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  Berne is Top Dog Among 15 Singles Winners in Mid-September Merion Cricket Club Croquet Invitational
Reported by John Taylor and Jim Armour;
edited by Bob Alman
Posted September 29, 1997

There were two Grand Prix events in September: The Merion Invitational in Havorford, Pennsylvania, and the USCA International Rules National Championships, in Oakland and San Francisco (reported in a separate picture story). These two tournaments illustrate the range and variety of top-level croquet in America, contrasting East and West, private and public, big and small, American Rules and International Rules. John Osborn still has a big lead in the Grand Prix, but the Oakland tournament, top-rated in Grand Prix points, makes Mehas a strong second, knocking Berne down to third place.

Merion is American croquet's biggest annual tournament - and for good reasons. There is room for 23 croquet courts on "The Great Lawn" of the cricket club in Havorford, Pennsylvania, used for tennis, cricket, and croquet. Usually one of the tiers is under maintenance, which still leaves at least14 courts for play. The Merion Invitational is organized to give lots of play to a huge number of players in a short time - it's only three days long. Lavish food service - breakfast, hot lunch, full tea, and dinner - has also helped to make the Merion Invitational America's biggest croquet annual.

A rambling red brick clubhouse overlooks the lawn and one of the most memorable scenes in the sport - 150 players in white on one vast lawn. Many of the meals - and tea - are served on the porch of the clubhouse, which is also the site of a Saturday night banquet and dinner dance.

The unique format impartially divides the entire field into graduated singles blocks of eight (except for two blocks of ten) based on players' handicaps. When players register, they can't be sure which block and which flight they will wind up in (unless, of course, they're a minus handicap). Tracking points are used to break ties in dividing the field into even blocks..

The combination of a huge field of players and graduated blocks guarantees a very competitive level of play in each block. This year there were 124 players in four flights of singles and 140 in four flights of doubles. In three days, 380 singles games and 263 doubles were played on The Great Lawn. Co-chair Jim Armour gives the highest marks to John and Rosemarie Taylor, who scheduled the event and posted complete results by the end of each day's play, using John Taylor's Excel-based software. "I really don't see how the whole thing could have been carried off without John's expertise," Armour commented.

Merion to host USCA American Rules Nationals in '98

Merion has accepted the USCA's request to host the American Rules Nationals next September, using approximately 14 of the courts, as the others will be in use for lawn tennis.

The results of the 1997 block play follow, in both singles and doubles. In doubles, there are individual results, as players competed with a different partner in each game, in teams balanced according to handicaps. Trophies were given to the 1st and 2nd place in each of the 15 singles blocks, and to the top three places in each of the double flights.

The climax of the tournament was at tea-time on Sunday - a single final game by the top 2 players from block "A" in the Championship flight, with microphone commentary by Fred Jones. National champion Jim Hughes came into the playoff with the best record in Championship Flight in both games won and points scored - but he was defeated by former USCA president Bill Berne of North Carolina, who staked out both his balls in the last turn.

Although Berne and Mehas each won their first place trophies, Mehas, playing in a stronger tournament (top-rated in points as computed by the aggregate handicaps of the top eight players) reaped a big bonus in Grand Prix points by winning the USCA International Rules National Championship, and thus moved ahead of Berne into second place in the Grand Prix rankings, at 680 points, just 300 shy of John Osborn's 980. Mehas, who has announced he will play in the American Rules Nationals in Palm Beach in October, could conceivably take the Grand Prix lead with a strong showing.

Current standings and complete top-eight results of all the 1997 Grand Prix results and standings follow the Merion results postings immediately below.

