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.

Nine secrets of the women of disc golf

The ladies who played in the advanced division at the Masters Cup this past weekend. Pictured are: Front — Anna Caudle. Second row, from left, Victoria McCoy, Michelle Chambless, Lacey Kimbell, Cyndi Baker; and third row, from left, Christine Hernlund, Jenny Umstead, and Crissy White. (Photo by Alex Hegyi).

OK, maybe the title is a little misleading. Calling them “secrets” is overdoing it a bit, and this is about much more than that.

I spent some time last weekend talking to female competitors at the Amateur Masters Cup presented by DGA in Santa Cruz, Calif., and some of their answers might be new and useful information to the guys who play disc golf.

But are they secrets?

What’s definitely not a secret is the fact that disc golf is, and always has been, a sport played predominately by males. The breakdown of competitors in this A-Tier PDGA sanctioned event illustrates this point perfectly, as only 11 of the 158 registered participants were in female divisions. That’s less than 10 percent.

The eyeball test anytime you’re playing a recreational round on your local course will tell you that that ratio holds true in non-tournament settings as well.

So what’s the deal?

After watching the sport grow and develop over the past 25 years, I’ve got my own theories. For instance, in the early days of DeLaveaga — back in the late 1980s and early 1990s — seeing a woman on the course was rare enough to stop a guy mid-throw to ask a playing partner if he saw her, too. They had to make sure she wasn’t a mirage (or an hallucination, depending on the player). I later learned from the first female DeLa pioneers that a main deterrent was the lack of a restroom on site at the time — not even a porta-potty. Not a big deal for the average guy, but enough to keep many women away.

While not all courses are as remote and facility-less as DeLa, back then plenty of them were similarly in open spaces. And besides the lack of basic facilities, there was also an non-policed “Wild West” feel to many courses. I have a notion that many women felt these courses were just unsafe enough — or at least could be — to discourage them from giving disc golf a try.


Finally, according to golfsolutions.com (part of the Golf Channel empire), only 22 percent of ball golfers worldwide are female. So disc golf seems to be repeating the pattern of its older and more venerable ancestor.

These points add up to the fact that although disc golf may be different now than it was two decades ago, when a lopsided male/female ratio was firmly established, it self-perpetuates (the heavy guy-majority keep bringing mostly their guy friends out to play) over time.

In short, changing an established trend is hard to do, and it doesn’t happen overnight. Just look at ball golf.

Kari Rose tees off on the 10th hole at Pinto Lake, where the Daisy Chains Women’s Global Event will be held. Rose is in the pre-registered field. (Photo by John Hernlund)

As stated earlier, disc golfers have ambitious goals for growing a sport that is better in every other way possible, so the question for today is how do we get more women playing disc golf?

In searching for solutions, I sought out women who are already hooked — the female competitors of this year’s Amateur Master’s Cup.

Suzie Weigand, a local who won the Women’s Masters division by six strokes, has played disc golf for five years. She said she primarily goes out with her husband but is playing more now because of the organized “ladies days” in Santa Cruz.

Weigand said gaining momentum is important for getting more women in the game.

“When more women start playing, it’ll mushroom because it’s such an accessible activity,” she said.

As for accelerating momentum, Weigand offered the common sense strategy of “starting when they’re younger, with youth programs and high school and college leagues.”

Chrissy White, originally from Nebraska and now living in Kingsville, Calif., is a relatively new player and has put that approach into action. Her seven-year-old daughter Haley tagged along during the first round of the Masters Cup. Haley said she, too, plays disc golf.

“A lot of women that have children don’t have a sitter to watch them while they play with their husbands or boyfriends,” White said. “Bring the kids along and not only do you get to play, but the kids are going to pick it up too.”

As Victoria McCoy, of Concord, Calif., walked to the first tee, she said a key is also organizing more events that focus on women and support women. Her husband was with her for this event, carrying her bag.

This idea seems like a good one as it’s one thing to tell women they are welcome to join the sport that has, historically, only considered the needs and interests of male participants. It’s a different approach to take the sport we lover and tweak things to produce and experience that appeals particularly to women.

