Top Of The World View: Day Two of the Masters Cup brings Fun and Drama

Talking Pod People and chatting with Hall of Famers
2021 Masters Cup. Photo: Jack Trageser

Good morning. As in, Sunday morning. Day two of the Santa Cruz Masters Cup is in the books and I had plenty of stuff to write about after wandering the course, following the women’s lead card for a long spell, and chatting with spectators, volunteers, Disc Golf Hall of Fame members and should-be member* and other old friends.

I also have a take on a bit of background drama going on this weekend. You might not think it’s a particularly bold take, but, whatever. “You do you,” as my two woke daughters like to say.

I did watch plenty of great golf Saturday, like this upshot on event hole 21 (DeLa hole 18). So you can properly appreciate the execution required here: In addition to the low branches directly in front of this guy, he has to take care of steep drop-offs all behind the basket, and a giant exposed root called “The Anaconda” crossing 20 feet in front of the basket. Photo: Jack Trageser

First, though, I would like to give you an inside look at the way the whole spectator thing has worked at the Masters Cup. Up until only a month or so ago the Delaveaga Disc Golf Club didn’t know if the county would allow spectators at all, or on what level. The final arrangement was a system of paid admission tickets that enabled patrons to either watch from one of three “pods” located around the course, or follow a particular lead card. I spent some time with both, and also talked with the volunteers tasked with maintaining order.

Given the fact that the PDGA and the club were giving a set of constraints in terms of how many spectators would be allowed into the event, I’d say things have run smoothly so far. The paying spectators I spoke with, most of whom seem to be very new to the sport, by the way —  take note disc golf marketers —  were enjoying themselves. They felt their tickets to be well worth the $35 to $75 they paid.

Didn’t get this player’s name, but she is throwing an upshot on event hole 4 from within a spectator pod (look for both lines of yellow rope). Photo: Jack Trageser

As I stood chatting with the Pod People of Pod no. 1, whose vantage point provides views of at least five different holes including “Top of the World,” a drive approached at speed from that very same famous tee pad. The Pod People all scuttled to the far end of their pen1 as the disc thunked into the dirt where we had been standing. With my media badge I was on the other side of the rope; outside the pen, if you will. So I didn’t have to scuttle.

When the player came to play her shot the Pod People remained at the far end of Pod no. 1. Sorry, I didn’t get the player’s name. But she threw a fairly decent upshot and nailed her putt for par.

My interesting volunteer spotlight falls on three people who drove all the way from Fresno to help out with the tournament. They also feel like they got a great deal. They get to spend the day watching top-level disc golf up close, in 70 degree weather rather than the 90+ they left back home. But they definitely had to work for their suppers, so to speak.

Volunteers, Craig and Maya, standing on the slant of DeLa hole 26a’s right rough — tournament hole 3. Photo: Jack Trageser

Two of them were tasked with spotting on event hole number 3. This hole plays along the spine of a ridge that leads out to the tee pad for “Top of the World.” The fairway is narrow, and the terrain drops off sharply on both sides. Craig and Maya had to scurry up and down these slopes to spot discs all day. But that’s not all. They also had to enforce the park’s closure for all but disc golf, which meant telling walkers and bikers intent on finishing the climb and gazing out from “Top of the World” at the ocean that it wasn’t gonna happen.

Let me tell you, Maya and Craig are tough cookies! Matt Beatty,2 send them a gift basket! I didn’t come across any volunteers doing a better job enforcing rules. I did hear a little about non-paying spectators slipping onto the course, but the grumbling came from a volunteer rather than a paying spectator. 

Paige Pierce, waiting through one of many backups on event hole 6. Photo: Jack Trageser

All in all I think the spectator side of things has gone well so far, and all of the ticket revenue has been added to the purse. So, yeah. Good. It’ll be interesting to see if this is the new norm, after Covid.

I mentioned in my previous entry to this series that I was looking forward to following the women’s lead card on Saturday. Well, I did, and they did not disappoint. And not just them, but the several cards ahead of them of which I caught glimpses. I love watching players who are world class in their execution but play lines I myself would play — because I can’t throw 600 feet.

With men’s lead cards I’ll get to see the seemingly superhuman shots, and that’s cool, too.The men also provide more stupid mistakes through hubris, which is good entertainment. But I just find it so much more engaging watching someone play the same shots I’d play, and executing at a very high level. And on this particular day, the foursome had it all! Paige Pierce and Catrina Allen, who I like to think of as arch rivals even if they don’t think of it that way themselves, the young phenom in Hailey King, and Juliana Korver, the legendary world champion and cagey veteran.

My point with all this is that if you aren’t watching the women with as much interest and investment as the men, you ought to consider my reasoning and give ‘em a try.

The 2-meter rule rears its head again, this time costing Paige Pierce a stroke on event hole 11. What the Frick! Photo: Jack Trageser.

Speaking with a PDGA person who is also a friend,3 I learned of some salvos being tossed back and forth on social media about the number of camera teams covering female lead cards vs. male lead cards. One player demanded the PDGA insist on equal coverage in this regard. Once you learn the facts you understand that that is not realistic since coverage is determined by market demand. But until the coverage is equal, we’re all missing out. We just need to address the issue by increasing demand, not by manipulating supply.

Hailey King displaying the kind of form that makes this disc golf coach smile. Photo: Jack Trageser

One more thing I love about the pro women, since I can’t seem to let it go quite yet: They make great form models that I frequently use as a disc golf coach. Some of our best players are small, like 5’ or 5’ 4” tall — and they can still crush drives 400 feet. To do this they must get every ounce of bodily leverage they can while maintaining proper timing and balance. Watch Catrina Allen do this time after time. It’s truly something to see.

Well, I need to head out there and see how this thing winds up. Paige Pierce has to stay ahead of Kona Panis, and on the MPO side the lead card should be full of dramatics.4 Don’t rule out Ricky Wysocki and Paul Mcbeth, eight strokes out. Just sayin’.

Before I sign off, here is a picture of another of DeLaveaga’s Hall of Famers, Marty Hapner, along with a guy whose induction is overdue in my opinion. Stevie Rico is part of the history of the sport, has (I think) the longest streak of years (20?!) winning at least one A-tier event, and is a hardworking SOB.

Steve Rico, left, and Marty Hapner, join me in a discussion about respect. Photo: Jack Trageser

  1. Sorry, that’s just really what it looked like, and I thought it was funny. 
  2. Tournament Director 
  3. Off the record since I hadn’t informed them I was covering the event. 
  4. All it’s missing is Nikko 

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:

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.

DDGC Membership Drive 2008

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:

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

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
(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

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