Beach Club Invitational Won by Mike Gibbons
The 28th Annual Beach Club Invitational was blessed this year with great weather, wonderful lawns and 57 enthusiastic participants. Play was split between the three home courts at The Beach Club and four at the National Croquet Center. The competition comprised of both singles and doubles within three flights. Matches were timed at one hour and twenty minutes with double banking common throughout singles action. The format in all divisions was block play leading to single elimination ladders.
Mike Gibbons (.5), quietly and methodically, finally put an exclamation point next to twelve months of consistently improved play. Always near the top of the field in event after event, Gibbons went 9-0 this week to claim victory in the Championship Flight. Gibbons got the first break of the game but surprisingly took the opportunity only to three-back. Johnny Mitchell (–1) soon had his opportunity and showed no shyness in taking his own break to rover. At this time, due to both mental errors and missed shots by both players, deadness became a determining factor. Gibbons managed to get his front ball through rover first, and with time running out, some good rover play left Mitchell with little to do. The final score: 20-17. Third place honors went to Tim Bitting (–1.5 — lost to Mitchell 14-15!) and the hard charging Missy Ramey (.5 — lost to Gibbons 11-12!).
In the Championship Doubles, Bob Chilton & Al “I don’t do windows or breaks” Dilley were victorious (17-15) in another cliffhanger. Playing against Gene Fusz and Diane Blow, Dilley stole some early wickets due to some out-game mishaps, but it was when Chilton took a break to rover that the game got interesting. Fusz and Blow went on the offensive, Blow doing most of the attacking. Unfortunately, a miss here and there allowed Chilton and Dilley to hold off the assault and take grasp of the larger trophies.
The First Flight Singles saw a great match-up of two five handicappers. Both Bill Taft and Barney King had been playing excellent croquet throughout the week, and the game promised to be an adventure. It wasn’t. While both players missed their share of wickets, there was a difference: Taft resided most often within the jaws of these wickets — King spent most of his time chipping paint off the outside portions. With control from the first shot, Taft coasted to a 19-10 victory. Geoffrey Mattison (4.5) and Kevan O’Conner (6), both also impressive, tied for third.
First Flight Doubles became a battle of the sexes as Barney King & John Lively took on Betty Whitlow & Shanda Stephenson. The game itself? Not so sexy. Whitlow, accidentally hitting partner while joining on the boundary line, acquired some very early deadness which probably swung whatever tide was there. The final score was 17-13 in favor of the gentlemen.
The Second Flight Singles? Well, let’s take a deep breath. First off, Sally Winmill (9) and Billie Jean Taft (9) played well throughout the week and tied for third. After that, things get a little complicated. As fate would have it, Conrad (9) and Jodie (Fusz) Rugart (9), recently married, met at this tournament two years ago. That they should both make the Finals is just way too romantic, yet it happened. And go figure … as time ran out, both players seemed to lose the ability to count. They thought the game was at 15-14, somewhat verified by, and please note, not an official but a spectator. Alas, the score was actually 14-14. And had been for some time. And with the inability to resurrect anything without bias, a compromise was reached: the two would share First Place. Given that these courts were where they first met two years ago, and to save a potentially large lawyer bill, the outcome seemed both appropriate and special. You just don’t see this stuff everyday!
In the Second Flight Doubles, far less exciting, Billie Jean Taft and Jodie Rugart prevailed (16-11) over the (occasionally comedic) team of Betty Crisler & Dolph Cramer. Susan Zipper & Sally Winmill were an honorable Third Place and kudos go out to the entire flight for having so much fun throughout the entire event.
On the social side, wonderful lunches were provided at both locations. Tuesday night kicked the week off with an energetic Opening Party followed Thursday by the traditional and festive Poolside Cookout. Come Sunday, players donned jackets to enjoy what is always a fantastic Awards Ceremony and Grand Buffet. All wonderful events were held at The Beach Club and the staff could not have been more accommodating!
As is always the case, the Tournament Committee, led by fearless leader Dwight Mayer, made everything work like clockwork. From the social events to the doubles pairings, hard work made everything just right. The effort was appreciated by all of the players and the Beach Club hopes to welcome everyone back to another fantastic Invitational next year!