Three leading senior golfers took a trip back in time to the early years of the professional game today as an entertaining prelude to the Scottish Senior Open at Craigielaw Golf Club in East Lothian.
It was not exactly the ‘Great Triumvirate’ of Harry Vardon, James Braid and J H Taylor, but Gary Orr, Paul Eales and Jarmo Sandelin certainly gave a passable imitation of the magnificent trio from the early decades of the 20th century.
Nattily attired in period golfing dress, the three Staysure Tour players embarked on a different contest to their usual pro-am duties ahead of a main tournament – namely the Scottish Senior Open Hickory Challenge over four holes at Craigielaw’s South Links academy course.
With North Berwick siblings Magnus (10) and eight-year-old Fergus and Flora Lawson also getting into the spirit of the occasion as caddies for the special event, Orr, Eales and Sandelin displayed their considerable skills with ‘old technology’ – hickory clubs from the period from 1850 to 1935.
The professionals were given valuable advice on how to handle the wooden clubs by Boris Lietzow, owner of the Jack White Hickory Shop in Gullane, who is organising the World Hickory Open Championships to be held on four top courses on Scotland’s Golf Coast of East Lothian in a month’s time.
The four-hole challenge ended in a tie between Scotland’s Orr and Swede Sandelin, who required 14 strokes to Eales’s 15. Orr claimed the honour of victory with a sweet ‘nearest the pin’ shot to the first green in a play-off.
“It was a fantastic experience,” said Orr, resplendent in his tartan plus-twos. “I’d never attempted to play with hickory clubs before and didn’t know my cleek from my mashie niblick! All three of us had a great time over the Craigielaw course and I would love to do it again some time.”
Sandelin, known as a flamboyant dresser in his time on the European Tour, relished the chance to wear the clothes of a century ago and commented: “I would love to play in a hickory tournament after this experience. You have to swing more gently and I hope it’s helped my rhythm ahead of the Scottish Senior Open.”
Eales, winner of the 2016 Scottish Senior Open at nearby Archerfield Links in East Lothian, enjoyed the experience so much that he was keen to enter the World Hickory Open next month.
“It was a joy to learn a bit more about the history of golf played with hickory clubs. I love this part of the world anyway, having won the Scottish Senior Open in East Lothian two years ago, and today’s challenge has been a nice way to prepare for trying to regain the trophy this week.”