1997 Merion Invitational Flights and Final Block Finishes

                          Flt / Blk / Plc / Handicap
Mr. James Hughes, Sr.      CH   A     1   -0.5
Mr. Bill Berne             CH   A     2   -0.5
Mr. John  Phaneuf          CH   A     3    0.0
Mr. Stuart  Lawrence       CH   A     4    1.5
Mr. Neil Houghton          CH   A     5    1.5
Mr. Daniel  Mahoney        CH   A     6    0.5
Mr. Michael Zuro           CH   A     7    1.5
Mr. Dick Brackett          CH   A     8    1.5

Mr. Rufus Bayard           CH   B     1    1.5
Mr. John Hunter            CH   B     2    1.5
Mr. Stephen Carter         CH   B     3    2.0
Mr. Randy Bartholomew      CH   B     4    2.5
Ms. Jackie Jones           CH   B     5    2.0
Mr. John Young             CH   B     6    2.0
Mr. William Campbell       CH   B     7    2.5
Mr. Woody   Leeming        CH   B     8    2.5

Mr. Jim Houser             CH   C     1    3.0
Mr. Joe Morris             CH   C     2    2.5
Dr. Charles Loving, Jr.    CH   C     3    2.5
Ms. Holly Currier          CH   C     4    3.5
Mrs.Paula Phaneuf          CH   C     5    3.0
Mr. Larry  Moore           CH   C     6    3.0
Mrs.Nelga Young            CH   C     7    3.0
Mr. Gerry Rheault          CH   C     8    2.5

Mr. Andrew Kozusko         CH   D     1    3.5
Mr. Scott Kuensell         CH   D     2    4.5
Mrs. Billie J. Berne       CH   D     3    3.5
Mr. Terry Cunningham       CH   D     4    4.0
Mr. Philip Parker          CH   D     5    3.5
Mr. Bob Sumwalt            CH   D     6    4.5
Ms. Maryholt Maxwell       CH   D     7    4.0
Ms. Margaret Mihlon        CH   D     8    4.5

Mr. Ray Cope               1st  A     1    5.0
Mr. Kenster Rosenberry     1st  A     2    6.0
Mr. AlexandeIx             1st  A     3    6.0
Mr. Bo Menton              1st  A     4    6.0
Mr. Bass Winmill           1st  A     5    6.0
Ms. GenevievLanyon         1st  A     6    5.0
Mr. Charles Salloum        1st  A     7    6.0
Mr. Robert  Lyle           1st  A     8    5.0

Mr. Gordon  Smale          1st  B     1    7.0
Mr. Mark Blundell          1st  B     2    6.0
Ms. Ann Walsh              1st  B     3    6.0
Dr. Ben  Birkhead          1st  B     4    6.0
Mr. Theodore Fuller        1st  B     5    7.0
Mr. Dan O'Connell          1st  B     6    6.0
Mrs.Thelma  Lyle           1st  B     7    6.0
Mr. George  Downsbrough    1st  B     8    7.0

Mr. Ray  Stoy              1st  C     1    7.0
Mr. Stephen Gilhuley       1st  C     2    7.0
Ms. Norma Shaughnessy      1st  C     3    7.0
Mr. Wayne Herkness         1st  C     4    7.0
Mrs. Miriam Knight         1st  C     5    7.0
Mrs. M. Downsbrough        1st  C     6    8.0
Mrs. Anne Morris           1st  C     7    7.0
Mrs. Marjorie Campbell     1st  C     8    7.0

Mr. Casey Knoll            1st  D     1    8.0
Mr. Hugh Nesbit            1st  D     2    8.0
Mr. Charles Hillis         1st  D     3    8.0
Mr. Ronald  Goldfarb       1st  D     4    8.0
Mr. FredericStrong         1st  D     5    8.0
Ms. Virginia Kelly         1st  D     6    8.0
Mr. Charles Loving         1st  D     7    8.0
Mr. Lance Funston          1st  D     8    8.0

Mr. Murray  Pollock        1st  E     1    9.0
Mr. Robert  Spiotta        1st  E     2    8.0
Ms. Barbara Leeming        1st  E     3    8.0
Ms. Binky   Albright       1st  E     4    8.0
Mr. Frederic Keith         1st  E     5    9.0
Mr. Al Paul Lefton         1st  E     6    8.0
Mrs. Hedy  Stoy            1st  E     7    8.0
Mr. Robert Young           1st  E     8    9.0

