busy, corporate hospitality large and in charge, spectators beginning to fill the stands and the grounds. After their turn on the range and putting green – fans marveling at their towering shots with 90-year-old clubs – the eight hickory players had their photos taken by PGA photographers on the first tee with the championship trophy, and repeatedly thereafter by admiring fans. Interviews were given to local TV and radio stations.
Bernhard Langer signed a hat for Collins, other pros nodded and smiled at the hickories, a few asking about them. Otherwise, they were intent on prep work for their tour’s main event.
Our thanks to the Senior PGA Tour for inviting the SoHG and the Michigan Hickory Tour to participate, if only in a minor way. The excitement of being on hand for a major golf event, and to have a small part, was a thrill for all.
All of the photos in the gallery were taken by Montana Pritchard and are courtesy of the Senior PGA Tour.