Well, it rained again on the first day, but that didn’t stop anyone. Boasting our largest field ever, the 2022 Winter Park Hickory Classic went off without a hitch for two January days in at the legendary WP9 golf course. Folks traveled from far and wide to hear their names called and tee shots made. Really, it was a lovely time. Let’s do it again next year!

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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 car. 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 Hickory Root Rule is in effect. If a player’s swing is impeded by a 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.
  • There will be a hard card at the event to cover local rules.
  • Questions? Contact Bill Geisler at hickorybill1@gmail.com


Please download the linked entry form below, fill it out and return it with a check for the amount of your total entry fees. This year, you have the option of signing up for the full two-day event or either day. Entering the event means you’ve read the rules listed above and agree to follow them.

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2021 Winter Park Hickory Classic

There were clouds when we started and more clouds when we stopped. In between, there was a little bit of rain, some cool breezes and a whole lot of great golf! A full field of 44 ladies and gents teed off to play two nine-hole rounds at the increasingly legendary Winter Park Golf Course (aka, the WP9). Most people walked and in between rounds, enjoyed a truly fabulous lunch catered by Ghost Kitchen Orlando. After the scores were posted and the winners announced, everyone got to pick up a WPHC ball marker and a lovely tee gift from Will Jacoby from Steurer & Jacoby.

Big thanks to all those who attended, Jake and Maddy for scoring and the staff at WP9 for helping to make this a great day amid an ongoing pandemic. Below are photos taken by Greg and Beverly Wise and Rich Grula. You can find our full collection of photos here. If you have photos from the event you’d like to share, send them to grula@pobox.com. Feel free to download for personal but please do not use any photos in publications without seeking permission.

Thanks from the WPHC Committee (Bill, Rich, Marci, Natalie and Mike)

Well that was fun, right?

Despite some cool weather and brief sprinkles, the 2nd Annual Winter Park Hickory Classic went off without a hitch and everybody seemed to enjoy the one-day, 18 hole format. Maybe we’ll keep it in place for next year! Let’s talk about winners shall we?

On the Ladies side (left to right), it was Marci Likens taking the 1st Place Open Award, with Natalie Wells grabbing 1st Place Reserve and Beth Chambers winning 2nd Place Reserve.

On the Men’s side in the Open Division (left to right), it was Will Peterson (71) followed by Gil Feagin (73) and Joe Foguth (75). In the Reserve Division, Tom McCrary took 1st Place honors in a scorecard playoff over Dave Webster (below) and Dan Capaz was only one stroke behind in 3rd place.