The Threetops golf course at Treetops Resort in northern Michigan is once again primed to host a national event.
This one won't involve the legends of the game who teed it up during the ESPN Par 3 Shootout in the 1990s and early 2000s. The prize money that attracted guys like Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Ray Floyd, Fred Couples, Phil Mickelson and Lee Trevino dried up years ago when sponsors gave up on numerous silly season events. This one's for regular golfers looking for a little action.
Treetops has launched a new two-person team event called the National Par 3 Team Championship. Qualifying runs until Sept. 11, and the national finals will be held Sept. 27.
The format for the teams is a two-person best ball with scores being verified by at least one person in the group.
Multiple entries are encouraged to qualify to be one of 28 teams competing for the grand prize in the finals, an all-expenses-paid golf trip to Scotland. Every finalist will have an opportunity on each of the nine holes to earn $10,000 for a hole-in-one. Other prizes include golf packages and rounds at Treetops, home to four other courses by Tom Fazio, Rick Smith and Robert Trent Jones Sr.
There are two ways to join in the fun. Golfers who play Threetops can simply add a $10 entry fee to their green fee in an attempt to qualify. The resort is also offering a special package starting from $118 per person based on double occupancy featuring a night's lodging, a round on Threetops and one breakfast buffet.
I've played Threetops a handful of times over the years. I'm always struck by how stunning it looks, and how difficult it plays. Smith, now the managing partner at the resort, designed Threetops in 1992, creating what some consider to be the best executive course in the country.
The elevation changes make club selection a guessing game. The tee shots at no. 3 -- nicknamed "Devil's Drop" -- and no. 7 -- dubbed "High Five" -- seem to stay suspended in midair forever before finally falling to green earth well below the elevated tees. The fifth and ninth holes climb subtly uphill, playing at least a club and a half longer.
Even golfers who pick the right stick off the tee and hit the green aren't guaranteed good scores. The putting surfaces twist and turn so much that they're nearly impossible to solve for birdie. Golfers who sink a few putts better practice their ground game next. Links golf in Scotland is a whole different animal altogether.
Go to www.treetops.com/par3championship for more information.