Mr. Dan Maguire            2nd  A     1    9.0
Mr. Robert Brotzman        2nd  A     2    9.0
Mr. Edward Wilford         2nd  A     3    9.0
Ms. Vernon  Merrill        2nd  A     4    9.0
Mr. Stanley Anders         2nd  A     5    9.0
Ms. Catherin Spurlock      2nd  A     6    9.0
Mr. Al Marron              2nd  A     7    9.0
Mrs. Ann Nolte             2nd  A     8    9.0

Mr. Tom Krause             2nd  B     1   10.0
Mr. James  Armour          2nd  B     2   10.0
Mrs.Cecilia Shiftan        2nd  B     3   10.0
Mr. William Tate           2nd  B     4    9.0
Mrs.AmarilicLefton         2nd  B     5   10.0
Mrs.Monica  Unger          2nd  B     6   10.0
Mrs.Arnhilt Buelte         2nd  B     7   10.0
Dr. Walter  Fordham        2nd  B     8   10.0

Mr. Gerald  Blumenthal     2nd  C     1   10.0
Ms. Megan  Lavery          2nd  C     2   11.0
Ms. Hope  Harmon           2nd  C     3   11.0
Ms. Lucie  Bard            2nd  C     4   11.0
Mrs.Mary Cat Walter        2nd  C     5   11.0
Ms. Joan Ward              2nd  C     6   10.0
Mrs. Ann  Ix               2nd  C     7   11.0
Mrs.Eleanor Herkness       2nd  C     8   10.0
Ms. Genevieve Lilley       2nd  C     9   10.0
Ms. Claire Fairman         2nd  C    10   10.0

Mr. Ronald  Flansburg      2nd  D     1   12.0
Mr. Richard Gelderman      2nd  D     2   12.0
Mrs.Nancy Moore            2nd  D     3   12.0
Mr. Joseph Knoll           2nd  D     4   12.0
Mr. Stan  Kend             2nd  D     5   12.0
Mrs.Sally Winmill          2nd  D     6   11.0
Mr. Jean Loving            2nd  D     7   12.0
Ms. Virginia Amsler        2nd  D     8   12.0
Mr. Henry Bard             2nd  D     9   11.0
Mr. Ronald Shiftan         2nd  D    10   12.0

Ms. Linda Moreau           3rd  A     1   12.0
Mrs.Catheryn Oehrle        3rd  A     2   12.0
Mrs. Renee Blumenthal      3rd  A     3   13.0
Ms. Patricia Camper        3rd  A     4   13.0
Mrs.Elizabeth Armour       3rd  A     5   12.0
Ms. Janet Balson           3rd  A     6   12.0
Mrs. Jeanne Spiotta        3rd  A     7   12.0
Mrs. Linda O'Connell       3rd  A     8   13.0

Ms. Dianne Strachota       3rd  B     1   14.0
Mrs. Darlene Brotzman      3rd  B     2   14.0
Mr. Ross Little            3rd  B     3   20.0
Ms. Sara Low               3rd  B     4   14.0
Mrs. Lee Little            3rd  B     5   15.0
Ms. Karen Kaplan           3rd  B     6   14.0
Ms. Helen Ingham           3rd  B     7   14.0
Ms. Maryann Curione        3rd  B     8   16.0

Doubles With Rotating Partners and Individual Scores

The doubles format was a rotating scheme in which a player had a different partner and different opponents for every game. Individual results were kept for each player and trophies went to a single player rather than a team. Trophies were given for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place in each flight.

Championship Flight Doubles Results

      1st - Jim Houser
      2nd - Larry Moore
      3rd - Stuart Lawrence
      4th - John Phaneuf
      5th - Andrew Kozusko
      6th - Joe Morris
      7th - Terry Cunningham
      8th - Dick Brackett
      9th - Paula Phaneuf
     10th - Philip Parker
     11th - Randy Bartholomew
     12th - Woody Leeming
     13th - Holly Currier
     14th - Billie Jean Berne
     15th - Steve Carter
     16th - Neil Houghton
     17th - John Hunter
     18th - Dan Mahoney
     19th - Michael Zuro
     20th - Gerry Rheault
     21st - Bob Sumwalt
     22nd - Bill Berne
     23rd - Rufus Bayard
     24th - Nelga Young
     25th - Maryholt Maxwell
     26th - Scott Kuensell
     27th - James Hughes, Sr.
     28th - John Young
     29th - William Campbell
     30th - Charles Loving, Jr.
     31st - Margaret Mihlon
     32nd - Jackie Jones