That’s why this Saturday’s PDGA Women’s Global Event is so special. It could mark a seminal moment in women’s disc golf.

The Daisy Chains tournament, which is one of 41 scheduled as part of the Women’s Global Event, will be run in Santa Cruz and is headed by Christine Hernlund. She reiterated the approach and stressed the intention to give the event a decidedly female feel.

“We are trying to build a tournament experience that not only avoids the common flaws of other tournaments but also has so many extras and attention to detail that the women will expect more from tournaments in the future,” Hernlund said. “The artistic and creative energy our local women have poured into this event will showcase what is possible when we women unite our strengths in a collaborative effort.”

This is all great and it’s nice to know about getting more women in disc golf, but what about those nine secrets of the women of disc golf?

Also know that these tie in directly with the main theme — increasing the numbers. You see, the last question posed to each woman was “what is the thing male disc golfers do or don’t do — on purpose or, more likely, out of ignorance — that ticks you off the most?”

Maybe if guys know what these items are, we can stop doing them and hopefully increase the odds of more women getting hooked on the game.

The nine items are:

  • They give us, especially beginners, heavy discs.
  • They get intimidated when we out-drive them, even if it’s once every 100 throws, and will often say something stupid.
  • Some of them use really foul language and can’t keep their temper in check.
  • They say “nice shot” when I know it was a really crappy shot.
  • I hate bad attitudes. Have fun with the game.
  • Stop coaching us all the time — we know what we’re doing.
  • Give credit for the good shorter shots and congratulate women when we’re doing our best.
  • Appreciate the women that come out and enjoy the sport with the men.
  • Stop looking at our butts!

That last reply was followed by much laughter as the group headed to their drives after teeing off hole one.

It would seem women do have more fun with disc golf.


This post was written for and originally appeared at rattlingchains.com.

Results from the Enduro Ice Bowl at DeLaveaga

According to TD Mark ‘DeLaDiscman’ Karleskind’s Facebook wall, 95 people played the 56-hole marathon at DeLa last weekend, with more than $1,000 and mucho canned food donated to local charities. Steve Lonhart (winner of the Open Masters division) was nice enough to take the stats from Mark and dump them into a spreadsheet (table inserted below).

I didn’t play, but here are a few things that jump out at me just looking at the scores:

  • The competition gets tougher every year. This year’s ranks included multiple World Champions, two fists full of 1000-rated and sponsored players, and a tour bag full of players that are close to that 1000 rating and/or have won on tour before.
  • Scheduled to play were also Nikko Locastro and Gregg Barsby, but they didn’t make it after raving at the Harding place the night before.
  • With DeLa in the traditional ‘super short’ Ice Bowl setup, the amoun of bogey strokes players tool was again as telling as their birdie total. Nate Doss won Open with a bogey-free -29. Chris Edwards ended up in fourth place, even though he had 26 birdies to 3rd place finisher Shasta Criss’s 24 (due to his seven bogey strokes compared to Shasta’s two). In the Open Masters division Pat Brown’s 27 birdies equaled winner Lonhart’s total, but he had three bogeys compared to two for Steve, and ended up tied with Jon Baldwin for 2nd.
  • The advanced division is even more telling. The winner, Sean Jack, shot a -9 with 13 birdies and only four bogey strokes. By comparison, TJ Goodwin had 17 birdies but only managed 6th place because of 14 bogey strokes.
  • 65 of the 95 players signed up in Amateur divisions, with AM2 once again the most populous at 31 players. In this type of event, where all divisions earn cash (not just the Open divisions), a guy shooting -6 (the AM2 winner) wins way more money than the guy that shoots -29 (Open winner Nate Doss). And we wonder why so many people play AM2!

