2013 Masters Cup: Plenty of Santa Cruz locals to watch

Every year in April, Santa Cruz, CA is not only the ‘Epicenter of Disc Golf’ – the label we gave ourselves in 1989 after the nearby Loma Prieta earthquake – but the center of the professional disc golf tour as well. DeLaveaga Disc Golf Course has hosted a National Tour event every year since the tour was established, and the Masters Cup has drawn the sport’s best talent for about 20 years before that.

If you follow the tour, you’re familiar with many of this weekend’s competitors. Young Guns Ricky Wysocki, Paul McBeth, Will Schusterick and Nikko Locastro will all be there, as will veteran champs Ken Climo, Dave Feldberg, Nate Doss and Avery Jenkins. And there are plenty of other names you’ll recognize as well, like Philo Braithwaite, Paul Ulibarri, and Josh Anthon.

You know all about these guys already, and they’ve proven that any one of them can step up and win on any given week. I’m not about to pretend that I can predict who will win, although Josh Anthon is a Norcal player who knows DeLa well and has come close, Nate Doss grew up and honed his craft here, and Wysocki and Shusterick are good bets too. But this post isn’t about picking a winner.

On Saturday, after the first round is in the books, and even Sunday when it’s down to the last 24 holes, there are bound to be some names you don’t recognize on the tops cards. Or rather, you would not have recognized if you hadn’t read this. You’re welcome.

And let me state for the record that I’m not ignoring the women’s divisions. It’s just that there is a big separation between the top women and the locals, and there is no chance of a surprise. Kristy King, a DeLa local and DGA-sponsored player, has a chance of finishing in the top third of the field and cashing, but the win will likely go to Sarah Hokom, Valarie Jenkins or Paige Pierce.

Local pro and longtime course maintenance leader Jim Hagen works on his backhand form while starting up his mower four days before the start of the 2013 Masters Cup.
Local pro and longtime course maintenance leader Jim Hagen works on his backhand form while starting up his mower four days before the start of the 2013 Masters Cup. Photo by Jack Trageser

In the men’s divisions, on the other hand, the combination of a deep pool of local talent and the idiosyncrasies of DeLaveaga as a course that plays very different than most courses on the pro circuit makes for some intriguing possibilities. I’m not saying that any of these guys will win, mind you, just that they can. Look for one or more of the following names on the lead and/or chase cards Sunday, and remember I told you so.

Matt Bell- Disc golf is a sport where the best players improve on a super-steep curve, and can go from beginner to world-beater in a hurry. Matt Bell played half of his 15 PDGA events last year in the Advanced division, but this year has been turning heads locally. He won this year’s Enduro (Ice) Bowl at DeLa this year, topping a number of known players, and has the power, savvy, and local knowledge to make a run. Look for him to be in the running at least until the magnitude of the situation hits him- and maybe longer.

Shasta Criss- He enjoys a rep as a solid player and great guy on the tour, especially on the West Coast, but Shasta flies below the radar to most pro disc golf followers. He’s DGA’s top sponsored Open Division player and has all the tools necessary to make a run, including a penchant for hitting 50-foot putts. Plus, that name is just meant for disc golf, and it’s impossible not to like him. If you see his name in the mix, feel good about rooting for him.

Chris Edwards- Big, easy power and a recent ascent into 1000-rated territory mark Edward’s game, along with a sincere desire to promote disc golf locally and beyond. He’s the coach of the UCSC disc golf team, and if his mental game catches up fully to his physical talents he’ll be in contention. Edwards is a birdie machine when he’s on and simply needs to eliminate or minimize the mistakes.

Myles Harding- Like Nate Doss, Myles literally grew up playing DeLaveaga. Longtime NorCal tour players remember that he and Greg Barsby went head-to-head in Juniors, then Advanced, then Open, both winning lots of hardware- but as kids and teens Myles actually won a bit more. Harding, like his dad Rob, has all the shots in his bag, super-smooth form, and the ability to turn in some low rounds. Whether he can string together three of them in a row is the question, but he’s done it plenty of times before.

Don Smith- I know firsthand of Don’s tenacity as he beat me once on the 11th extra hole of an epic sudden-death playoff at a local monthly with an 80-foot uphill birdie putt. Since then I’ve gotten older and he’s gotten better, making disc golf his full-time occupation. He’s been on tour nonstop for a couple years now, and that and the the fact that he’s likely played 1000 (or more) rounds at DeLa are the reasons I would not be surprised to see Smith in contention on Sunday. He’s got the game necessary to shoot double-digits under each round, and that’s what it will take to win.

