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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.

TreetopsThreetops 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, Treetopswith 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...

Treetops - 8th Green
Treetops - Looking back over the sixth green

Day one

Treetops Shootout

Arnold Palmer takes a few minutes to work on his game with respected instructor - and new Treetops owner - Rick Smith

Treetops Shootout

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.

Treetops Shootout
Treetops Shootout

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.

Day two

Treetops Shootout

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

Treetops Shootout

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!

Treetops Shootout
Treetops Shootout

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.

Treetops Shootout

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.

Treetops Shootout

Couples is presented the trophy by members of the Melling family, with Bill Kratzert as the emcee.

Treetops Shootout

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.

The Two Guys Who Golf also visited the Otsego Club Resort in Gaylord, which features excellent accommodations and 4 championship courses. Click here for our reviews of the Otsego Golf courses.


Northern Michigan Golf - there is NOTHING like it!

Winner Fred Couples on the ninth green at Threetops


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