The 2002 Threetops " Shootout" at Treetops Resort, in Gaylord Michigan July 1st and 2nd, 2002
For the fourth consecutive year, ESPN provided
coverage of the Par 3 "Shootout" held at Treetops Resort in Gaylord, Michigan - long recognized as the Golf Mecca of the Midwest. Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino, Fred Couples and Phil Mickelson participated in this year's event, for $540,000 in prize money, plus a chance for an additional $1,000,000 for each hole in one. Lee Trevino created quite a stir with his ace on the seventh hole at Threetops in 2001, and appeared this year as the defending champion. Arnold Palmer and Fred Couples were
making their first visit, and Phil Mickelson, currently ranked # 2 in the world, came back for his 4th straight appearance. Some facts about the event:
- $20,000 awarded for each "skin" , for a total of $360,000 in prize money.
- The money is not awarded for a skin until the player "validates" by winning or tying the next hole.
- If a hole is not won and validated on the following hole, the prize money "rolls over" to the next hole.
- $10,000 awarded on each hole for the closest to the pin (has to be on the green to count).
- $1,000,000 awarded for each hole in one - counts in the contest for the championship honors.
Threetops is a "one of a kind course" - a 9-hole par three designed by
Rick Smith. It has been called the " best par three course in the United States" by Golf Magazine, and features dramatic elevation changes with holes ranging from 138 to 216 yards. For this tournament, the front nine totaled 1,378 yards, and the back nine (same greens, different tee boxes) measured 1,424 for an 18-hole total of 2,802 yards. The Treetops Resort features plentiful accommodations ranging from deluxe rooms to suites
and condos, plus amenities worthy of one of the Midwest's top all season resorts, with golfing and skiing the main activities. On property are the Rick Smith Golf Academy, plus four championship golf courses, all with breathtaking scenery, The Signature (Rick Smith), The Premier (Tom Fazio), The Masterpiece (Robert Trent Jones
Sr.) and The Tradition (Smith)
Threetops was the queen for this tournament however, with the event sold out and with media from all over the United States here to cover the Shootout. Bill Kratzert, a respected announcer for ESPN, was making one of his final television appearances before hitting the road to join the Senior PGA Tour. After finishing his TV commitments this season, he
plans to devote his time to life on the road in Senior PGA Tour events. Bruce Devlin and Roger Twibell were also on hand. Following is a "collage" of sorts - designed to create a picture of the tournament happenings, leading to the awarding of the trophy to the 2002 Shootout Champion.
The calm before the storm...
Arnold Palmer takes a few minutes to work on his
game with respected instructor - and new Treetops owner - Rick Smith
The foursome poses on the first tee - from left to right Palmer, Couples, Trevino and Mickelson
Couples misses a four footer on the 8th green during the first day, and fails to validate what would have been 7 skins worth $140,000 in prize money.
Mickelson just misses a 14 footer on the ninth green, and a chance to temporarily pocket $180,000 with an opportunity to validate the next day
Trevino does not have the magic this year, as he also narrowly misses on number nine.
After the first day, no skins were won, meaning the first hole on Tuesday was going to be worth $200,000, providing an almost insurmountable lead in the tournament. The first player to validate, would almost certainly be the champion - barring a hole in one. The fact that each hole is worth 1 million for an ace, provides a spectre of
uncertainess, and a source of excitement for the participants and spectators. With 72 wedges and short irons being used to reach these greens - the odds are better than one would expect…
*note - some of the pins on the short par threes had to be placed near the back of the greens to meet insurance requirements for a hole in one contest.
Mickelson watches as Couples' putt for birdie from the
fringe on number 5 heads for the hole. The "double breaker" dropped in the cup! $280,000 was there for the taking if Freddie could win or tie the next hole
Palmer barely misses a long putt on number six - the group's last chance to stop Couples from validating for 14 skins. Freddie tapped in for par and the apparent victory!
Leader Fred Couples being
interviewed on the sixth green by Bill Kratzert.
Still a chance for a hole in won to steal the
victory…Arnold Palmer comes within inches on Lee Trevino's old stomping grounds, narrowly missing an ace on the seventh. He taps in for birdie, and must win or tie on the 8th for $20,000 prize money. Couples birdies instead, and now has the chance to sweep the skins with a win or tie on the ninth green. Couples ties the hole and takes all $360,000 in skins money, along with $80,000 for 8 closest to the pins - for a grand total of $440,000.
On the ninth tee - that's Daniel in the center, getting tips from dad, Lee Trevino. Palmer, Mickelson and Couples were entertained throughout the tournament (as were the media and spectators) by Lee's constant banter, which certainly provided a lift to the event. His
good-natured barbs are genuinely appreciated by all, as Mr. Trevino is one of the most respected gentlemen on tour! His presence at Threetops is worth the price of admission. This event was even more special to him this time around as the defending champion, as Daniel was his caddie for the 2-day event.
Couples is presented the trophy by members of the Melling family, with Bill Kratzert as the emcee.
For information on Treetops golf, skiing or lodging, call (989) 732-6711 or toll free (888) Treetops. Visit their website at www.treetops.com
For a link to the Two Guys Who Golf webpage for Treetops Resort with links to information pages and reviews for all their courses, click here.
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