WHITEHALL — Mashies and niblicks were at work on the White Lake Golf Club last Saturday, as the McNabb Cup paid its annual visit to the course.
This fixture on the Michigan Hickory Tour, a season-long schedule of hickory golf played on venues throughout the state, is one of the highlights of the season, according to the players. Of the 25 players who toured the lovely WLGC course, a 1916 Tom Bendelow design, many traveled from as far as New York, Florida, Tennessee, and Wisconsin.
Scott Staudacher of Grand Rapids took the 2022 title, the 11th playing for the Cup. The current president of the Society of Hickory Golfers (the SoHG, formed in 2000 to organize modern hickory play with the original and replica wood shafted clubs), Staudacher had just returned from the U.S. Hickory Open at the Mission Inn near Orlando, Fla., where he won first place in the Open Reserve Division.
At White Lake he had his hands full with Collin Laundrie, a young man in his 20s from Wisconsin who traveled to the contest with his parents, Michelle and Dennis Laundrie. Laundrie posted the lowest score in 2021, an 82.
“The White Lake course is the perfect course for hickories,” said Roger Hill of Grand Rapids, a co-founder of the SoHG and organizer of events in Michigan. “Built in 1916 by one of the preeminent course designers of that day, it is just right for these old clubs as far as length, bunker placement and green configurations.”
“It is a treat to play here and we are very grateful to the club and its members for hosting us,” said Bill Ellington of Wyandotte, Mich. Ellington’s name appears twice on the Cup.
Sporting plus-fours, shirts and ties, the players were a definite throwback as far as golf attire is concerned.
“It’s done to honor the game, each other, the course, and, of course, Miss McNabb herself that we do this,” said Jim Davis, host of the McNabb Cup. “It’s a bit of tradition and kind of fun to do so with these old clubs.”
Davis’ wife, Barbara, and her family have had a cottage in the Sylvan Beach Resort Association since 1916. It was her great-aunt, Isabel McNabb, who, in 1922, won the cup the gents today play for.
The old clubs, by the way, work just fine in the hands of those who take the time to get acquainted. Staudacher posted a 76 followed by two others with scores in the 70s. Granted, the No. 2 hole at White Lake was closed for reconstruction, but that is some good golf with clubs nearly 100 years old.
“This is just so much fun,” said Bruce Markwardt of Grand Isle, Mich. “I’m always surprised more players don’t take this up.”
Information on the Michigan Hickory Tour can be found by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.