Tony Tran- I gotta mention Tony because he can show up at DeLa for the first time in nine months and throw out an 11-under. He used to play more than he does now, and he never plays anything but local events anymore (I’m not sure if he ever did) but he’s got game. He’s another guy to pull for if you’re a fan of feel-good stories. If he wanted to put the time in, he could be as good as most of the guys who try to play for a living.

Jon Baldwin- This guy won the world championship playing here in 2011, so no one should be surprised if he wins the Masters Cup. Baldwin, DGA’s most marketed sponsored player, is a golfer in the best sense of the word, winning with focus and guile as much as with his sufficient power, steady putting and all-around game. Look for him to be right there all three days in the Masters Division. He’s played three major events this year and taken 2nd place at all three (to Phil Arthur, Ken Climo and Jason Tyra), so he’s certainly hungry for a win on his home turf.

The players listed above are all Santa Cruz locals. They call DeLa home. But other participants in the Masters Cup have lots of experience here as well. The aforementioned Josh Anthon and Ray Johnson are NorCal stalwarts, Steve Rico and Philo Braithwaite show up often from SoCal, and we still claim Nate Doss as our own.

The cream does in the end rise to the top, and it’s likely the trophy will be lifted by someone you knew before reading this preview. But Santa Cruz has tons of local talent, and more so than at any other NT stop you can expect to see some unknown players in the mix.

Last things first- Today’s Rainy Round

The DeLa DGC got in the Sentinel again today, for the second time in a couple weeks. This time it was a mis-characterization of our position on paid parking during last night’s SC city council meeting. For a recap of the Sentinel story and our effort to set the record straight, click here: http://www.delaveagadiscgolf.com/index.php?option=com_joomlaboard&Itemid=153&func=view&id=3700&catid=12#3700.

So after dealing (as DDGC VP) with the fallout of the story, I was ready to hit the course for a reminder of why it’s all worth it. And although the rain fell steadily from beginning to end, DeLadidn’t disappoint. I forced my last round (-7 with only one bogey on I-5) out of my mind and took the approach from hole #1 that I’d play it safe, keep it in the big part of the fairway and simply try to par every hole. I try to be aware of my limitations, and today’s round was full of ’em:

  • Whether it’s raining or not, my reliance on firm footing for my drives means that wet teepads really changes what I’m able to do
  • Whenever it’s actually raining during a round, one must deal with a host of additional complications besides discs that can never be completely dry and clean. You’ve got the extra effort it takes to try to dry your discs, the whole umbrella thing, wet hands, bulky raingear, and even a different terrain (my disc skipped twice off the wet ground when I didn’t expect it, to my detriment).
  • Add to all that the fact that I played with half the amount of discs I normally carry. No rollers, and only one of the 4 putters normally in my bag. I wanted to go ‘light’.

It would be easy to do the woulda/coulda thing (and I will, a little) but all in all I’m pleased that I for the most part accomplished what I set out to do: I shot a +1 with two bogeys, and one birdie, and twenty-five pars. Most were routine, in fact so routine that I didn’t make one putt longer than 22 feet today. But a few times, I pulled out pars after drives slipped errantly from my hand and save shots were required. Like hole 7, when my drive went right and didn’t make it past the early trees on the right. My desperation forehand roller ended up 12 feet from the hole. And 18, where I slammed the early trees on the left and kicked right.

But in the woulda/coulda category, I had great chances for birdies that didn’t happen on 6, 12, 15, 20, 23, 24, 26a and 27 . . . and cashed in on none of ’em. Oh well, I can always fall back on he aesthetics. There were only two other cars in the lot, and I only saw one other group on the course. They played six in front of me, then headed back to the lot, and after that, I didn’t see a soul. Just me and the course, with the rain falling steadily and a heavy mist hanging on the surrounding slopes. Yeah, it’s all worth it. For sure.

Attention All Santa Cruz Disc Golfers: This Is No Drill!

Greetings from DeLaveaga Disc Golf Course in Santa Cruz, California. And now, greetings from the DeLaveaga Disc Golf Club as well, as I am serving the club as vice president this year. I’ve decided to use this forum to report on club happenings in addition to my normal fare of general disc golf topics. I’ll try to keep you up-to-date on club happenings as things happen, and pass on stuff of interest I learn at club meetings and elsewhere. So what’s up lately? Plenty!

The day of the last meeting (Feb 13th 2008), we met with a City of Santa Cruz parks dept. official who informed us that the City is moving ahead with various improvement projects relate to the course. This despite the fact that Gov. Schwartzenegger vetoed the ‘landswap’ bill that transferred the land on which our course sits from the National Guard to the city. Obviously
the city is confident that they will get the land eventually. So confident, in fact, that they created elaborate drafting blueprints indicating the changes they plan to make to the parking lot and the
course. On the surface, most of the changes seemed positive to those of us that scanned through them, but changes to the course seem imminent. The good news is that we should have a paved parking lot by the middle of the Summer, and more importantly the city is openly asking for our
feedback to their plans.