Congrats to the winners, and everyone who finished the seven-hour marathon. Here are the scores:

MPO                     Score    Place    Birdies
Doss, Nate             -29          1           29
Avery Jenkins       -26           2           28
Criss, Shasta         -22           3           24
Edwards, Chris     -19           4           26
Moravec, Steve     -17          5           21
Visel, Robert         -16          6           18
Breazeale, Greg    -13           7          19
Borjeson, Jammer  -9            8          16
Esper, Jason            -7           9          14
Powell, Mike          -7           9          12
Peremba, Mike       -6          11         15
Smith, Don             -6          11         19
Demers, Anthony   -1          13         11
Utley, Kevin           -1          13         10
Gonzales, Ruben     4          15           8
Sjostrom, Evan       7           16          8
Tegenkamp, Mark   7          16         10
Volhontseff, Marcus 13       18         90

MPM                    Score    Place    Birdies
Lonhart, Steve        -25          1           27
Brown, Patrick       -24          2           27
Baldwin, Jon          -24          2           26
Rob Ryan               -18          4           24
Fiedler, Geoff         -13         5            19
Scott, Matt               -7          6            16
Werner, Doug          -4           7           10
Hapner, Martin        -1           8            9
Hines, Steve            15           9            6

WPO                 Score    Place    Birdies
Jenkins, Valarie     -3         1             12

Weigand, Suzie    35         2               1
Randall, Lorena   34         1               2

MA1                     Score    Place    Birdies
Jack, Sean              -9            1            13
Davis, Kyle            -8            2            13
Gero, Zachary        -7            3            13
Brookman, Sean    -4            4            16
Goodwin, TJ          -3            5            17
Hardcastle, Patrick -2           6            10
Badovick, Scott      -1           7            12
Wirtz, Brad              0           8             7
Nyerges, Jeff           0            8            11
Shustack, Matt        1           10           11
Rios, Miguel           2           11             7
Lewycky, Rocky     6           12            6
Hast, Jesse               6          12           11
Chance, Eli              6          12           10
Butler, Richard        7          15             8
Ramirez, Rey         13         16             6
Wootan, Daniel      13         16             7
Ferdig, Elliot          13         16            6
Jacobs, Matt           18         19            8
Kestler, Joe             25         20           4
Miller, Carl             35         21           1

MA2                         Score    Place    Birdies
Antos, Mike                -6            1           13
Kitrick, Ian                 -6            2           16
Huff, Chris                 -5            3            13
Sadell, Matt                -2            4           12
McNamara, Ryan        6             5           11
Blevins, Tad                6             5             6
Chambers, Colin         6             5            9
Pinheiro, Turner          6             5           10
Mabbatt, Richard        6             5            9
Zavi, Nick                   7           10           11
Vokos, Drew               8           11             5
Hamm, Jason              9           12             9
Holbrook, Jim           10           13             5
Walsh, A. Crosbie     10           13            3
Barkley, Matt            12           15            8
Smith, Timothy         12           15          12
Hussey, Caleb           13           17            2
Shepardson, Noah     14          18            9
Seagrave, Travis        15          19            8
Brady, Mikey             18          20            8
Seven, Evren             19          21            1
Hernlund, John          19          21            5
Eslit, Jared                 19          21            6
de Gier, Peter             20         24             5
Weigand, Philip         22         25             3
Nelson, Koleman       22         25            3
Hamm, Curtis            23         27             2
Crocker, Adam          28         28             3
Mine, Dan                 29         29             4
Hagner, Nate             35         30             1
Hamed, Jason            35         31             1

MM1                      Score    Place    Birdies
Hastings, Derek        -4            1          14
Russo, Jacob             -2            2          15
Sahlit, Tom               -2            2           11
Carroll, Flynn            1            4           11
Joplin, Mike              3             5          14
Hevia, David             5             6           7
Brallier, Dave            5            6            6
Wind, Jef                   6            8            8
Leebrich, Scott         25           9            3
Utley, Jason              40          10           0

Felton Freeze Results

We all know that the most important results of all the Ice Bowl charity events held worldwide this time of year are the cash raised and food collected to help feed the hungry, but for those that care to see the results of the Felton Freeze posted (not me, certainly!), here they are. Another big thanks to TJ Goodwin for making it happen!

