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September 2023

28th Australian Hickory Shaft Open Championships

By Events, 2023 No Comments

28th Australian Hickory Shaft Open Championship – Melbourne 2023 – Event Report 

 Playing group before hitting off at Woodlands GC

The 28th playing of the Australian Hickory Shaft Championship was recently played on Melbourne’s world-renowned Sandbelt courses. The courses were set up for hickory play and although the clubs are 100 + years old the winning scores were surprisingly low.

Hickory players from around Australia, as well as, for the first time, contingents from New Zealand and Japan, competed for the Championship and handicap trophies.

The new Sandy Golf Links course hosted the Foursomes on Day 1. The weather was superb, and the course was in excellent condition. There were some fine scores and an excellent score of 72 was posted.  New Zealanders Catherine Palmer and Mark Lawson took home the trophy. Runners up were Mike Clayton & Terry Thornton with a 76.

Darryn Watt & Andrew Baker won the handicap section with Nett 70.6.

Foursome’s winners Catherine Palmer & Mark Lawson flanked by handicap winners Darryn Watt & Andrew Baker.

The main Championship event is played over 36 holes with Round One at Woodlands GC and the final round at Kingston Heath GC. The hickory clubs used in the event would have been similar to the clubs used by the founding fathers of both courses, which were established in the mid 1920’s.

Woodlands presented the course in immaculate condition; however, the weather was not kind with wind and some rain. This did not deter the players who braved the conditions, some recording excellent scores.

The highlight of the day was the after-dinner guest speakers. Australian PGA CEO, Gavin Kirkman spoke of the history, his recent experiences and future development of the PGA. Bruce Green, PGA Life Member, and long-term professional at Royal Melbourne followed  and was thoroughly entertaining as he took us through his colourful career.

The early start for the final round at Kingston Heath was bleak, cold, and wet, but as one player noted “these are the conditions they play in all the time in Scotland!!” and nothing could deter playing on one of the world’s best courses.

A superb second round of 74 by Richard Macafee gave him a record low of 148, to secure the Men’s Championship trophy over NSW’s Tim Sayers on 162.

Richard, a long-time member of Kingston Heath, has a fast-growing passion for hickory golf. “I finally got my own hickories, and to play with my own set was unbelievable… I’ll be doing it a lot more now”, he said.

In the Women’s Championship, the first day at Woodlands was New Zealand’s Catherine Palmer’s first full round with hickory clubs, but she didn’t let that stop her from taking out the title with an impressive score of 169. She commented “back home in Christchurch, I’d just been playing nine holes, and these fast and firm courses, made it a lot more challenging,”

Champions Richard Macafee and Catherine Palmer 

The handicap section was a close contest between Golf Society members with Justin Ryan on 154 edging out Mango Maguire on 155.

Handicap winner Justin Ryan with Golf Australia CEO James Sutherland

The inaugural Asia Pacific Hickory Championship, sponsored by the US’s Society of Hickory Golfers (SoHG) was played in conjunction with the Australian event, with Richard and Catherine are now also the Asia Pacific Hickory Champions. Australia won the Teams event.

SoHG’s President Joe Hollerbach sent a congratulatory message and his summary “may your hickory golf journeys be filled with continued joy, camaraderie and excellence” really summed up the occasion.

Most of the Internationals struggled a little with the close-cut fairways and firm fast greens, but all had terrific experiences. Off course they visited Australia’s best shop for hickories at Ormond hosted by the owner, Ross Baker, the most knowledgeable person in Australia on hickories. The Japanese contingent went mad and most bought a couple of sets, seems they can’t get originals in Japan only replicas. The Kiwi’s secured some Australian clubs – they claim they were returning them home as like many things originated in New Zealand… a standing joke!!

The week marked another successful event organised by Australian Golf Heritage Society and the Golf Society of Australia, alongside the Society of Hickory Golfers, who continue to celebrate golf’s origins and rich tradition.

Other photos

Foursomes group on first tee 

Above -Justin Ryan/Richard Macafee, Terry Thornton/Mike Clayton, Catherine Palmer (her caddie)/Mark Lawson

New Zealand Team

The Japanese Team

Below – Asia Pacific Hickory Champions Catherine Palmer, Richard Macafee with James Sutherland

More photos from the event can be found in the Gallery section.


Dinner – Huntingdale Golf Club – Tuesday 26 September 2023

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Our guest speaker for our final dinner for the year was Melbourne based golf course photographer and GSA member Gary Lisbon.

Well known around the world for his photography…Gary has travelled for almost two decades capturing images of the world’s best golf courses for golf clubs and industry publications. Gary has visited and photographed over 685 courses in 26 countries (and counting) and his passion for the game is evident with his spectacular and enduring images. 

A 13-week trip in 2022 saw Gary visit and photograph 89 courses culminating in his just released “Great Golf Courses of the World” coffee table book. Gary spoke his spectacular journey, highlighting some of the other places he has visited and the successes and challenges of capturing images where weather is constantly changing. 

 Members and guests had thoroughly entertaining evening hearing from Gary whilst enjoying his many superb images of courses from all over the world.

                                    Please enjoy this report put together by John Trevorrow

Gary has photographed more than 685 courses in 26 countries, and many of his stunning images are the work of his camera drone, which he is licensed to fly in Australia, New Zealand and EU countries.

He revealed that the magic time of day for him is a 45-minute window each morning and evening when the sun is low in the sky and the softer light highlights the terrain and saturates the colours that all golfers know and love.

Gary has just produced a sumptuous new coffee table book ‘Great Golf Courses of the World’ after a 13-week trip through 89 golf courses in nine countries in the UK, Scandinavia, Europe, and other exotic places.

He showed many of the images as he told the back-story of capturing his beautiful images, including capturing the northern lights at midnight as they shimmered over Lofoten Links, a spectacular private golf course built on the coast of a remote peninsula in northern Norway.

Gary also quizzed the 68 people in the audience, which included Huntingdale’s president Malcolm Hutson and GM Alex McGillivray, by showing images from courses around the globe and asking who could name the venue. The well-travelled audience got all of them, except Norway’s faraway Lofoten Links.

This was the GSA’s third dinner for 2023, and the audience was also delighted to see Gary’s wonderful images of Royal Melbourne GC with the CBD towers in the background complete with hot air balloons, plus an aerial study of the 8th/10th green complex at Huntingdale.

The evening also had a delightful surprise element when relatives of Huntingdale legend Burtta Cheney MBE donated several items linked to the great champion golfer, administrator, teacher and inspiration to women golfers for generations. Her nephew David Cheney donated Burtta’s MBE medal and original MBE certificate signed by Queen Elizabeth, awarded in 1976 for services to the Australian and Victorian Ladies Golf Unions. David also donated Burtta’s Women’s Golf Victoria award of excellence bestowed in 2010 for her lifetime contribution to women’s golf in Victoria. Burtta was a founding member, life member and second president of the Golf Society, and these three precious items were donated to the GA/GSA heritage collection.

David Cheney also donated to Huntingdale GC an old Life Member board – which incorporated a framed mirror – bearing Burtta Cheney’s name from when she was the first and only Huntingdale associate to be honoured by her club as a life member, back in 1968. The board was found in a Melbourne antiques shop by a friend of David, and it is now back at the club where it belongs.

To see more of Gary Lisbon’s work, go to


Dinner guest speaker Gary Lisbon with President Kim Hastie

President Kim Hastie with David Cheney 

David Cheney with HGC President Malcolm Hutson

David Cheney with HGC President Malcolm Hutson