I passed my PDGA Certified Official’s exam this weekend – not a big deal really since it’s open book. Not a tough exam but it did clarify a couple small things for me which is cool. Passing the exam is required if you want to participate in National Tour events or A-Tier events. Thus far I’ve only played B and C-Tier events but will be looking at entering two or three A-Tiers in 2016.
In other news, I finished second in one of my Tag Leagues this year narrowly beating some really talented players. I played a pair of ‘Personal Best’ rounds at the tag league Finale which felt pretty damn good. Finishing the year on a high note certainly helps my confidence going into next year looking at getting into the A-Tier events. I’m in one other league which will hold it’s Finale on Nov. 22nd so I still have a little work to do. Hoping I have a decent finish in that league as well, we’ll see. I think the final tag assignments are handicapped in that league so I’ll just need to beat my averages to finish strong.
Not just the first, but the First Annual CTP Halloween Bash I hope! Fun to get in on a disc golf course’s first sanctioned tournament. I played so-so , I think everyone walked away feeling like they could have taken home a win. The scores were all pretty close. I always say each tournament I play teaches me a lesson, the lesson from Saturday is pay attention to what is behind. So yeah, hole 9 is a triangle Island with Out-of-Bounds on all three sides. The basket is in the far corner of the triangle. My drive was nice, it slid on the grass maybe 20 feet short of the pin, no gimme but nothing I haven’t hit a hundred times. Naturally I went for it, nice putt just a touch high – it caught the top of the basket and kicked it OB. *sigh*. I hadn’t considered what was right behind the basket for some reason – out of freakin’ bounds. That one hurt. Anyway, after the first round I ended up on the lead card, played a good second round and I won my card by a throw. I thought that would set up a play-off for the win with the other guy on my card since he beat me by one the first round and I beat him by one in the second round. I was wrong, I wasn’t paying attention to the chase card, one of the players on the chase beat us both by three throws so we tied for second place and split the prize. Lots of lessons learned this year. I think that was my last competitive tournament for the year, hoping I have the points to earn an invite to the AM Worlds in Wisconsin in 2016!
New Jersey Disc Golf has come a long way very quickly if Stafford Woods is any indicator of what is happening there. I noticed when I got my players pack the disc and t-shirt had a graphic with an outline of the state and map pins dropped where the courses are located.
- Thompson Park est. 2015
- Doc Cramer est. 2014
- New Brooklyn est. 2013
- Ocean County Park est. 2013
- Stafford Woods est. 2012
- South Vineland est. 2007
- Riverview est. 2006
- Landis Park est. 1998
- Cape May est. 1982
As you can see, South Jersey had two courses until 2006, then added two more in ’06-’07, then BOOM! Five new courses since 2012! That is very impressive growth – not just impressive but daaaaaaam impressive. Anyway, Stafford Woods was awesome. I’ve never played a more forgiving yet heavily wooded course. The woods are old growth so there isn’t a lot of brush on the forest floor which made it easy to find your disc. It was funny, you could hit a tree off your drive and ricochet 50 ft. off the fair way and still have a legitimate line to the basket, just a different route through the trees. The courses I am used to are wicked if you get two feet off the fairway, thorns, prickers and poison ivy make you sorry you got even slightly off course. The guys I played with in Jersey were all cool, there was a healthy dose of funny trash talking but when it came down to it, the guys were showing me lines and guiding me through the course – always trying to help my game and encouraging each other. Good sportsmanship in other words.
The first round went well and I topped my card with a 65. That was good enough to put me in the second spot on the lead card (MA2 division) for the second round. The leader had a three throw advantage to start but that evaporated after the first two holes. We went throw for throw for a half dozen more when we got to the open fields. He was able to take advantage of his long drive abilities and built a four throw lead, then we headed back into the woods. He was able to stay consistent and played out the round making pars, I made a valiant run at the end picking up birdies on the final three holes ultimately falling short by a single throw. The winner and I both agreed the day had been about as fun and exciting as it could get, 36 holes of competitive disc golf decided by a single throw 119 to 120 – that’s awesome! The second place finish still paid out a couple new discs and I won a closest to the pin prize which included a hat, t-shirt and some other swag.
