By: Jordan Caplan, Golf Course Superintendent at Belvedere Golf Club
This past September in Charlevoix, Michigan, Belvedere Golf Club was proud to host The Hickory Grail Cup. This prestigious competition is a three-day Ryder Cup style event matching the most passionate and skilled hickory players from the United States against those from Great Britain/Europe. While the match structure is the same as the Ryder Cup, there are a few key differences between the two. Players compete with pre-1935 equipment and dress in traditional knickers, tie, and jacket.
The Hickory Grail was founded in 2000 by Americans Ralph Livingston III and Tom Stewart, both hickory pioneers and experts, along with Scotland’s David Hamilton, one of today's premier golf historians. The biennial event is conducted under the auspices of The British Golf Collectors Society. The Hickory Grail seeks to promote an appreciation for the history and traditions of golf and to foster great friendship among its players of both teams.
The tournament is noted for selecting many of the world’s most prestigious historical courses for its venues. Belvedere was announced as host following the 2021 competition played at the home of golf, St. Andrews. Other notable venues include Baltustrol, Kilspindie, and Machrihanish.
Two Belvedere members and Head Professional Dennis “Marty” Joy are members of the United States team. The matches were filled with excitement and drama, including a hole out for eagle from 137 yards and later, a holed 105 ft birdie putt on the eighteenth to halve the match. The competition was closer than the final score would indicate as Team USA won 18 to 10. In the end, the tradition and friendship of golf prevailed. The overall series is now 7-6 in favor of Team USA.
The players were able to fully experience the vagaries of Northern Michigan weather. An unseasonable high and hottest day of the summer, 94 degrees to start things off; thunderstorms would later cause suspension of play. The final day was beautiful, sunny and 65 degrees. The course was in excellent condition, and green speeds were appropriate to utilize the best pin locations. The golf maintenance staff spared no detail and put forth a team effort to prepare the course. The pride in their work was evident and everyone had fun hosting the competition.