The Amateur weekend of the Masters Cup just concluded, and I was up at the course helping out for most of the three-day event. I learned plenty watching the Ams (all but eight of them, who DNF’d likely due to the rain) play three rounds that took 5-plus waterlogged hours to finish. By the way, none of the DNF’ers were women, despite the fact that they’re getting around the course in more throws on average than their male counterparts.
I also got a reminder that there is a whole other (albeit lower) competitive level to our sport, and they take their games as seriously as those of us who plan in Open divisions. In fact, in some ways they’re probably better at keeping things in perspective than us, since no disc golfer yet has been able to make a true living playing the sport. What I saw was a group of people that were able to play with a burning desire to do well, but quickly settle for having a good time while on vacation when Plan A fell through. The only really despondent souls I came across were locals, and I’ve been there before. You look forward to the big A tour event on your home course for months, and when you don’t do well, it sucks. The best I ever finished in Santa Cruz as an Am was 8th, I think, even in the year (1998) that I won several times in the NorCal series. Playing a PDGA tourney – especially one as big as the Masters Cup – takes a whole different approach, but that’s a subject for a different day. Some other observations:
- Am and Pro events different in several ways. One is how long the rounds take. Am rounds take longer because the players need more throws to complete the round, in turn because they are less skilled. But they also don’t know the rules as well, which leads to discussions about rulings and more fun stuff. And now with the newer high-tech plastic, they can throw their errant shots further as well!
- We’ve always tried different things to lure Am players into the ‘Pro’ ranks . . . how about round times? I think if the Open players had played this weekend, the rounds would have been between 4.5 and 5 hours, rather than between 5.5 and 6 hours.
- I watched many throws over the course of three days, and had the oppontunity to give many eager listeners tips on DeLa. What I was this weekend reinforced my belief that – for someone of my skill level and questionable power- playing for safe par on most holes is the best way to ensure a good, strong placing.