The hickory crowd

Say hello (and maybe fore!) to some folks who not only talk about the old days but also keep them going.

They’re the 200 or so members of Northwest Hickory Players, an association of golfers that formed in 2014 to enjoy and promote playing golf the old-fashioned way with some of the original equipment–hickory era, pre-1935 clubs. 

The wood-shafted clubs, some more than 100 years old, are the favorite way to play for linksters such as John Quickstad of Sammamish. His clubs from 1895 because are “beautiful” and take him back to some of the ancient origins of the game in Scotland in 1851.

“I describe it as getting to play with my antiques,” he said.

The men and women in the hickory crowd play socially and competitively. They have outings to golf courses throughout the Pacific Northwest (Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia is their main focus), organize club swaps and sales, and welcome newcomers to the wood-shaft world. There are no membership costs or other obligations. On the competition side, Northwest Hickory Players has an annual state tournament (the 2023 event was staged May 21-22 in Walla Walla at Veterans Memorial Golf Course and Wine Valley Golf Course) and helped host the first two U.S. Hickory Opens on the West Coast–at Pebble Beach Resorts (Del Monte Golf Course) in California in 2017 and at Gearhart Golf Links near Seaside, Ore. in 2021. Andrew Von Lossow, a Northwest Hickory member, won at Gearhart, which itself is a blast from golf’s past. The links-style course opened in 1892 and was designed by Robert Livingston, a native of Scotland.

Northwest Hickory Players is affiliated with the international Society of Hickory Golfers (SoHG), which has about 3,000 members worldwide. One of them, an honorary lifetime member, is a Washingtonian–Jeffery Olsen of Shoreline.

Along with the U.S., countries with their own national associations include Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Africa, and numerous European nations such as Scotland and Ireland

Credit for the organized modern pursuits of hickory-style golf in the United States generally is given to so-called “hickory hacker” events that were part of annual meetings of the Golf Collectors Society. GCS was founded in 1970 by Joe Murdoch and Bob Kuntz to share their passion for golf history and the game’s collectibles and memorabilia. Only a few dozen people were involved at first, but as the idea caught on, GCS held more meetings, some collectors and traders of wood-shafted clubs wanted to try playing with them. The rest is history.

Among the Northwest Hickory contingent, “there are a few of us that also work on the clubs–resetting heads, replacing or repairing shafts, installing grips,” Quickstad said.  “Those skills are also part of the hickory golf experience that our group and the Society of Hickory Golfers are keeping alive and hopefully passing on to others. Just in case you were wondering how we keep clubs that are 90 to 140 years old in playing condition.”

Clubs aren’t all that make hickory golfers easy to spot on a course. They also use old-style balls and wear knickers and other period clothing fancied by golfers of yore. It is, they’ll tell you, more fun than a barrel of birdies.

Here’s how Quickstad and another Northwest Hickory enthusiast Martin Pool, of Kenmore, described it in a Q-and-A with Senior Scene:

SS: How did you get involved in hickory golf? Are you a student of golf, and/or a longtime player?

Quickstad: “I’m a long time player.  I remember my maternal grandfather helping me with my game in junior high school. I then played on my high school golf team. I was intrigued by hickory golf clubs and had one from my paternal grandfather that I had tried playing with, but it had a cracked shaft and I didn’t know how to fix it at the time, so the club sat in a corner for many years. Then about 2011 I inherited my maternal grandfather’s hickory clubs. In 2012 I started looking around for hickory clubs like my grandfather’s set on the Internet and found the Society of Hickory Golfers (SOHG) website. I sent an e-mail to the SOHG contact asking about a contact in the Seattle area. I received back Rob Ahlschwede’s e-mail address and then started exchanging e-mails with him for help with building a play set. The following year, Rob let me know that a group of local hickory players were going to play at West Seattle Golf Course. By that time I’d assembled my play set, so I went to the event, played, and was hooked.”

