Sunday, May 10, 2009

Horseshoes at GSSG

I was the horseshoe event manager for the Granite State Senior Games (GSSG). Pitchers (as horseshoe throwers are called), all over the age of 50, compete in five-year age/gender categories. I was a pitcher in previous GSSG tournaments, but this was my first as the event manager. Certainly, it was a revelation for me.

While each thrower is only concerned with their category, the event manager, in fact, is organizing eight or more separate mini-tournaments. Thus comes the rub. The challenge for the event manager is to give each pitcher an opportunity to play, while offering competition for them.

When registration occurred weeks before the tournament, I had signed up to participate in the singles and doubles competition in my age category. As I planned the rules and pitcher assignments, it became obvious I would not be able to be both a manager and pitcher.

I prepared a handout for the pitchers to have the key rules of the GSSG games, as well as to provide me guidelines for instructions to the pitchers. I used the 2009 Summer National Senior Games Horseshoe rules ( and the National Horse Pitchers Association ( rules, supplemented by a few local rules to speed up play.

I incorporated two means of scoring. First, was the count-all shoes method to determine the skill of players and assigned them a person to play. Then the cancellation scoring method determined the “best” pitcher in each category. Although these two methods are encouraged in the NSGA rules and procedures, I found using two scoring methods in this GSSG tournament(s) very confusing to most of the players, since most had never played in organized tournaments. Since the purpose of these games is primarily for “fun”, rather competition, I would suggest next year’s manager consider only the count-all shoes scoring method.

One interesting pitcher was Ron from the state of Washington. This 65-year young man had a 2009 quest to participate in as many state senior games as he could. The New Hampshire games were his tenth this year. While not being able to do all sixteen of the various GSSSG games, he would do the swimming event the same day as horseshoes.

A special treat for me was my brother David being a pitcher. He won a silver medal in his singles category. Fortunately, the doubles competition was at the end of the tournament, and I was able to join David as his partner. We won Gold in our category!

Surely one person cannot manage this multiple horseshoe event. Lucille was a tremendous help with set-up, awarding medals, record keeping, and a great assistant. Jim, Stan, and Hannah assisted with scoring.

For the results of the GSSG horseshoes tournaments, and for the information on other GSSG games go to

I will never have to say, “I wish I had managed a horseshoe tournament”.