It’s been a weird year, huh?

No matter. We’re pleased to announced the Winter Park Hickory Classic will be returning for its second edition on January 23, 2021, hosted once again at one of the world’s most admired nine-hole layouts, The Winter Park Golf Club (aka the WP9). Because we don’t know what curveballs Covid 19 might toss our way, we’re keeping things simple. Officially, we’re going to have a one-day, 18-hole event with a quick lunch served at the turn. But for those traveling to our humble burg, we’re also going to recommend a few hickory-friendly local courses and our favorite restaurants. So make a trip out of it and enjoy yourself! Read on and we’ll see you in January.

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PRACTICE ROUNDS (ALL DAY) – Optional practice rounds are available for $20 by booking directly with the Winter Park Golf Course Pro Shop (407-599-3339). Tell them you’re with the Hickory Classic. There’s often a Shootout scheduled for late in the afternoon. Feeling lucky? Sign up to play with young flatbellies wielding modern clubs. You might win a few hundred bucks.

FIRST & SECOND ROUNDS – Tee times will start at 10:00 AM. We’ll be doing two loops on the Winter Park Golf Course’s historic nine-hole track. All men will play from the BLACK tees. All women will play from the WHITE tees. This is a walking course, but they do have a limited number of carts which you will have to reserve in advance if you require one. A BOX LUNCH – will be served between your nines and drinks will be available. Awards will be presented at the conclusion of golf.

Consider this your day to explore! Check our our recommendations for dinning and golf.

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The Course

“The Winter Park Golf Course, or WP9 as the locals now call it, is one of the most unique models for municipal golf in America. A round of golf at the WP9 will take you across streets, around a cemetery, and right up to the front porch of some of the most charming homes in Florida. The course has always been memorable for its setting, but a recent renovation has resulted in a world class golf experience that every golfer should visit. I spent a day at the Winter Park Golf Course and my experience was a revelation.” Jay Revell, Medium Magazine

The Winter Park Golf Course traces its origins to 1914 when Harley A. Ward and Dow George were commissioned to lay out a 9-hole course on 25 acres at the north end of Winter Park, a charming little suburb of Orlando created as a haven for snowbirds seeking more hospitable temperatures in the cold months.

Over the years, the course grew to as many as 27 holes, closed, became a sheep pasture, reopened and eventually settled into the current nine-hole layout. For a long time, it was a gentle, flat track known locally as “The Old Man Walking Course.” It lost so much money every year that there was a serious effort to turn it into a frisbee golf course (Personal Note: I actually saw the equipment for this potential change in the back of the pro shop. Thankfully, the items were never installed).

In 2015 Winter Park officials took a bold step. They ignored the advice of developers hungry to replace the course with more homes and instead invested $1.2 million in a renovation. Keith Rhebb and Riley Johns, a pair of associate designers for Coore-Crenshaw, won the bidding and stepped out as course architects for the very first time. The revitalized Winter Park Golf Course, opened in 2016, has been a spectacular success since Day One. It’s showcased constantly as one of the best nine-hole layouts in the country and has become an inspiring model of what a successful municipal course can be. Instead of losing six figures a year, it generates healthy profits, enjoys 40,000 rounds annually and is a source of great community pride. Also…it’s a lot of fun to play!

The Winter Park Golf Course is located at 561 West Webster Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789. The Pro Shop phone number is (407) 599-3419.

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Local Tips (Golf & Dining)

The Tournament Committee consisted of Rich Grula, Natalie Wells, Marci Likens and Bill Geisler (left to right) with Dennis James and Mike Stevens missing from the above photo.

Let’s start with other hickory-friendly golf courses in the area.

Dubsdread has been Orlando’s home golf course since 1924. It’s set on a rolling Florida layout between the houses of the College Park neighborhood. It looks easy, but it’s not. Lots of open fronts for rolling approach shots. The Tap Room is a great bar restaurant right off the practice putting green.

Mount Dora Golf Club is billed as “the longest 5,700 yards in Florida,” which is high praise for this par 70, 88 acre challenge with both down and uphill lies, to keep the best golfers on their toes.  Not fancy, but lots of fun and always reasonably priced.

A mostly unrenovated Donald Ross gem located about 90 miles southwest of the WP9. Not a cookie-cutter Florida course. Very good club restaurant.

Winter Park has a lot of great restaurants. Here are a few we recommend.

  • THE COUP – Comfort food and Southern fare from the folks that brought us 4 River Smokehouse
  • 4 RIVERS SMOKEHOUSE – probably the best place for smoked meats in Winter Park. The Fairbanks Ave. branch is on the way for anyone who has to get on I-4 to go home.
  • BOSPHOROUS TURKISH CUISINE – Amazing Turkish food. Lots of outdoor seating on Park Ave.
  • THE RAVENOUS PIG – An American gastropub with a large outdoor beer garden/dinning area.
  • ANTONIO’S – Italian & pizza in nearby Maitland. Upstairs is fancy, downstairs and outside casual.
  • OLEA MEDITERRANEAN GRILL – Imagine a Mediterranean version of Chipotle. Easy, tasty and casual.

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  • Since this is such a delightfully short course, there are only two divisions for the tournament – Men’s & Women’s. Each will have Gross and Net awards. Yardage for the Men’s Division is about 5,000. Yardage for the Women’s Division is about 4,500.
  • The Winter Park Golf Course is primarily a walking course and pull carts will be provided at no cost to all tournament players. A few riding carts are available but must be reserved in advance with the pro shop for an extra charge. The WPHC tournament can not promise that enough riding carts will be available.
  • Distance measuring devices of any kind are not allowed during the tournament. Lasers, cell phone golf apps, fancy GPS watches, talking hat clips and the like should not be worn or even brought out of your bag. Anyone using such devices will be disqualified from the competition.
  • Only hickory-shafted clubs approved for play by the Society of Hickory Golfers may be used.
  • Any USGA approved ball is legal for play, as well McIntyre Replica Golf balls and the Classic.
  • Traditional hickory golf clothing is strongly encouraged. BASEBALL HATS and SHORTS are forbidden. Have some pride.
  • No gimmes, no mulligans, no rolling the ball. Unless otherwise announced, we play the ball down.
  • Every ball must be holed out and your full score must be recorded for every hole. It’s a tournament.
  • The standard Root Rule is in effect. If a player’s swing is impeded by a tree root, he/she can take the nearest point of relief no closer to the hole with no penalty. If a tree or bush impedes the swing in addition to a root, then the Root Rule can not be used. Instead, the standard rule for an Unplayable Lie should be used with a one stroke penalty.
  • Questions? Contact Bill Geisler at


Please download the linked entry form below, fill it out and return it with a check for the amount of your total entry fees. Player entry fee for the 2021 WPHC is $55. Entering the event means you’ve read the rules listed above and agree to follow them.