Pool: “I’ve been playing golf for about 50 years.  When I was in college, I worked in archives and became interested in history. History and golf naturally evolved into playing with hickory clubs, which I’ve been doing for the past 25 years. I also enjoy researching and writing golf history.”

SS: Do you prefer playing with wood-shafted clubs? How would you describe the difference between them and modern equipment, both in performance and just pure fun?

Quickstad: “I do prefer playing with hickory clubs, mostly because they’re beautiful to look at and I’m playing them for the unique experience they provide. I really like playing with my clubs from 1895 with gutta percha golf balls. The clubs are all handmade and really a form of Scottish folk art. I describe it as getting to play with my antiques. That’s only in hickory golf events or when a group of us go out to play a fun round. I play modern clubs in non-hickory events or with family or friends. In my experience, I find there isn’t much difference between hickory clubs and modern clubs, other than I can hit the fall farther with modern clubs. Putting and chipping are exactly the same.”

Pool: “I play both hickories and moderns — about 50-50.  Many of our players play hickories exclusively. I marvel at how hickory clubs have withstood the test of time and that we can still play with them a hundred years later. The ball doesn’t go as far, about 90 percent of the distance with modern clubs, but that’s still remarkable for 100-year-old clubs. It’s true that hickory clubs are, as they say, “less forgiving” than modern clubs, but we joke that if you’re looking for forgiveness, then you should go to church. There is no greater fun in golf than hitting a pure shot with hickories and making birdies.” 

SS: Does it feel like stepping back in time when you’re playing with others who are all dressed and equipped the way the game was played in the hickory era, especially in tournaments? 

Quickstad: “I thought that might be the case when I first started. But the more I played, the more I realized what Rob Ahlschwede says is really true: It’s just golf.  What that means is that the golf experience transcends time. So I don’t feel like I went back in time, I feel I’m just part of a shared experience that has lasted for hundreds of years. In the case of my clubs from the 1890s, I’m playing with the same clubs that someone enjoyed almost 130 years ago. It’s the clubs and courses that really link us to that shared experience”

Pool: “Absolutely, I feel like a time traveler when I’m dressed in period clothes and playing with original clubs. If you’re a student of history, the best way to learn it is by actually experiencing it.  With golf, we’re fortunate that we can do that using authentic equipment. This is especially true when we play hickory-era courses such as Tacoma Country Club and Meadow Park (in Tacoma), which were built when hickory clubs were used.”

Next stop: France

Leigh Swanson, who devoted nearly a quarter of her life to military service, is getting close to another “once-in-a-lifetime” experience that’s also wrapped around the armed forces experience.

Swanson, who lives in Bremerton, is one of 12 veterans who will travel to France this fall for visits to Paris and the beaches of Normandy to learn about the country’s intersecting history of World War II and art.

It will be a nine-day educational and cultural junket organized by Road Scholar, a not-for-profit organization that is a virtual university of the world by offering adventures for adults throughout the United States and in 100 other countries. Swanson’s trip is just for military veterans (active-duty or retired) and their travel companions.

From Sept. 28 to Oct. 6, the itinerary will include visits to the Musée de l’Armée (Army Museum) in Paris and a field trip to the Memorial de Caen, commemorating World War II’s “Battle for Caen.” The travelers will learn about the wartime occupation and liberation of Paris, famous impressionist French painters, and artwork that was protected and lost during the war.

Perhaps the most impactful day will be when the group visits Omaha Beach, walking in the footsteps of soldiers who landed there as part of D-Day invasion by Allied troops June 6, 1944, and the Normandy American Cemetery, where they will participate in a ceremony honoring the soldiers who died in the historic battle.

“This will be a once-in-a-lifetime occasion for the group,” said  Amale Bourhim, Road Scholar’s operations director in France. “Not only will we have a deeper study of the military history of every site we visit, but simply the experience of learning together with fellow veterans is sure to create camaraderie and a bond that will be memorable.”

