Inaugural Football Pool & Golf Ball Challenge: And the winner is…

By Randy Youngman

The envelope, please.

And the winner of’s inaugural “Football Pool & Golf Ball Challenge” is Rick Baumgartner of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Baumgartner, a two-time weekly winner, finished with an impressive record of 180-76 (70.3 percent success rate) picking winners during the NFL regular season to beat his nearest pursuer by four games and top a field of more than 300 contest participants.

Larry Braaten finished second (176-80 record), and there was a two-way tie for third place between Jesse Dixon and Tom Bay (175-81 records).

As grand prize winner, Baumgartner will receive a three-day, two-night golf vacation at the La Quinta Resort & Spa, including two rooms, free breakfast and unlimited golf for four at any of the five PGA West courses at the resort. He’ll also receive five dozen golf balls from contest sponsors Bridgestone, Callaway Golf, Nike Golf, Srixon and TaylorMade.

“I’m looking forward to playing on some of the beautiful courses I’ve seen on the web site,” said Baumgartner, a longtime Albuquerque resident who works for a local beer distributor in special events as a draft technician.

An avid golfer, Baumgartner also is a diehard Denver Broncos fan – not surprising considering he grew up north of Denver. It also explains his Super Bowl prediction: Denver Broncos 38, Green Bay Packers 28.

Could it be a repeat of the John Elway-powered Broncos’ 31-24 upset victory over the Brett Favre-led Packers in Super Bowl XXXII in San Diego on Jan.  25, 1998? We shall see.

In my weekly “NFL Pigskin Challenge” portion of the contest, in which I went one-on-one against a reader chosen because of an interesting golf story, the So-Called Expert (163-92-1) defeated the collective Guest Prognosticators (153-102-1) by 10 games, thanks to a season-ending, nine-week unbeaten streak.

Five guest prognosticators did beat me (the list is below) and each won five dozen golf balls, gift certificates and assorted golf accessories.

In addition to the aforementioned golf-ball companies, the contests were sponsored by Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club in Mission Viejo, Roger Dunn Golf Shops, The Golf Mart, Winn Grips, Aldila and La Quinta Resort & Spa.

Here is a week-by-week breakdown of the 2012 Pigskin Challenge:

Week 1: John “JT” Thompson, Seacliff men’s club president, 10-6, So-Called Expert 11-5.

Week 2: Vern Holveck, “hopeless hacker,” 7-9; SCE 10-6.

Week 3; Bobby Grich, former Angels star, 6-10; SCE 3-13.

Week 4: Todd Anderson, pastor/caddie, 11-4; SCE 10-5.

Week 5: John Chapman, golf company sales manager, 10-4; SCE 9-5.

     Week 6: Hank Aschbrenner, wedding reception entertainer, 5-9; SCE 6-8.

Week 7: Mark Scheibach, football pool leader, 11-2; SCE 10-3.

Week 8: Bill Murray, famous-name tax accountant, 8-6; SCE 7-7.

Week 9:  Rick Lancaster, a.k.a “Blackjack,” 8-6; SCE 11-3.

Week 10: Larry O’Brien, baseball agent, 8-5-1; SCE 9-4-1.

Week 11: Mike Scioscia, Angels manager, 10-6; SCE 13-1.

Week 12: Carl Cain, putter extraordinaire, 9-7; SCE 9-7.

Week 13: David Hill, Karsten Solheim acquaintance, 10-6; SCE 11-5.

Week 14: Jim Fuchs, accountant with golf secret, 9-7; SCE 10-6.

Week 15: John Ashkarian,  golf club disposal expert, 9-7; SCE 10-6.

Week 16: Gary Moorhead, wrong-hole ace author, 9-7; SCE 11-5.

Week 17: Rick Mielke, witness to golf history, 13-3; SCE 13-3.

Season totals: Guest prognosticators 153-102-1, SCE 163-92-1.

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