Jon Baldwin         -12
Chris Edwards       -8
Shasta Criss           -8
Sam Aldrich          -7
Levi                       -6
Matt Scott              -5
Elliot Ferdig           -4
Merle Witvoet        -3
Eric Nelson            -1
Don Smith              -1
Jason Esper              E
Patrick Hardcastle    2
Daviar                      3
Stan Pratt III            4
Jack Trageser         6
Brian Turner            6
Kevin Kelley          12
Angel Acebal          12
Ruben Gonzales      13

TJ Goodwin        -8
Miguel Rios        -5
Tim Smith           -5
Chris Groh          -3
Kyle Davis          -3
Sean Jack            -3
Jack Pfefferle      -2
Mike Antos         -1
Heath Konkel       E
Kyle Milburn        1
Kyle Schloss         2
Alex Beete            4
John Kostoff         4
Rory Hodgson       5
Matt Sadell            6
Nic Kons                7
Robbie Visel           7
Brendan Sage         8
Cody Marchessault 9
Aaron Kvek           11
Rich Puente           11
Gabe Ketterman    11
Daniel Crim          12
Daniel Wootan      12
Rob Brox              12
Peter DeGier         14
Jason Hamed        14
Peter McBride      15
Joseph Kestler      16
Nick Zavitsanos   16

AM 2
Jim Holbrook                        E
Rick Mabbatt                        1
Steven Wood                         2
Thomas Wheeler                   3
Mikey Crane                         5
Iam Kitrick                            6
Derek Kotval                         8
Colin Chambers                    8
Tom Guzzetta                        9
Solomon (SOLI) Newtree    10
Frank (SKIP) Cayle IV        11
Philip Weigand                    11
Evan Borthwick                   12
Ryan Santiago                      12
Brandon Irwin                      12
John Hernlund                      14
Erik Altman                         14
Nate Hagner                         16
Kimo Elliott                         16
Shayne Erickson                  16
Scott Leerzick                      17
Alex Loveless                      17
Paul Redwood                     17
Billiam Posey                      20
Chris Illes                            22
Del Pikles                            24
Gary Jaccod                         28
Travis Schot                      DNF
Matt Moorhead                 DNF

Women’s Open
Kristine King            E
Jenna Johnson          10
Johanna Atkinson    13
Jenny Umstead         20

Women’s AM
Tami Tracey              18
Suzie Weigand           22
Terri Duncan              25
Christine Hernlund    26
Elena Novik               27

Odd targets and unusual setting still made for big fun!

It’s easy to think that playing object golf is like washing clothes by beating them on a rock, with so many basket courses available to us these days. But it’s a reminder of how flexible and adaptable our sport is. Essentially, if you have a flying disc, anything can be a target, and almost any setting can be co-opted for use as a course. That being said, I’m glad modern business parks are built with !@#$%^&* sturdy windows and most office workers take the weekends off. Otherwise the (unofficial & unsanctioned) 7th Annual Palm/HP Tournament in Silicon Valley would have been much less feasible. Although they don’t really convey how fun it was to take part in this departure from the ‘modern’ game, click here to see pictures from the event.

Street is OB, target is in the background, with yellow tape

With almost no other people and cars there to complicate things, it was much more fun navigating through parking lots, past buildings, and around shrubs and trees than it woulda been on the wide-open vacant lot across the street!

As I understand it, the event was created to encourage employees of Palm (as in Palm Pilot) to try out disc golf. Therefore, the format is as unique as the rest of the tournament. First of all, it consists of an 18-hole par-2 putting course round, followed by 18 holes of object golf. Grass is outnumbered by concrete and asphalt by about a 1000 to 1 ratio. Second, even though I ended up winning $25.13 by placing first overall, it didn’t cost anything to enter. Gotta like that! And third, due to a payout structure with an objective of everyone walking away a winner (each hole paid something), first place isn’t usually even the biggest money winner! Looking at the spreadsheet used to determine payout made my head spin! Only in Silicon Valley, right?

