27th Annual Mountain Laurel Invitational
June 5–9, 2019: Chattooga Club, Cashiers, North Carolina
The twenty-seventh annual Mountain Laurel Invitational was held June 5th to 9th at the Chattooga Club in the picturesque mountain setting of Cashiers, North Carolina. Three courts are set just below the open pavilion and lodge with a backdrop of the mountains across the valley. The weather was very soggy, with rain and scattered thunderstorms every day of the tournament.
Singles play was in three flights in a round robin block the first three days, with a double elimination ladder on Saturday (cut short on Saturday afternoon due to weather delays) and finals on Sunday. Three flights of doubles played an abbreviated block, due to the rain, with the block winners taking home pewter wine plates. Doubles winners were Lynda Sudderberg in Championship, Dick Boger in First flight and Jim Orr in Second Flight.
Championship flight fielded ten players with handicaps ranging from -1.5 to 3, with Scott Spradling and Bob Crouch out of the block seeded 1 and 2, respectively. They both received two byes in the double elimination ladder. Ed Becker came out of the block as the third seed and won two rounds before meeting Bob Crouch. Lynda Sudderberg, the lowest handicap player in the field, came out of the block seeded fourth and won two rounds to meet up with Scott Spradling. The top seeds Spradling and Crouch prevailed, and Spradling then knocked Crouch down into the consolation ladder, where he met up again with Becker. Becker won this rematch by one wicket to earn another chance at Spradling in the final. Spradling, who had only one loss the whole tournament, beat Becker 16-15 to take the title.
First flight, with eight players, saw Edward Erlich come out of the block as the number one seed, and Merle Berkshire, who has rapidly lowered his handicap with recent tournament play, as the number two seed. It came down to Erlich, Berkshire, Mijai Pagano, and Leo Leither vying for the title. Since singles play was halted on Saturday afternoon due to lightning, these four players finished out in a “mini” double elimination ladder on Sunday, as did all final four players in each flight. It was Leo Leither who won the First Flight Singles title against Merle Berkshire in another one-wicket final, 11-10.
Second flight, with eight players, had David Trigiani enter the ladder from the block as the number one seed, and Linda Trifone as the number two seed. Rounding out third and fourth seeds were Mike Cambell and Jim Orr respectively. Orr in his first croquet tournament ever, went undefeated in ladder play beating Trifone in the semis and Trigiani in the finals, to take home both the singles and doubles trophies in his tournament debut.
The food, as usual, was a culinary delight, starting with the opening reception party Tuesday evening and continuing through to the Sunday awards luncheon. Breakfast every morning was over the top delicious! New this year was Wednesday night dinner al fresco on the Pavilion. Tournament players and their guests joined Chattooga members in Wednesday “Burger Buffet and Trivia Game Night”. Everyone had a great time, especially “The Dawn Patrol” who came back from behind in the last four part music round. After “open night” Thursday, we were treated to a beautiful Friday evening of cocktails and great food at the Chestnut Pool Pavilion. Saturday evening, the traditional formal dinner party was held in the main dining room. The menu consisted of salad, a filet with lump crab and lobster cake, mashed potatoes, asparagus, followed by a scrumptious dessert. As is customary for this tournament, the doubles awards were presented during dinner.
Sunday was the wrap-up of quarterfinals, semi-finals, and the finals in all flights. Following the finals, since it was still raining, the awards were made on the Pavilion with a brief moment of pause in the rain for courtside pictures. Everyone then adjourned to the Pavilion for lunch and a final cheer to fun, friends and croquet!
—Dawn Jupin, Tournament Director
First Flight Singles
Second Flight Singles
First Flight Doubles
Second Flight Doubles