1st Flight Doubles Results

      1st - Binky Albright
      2nd - Bo Menton
      3rd - Ken Rosenberry
      4th - Hugh Nesbit
      5th - Murray Pollock
      6th - Gordon Smale
      7th - Bass Winmill
      8th - Bob Young
      9th - Charles Salloum
     10th - Chuck Loving
     11th - Frederick Strong
     12th - Robert Lyle
     13th - Casey Knoll
     14th - Virginia Kelly
     15th - Theodore Fuller
     16th - Dan O'Connell
     17th - Ben Birkhead
     18th - Margaret Downsbrough
     19th - AlPaul Lefton
     20th - Genevieve Lanyon
     21st - George Downsbrough
     22nd - Ronald Goldfarb
     23rd - Wayne Herkness
     24th - Stephen Gilhuley
     25th - Hedy Stoy
     26th - Peggy Sinclair
     27th - Barbara Leeming
     28th - Thelma Lyle
     29th - Ray Cope
     30th - Ray Stoy
     31st - Bob Spiotta
     32nd - Anne Morris
     33rd - Alexander Ix
     34th - Lance Funston
     35th - Ann Walsh
     36th - Mark Blundell
     37th - Norma Shaughnessy
     38th - Fred Keith
     39th - Marjorie Campbell
     40th - Miriam Knight

2nd Flight Doubles Results

      1st - Robert Brotzman
      2nd - Gerald Blumenthal
      3rd - Stan Anders
      4th - Stan Kend
      5th - Joe Knoll
      6th - Tom Krause
      7th - Nancy Moore
      8th - Richard Gelderman
      9th - Ron Flansburg
     10th - Ann Ix
     11th - Vernon Merrill
     12th - Megan Lavery
     13th - Hank Bard
     14th - Nancy Reynolds
     15th - Joan Ward
     16th - Muffie Herkness
     17th - Mary Cate Walter
     18th - Monica  Unger-Smith
     19th - Dan Maguire
     20th - Hope Harmon
     21st - Ceci Shiftan
     22nd - Tillie Bayless
     23rd - Arnhilt Buelte
     24th - Cindy Gowell
     25th - Bill Tate
     26th - Rilice Lefton
     27th - Catherine Spurlock
     28th - Edward Wilford
     29th - Richard Meyer
     30th - Al Marron
     31st - Ann Nolte
     32nd - Lucie Bard
     33rd - Nornie Loving
     34th - Ronald Shiftan
     35th - Sally Winmill
     36th - Walter Fordham
     37th - Jim Armour
     38th - Genevieve Lilley
     39th - Virginia Amsler
     40th - Claire Fairman

3rd Flight Doubles Results

      1st - Ross Little
      2nd - Darlene Brotzman
      3rd - Jean Flansburg
      4th - Karen Kaplan
      5th - Renee Blumenthal
      6th - Brenda Pollock
      7th - Arlene Goldfarb
      8th - Patricia Camper
      9th - Cathie Oehrle
     10th - Campbell Whisnand
     11th - Linda O'Connell
     12th - Linda Moreau
     13th - Jeanne Spiotta
     14th - Lee Little
     15th - Jan Balson
     16th - Emily Brokaw
     17th - Elaine Kend
     18th - C. A. Knoll
     19th - David Leith
     20th - Nola Webb
     21st - Fell Wilford
     22nd - Dianne Strachota
     23rd - Randy Brokaw
     24th - Joy Bradford
     25th - Maryann Curione
     26th - Helen Ingham
     27th - Sara Low
     28th - Edward Walter