I’ll be heading to New Jersey on Saturday to compete in the South Jersey Open. This will likely be my second to last event of the year. I’m still just short of my objective of earning 250 pts. in the Amateur divisions. If I get to 250 I might just get an invite to the AM Worlds. Hoping to do well but I’ll be competing at a course I’ve never played, everything will be improv. I think this will be my first out of state event too. Still, I love the challenge.. it’ll test my skills and decision making. If I do well enough I’ll close out my season at Codorus Township Park Halloween Bash.
Today I played the front nine at Creekside with a fella from Texas named Ben. One of the cool things about disc golf is that when you travel you can always ask the locals if you can play a round with them. Today I started talking to Ben in the parking lot and we decided to play the front nine together. Ben is a Grand Masters level player (over 50) and has played over 300 courses. Always interesting to hear what people think of our courses from an unbiased but experienced perspective. Anyway, he was wheeling one of those carts with the small bike wheels and he casually mentions, “I was up here playing maybe a week ago and the wheel on my cart just fell off! Weird, it’s held in by a cotter pin so it shouldn’t just fall off. Anyway, I never found the pin and now I have piece of string holding it there.” I laughed for a second and I said, “Ben, I was playing here last week and I found a cotter pin laying in the middle of the foot bridge over on hole 4. I clipped it to a piece of metal at the end – lets see if it’s still there!” Yup sure enough, still there. Just one of those things, the guy that lost the pin and the guy that found it just happened to show up at the same time to play a round together – and bring up the pin in conversation. Oh, and just because it was a strange Sunday it started raining which turned into rain and hail with a few snow flakes mixed in for good luck. I had to wipe a wintery mix from my disc for the first time since April.
I took home a win this weekend! Hot damn! It was just an amazing day from the get-go really. I went into the tournament just looking forward to playing a round with my buddy Michael Sung and I knew the players pack you got for registering was described as VERY generous. Indeed it was, Mike Solt and Dynamic Discs put together a pack which included a DD Ranger bag (That’s a $175 bag), a custom stamp DD Thief, a pair of putters, a shirt, socks, a towel, can-koozies…It was nuts!! I felt like a winner when Mike was piling all that stuff in front of me.
After I checked in I got my first real look at the course, incredible! Sunrise in the Appalachians, late September. Very mellow golden light hitting the morning fog which lay over the grassy fairways. Villas Crossing in Tamaqua was once a traditional ball-golf course, and it still is but they added a disc golf course a few years back which uses part of the original course and the wooded sections behind the ball-golf course. You also get a golf cart when you play, you don’t have to rent one but it’s cheap and your legs will thank you – it’s hard enough with the cart! The course is impressive, lots of big open fairways for the big arms to take advantage of, there were some difficult pin placements and opportunities for roll-aways like I’d never seen before. Seriously I watched a guy hit the cage and roll well over 200 ft. downhill – cost him four throws. The wooded sections of the course helped me out as usual, I typically lose ground on the open holes and tend to do well in the woods. For my game I felt like the woods were challenging but I only got in trouble a few times. I know there were some guys on other cards that got lit-up on a couple holes but that’s how it goes sometimes. Villas Crossing had a good variety of terrain and lay out and a really nice signature hole. I think was #16 where you arrive to a huge open vista which overlooks the course and gives you a clear view across the valley. You throw from a steep drop-off to the basket about 350 feet out and 150 feet down. The drop is steep enough that you can’t quite see the out-of-bounds in front of the basket – everyone was just telling me to throw as hard as I could when I tee’d off. Anyway, it was one of those top-of-the-world tee boxes you just love to see.
I had such a good time playing it felt like it was over in a blink. I didn’t have any expectations going into the tournament because I was going to be playing a course I had never seen before. That is something that I hadn’t yet experienced. I think it may have actually helped me focus on my shots one at a time, I wasn’t thinking ahead or keeping score in my mind. I just played my game and it ended with me beating Mike by a couple throws! He’s kicked my butt a couple times so I was stoked to finally get one on him. I won a cool-ass Trophy made by Grains & Chains and a sweet tie-dye custom disc for a ‘closest to the pin’ prize.