SoHG Mission Statement, Bylaws & A Brief History


Bill Geisler, President of the SoHG

The mission of the Society of Hickory Golfers is to promote and encourage the playing of Hickory Golf.

i. To carry out the Mission Statement of The Society of Hickory Golfers;

ii. To establish a worldwide society of like-minded hickory players;

iii. To assist members and others in discovering the playing characteristics of wood shaft golf clubs;

iv. To promote the experience of golf in a manner consistent with how the ‘royal and ancient game’ was played in the hickory era;

v. To establish guidelines for organizing hickory golf tournaments;

vi. To provide a centralized scheduling system for world wide hickory competitions;

vii. To provide a hosting service for the establishment and maintenance of hickory handicaps ; and

viii. To develop and maintain equipment standards for hickory play.

Bylaws of the Society of Hickory Golfers

Approved by the Board and majority of voting members on May 1, 2016.



A Brief History of the SoHG & Notable Dates in Modern Hickory Golf  

Modern hickory golf in the United States grew out of so-called “hickory hacker” events held in conjunction with annual meetings of the Golf Collectors Society (GCS). The GCS was founded in 1970 by Joe Murdoch and Bob Kuntz to share their passion for golf history and the game’s collectibles and memorabilia. Only a few dozen people were initially involved, but the idea caught on and more people joined the GCS.

As it grew, the GCS began to hold annual meetings at various venues throughout the U.S. Eventually at these meeting, a few collectors who were trading old wood-shafted clubs wanted to get out and try hitting them – at least clubs not considered rare or highly collectible. In the early 1990s and later, such “hickory hacker” events evolved into annual GCS golf championships. On their own, the more curious and passionate of these hickory players would occasionally meet at their own home clubs for informal hickory golf outings. Tad Moore, one of the earliest U.S. hickory pioneers along with Randy Jensen, Ralph Livingston III, and Roger Hill, estimates there might have been perhaps 15 hickory golfers in the U.S at that time.

In 1999, following a GCS annual meeting in Lexington, Ky., a group of players met to discuss a rules controversy that had arisen following the hickory golf event. They developed a set of rules and standards of play for hickory golf events.

In 2000, realizing the growth in hickory golf and understanding the need for standards for tournament play and guidelines for equipment and rules, a group of players met following the GCS annual meeting in Virginia Beach, Va.  At this meeting were Tad Moore, John Sherwood, Ralph Livingston III, Chuck McMullin, Roger Hill, Randy Jensen, Winfield Padgett, and John Crow Miller.  They are recognized as the founders of the Society of Hickory Golfers (SoHG) and Ralph Livingston III is recognized by founding members as the inspiration for the SoHG and modern hickory golf.

The Founders of the Society of Hickory Golfers

Randy Jensen

Roger Hill

Winfield Padgett

Ralph Livingston III

Chuck McMullin

Tad Moore

John Crow Miller

John Sherwood

As a result of their discussions, it was decided to create the Society of Hickory Golfers. Its role would be to help popularize the sport, provide guidelines and rules for hickory golf tournaments, establish equipment standards, and serve as a central source of information with regard to resources and maintenance tips for wood-shafted clubs. This was to be a group for hickory golf players, not strictly golf collectors.

In January 2007, the SoHG’s executive committee met at the GCS trade show in Dayton, Ohio, to discuss the growth in hickory golf and to re-examine the structure of the SoHG. Originally, the SoHG was to be a guiding force in hickory golf, not a supervisory body.  At that meeting, executive committee members decided to incorporate as a non-profit organization, elect a board of directors, and recruit new members. In addition, as a result of that meeting, the SoHG took a more active role in determining rules for tournaments and creating equipment standards.

The SoHG now has hundreds of members throughout the U.S. and abroad. They are golfers who love the distinctive feel of golf with hickory-shafted clubs. Moreover, they all share an enthusiasm for the rich history and traditions of golf and bring those values to the golf course. Conservative estimates of the total number of hickory players in the world now total about 3,000. And the number is growing.

The SoHG sponsors several national and international tournaments on historic courses, most of which date their origins to the 1920s or earlier.  Its Championship Series offers high-level competition for hickory golfers in all skill and age categories.

Through its website, the Society connects its members to a wealth of resources on equipment, history, a handicapping service, regional groups, a tournament calendar, a buy/sell/trade page for clubs, as well as tournament and equipment guidelines and standards. Members receive a monthly e-newsletter and a bi-annual print newsletter called A Wee Nip.

