U.S. Hickory Open Rules

For this tournament, all USGA rules will be in effect, except as they are modified under local rules set forth and enforced by the tournament committee. Local rules modifications are intended to help hickory enthusiasts experience the game as closely as possible to the way it was played in the heyday of hickory golf.

Tournament Format
The winners will be determined by 36 holes of stroke play. Contestants must enter one (and only one) of the following divisions:

Open (Championship)
Senior (60-69)
Super Senior (70+)

Please note: in each division there is a Gross and Reserve Division. Only those playing in the Open/Championship Divison will be eligible to win the USHO. Each division must have a minimum of four contestants. If four contestants cannot be achieved, the tournament committee will allocate applicants into an appropriate division prior to the first day of play.

The overall champion of the U. S. Hickory Open 2017 must play from the championship tees regardless of age. Seniors playing in the Championship Division for the overall title must play from the Championship Division tees.

Championship Division:
Gross and Net Divisions (age 59 and under) will play from a distance no greater than 6,200 yards.

Senior Division:
Gross and Net Divisions (ages 60 to 69) will play from a distance no greater than 5,800 yards.

Super Senior Division:
Gross and Net Divisions (age 70 and over) will play from the same as seniors.

Ladies' Division:
Gross and Net Divisions (all ages) will play from a distance no greater than 5,000 yards.


Rules of Play
The following rules are expected to be used for the 2016 tournament, although slight changes may be made, so be sure to check back before the tournament begins.


Golf Club Equipment Guidelines
The U.S. Hickory Open follows all of the Equipment Guidelines found on the SoHG website. Any questions concerning the guidelines should be directed to Rob Ahlschwede, chair of the Equipment Committee, or the USHO tournament director.

Because the guidelines deal with pre-1935 equipment, most if not all equipment that was allowed before 1935 is approved for SoHG play. For example, there is no club limit; deep groove and other unusual clubs that were at one time legal for play are approved for SoHG play. The Society uses the term “hickory” but hickory is not the only wood used in shafts and any wood used for shafts is approved.

It should be noted that the guidelines permit the use of approved authentic replica clubs and also approved woods that have been retro-fitted with a wood shaft for play. The term “wood” in this case indicates the type of head, as pre-1935, “woods” were made not only of wood but also aluminum. The Society does not sanction retro-fitting irons for SoHG play.

Penalty for using non-conforming clubs is disqualification.


Balls Approved for Play – U.S. Hickory Open
All USGA-approved golf balls.

All USGA-approved balls that have been “re-molded” to replicate balls and the surface patterns from the pre-1935 era. That could include bramble, square mesh, line-cut, vintage round, and others not listed. Balls offered by the McIntyre Golf Company, Tad Moore Hickory Classics, and the “Classic” ball offered by Brian Schuman, are all approved for play. The Classic ball is not remolded but manufactured with the Ralph Atti round dimple pattern that was developed around 1910.

Balls remolded by individuals are approved for play as long as the player can show proof that the ball is USGA-approved.

Penalty for playing with a non-conforming ball is disqualification.


Pace Of Play
Players will be subject to penalty without warning if they unduly delay play, or lose substantially more than their starting interval. (Rule 6-7)


Suspension Of Play
Will be signaled by one long blast of the air-horn. Play MUST be discontinued immediately, and all players should seek shelter. Balls in play must be marked with a tee upon discontinuing play. Play will not resume until the Tournament Rules Committee has so ordered by signaling with three short lasts of the air-horn.
Penalty for breach of rule: Disqualification


Upon completion of the round, please return scorecards to the Tournament Scoring Committee at the scoreboard.



  • A tie for first place in the Open division will be decided by a sudden death play-off, starting on hole number one immediately following completion of the final round. All other ties will be decided by matching scorecards.
  • Those tying for gross prizes will match score cards for the last nine holes. Lowest back nine total determines the winner of the score card playoff. If the tying players have the same score for the last nine, determine the winner on the basis of the last six holes, last three holes, and finally the 18th hole. If this method is used in a competition with multiple tee start (shotgun start), the "last nine, last six, etc." is considered to be holes 10--18, 13--18, etc. Handicap will not be used in these calculations.
  • Those tying for net prizes will also match score cards as above, but handicaps will be considered in such calculations. The percentage of eighteen holes used for matching cards shall be applied to the players' handicaps to determine their playoff handicaps. Handicap stroke fractions of one-half or more shall count as a full stroke, and any lesser fractions shall be disregarded.

Example 1 (Click To See Example) Example 2 (Click To See Example)


Rules Decisions:
Only members of the Tournament Rules Committee are authorized to make a rules decision. If in doubt as to how to proceed and a member of the Tournament Rules Committee is not present, play a second ball under Rule 3-3, and ask for a ruling when your round is completed.


Local Rules
USGA Rules of Golf and Etiquette shall apply.
Local rules for the 2017 USHO will be added here should any apply.