Big Sur Royale

I finally got the chance to play the Big Sur course I’d heard others rave about for several years now. Surprise, surprise . . . they were right!

The Course: It’s almost a given that when you take a landscape that includes Redwood trees, soaring mountains, and a bubbling river, then add baskets, the experience will at least be visually stimulating. But I want to give the Monterey Disc Golf Club credit for designing a course that had a great variety of shots and was really fun to play. Of course, I may be a little biased considering the course is quite lefty-friendly, but I heard nothing but positive comments from the other players as well. We played flat holes, downhill holes, uphill holes, and holes that were mostly wooded and also mostly open. The river came into play on maybe 4 or 5 holes, and even on the water holes discs could be retrieved. The teepads were pretty solid, all in all, considering they were natural and temporary.

The campground: A little pricey, but waddya expect? It’s Big Sur, and the facilities and ammenities matched the gorgeous natural surroundings, so I thought it was worth it with or without the disc golf. The place also has a good restaurant, tavern, and store, so if you want a quasi-camping experience this is a good fit.

The tournament: I came back with several general impressions when this tourney was over, but the most prominent was that Fun really did seem to rule. My best explanation for this was the fact that, with nearly 60 of the 74 participants in Amateur divisions, this was for the most part an Am tourney with a small Pro contingent. I’ve been playing in the Open divisions for so long now, I forgot how different the atmosphere is when Am players get together. These are people that are here more for the experience, fellowship, and partying than for the rush of competition. I think people still have a good time at Open tourneys, but their primary focus is on playing well- even before and between the actual rounds of golf. I experienced a little nostalgia for those more innocent Am days, even though back then I was one of those players that was more into winning than anything else.

My personal experience was limitied to the 4-person Open Master group of Marty Hapner, Mike Brown, Steve Thomas, and Mike’s ever-present dog Skippy. Merle Witvoet, who used to live with Mike, nicknamed Skippy ‘Two-Stroke,’ and I can understand why. Skippy didn’t dart around like some dogs do when discs are thrown, but he didn’t stay out of the way, either. Even though the dog didn’t really bother me too much (I was enjoying the laid-back atmosphere too much to be uptight) he really should not have been on the course during a PDGA-sanctioned event.

In some ways this event was excruciating, because I didn’t feel like I was playing good golf, and yet I was always within a few strokes of the lead. I guess I was aware that I was right there with a chance to win, but didn’t deserve to be. Finally, with three holes left to play, I birdied to take the lead over Mike and Marty. But Mike was not to be outdone, and he matched my birdie on the next hole, then reeled off another on the hole after that to tie it up. Then, on the last hole of regulation, he stepped up on a difficult river hole and drove to within 20 feet. I had to do likewise to force a playoff, and I did . . . whew! We basically traded mediocre throws for the first couple playoff holes, and I won it on the third with a nice long jump putt for birdie.

If you haven’t played in this event, I suggest you do. If you’ve never played in a PDGA tourney, this one would make a great first tourney experience.

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