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;
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
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