Charlevoix, MI – Belvedere Golf Club, the classic William Watson design located in Northern Michigan, will have two members and its head golf professional represent the United States in the annual Hickory Grail Cup Matches October 24–29 at the famed St. Andrews Old Course in Scotland.
Ross Hays, Jerry Esselman, along with Belvedere head pro Marty Joy will join 13 other USA team members from around the country, to challenge Europe’s best who field a team of 16 dedicated hickory players. The matches are in the Ryder Cup style format between the United States and Great Britain/Europe.
The Hickory Grail was founded in 2000 by American’s 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 semiannual event is conducted under the auspices of The British Golf Collectors Society, with current membership of 700+ members in Great Britain, America and around the world.
“With Belvedere’s popularity for Hickory play, it was perfect to have three representatives from the club selected to the team,” said Joy. “Ross, Jerry and I have been passionate hickory club players and supporters for decades. To be able to participate in this prestigious event at St. Andrews, the home of golf, is a dream come true for all of us.”
Belvedere is the only club in the U.S. to have as many as 44 antique hickory club players and hosts Hickory tournaments annually including the Belvedere Hickory Open since 2006 and in 2019 hosted the national U.S. Hickory Open. Competitors dress in period appropriate apparel, including knickers, ties, and jackets. Conservative estimates of the total number of hickory players in the world now total about 3,000 and growing.
Belvedere, with its classic parkland layout designed by noted Scottish architect William Watson in 1925, has always been the perfect venue for hickory club play. Watson’s masterpieces include famous classic and major championship designs like Olympia Fields in Chicago, Harding Park in San Francisco, Interlachen in Minneapolis, The Olympic Club in San Francisco, and others.
Belvedere, named 2016 Michigan Course of the Year by the Michigan Golf Course Owners Association, has been a respected tournament venue for nearly a century, having hosted the Michigan Amateur 40 times. Beginning in 1963, Belvedere hosted the event for 26 consecutive years. The 41st hosting of the Michigan Amateur at Belvedere will come in 2025, the club’s centennial year.
Stretching to 6,906 yards, Belvedere isn’t long by modern standards, but the challenge lies in the short game around the dynamic green complexes, which features subtle undulations, ridges and slopes that fall off to chipping areas. Belvedere recently went through a major restoration bringing the green complexes back to the original drawings. Leading golf architects describe Belvedere’s greens as on par with those at renowned courses, such as Augusta National and Oakmont.
The course has long been a favorite of many golf greats, including legend Walter Hagen, who won the first Great Lakes Open at Belvedere, and five-time British Open winner Tom Watson, who as a youngster honed his game playing summers at Belvedere. He remains a member today and calls the short par-four 16th hole one of the great par fours in America.
For information about Belvedere visit www.belvederegolfclub.com or call 231-547-2611.