Haven’t had the energy yet since the last day of the event to look at all the numbers, but one stat jumps off the page. Of the eight people crowned World Champion of disc golf on Saturday, 6 come from and live in Northern California. Only two of them call any of the Worlds courses home (Nate Doss and Jon Baldwin, DeLaveaga), and Nate is on tour and away from DeLa most of the season. And he doesn’t play much in the off-season. It wasn’t a Santa Cruz thing so much as a NorCal thing.
My conclusion here is twofold, and both are points I’ve made in this space before.
- Northern California has more concentrated disc golf talent than anywhere else in the world, and it’s not very close.
- The courses in NorCal present challenges most disc golfers – even most top pros – just don’t see very often.
I won’t spend much time on the superior player angle as I’ve done that before. Suffice it to say that in addition to dominating the winner’s podium, the two other players that provided the biggest threat to Doss are from NorCal as well: Derek Billings, who led for the first two days and shot a -18 in the opening round, and Josh Anthon, the greatest player to not yet win a major.
As far as the courses go, it seems that most top players are conditioned by typical disc golf courses to play ultra-aggressive golf. Rarely do they get themselves into trouble that results in more than one bogey stroke at other courses. Bad drives usually result in settling for par rather than deciding how to minimize the damage. Not so at most NorCal courses, nearly all of which combine sloping, rugged terrain, dense foliage and challenging layouts.
To those tempted to say that the NorCal players had an advantage from being familiar with the courses, my response is qualified agreement. NorCal players are privileged to learn playing a form of the game much closer to traditional golf than what most others experience. Game management is of the utmost importance, and it is this trait more than any other that made the difference at the 2011 Pro Worlds.
The 27-hole round is also something that requires adjustment, and perhaps those that have played tournament rounds at DeLaveaga were better-prepared in that way as well. If your mind is conditioned to maintain focus for 18 holes, and then you have to another 1.5 hours . . . . that’s when mistakes and errors of judgement happen.
I know somewhere, someone who knows Tom Schot and his PT Barnam ways well believes Tom just pulled off the Hustle of his great career. But those that know Tom really well know that’s silly. He doesn’t care who wins so long as the world hears about it and it advances the sport.