How the New American Grand Prix Works

The 1997 New America Grand Prix covers 16 of the most important croquet events in North America - all the national championships and USCA regionals as well as eight of the consistently strongest tournaments in the land. Designed to track the performance of the top-level players throughout the calendar year, the Grand Prix awards points to the top eight finishers in all these tournaments. The amount of the points award depends not only on the rank of finish in a particular tournament, but also the strength of the tournament as measured in four "scoring ranges", with a win or place in the toughest tournaments generating four times as many points as a win or place in the weakest of the 16 events. The Grand Prix also takes into account consistency: At the end of the year, the top performers' points are averaged among all the Grand Prix events they contested, and the "Player of the Year" is determined by computing the highest score. To be eligible for this ranking, at least three events must be played.

How Grand Prix Points Are Awarded

Grand Prix player rankings are updated after each event, based on reported results. Raw points are awarded on the following basis:

FIRST PLACE - 100 points;
SECOND  - 60 points; 
THIRD   - 40 points;
FOURTH  - 30 points;
FIFTH   - 25 points;
SIXTH   - 20 points;
SEVENTH - 15 points;
EIGHTH  - 10 points.

The points are then adjusted according to the strength of the field, as measured by the aggregate handicap total of the top eight players registered in the tournament, as follows:

RAW POINTS for placing in events scoring 10 or more;
RAW POINTS x 2 for placing in events scoring 5.0 through 9.5;
RAW POINTS x 3 for placing in events scoring 2.0 through 4.5;
RAW POINTS x 4 for placing in events scoring below 2.0.

1997 Grand Prix Point Standings
After Fourteen of Sixteen Events

980 points - John Osborn
680 points - Mik Mehas 
540 points - Bill Berne
458 points - Jim Hughes
400 points - Don Fournier, Jr., Chris Clarke (England)
345 points - Doug Grimsley
300 points - Carl Hanson, Darrell Turner
680 points - Mik Mehas
240 points - Pat Roach, Debbie Cornlius (England), 
             Jerry Stark
200 points - Carl Mabee
188 points - Richard Powell
173 points - Stuart Lawrence
165 points - Neil Houghton
160 points - Tony Stephens (New Zealand), 
             David Openshaw (England)
150 points - Leo McBride
135 points - Dan Mahoney
128 points - Bob Cherry 
120 points - Mike Zuro, Mack Penwell, Jacques Fournier
110 points - Stephen Mulliner (England), 
             Steve Comish (England)
100 points - Jim Bast, Jeff Soo, Rich Lamm, 
             Steve Johnston, Rory Kelley
 98 points - Mark Najarian
 95 points - Brian Cumming
 90 points - Fred Jones, Ron Turner, Rich Curtis
 88 points - Dave Lewis
 85 points - Matt Baird
 80 points - Greg Shaffer, John Phaneuf, Erv Peterson
 75 points - Alan Wolman
 70 points - Wayne Rodoni, John Leonard
 68 points - Jim Hall, Joe Morris
 60 points - Steve Jones (New Zealand), 
             Jeff Dawson (England),
             Toby Garrison (New Zealand), Joe Yoder, 
             Ed Merrill, Mike Weimerskirch, 
             Charlie Smith
 48 points - Michael Zuro
 45 points - John Hunter
 40 points - Paul Bennett, Peter Brandt, Phil Arnold
 38 points - Gar Bechstead, John Oehrle
 35 points - Jim Houser, Rich Sheeley
 30 points - John Dill, Doug Merrill
 25 points - Chuck Reif, Byron Thomas, Dwight Mayer, 
             Rhys Thomas, Sal Esquivel, Jim Audas, 
             Steve Mossbrook, Tom Hughes, 
             Bill Martin, Derrick Robinson
 23 points - Johnny Mitchell
 20 points - John Taylor, Dick Brackett
 18 points - Jeff Maxwell, Churck Whitlow, Ron Lloyd
 15 points - Bill Blanton


January 12-19, 1997
(Grade One, quadruple points)
Palm Beach, Florida

1st - John Osborn
2nd - Jim Hughes
3rd - Bill Berne
4th - Richard Powell
5th - Fred Jones
        Bob Cherry
7th - Chuck Reif
        Byron Thomas
        Dwight Mayer
        Rhys Thomas

