We play our first Major at the club this weekend and I thought it would be fun to write a short history of the tournament – The Hootie.
On April 13, 2003, a Cripple Creek tradition and a tournament like no other began.
“The Dog came out growling with a sandy par on the first hole and never looked back. Chipping in twice for birdies and taking only 24 putts, he rolled up a remarkable, we will not report the remarks that were made, 43 points [modified Stableford scoring] and ran off with a bone of $120. When asked how his knee held up, he responded with a blank look, “WHAT KNEE?” A 73 is a sure fire cure for whatever ails you.”
And so ended the first Hootie at Cripple Creek Golf & Country Club in Bethany Beach, DE. Our “Once and Former Commissioner” – one Lary Larson – was eloquent in his description of the Dog’s “historic” victory.
Planned as a 2-day event, the Saturday round was washed out and 23 players answered the call on a chilly, breezy day in April, 2003. Although the day mellowed into a very comfortable afternoon, the course was still wet – severely wet in spots – from the prior day’s rainfall. Bob “The Dog” Folliard was carrying an 8.4 handicap index at the time, age having begun to take its toll on his distance, his knees, and his back. He was still one of the best money players I’ve ever seen.
A month prior to the first Hootie, the “Commish” [Lary Larson] announced the following in an email to the “Group” at Cripple Creek:
We will have our first Major on the weekend of April 12th and 13th. This
date was selected in order to play in advance of the aeration program
and there is no club event for that weekend. . . . .There will be an entry fee for this event which will be announced shortly. The event is set to parallel the Masters and will
be known as the HOOTIE. (The format was later announced as individual Stableford with a maximum handicap of 14 and the entry fee was $40).
Of the 23 players, 17 had handicaps of 10 or less. Peter the Great (14.6 index) took 5th place with 33 points and won $30. Fish (0.8 index) and Bumly (10.9 index) split 3rd and 4th money with 34 points each and a $50 prize. John Brummer (5.2 index) took 2nd place with 35 points ($80 prize) and the Dog lapped the field with his 43 points and the $120 prize for 1st place.
What is “The Group” you ask? The Group is a collection of golfers at Cripple Creek that was originally formed by the Commish to provide a competitive, organized golf game for the players. The Group was originally organized around a single principal – keep the game competitive for the better player. Therefore, no player received more than 14 shots and the Commish had complete control over pairings and handicap adjustment and game structure. It was a benevolent dictatorship and I loved it.
I joined the Group in 2000 and by 2002 several of us worked with the Commish to establish a set of “Major” tournaments. The first such tournament was the Chowder Cup, played in September 2002 which lead to the formation of the Hootie and then the Closed. I’ll let Lary explain how it happened:
After forming the Group and delineating the rules and regulations, it was decided to hold a tourney to match up with the Ryder Cup. Thus the Chowder Cup was started. Entry was earned by accumulating points based on winnings and participation. It was played as a team event to reflect the format of the Ryder Cup. This was well received and fostered a spring tourney designed around the Masters. As with the Chowder Cup a suitable name was needed to reflect the Group’s relative importance to the world of Golf.
About that time, 2002, there arose a controversy over the Augusta CC [Augusta National Golf Club] policy of no women members. ‘Hootie’ was the nickname of the Chairman at Augusta, a Mr. Hardin. [Actually is was a Mr. Johnson, not Hardin] At the same time there was some mention of women being invited to play with the Group. Hootie stood tall and rebuffed the challenge from outside troublemakers. As was bandied about ‘You had to have a member to be a member’
The Once and Former Commissioner seized the opportunity to both name the spring tourney and squelch the radical and weak-kneed inclusion of women in Group events. The Hootie was played as an individual tourney using the Stableford System to parallel the Masters.
The success of this led to the formation of the ‘Closed’ rather than ‘Open’ an individual event and the ‘Peasants Cup’ to align with the ‘Presidents Cup’ again a team event. Thus was formed the nomenclature and formats for the Group.
Unfortunately from my perspective, the individual stableford format of the tournament only lasted that first year. The Commish no longer lead the Group and the leadership was taken over by Don “Donfather” Pharr. The tournament format was changed to 2-man teams in 2004 and the better ball Stableford score was used. The Donfather ran the tournament in 2004 (winner: Frog/Cookie), 2005 (winner: Steele/Bumly), and 2006 (winner: SwingDoctor/Tucker).
The Hootie in 2005 was noteworthy as Brian Trout’s introduction to the tournament (Brian was the new head pro at Cripple Creek) and the delay of the tournament until May because the greens had been re-grassed the prior year and we wanted them to have more time to grow in.
I was not able to play in 2006 and 2007 because of work conflicts. In 2008 Randy Verasco, Rich Conti (The Old Pro) and Bob Folliard (Dog) took over the tournament and the format was again changed to Better Ball Net, still with 2-man teams drawn prior to the tournament start. Randy, The Old Pro, and the Dog ran the Hootie until 2013. Some of the winning teams during those years were Glen Hudson & The Dog (2009), The Frog & yours truly (2010), Mike Cummings & Mickey (2011), and Steve Menz & Randy (2012).
2013 brought a new change to the Hootie as Mike Cummings and I were selected to run the tournament and we changed the format to a 9-hole better ball of partners and a 9-hole scramble each day. It must have worked well because Mike’s team won and my team came in 2nd that year. Mike partnered with Tom Fallon, while I had “JoeJoe” Ruggerio. Evidently what Mike and I thought worked great was not well received by the rest of the Group, because the very next year the format was changed back to Better Ball Net of partners under the chairmanship of Randy and Donfather.
The 2014 Hootie went down as the biggest comeback in the history of the tournament and, for me, was payback for the format change back to better ball. My partner (The Frog) and I were 8 shots behind going into the final day and we torched the course, shooting 59 to win by one shot at 15 under par. It also marked a repeat win for the Frog and I, having taken down the 2010 Hootie as well.
2015 marked the last time the Dog was seriously in contention at the Hootie. He and his partner, Glen Reid, lapped the field winning by 6 shots which I believe is the largest margin of victory in the tournament. I was not able to find much information about the 2016 and 2017 Hootie, but Glen Reid returned to the winner’s circle in 2018, taking the tournament down with his partner Pat Mcrae.
And so ends the short history of the Hootie – a tournament like no other. I researched hundreds of emails since 2002 to try and write this history, correctly identify participants and winners, and accurately quote the words of the “Once and Former Commissioner” with regard to founding, naming and managing the tournament. I hope you enjoyed it.
The 2019 Hootie begins Saturday with 9:30 tee times. I’m very much looking forward to the weekend and have a good feeling that my partner, Tom Fallon, and I will do well. It’s also my wife Susan’s birthday on Saturday which hopefully adds to the karma! It’s interesting to note that only four (4) players from the original 2003 Hootie are playing this year – Mike Cummings, Claude (Frog) Bernier, Jeff (Cookie) Mumford, and myself – The Retired Golf Hack.
Best of luck to all the teams below.