Right now we get around 15 people at the club’s monthly meetings, and those of us that attend will discuss the pros and cons of the plans, and come to a consensus on how to reply to the city. I have to admit, it’s a tremendous responsibility to speak for thethousands of other disc golf enthusiasts that care what happens to our course- especially since we can’t be sure we know how the majority feels.

If we could get most of the people who play DeLaveaga to join the club and come to meetings, we’d be in a much better position to ensure that the course remains open and available for everyone to
enjoy. Not only is it extremely important to demonstrate to the city at
every opportunity that we have a large, organized body of city and
county residents (and people from out of town) that strongly support
DeLaveaga Disc Golf Course. If we can get a large body of disc
golfers either coming to the meetings or at least responding to e-mail
questionnaires about the future of the course, we’d be able to more
accurately represent the wishes of the Santa Cruz disc golf community.
THAT’S WHERE YOU COME IN.

DDGC Membership Drive 2008

If
everyone who reads this not only joins the club, but encourages the
other disc golfers they know to also join, we can easily get to where
we need to be numbers-wise. (Hint: One way to spread the word is to
e-mail a link to this blog to every disc golfer you know. Here it is: http://www.santacruzdisc.com/blogs/delablahg.php?title=attention_all_santa_cruz_disc_golfers&more=1&c=1&tb=1&pb=1)

We
think we’ve made membership pretty affordable this year, with the
option to get some cool club stuff while supporting a good
cause. Here are the membership options:

-Base Membership $10

-Base Membership plus club Bag-Tag $15

-Base Membership, plus club Bag-Tag and cotton membership shirt $25

-Base Membership, plus club Bag-Tag and dri-fit membership shirt $35

We’ll
be launching the Membership Drive at the DeLa Monthly on Saturday March
1st @ 9:00 AM. so, you can join the club/renew for 2008 then and get
your shirt, whether you play in the monthly or not. If you can’t make
it Saturday, we’ll soon have a link on the front page of www.delaveagadiscgolf.com
(look in the upper-left corner) that lets you pay with PayPal and
either pick up your shirt and/or tag at the course, or have it mailed
to you. You can also see pictures of the tags and shirts through that
link as well.

Even if I was not the VP of the club this year, I’d
be writing just as emphatically to you my fellow Santa Cruz disc
golfers to join the club this year and come to meetings. With the
city’s involvement and planned changes, 2008 will be the most important
year ever to the future of DeLaveaga Disc Golf course
. If you care
about the future of the course, and would also like a voice in that
future, now is the time to join the club and get involved. If you have questions, you can e-mail me directly at deladiscgolf@gmail.com.

Course Configuration Update

Hole 1 Short

Hole 2 Top

Hole 3 —–

Hole 4 Short

Hole 5 Short

Hole 6 Short

Hole 7 Short

Hole 8 —–

Hole 8a Left

Hole 9 Short

Hole 10 Long

Hole 11 Short/Left

Hole 12 Ultra-Short (Island)

Hole 13 Short

Hole 14 Middle

Hole 15 Short

Hole 16 Right

Hole 17 This hole is closed

Hole 18 Short Left

Hole 19 Short

Hole 20 Right

Hole 21 —–

Hole 22 —–

Hole 23 Left

Hole 24 Short

Hole 25 Short

Hole 26 Short

Hole 26a Short

Hole 27 Short

Using a rating system where each hole is rated from 1 to 5 (with one being the easiest possible location at DeLa and 5 being the most difficult), this configuration rates a 3.11. So, while not being the longest layout, it’s far from the shortest. Also, according to my figuring, 10 holes are in short positions, 12 are in long positions, and six are neutral.

Pin Placements

This section of DeLaBlahg will eventually contain detailed descriptions and multiple photos of every hole at DeLaveaga Disc Golf Course, but for now I’ve at least listed the current basket locations as of 5-26-2008.

Hole 1 Short

Hole 2 Long- Cliff

Hole 3 —–

Hole 4 Long

Hole 5 Short

Hole 6 Long

Hole 7 Short

Hole 8 —–

Hole 8a Right

Hole 9 Short

Hole 10 Long

Hole 11 Short/Left

Hole 12 Canyon

Hole 13 Long

Hole 14 Middle

Hole 15 Long Right

Hole 16 Long Right

Hole 17 This hole is closed

Hole 18 Short Left

Hole 19 Long

Hole 20 Right

Hole 21 —–

Hole 22 —–

Hole 23 Right

Hole 24 Long

Hole 25 Long

Hole 26 Short

Hole 26a Short

Hole 27 Long