This was our third HMG tournament, but our first tournament to feature two rounds of play to determine the winner. We used the "Country Club at Mile High" course cards (aka Cherry Hills), where the 1960 U.S. Open was played, an historic win for Arnold Palmer. We created personalized golfer cards for each convention-goer, representing three varied but equal levels of pro play: big hitter, seasoned pro, greens wizard. Each gamer chose the card they wanted to use; once they teed off, they weren't allowed to change cards!
Standard game rules applied, including chip usage and "playing safe" or "going for it" on white die "6" results. Strategy card usage was allowed if ALL members of the foursome agreed on it.
We let everyone form their own foursomes for the first round, and once everyone finished, we created new foursomes for the final round, arranged by score, and staggered the start times so that the leaders went last (just like on TV!). We kept an up-to-the-minute leaderboard for the final round, using the white board on the west side of the meeting room. It made for a very exciting finish!
John Lowe was our first round leader, getting off to a red-hot start. He birdied two, three and four, putting him at three under par after just four holes! He cooled off some after that, but still ended up with a six-under par 64 for the round. Right behind him were Keith Curtis and Mark Russell at five-under. Both shot three-under 33 on the very tough back nine, with Mark earning the "Sunny" designation after sinking an easy putt for birdie on 12. Pete Stevens was three-under par, Al Wilson and Chris Day each two-under. Rounding out the top ten were David Kaufman and Grant Fines at two under, and Brian Preece and Scot Long at one-under.
As the second round began, Scot Long and Grant Fines made moves on the leaders. Scot birdied one, three, four and eight en route to a four-under par 30 for the front nine, putting him just two back of the lead. Grant shot two-under, with birdies on three and five to stay within three strokes of the lead.
The leading golfers finished the second-round front nine more or less maintaining their first-round pace. John Lowe had an up-and-down front nine, with a birdie on the opening hole, bogeys on four and five, but then bailing himself out with birdies on seven and nine. That kept him in the lead, now at seven under par. Mark Russell dropped a couple strokes, and Keith Curtis finished the front nine with an even par 33.
Conversely, both Al Wilson and David Kaufman ran into trouble as the second round began. Al had a double-bogey on five and finished the front nine three-over par. David had a stretch of three bogeys over four holes. Both headed into the back nine at even par for the tourney, trailing the leader by seven strokes.
As the back nine unfolded, things got murky among the leaders. Keith Curtis struggled. A double-bogey on thirteen set him three strokes behind the lead, and another bogey on fifteen basically ended his chances for the win. Going for broke, he double-bogeyed eighteen, finishing with a four-over par 74 for the round. John Lowe had problems on the back nine, too, with doubles on thirteen and sixteen.
Elsewhere on the course, guys like Pete Stevens, Bob Hansen and Chris Day were playing well, but not gaining any ground, as Mark Russell was playing lights-out. Mark scored an eagle on the par 5 eleventh hole, and the holed another eagle on thirteen with a masterful shot from the near-side bunker! Those shots put some space between him and the other first round leaders and made it tough for the trailing golfers to make a move. That left just two other golfers in contention for the title: the surging Scot Long, and Grant Fines. Following up on his tournament-leading performance on the front nine, Scot birdied the tenth hole to move to six under par for the tournament, and for a moment was tied for the lead. Grant picked up birdies on twelve and fifteen to stay in contention. Both played smart golf on the final holes, each scoring a string of pars on some very tough terrain. They both went into the clubhouse with a two-round total of six-under par 134, hoping for the leader to stumble, and a playoff.
That left it up to Mark, in a made-for-TV finish. A bogey on sixteen boosted hopes in the clubhouse, but a clutch putt for birdie on seventeen got that stroke back. Once again holding a one-stroke lead, Mark teed off on the VERY tough eighteenth hole. Wisely, he had hoarded a couple of blue chips for just this occasion. Spending the chips to gain control of the hole, Mark moved safe and straight to the green, where he faced a MODERATE putt for par and a tournament win. Silence from the gallery—and then the die roll: a "4!" The room exploded into cheers for Mark, who with that putt had become the very first PLAAY-Dot-CON Open Champion!
What a finish to a great day of golf! Everyone who was there felt the excitement, and it was quite an experience.
Here are the two round scores for the entire tournament field...
-7  Mark Russell, Kitchener, ON
-6  Scot Long, Parsons, KS
-6  Grant Fines, St. George, UT
-4  Chris Day, Grand Junction, CO
-3  John Lowe, Lincoln, NE
-3  Pete Stevens, Albany, NY
-2  Al Wilson, Phoenix, AZ
-2  Bob Hansen, Menomonee Falls, WI
-2  David Kaufman, Ft. Morgan, CO
-2  Brian Preece, Provo, UT
-1  Keith Curtis, Phoenix, AZ
-1  Steve Tower, Medfield, MA
E  Sean Culnan, West Sand Lake, NY
+1  Brien Aronov, Willimantic, CT
+1  David Santistevan, Littleton, CO
+2  Cooper Gilbert, Fairport, NY
+3  Michael Owens, Winnipeg, MB
+4  Steve Heller, Ft. Collins, CO
We will most certainly continue to use this format in future tabletop golf tournaments—it was awesome!
Questions? Comments? Let us know!