Certainly the pandemic and travel restrictions has changed golf and how it is played all around the world.

Even organisers of the National Hickory Championships, which have been played in the US for 23 years, were forced to make changes to allow “foreigners” a chance to compete.

For those that could not play at the Mound Course in Miamisburg, Ohio a remote division was organised, which included Australia. 

That was the 36-hole event was played on the same two days at all courses worldwide.

The Australian Golf Heritage Society was asked to run the Australian section and chose Long Reef as the venue as it is ideal for hickory golf and ranked at No. 32 in the top-100 public access courses in Australia.

Players used their pre-1935 hickory clubs and followed the events special conditions such as playing a Gutta Percha ball (used in 1900 and go about 60 per cent of the distance of current balls), carry their clubs without a carry bag, no wooden tees, use sand mound when teeing off.

The course was also set up in line with Oakhurst Links, America’s oldest documented golf course, first played in the early 1880s with its nine holes measuring 2235 yards.

Day one saw blizzard conditions in Sydney with the course virtually unplayable so the day had to be cancelled. 

As the event had to finish in line with the other countries, on day two competitors played 26 holes and had to finish off the last 10 holes on Saturday afternoon. 

It was just the opposite in the US with heatwave conditions.

Winner Tim Sayers (right) and runner-up Phil Baird.

With the special Gutta Percha balls costing almost $30, accuracy was paramount and the players took a little time to come to grips with the short distance they travelled. 

With the re-arranging of times not all could juggle their diaries so only a few completed the 36 holes. 

Tim Sayers, a well-respected club fitter, led the Australian contingent playing superb golf under the conditions with 149 (77-72). 

Manly professional Phil Baird finished runner-up on 159 (80-79) with Rick Baldwin the leading amateur on 168 (90-78).

In the International Remote Division Tim and Phil were well ahead of the pack and the first and second place medals are on their way from the US. 

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