The TD uses advanced algorithms to compute scores and final payout

Here is an incomplete list of objects used in this most unusual example of object disc golf:

  • Palm tree- the most common of all objects used on object courses
  • Light pole- second-most common
  • Manhole cover- discs had to come to rest on the cover, completely surrounded by metal
  • Bike rack- disc had to pass completely underneath the rack, and I incurred my only bogey on the regular course when my disc got stuck trying to pass underneath the lowest point
  • Sewer grate- disc had to end up completely in the grate, with the obvious hazard of actually sliding into the sewer! One year a kid had to be lowered by his feet to retrieve a disc!
  • Metal cage around utility meters
  • Fire hydrant- The first course I ever played, at UC Santa Cruz, had a hydrant for a target
  • Parking lot planter- disc had to come to rest inside
  • Median surrounding giant corporate park sign- same deal as the planter
  • Square trash cans
  • Metal benches- By far the most challenging as they were quite slippery and the disc had to come to rest on the bench as opposed to just hitting it. Someone actually completed the hole on a bench hole with his first shot on the putting course. Quite unbelieveable
  • All cars and non-playing humans were considered OB and carried a one-stroke penalty if struck. We had to place a ‘spotter’ in front of a couple cars that were obviously in flight paths, with the spotter using his judgment in decided whether to swat down a threatening throw.

There was one ace on the regular course: Fittingly, since it was the Palm Tournament, someone aced the palm tree hole. This event was proof that people intent on having fun with a golf disc can do so just about anywhere.


DeLa in all its finery

Another of those times to celebrate the differences between ball golf and disc golf.

The PDGA National Tour rolls into town this week for the Masters Cup, an event hosted by the DeLa Disc Golf Club for the past 25 years. Even though the course will be set at 26 holes for the event – holes 20-22 will be skipped – all the holes (and I mean ALL the holes) are in play right now. Hole 17 is in play, as are 8a and 26a, making 29 total.

Multitudes of volunteers and workers paid by the city have been busy mowing and weed-whacking the fairways and greens, and the course looks . . . . marvelous. It looks, even to the untrained eye, like a golf course. I even saw a rather larger bobcat stalking prey in the suddenly exposed short grass after the mowing.

What’s more, each hole is in the longest, most difficult position possible. 23 has a new, longer blind location. 25 is in its new super-uphill position, and 26a is from the new long tee to the old long basket position, a par four posing as a par three.

By my own personal gauge (at this point more what the average joe can do, not a touring pro), only eight of the 29 present a legitimate chance for birdie (can you guess which eight?).

So if you love being challenged to make par hole after hole, the course is like an epic set of waves right now, 15 feet over head. Here’s where disc golf transcends it’s ancestor: since disc golf is still flying under the radar for the most part, anyone can drive there, pay a couple bucks to park in the lot (or park for free and walk 10 minutes to the first hole) and start playing on pretty much whatever hole he, she or they want.

Try doing that on any ball golf course- much less one where a PGA event is coming up!

First Tournament at Aptos High School DGC

I’m pleased to say that despite rain before, during, and after, the first tourney at Aptos was a success in all ways imaginable. The turnout was great, the whole thing ran smoothly, we started pretty close to on time, lunch was sausage on rolls from Corralitos Market, and the distribution of tags afterward was amazingly fast. Most of all, I was really happy to see how many people paid $40 to play in the rain, with no chance of ‘winning’ anything. It tells me that people understand that the money to pay for courses has to come from somewhere, and also that more and more people feel strongly enough about the benefits of disc golf to also believe that $40 or even $100 here and there is nothing if it means another glorious frisbee playground. To see pictures, click here.