March 2-8
(Grade One, quadruple points)
Phoenix and Scottsdale, Arizona

1st - Don Fornier, Jr.
2nd - Pat Roach
3rd - Mik Mehas
4th - Doug Grimsley
5th - Carl Hanson
6th - John Osborn
7th - Matt Baird
        Alan Wolman

May 8-11
(Grade Three, double points)
San Francisco, California

1st - Carl Hanson
2nd - Mik Mehas
3rd - Wayne Rodoni
        John Leonard
5th - Dan Mahoney
        Stuart Lawrence
7th - Sal Esquivel
        Jim Audas

May 21-25
(Grade Two, triple points)
Pinehurst, North Carolina

1st - Darrell Turner
2nd - Bill Berne
3rd - Mack Penwell
4th - Ron Turner
5th - Richard Powell
        Jim Hall
7th - Bob Cherry
         Gar Beckstead

MAY 23-26
(Grade Three, double points)
Wilmington, Delaware

1st - John Osborn
2nd - Mike Zuro
3rd - Greg Shaffer
4th - Jim Hughes
5th - Doug Grimsley
        Neil Houghton
7th - Jim Hauser
        Tom Hughes

May 26-31
(International Rules)
(Grade One, quadruple points)
Sonoma-Cutrer Winery, Windsor, California

1st - Chris Clarke (England)
2nd - Debbie Cornelius (England)
3rd - Tony Stephens (New Zealand)
4th - Stephen Mulliner (England)
        Steve Comish (England)
6th - Steve Jones (New Zealand)
        Jeff Dawson (England)
        Toby Garrison (New Zealand)

June 19-22
(Grade Four, raw points)
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

American Rules International Rules
Dan Mahoney
Jeff Soo
Leo McBride
Jim Hauser
Dave Lewis
Bill Martin
Mark Najarian
Chris Percival-Smith
Brian Cumming
Jeff Soo
Leo McBride
Bill Martin
Dave Lewis
Mark Najarian
Leon Parker
Ross Robinson

June 25-29
(Grade One, raw points)
Denver, Colorado

1. Rich Lamm
2. Ed Merrill
3. Peter Brandt
4. Doug Merrill
5. Steve Mossbrook
6. John Taylor

June 26-29
(Grade Four, raw points)
Houston, Texas

1. Jim Bast
2. Joe Yoder
3. Paul Bennett
4. John Dill
5. Britt Ruby
    Johnny Mitchell
7. Bill Blanton

July 8-12
(Grade Four, raw points)
Minneapolis, Minnesota

1. Steve Johnston
2. Mike Weimerskirch
3. Rick Sheely
    Matt Baird
5. Mike Zuro
    Jeff Maxwell
    Chuck Whitlow
    Ron Lloyd

July 30-August 3
(Grade Three, double points)
Newport, Rhode Island

1. Carl Mabee
2. Leo McBride
3. Mark Najarian
4. Dave Lewis
5. John Hunter
    Brian Cumming
    Derrick Robinson
    Alan Wolman

August 6-10
(Grade Two, triple points)
Wilmington, Delaware

1. John Osborn
2. Doug Grimsley
3. Neil Houghton
4. Rich Curtis
5. Joe Morris
    Stuart Lawrence
    Jim Hughes
    John Oehrle

September 12-14
(Grade Three, double points)
Haverford, Pennsylvania

1. Bill Berne
2. Jim Hughes
3. John Phaneuf
4. Stuart Lawrence
5. Neil Houghton
6. Dan Mahoney
7. Michael Zuro
8. Dick Brackett

September 17-21
(Grade One, Quadruple Points)
Oakland and San Francisco, California

1. Mik Mehas
2. Jerry Stark
3. David Openshaw
4. Jacques Fournier
5. Rory Kelley
6. Erv Peterson
7. Charlie Smith
8. Phil Arnold

October 19-25
Palm Beach, Florida

December 3-7
U.S. OPEN (International Rules)
Palm Springs, California

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