Notable Dates in Modern Hickory Golf

  • 1970 – Golf Collectors Society founded (September)
  • 1970s-1990s – Growth of annual GCS hickory golf championships
  • 1978 – Heart of America hickory tournament established by Warren Olson, then GCS president, remains an 18-hole event for first 30 or so years of existence
  • 1984 – American 1898-1930 Golf Club Trademarks, by Pat Kennedy, published
  • 1990 – Ralph Livingston III and Randy Jensen meet at GCS meeting in Chicago
  • 1995 – Collecting Antique Golf Clubs, by Pete Georgiady, published
  • 1998 – June, National Hickory Championship (NHC), a pre-1900 Gutty event, established at Oakhurst Links in White Sulphur Springs, W. Va., by Pete Georgiady, the first two-day hickory tournament
  • 1998 – Louisville Golf makes replica long nose clubs for NHC use
  • 1999 – GCS hickory tournament rules controversy leads to discussion of rules and standards for hickory tournaments
  • 2000 – Group of hickory players create SoHG; founders include Tad Moore, John Sherwood, Ralph Livingston III, Chuck McMullin, Roger Hill, Randy Jensen, Winfield Padgett, and John Crow Miller
  • 2000 – First set of tournament guidelines created by Chuck McMullin
  • 2000 – SoHG board votes to allow replica hickory clubs for tournament play
  • 2001 – Hickory Grail, a biennial British Golf Collectors Society fixture, is established by Ralph Livingston III and David Hamilton
  • 2002 – Wood Shafted Golf Club Value Guide, by Pete Georgiady, published
  • 2002 – Hickory Open established by Ralph Livingston III and Fred Muller at the Kingsley Club in Kingsley, Mich., the first SoHG-supported tournament
  • 2003 – Southern Hickory 4-Ball established by Tad Moore in LaGrange, Ga.
  • 2003 – George Nicoll of Leven, by Roger Hill and Pete Georgiady, published
  • 2004 – First issue of A Wee Nip is published, September
  • 2004 – Tad Moore creates line of replica hickory shafted clubs based on MacGregor and Gibson irons
  • 2004 – Mid Pines Hickory Open established in Southern Pines, N.C. by Rob Pilewski and Tad Moore
  • 2005 – World Hickory Open established by Lionel Freedman at Musselburgh Old Links
  • 2005 – Carolina Hickory Golf Association established by Bill Engelson
  • 2005 – Travel & Leisure Magazine publishes article on hickory golf and calls Randy Jensen “The Hickory Tiger”
  • 2005 – Hickory Golf Association established in Iowa by Bill Reed
  • 2005 – Louisville Golf begins making replica woods; by 2007, has full sets of woods and irons
  • 2005-06 – Frank Boumphrey creates first SoHG website, e-newsletter
  • 2006 – Mountain Valley Hickory Open established in Arkansas by Breck Speed
  • 2007 – SoHG constitution written
  • 2008 – First U.S. Hickory Open, Mimosa Hills at Morganton, N.C.
  • 2008 – Mountain Valley Spring Water first SoHG sponsor at the USHO
  • 2008 – Hickory Open in Michigan moves to Charlevoix, becomes the Belvedere Hickory Open
  • 2008 – Playing Hickory Golf, by Randy Jensen, published
  • 2009 – Mike Brown passes away (February)
  • 2010 – Mike Brown Award established, Frank Boumphrey and Tad Moore are inaugural honorees
  • 2010 – Thomas Stewart Jr, Golf Cleek and Iron Maker, by Ralph Livingston III, published
  • 2011 – Mountain Valley Spring Water becomes major sponsor of the SoHG
  • 2011 – Mike Stevens establishes the U.S. Professional Hickory Championship in Temple Terrace, Fla.
  • 2011 – New SoHG website created
  • 2011 – Championship Series created, first event was the Southern 4-Ball, others include the Mountain Valley Hickory Open, the U.S. Hickory Open, the Belvedere Hickory Open, and the Mid Pines Hickory Open
  • 2011 – Lionel Freedman becomes first international executive committee member of the SoHG
  • 2012 – Frank Boumphrey passes away (March)
  • 2012 – Ralph Livingston III passes away (August)
  • 2013 – International Competition planned, first event scheduled for 2014
  • 2014 – SoHG co-founder John Sherwood passes away (March)
  • 2014 – Brian Schuman creates World Hickory Match Play Championship at Philadelphia’s legendary Cricket Club
  • 2014 – First International Hickory Cup played in Carnoustie, Scotland; U.S. win by 22 1/2 to 21 1/2
  • 2014 – Sandy Lyle, 1988 Masters Champion and noted tour professional, wins World Hickory Open in Carnoustie, Scotland. Lyle also plays practice round at Augusta National using replica hickory golf clubs made by Tad Moore
  • 2015 – AP National Golf Club hosts hickory tournament at Chambers Bay Golf Club, just weeks before 115th U.S. Open
  • 2016 – New SoHG website makes debut
  • 2016 – Mike Just, owner of Louisville Golf, passes away ( October)
  • 2016 – Inaugural Hickory Golf Day, to be celebrated annually first Sunday in May
  • 2017 – Lionel Freedman, founder of World Hickory Open, passes away (January)
  • 2017 – The 10th annual U.S. Hickory Open at the Del Monte Golf Course in Monterey, Calif., marks the USHO’s first West Coast staging.

SoHG Presidents

  • Tad Moore (2000 – 2008)
  • Ken Holtz (2008-2011)
  • Chris Deinlein (2011-2013)
  • Robert Caston (2013)
  • Hampton Munsey (2014)
  • Dr. David Brown (2015 – 2016)
  • Bill Geisler (2017 – current)

U.S. Hickory Open

  • 2008 – Mimosa Hills CC, Morganton, N.C. (Dr. Jay Harris winner)
  • 2009 – Mimosa Hills CC, Morganton, N.C. (Roger Andrews, winner)
  • 2010 – Mimosa Hills CC, Morganton, N.C. (Rick Woeckener, winner)
  • 2011 – Donald Ross Course, French Lick, Ind. (Alan Grieve, winner)
  • 2012 – Donald Ross Course, French Lick, Ind. (Tony Smarrelli, winner)
  • 2013 – Bay Course, Seaview Resort, Galloway, N.J. (Jeremy Moe, winner)
  • 2014 – Country Club of Asheville, Asheville, N.C. (Jeremy Moe, winner)
  • 2015 – Miami Valley Golf Club, Dayton, Ohio (Jeremy Moe, winner)
  • 2016 – Links of Lawsonia, Green Lake, Wisc. (Jeremy Moe, winner)
  • 2017 – Del Monte Golf Course, Monterey, Calif. (Nico Bollini, winner)