Fairway Solitaire is in the running for Best Card, Board & Mahjong Game of 2007 at the upcoming Zeeby Awards. We chatted with John Cutter, the game’s designer and producer, about what makes Fairway Solitaire special and why it deserves to get your vote.

Can you give us insights or fun facts about the development of this game?

I was a junior golf champion and played for two years on the Pepperdine University golf team, so Fairway Solitaire was a real labor of love for me. The game actually started as a free community title on Big Fish Games.

It was so successful that we decided to create a downloadable version, working with a very talented programmer in England named Jake Birkett and Matt Laverty, an awesome artist in New Jersey. Because of the long distance and time difference of our locations, most of our communication was done via e-mail. In fact, I checked the other day and was shocked to discover I sent and received more than 10,000 e-mails while making Fairway Solitaire!

What makes Fairway Solitaire special, and why should people vote for it?

I’ve always been interested in anomalous ideas that are outside the mainstream zeitgeist. Given the popularity of hidden object, adventure/puzzle and time management games the decision to create a solitaire game based on a non-mainstream sport like golf wasn’t an easy one to make. But I’m really proud of the end result. The game is fun to play, even for folks who don’t like golf that much and we did a great job capturing the elements that make real golf so enjoyable.

The response from gamers has been absolutely astonishing. People really LOVE Fairway Solitaire. Many players have told us that it’s the best casual game they’ve ever played. I think they were just being nice, but it made us feel great anyway.

Besides your own game of course, what other games impressed you in 2007?

I love the Mystery Case Files series as well as Azada and Dream Chronicles.

If you win a Zeeby, how do you plan to celebrate?

I’ll get some new clubs! (I need an Ace and a three because I’m stuck on that stupid “Mystery Madness” course. What was I thinking when I designed that???)

Any final words for your fans?

We’re very grateful that players are enjoying the game so much. On behalf of the entire team at Big Fish Games I’d just like to say thanks for all the comments, blog posts, and reviews. We read almost all of them!

I’m really excited about some of the new games we’re working on here at Big Fish. Fans are going to love them!

Voting for the Zeebys runs from now until July 5. Click here to vote for you favorite casual games of 2007.