The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of Harbour Pointe

 

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History of the Mulligan Tour

The Mulligan Tour formed in 1999 when founder Erik Meland, tired of the same old 9-hole golf leagues, scheduled a series of tournaments at different local courses and offered a "new kind" of golf league that would promise a "PGA Tour" feel for the weekend, recreational golfer.  He invited friends and neighbors (and friends of neighbors) to participate in the inaugural Tour season.  That first campaign included 16 members of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of Harbour Pointe - named after the subdivision in Belleville, Michigan that was home to Meland and half the original membership.

An engineer for an automotive supplier, Meland used his program management skills to organize the tournaments, each with its own name and trophy, and track the playing statistics like the pro tour.  Using typical "league" playing rules, the Mulligan Tour would stress the fun, recreational aspect of the game but introduce a level of competition not readily available to the avid bogey golfer.

Using previous scores as a basis for player's handicaps, 12 players traveled to Ypsilanti's Pine View GC on May 29, 1999 and launched the new Tour by contesting the first Pine View Classic.  Dearborn school teacher Ron Stuart won the tournament by 2-strokes posting a net 4-under par 68.

A week later, the Tour traveled to Willow Metropark and Harbour Pointe resident Tom Hamilton won the inaugural Tin Cup.  June would see 2 more Harbour Pointe neighbors win tournaments - Kerry Homberger in the Western Swing and Mary Petree in the Crazy Brit - a tournament that used the modified British Stableford scoring system on the player's net scores.

In July, the Tour faced it's first problems with weather.  The inaugural Harbour Pointe Open, the Tour's first "major" championship, was stopped by lightning as the field made their way to the back nine.  The tournament was cancelled and rescheduled for August and the Tour created policy for future cases when Mother Nature would not cooperate with the Tour's plans.

In late July and early August, Todd Stuart would become the first to win consecutive tournaments, taking the Strokes on a Rope and Quad-Tour Challenge titles.  The Strokes on a Rope offered a different kind of handicapping - converting the player's handicap to a length of string and allowing players to move their ball and improve their lie by a total amount over the tournament equal to the length of string.  The Quad-Tour Challenge required the players to "draft" pro golfers that would team up for a 4-player score.

Erik Meland won the first Caddyshack Classic but Jim Cwikla finished the '99 Tour schedule by winning the rescheduled Harbour Pointe Open and the PLAYERS Championship sweeping the Tour's first 2 majors.  He earned $80 for the 2 victories but came up $4 short of Stuart, who earned $94 for the year and claimed the Mulligan Tour's first Money Title.

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The Tour adjusted some of the rules for the 2nd year.  The handicap formula was modified after watching so many net-scores blow past par.  After another small tweak in 2001, the handicap formula has been left relatively unchanged since.  Tournament winners have come from the low, mid, and high handicaps alike confirming the equity of the handicapping policy.

Other changes to the playing rules were made in order to speed the pace of play.  A 3-putt maximum rule allowed players to "pick-up" after missing the 2nd putt.  And, mandating a "quadruple bogey max" gross score meant players would not get caught in a "blow-up" hole.  Today, most players finish their rounds in 4 1/2 hours or less.

Membership steadily grew during the early years from 24 players in 2000 to 34 in 2002.  In 2004, membership reached 55 players and Meland created a Board of Directors from some of the veteran players to help guide the Tour's growth.  More tournaments were added and the "Grand Slam" was formed as the Memorial tournament and the Match Play Championship joined the HPO and PLAYERS Championship as the Tour's majors.  The Memorial tournament was actually Meland's first foray into tournament golf, first played in 1995 and now considered the "granddaddy" of the Mulligan Tour.

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The Mulligan Tour's "master plan" includes establishing regional divisions as growth dictates.  The Tour created its first 2 divisions before the 2005 season.  The Central and Western divisions followed their own schedules but members were able to play in either tournaments much the way a pro golfer might play PGA Tour events and European PGA Tour events.  The Tour added an Eastern division in 2010 to cater to the Oakland and Macomb county population.

Recent years have seen the addition of new tournaments including the popular Commissioner's Cup - the Mulligan Tour's version of the Ryder Cup.  A team of 8 players from the Central division's leading money winners takes on a team of 8 from the West's top money gainers in team matches.  The Central won the first Cup in 2005 played at the Lakes of Taylor Golf Club.  But the West rebounded and claimed the Cup for 2006 winning at the Legacy Golf Club.

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In 2010, the Tour added 2 new team events for the end of the season.   The President's Cup is a one-day 27 hole event pitting 6 members of the Player's Advisory Council (PAC), formerly the Board of Directors, against a team of 6 members in good standing.   The format includes 9 matches - 3 each of best ball, alternate shot and scramble.   Team Management won the inaugural event 5 to 3.

The Division Bell also debuted in 2010.   This event brings a 4-player team representing each of the Tour's regional divisions to play a total net score from the team.   The Central Division won the inaugural tournament held at Farmington Hills GC.

 

 

 

 

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