Goodwood Revival Golf Challenge

Rob Smith steps back in time to take part in the Goodwood Revival Golf Challenge

Competitors driving off at the 2015 Goodwood Revival Golf Challenge

GM Contributing Editor Rob Smith steps back in time to play with hickory shafts, jiggers and mashie niblicks at glorious Goodwood

Goodwood Revival Golf Challenge

Having struggled in the past to score well on the Downs Course at Goodwood (opens in new tab) using my own clubs, I was a little nervous about playing in this year’s Revival Golf Challenge which saw me tasked with reliving history by playing in traditional period attire - in my case, a checked shirt, dodgy tartan bow tie and a pair of cords - with original hickory shafted clubs.

The field gathers before play

The event is now in its eighth year, and I was one of around 60 golfers turning back time over the undulating James Braid course. The event is a great tribute to the architect and 5-time winner of The Open Championship (opens in new tab) whose work features in both the Golf Monthly Top 100 and the Next 100 (opens in new tab). Indeed, the James Braid Society were in attendance, including their captain, former Golf Monthly editor, Malcolm Campbell.

Braid was an icon of the game during his career; admired for his elegance, tweed cap and Norfolk jacket, accompanied by collar and tie, as well as for his golf. Essentially, the opposite of me.

One of Goodwood's fleet of Woody 2 golf buggies

Using stick thin bags filled with brassies, spoons and niblicks with whippy shafts and small persimmon heads, this was going to be a real challenge.

State of the art golf equipment... from yesteryear

As a golfer of some 35 years’ standing, this was the first time I had used such equipment. And as someone whose swing needs all the help that the latest technology can offer, I was relieved to at least finish most of the holes.

Playing from the Blue tees, which are still near enough 6,000 yards, scoring was tough. Having said that, it was both a treat and an education to use these beautifully restored clubs that were provided by South of England Hickory Golf (opens in new tab).

Competitors and guests in full Revival regalia

There were prizes for the highest points and the best-dressed golfers, but needless to say, I failed to trouble the scorers in either category.

According to the club’s very friendly and welcoming General Manager, Stuart Gillett, “Revival Golf is an unforgettable and serene day. It is a joy to see Goodwood transported back to a special era of golf. The event has gained popularity year on year and run in conjunction with the Goodwood Motorsport Revival only enhances the unique environment of the weekend.

Winners Geoff Bleasby and Boris Lietzow flanking Goodwood GM, Stuart Gillett

However, I thoroughly enjoyed an excellent and very different day out, played in high spirits and with great enthusiasm. It makes me even more in awe of the incredible talents of the pioneers of golf.

Rob Smith
Contributing Editor

Rob Smith has been playing golf for more than 40 years and been a contributing editor for Golf Monthly for over ten years, specialising in course reviews and travel. He has now played more than 1,170 different courses in almost 50 countries. Despite lockdowns and travel restrictions in 2021, he still managed to play 80 different courses during the year, 43 of them for the first time. This included 21 in 13 days on a trip to East Lothian in October. One of Rob's primary roles is helping to prepare the Top 100 and Next 100 Courses of the UK&I, of which he has played all but nine. During the 2021-22 review period, Rob has played 34 of the Golf Monthly Top 200. He is a member of Tandridge Golf Club in Surrey where his handicap hovers around 16. You can contact him at r.smith896@btinternet.com.