Accomplished mid-am Von Lossow crosses over into hickory golf
Andrew Von Lossow (Nick Nikkila / Astorian photo)
Our affiliate in the Northwest recently interviewed Andrew Von Lossow (Spokane, Wash.), an accomplished mid-amateur who has also played in hickory golf events for nearly a decade.
The reigning WA Golf Champion of Champions is the rare player who has excelled in both standard golf and hickory golf, and he sat down to discuss hickory golf before playing in the U.S. Hickory Open at Gearhart (Ore.) Golf Links.
Editor's note: Von Lossow went on to win his first U.S. Hickory Open, shooting rounds of 74-72 (+2) to win by five shots.
When did you play in your first Hickory golf event?
My first hickory event was January 1st, 2013 at Chambers Bay. It was the inaugural event for The Northwest Hickory Players.
Have you played in the national open previously? Best finish?
I played in the 2018 U.S. Hickory Open at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, N.C. I came in 3rd place there. I won 2018 Mid Pines Hickory Classic in Pinehurst which was a week after.
Who are some top hickory players we should know that are playing this week?
The defending Champion Taylor Jones is playing. He is from Decatur, Alabama. He has won the last two years. In the Seniors, my Dad Jim Von Lossow has had some great hickory events. He doesn’t miss the middle of the face too much so this game fits him well.
What era is your equipment from?
Clubs that are being played are pre-1935. Also there are modern manufacturers of hickory clubs, and with approval by the governing body Society of Hickory Players, are legal to play. I have two original pre-1935 clubs: my fairway wood a.k.a. my “Spoon” and my putter, “The Whippet”, which was made by George Nicoll of Leven, Scotland. The irons I play are reproductions by club maker Tad Moore of Selma, Ala. Tad has made many iconic clubs over the years and he makes hickories as well.
Are the clubs durable?
For durability, the original shafts will break from time to time especially with steep attack angles. Breaking clubs doesn’t happen as much as one would think but it apart of the game. The modern hickory shafts are fairly stout.
How many clubs do you carry in hickory golf?
No limit for the clubs in the bag! Players usually range from 8-12 clubs. I play 11 clubs.
How much distance loss is there compared to today’s modern equipment?
Distance wise, usually 10-20% less than modern equipment. Irons do fly straighter for the most part, with that being said, it flies straight whether it starts on line or not. The ball does not come back to the target as easily. If the ball starts on line, it stays there. If it’s not on line, it’s going in the high grass.
Any special shots you play in hickory golf?
Low spin! So the ball really does run out. From the fairway, I will look to land the ball around the green so it can run up and take the next slope to the hole. If you carry it pin high, you usually flew the ball too far unless you play the ball off a backstop. Hickory events are usually played on courses designed before 1935.
Are you using pre-1935 golf balls?
There are tournaments with replica golf balls from pre-1935, but in the national and local tournaments a modern ball is used. Usually you want to look for something with low compression. High compression golf balls don’t react as well off the club faces.
The clothes? Are they uncomfortable to play in?
The appropriate look of the era is encouraged; it’s apart of the hickory game. I will say if you wear a shirt with a tie, or even without a tie, make sure it is a size larger than normal so you can turn your shoulders!