Many Road Scholar participants on adventures of all kinds are veterans who are drawn to the opportunities to combine travel with military history, said Maeve Hartney, the organization’s chief program officer.

That was Swanson’s reaction when she heard about the Normandy trip. She knew immediately she’d be on it.

“Regardless of age, sex, or branch of service, there’s a bond that connects all veterans,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to visit Normandy, and the opportunity was too good to pass up.”

Swanson served in the Navy from 1979 to 1994–six years of active duty, and then in the Naval Reserve until her early retirement in 1994 as a lieutenant commander. She was a judge advocate (lawyer), launching her legal career.

“Looking back, 44 years down the road, joining the Navy was the single best decision I’ve ever made,” she said.

Swanson has become a regular traveler with Road Scholar. Starting in 2019, she has learned about ancient tribal cultures at Capitol Reef National Park in Utah and hiked Oregon’s Central Coast in 2022. She also has participated in online Road Scholar programs and lectures on subjects ranging from Greek gastronomy to African drums.

For the trip to France, she’ll be joined by her sister, Jeanie Ziegler. Of her four siblings, Swanson thought Ziegler would have the time and interest, and she was right. After Road Scholar announced last November on Veterans Day that the trip was available, “I called her and asked if she’d like to go to France. It took her about 20 seconds to say, ‘Sign me up,’” at least partly because she has visited Normandy once before and is “grateful” for a chance to do it again, Swanson said.

About 100,000 people a year sign up for Road Scholar ( trips, all of which are focused on experiencing life and the world at any age. Financial aid is available for participants who need some help paying.

In an age of identity politics, it’s hard to believe that ageism still runs rampant. But while more employers are joining the fight against many forms of discrimination, such as race, gender, and sexual orientation, ageism remains an issue in workplaces nationwide.

Changing working conditions, climbing prices, and debate about raising the retirement age are luring older Americans back to work, forcing a reckoning with deep-rooted bias that impacts nearly half of all employees over age 40..

To understand age discrimination and how it’s changed since similar research in 2021, surveyed 1,203 Americans about their experiences with ageism in the workplace. Their ages ranged from 40 to 60-plus, and 54 percent of them were women.

The survey concluded that age discrimination is widespread, underreported, and begins earlier than most might expect, according to For instance:

  • 47 percent of workers over 40 have experienced age discrimination or ageism, at companies of all sizes and to males and females.
  • The typical age when age discrimination first begins is about 45.
  • Though federal statistics show age discrimination has decreased over the last decade, nearly a third of discrimination reports go unreported. This is often because victims worry that nothing will be done.
  • 52 percent of older workers said if they were to actively look for new jobs, their age would negatively impact their job searches.

Age-based employment discrimination was outlawed by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) of 1967, which applies to private companies with 20 or more employees and all government agencies. Specifically, the law protects workers over age 40 against discrimination in any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, and benefits.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) investigates and enforces the law while recording all reported violations. Since 1997, the EEOC has received nearly 500,000 age discrimination claims. That number is about one-fifth of all employment discrimination claims. However, there has been a downward trend in age discrimination claims in recent years. Federal age discrimination claims fell nearly 9 percent from 2020 to 2021, and are down 45 percent over the past decade.

These numbers only tell part of the story, though.’s study revealed 49 percent of people who experienced on-the-job age discrimination reported the occurrence to a manager or to human resources. Additionally, many workers may be unaware of their rights and suffer discrimination without seeking protection. As the ADEA also prohibits harassment based on age, derogatory remarks that create offensive work environments or drive adverse employment decisions are also considered unlawful discrimination.

Forms of age discrimination reported by workers include assumptions about ability to learn new skills (the most-reported form at 19 percent), missed raises or promotions, less-desirable assignments or projects, bias in hiring and recruitment, reduced work hours, ageist harassment, remarks or jokes, and job losses through firing or layoffs.