  • I played with a couple Aptos High students in my group, and the father of another student. None of them was particularly prepared for the weather (no umbrellas, for one thing), but not one of them complained even one time. It was the first tournament of any kind for all three of them, and we had a blast.
  • Speaking of weather, my combination of Sealskinz waterproof socks and Solomon watershoes worked perfectly. Having a synthetic shammy and a couple regular towels allowed me to throw pretty dry discs, too.
  • I started off with seven pars, then birdied seven of the last 11 holes to finish -7. It was good enough to get the #1 tag, so I guess I won the tournament, and that means that I’ve played in the inaugural tournaments of two courses (Black Mouse is the other) and won them both. What I remember most about the Black Mouse event, though, is the 20-minute walk with Steady Ed from the parking lot tournament central.
  • One of the kids in my group told us that he owns three snakes (one a seven-foot Python!), and this same kid, right after we finish our last hole and start to head back, nearly steps on a large lizard. But this wasn’t just any lizard- this thing had the longest tail I’ve ever seen!

Masters Cup 2009: after 56 holes

First of all, we’re down to the last 28 holes. One more round, and so far no aspect of the tourney has been a disappointment. The weather continues to warm (if anything it’s been too warm), with wind a non-factor today. The course – despite the gorgeous conditions – isn’t giving up outrageously low scores (less than 20 percent of the Open division is under par). And the final round features a top group of Greg Barsby, Nate Doss, Nikko Locastro, and Ken Climo, all either -12 or -11. Within striking distance are Josh Anton, Kyle Crabtree, Stevie Rico, John Child, and Dave Feldberg.

I’t be great to see Nate Finally win on the course where he grew up, but more than anything I’m looking forward to a close finish no matter who wins. Now on to what really matters. Me! : )
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I’m at +6, tied for 8th in the Masters division (35 players), 12 strokes outta the lead.

I can play better, but with only three birdies and nine single bogeys I’m at least sticking to the gameplan and not giving strokes away. Not too many, anyway. What’s hurt me more than anything else is not birdying the three shorts holes on the course (8a, 17, and 21) except for one on 21. But all in all, considering the game I’ve showed up with Friday and Today, +6 ain’t too bad. I’ve hit every putt inside 30 feet except one, so now all I have to do is get a few of those looks for birdie rather than par! Now it’s time for a hot tub, another beer, sleep . . . then 28 more holes.

Masters Cup 2009:

The pro Masters Cup starts tomorrow, and I feel like I have two persona’s this year. While I’ve played in the event for many, many years, this is the first year I’ve been involved in running it in a major way. After all this time, and finally seeing what’s involved in pulling off a major tournament like the Masters Cup, I felt guilty.

For those that don’t know, some serious volunteer hours get put in to pull off an event that spans two 3-day weekends and includes more than 300 players. Unlike other courses, we get no assistance from the city or county when it comes to course maintenance, so all those lumpy hillsides that get mowed and weed-whacked are mowed and weed-whacked by volunteer disc golfers! Add to that the coordination with sponsors and the PDGA, communication to players, assembly of the players packs . . . . . I could go on and on, but you get the picture. People like Daviar, Stan Pratt, Marty Hapner, Katie Beckett, the guys at DGA . . . they deserve tons of credit.

Anyway, it makes this year feel different than years past. But it’s Thursday night, and my volunteer work should be done now. From now until my last putt on Sunday, I’m just another competitor. And like all the past years, I have a strategy to get my best game to show up for three straight 4.5 hour rounds on three straight days. Here it is, in a nutshell:

  1. As always, focus on nothing but what it takes to execute the next shot. All the other stuff – the score, the magintude of the event, what the other guys are doing – only detracts from the shot at hand.
  2. Stick to my gameplan of settling for par on most holes, picking up birdies where they present themselves. No matter how things start, or what unforseen disasters occur, I’ll stick to the plan. Last year I was cold for three straight rounds, and by sticking to the plan I still cashed.
  3. Treat my old bones with care. Ice the arm right after the round, soak in the hot tub Friday and Saturday nights, limit the alcohol, and get enough sleep.

We’ll see how it goes, but the key is #1 above. I play my best when I’m totally absorbed in the moment, in the shot. I need to play disc golf in a vaccuum.