In cases of businesses pressuring older workers to resign or retire, Chiquita Hall, an employment attorney, said employers “are pushing them out with an overwhelming amount of new changes. This has resulted in more forced resignations, buyouts, and terminations disguised as layoffs.”

States with the highest  number of age-based charges are Nevada, Maine, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Illinois, according to EEOC statistics from 2021.

Source:, a research and resources site for economic and social issues affecting older adults.

‘Never too old’ are words to live by

By Barbara Sellers

What motivates senior citizens to get out of bed every morning, keep on going, and actively participate in community activities? Perhaps a retiree who has been residing in the Tacoma area for the last 38 years can answer that question and one more” How old is too old to make a dream come true or start a new career?

At 88, Donald R. Sellers, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, recently published his first book, “Voyages of Discovery.”

“My original intentions were to publish some of my short stories as a legacy for family and friends,” Sellers said. “Since then, I’ve been encouraged to open up distribution and see what happens.”

Besides promoting his new book (now available on Amazon in hardcover, softcover and e-book), Sellers remains active in speaking and writing organizations, too. As a 39-year member in Toastmasters International, he served as president of Club 1123 several times. He also served in area and division upper-leadership positions, started the Chit Chatters club at the Western Washington Women’s prison, and as the 1993 elected District 32 governor, he earned the Distinguished District Award. He’s now mentoring five Toastmaster members, and is president of the Plateau Area Writers Association and the lead for a writing critique group, Writers Helping Writers.

One thing Sellers enjoys most about writing fiction is the act of creation.

“I can sit down for an hour or two and leave this world,” he said. “It’s especially rewarding when I read a story I wrote 15 years ago and find I can still relish the experience. Sometimes I exclaim in surprise, ‘I wrote that? Wow! That’s much better than I anticipated.’”

Reading is another passion Sellers has always had. In fact, when Sellers was a young boy, a neighbor lady paid him to read to her.

“I don’t remember how or where I learned to read,” he said. “But I could read and understand the newspaper when I was in first grade.”

Ever since then, Sellers has been a book-lover and avid reader. In his 20s, he mostly read science-fiction, but today his writing and reading sweeps across many genres, including fiction, non-fiction, and poetry.

“I read in most genres except romance,” he said. “I usually have three or four books open. Currently, I’m reading fantasy, health maintenance, and a memoir by a member of my writer’s association.”

Sellers believes the books he read by great authors helped him develop his writing skills.

“I believe working with writing groups and serving as an editor increases writing skills, too,” he said. “I subscribe to three writing magazines and have 47 self-help writing books in my library.”

It would be difficult to know how many books he has read, but he has read some of his favorites several times. For example, he read “Dandelion Wine” by Ray Bradbury nine times, “Fahrenheit 451” by Bradbury four times, “Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck five times, “The Winter of our Discontent” by Steinbeck four times, and many others two or three times.

So far, Sellers has written 16 short stories, nine flash fiction and 16 newspaper commentaries.

He first became interested in writing in his teen years but put it on hold to make a living in the military.

What goal or hope does Sellers have for his reading fans?

“What I hope for is reading-enjoyment and pleasure,” he said. “Some of the stories have surprise endings and some of the stories just recreate specific moments. One of the lessons I’ve learned from my studies is this: If we can’t feel the feelings and emotions of our characters, how can we expect the reader to gain the same expectations? With some of these stories, I break down with emotion and sometimes tears blur my eyes and I can’t read further.”

So how old is too old to make a dream come true or start a new career?

“We’re never too old,” Sellers said. “Each new day is a gift, and as long as we’re still breathing, we should continue to do something to make every day count. I know I will, even if I live to be 100.”

Barbara Sellers is a former newspaper editor and has two published books available through Amazon –“Get Tough or Die: Why I Forgave My Parents for My Abusive Childhood” and “That’s Life in Poetry and Short Stories.”