Pro Worlds recap- NorCal shines

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.

  1. Northern California has more concentrated disc golf talent than anywhere else in the world, and it’s not very close.
  2. 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.

Tidbits on the Worlds courses; local TV news coverage

DeLaBlahg accompanied Nate Doss and Valarie Jenkins to a local TV Station early this morning, then joined them for a practice round at Pinto Lake. The live segment with the local morning news co-anchors went well, and clips should be re-posted on the Worlds homepage and Facebook page as soon as the station makes them available. For now, here is the first segment as captured by the Discmasters camera on the camera on the action.

The morning news team, which is small and amazingly capable, ended up doing two segments that were both a couple minutes in length. Review of the entire show later in the day on DVR showed that they even plugged the disc golf segments twice as teasers beforehand- although the repeated called it ‘Frolf’ until we corrected them during a break. In both segments, co-anchors Colleen Chen and Tamara Berg toss putters toward an orange powder-coated DGA basket and ask Val and Nate questions. After receiving some basic instruction both showed improvement. The sound cut out some on the live broadcast during the second segment, but not enough to ruin it. That’s important, because according to the show’s producer they get a bunch of viewers right at the end, tuning in for the CBS Early Show which follows it.

Nate Doss and Valarie Jenkins with Colleen Chen of KION News

We’re hoping to get more coverage on KION/FOX 35 before the end of the tournament, so stay tuned.

Course Notes- Pinto Lake
Headed to check out a couple of the Worlds courses after the TV studio shoot. After a stop at Ryan Ranch to check out the new tee signs, benches, and ‘basket-toppers‘(all looking incredible), we headed to Pinto Lake.

Volunteers were hard at work laying out what will be the words ‘2011 Pro Worlds’ in 80-foot tall letters, along with a correspondingly large KEEN logo on the course’s 1200-foot hole, #11. It’ll be so big it will cover most of that long fairway and be visible from 30,000 feet. When it’s done, cameras in airplanes and/or helicopters will hopefully capture some images we can share.

The rest of the course is looking great – even better than great – but for those heading out to practice for the Worlds, a few important notes:

  • The yellow OB rope that will be put down on the first five holes and holes 14-18 should be there in the next couple days (by Wednesday August 3rd). Until then, pay attention to hole maps and look for the low-protruding 4 x 4 posts that define most of the OB right now.
  • Watch out for yellowjackets on holes 10 and 12, in both cases within 50 feet of the basket.
  • Even though this also should change in the next day or two, hole 12A doesn’t have a basket (it has a tone-pole, much of a tee (two markings on the ground) or signage (none) as of Monday August 1st around Noon. Here’s how to get there and then on to Hole 13: After completing hole 12, walk back up the hill along the OB line to the right, to keep safe from being hit by drives on 12. When you get to the tee for 12, you’ll see the tee for 12A not far behind it. After finishing 12A, walk down to a trail on the right that cuts across toward Hole 13.
  • Hole 18’s basket will be moved from it’s normal position about 75 feet longer, into the open grassy area short of the restrooms. There is a stake to mark where the basket will be- hopefully in, you guessed it . . . a coupla days. Max. There was already plenty to polish up in the next few days, and that sign is gonna be huge.

New year, same slow, unstoppable growth

Two thousand ten began at midnight, with an incredibly bright full moon. Good omen, I hope.

Disc golf-wise, this is the biggest unknown I’ve experienced in . . . . since I started playing in the late 80’s. At this point I’m guessing I won’t play in the Masters Cup, for the first time in 18 years, just like I missed the Faultline. But on the other hand a couple non-playing ventures might show progress. That’s a sign of aging, I guess, having ones accomplishments be ‘off the course’.

Happy New Year. Make 2010 the year you squeeze the most out of your potential. The year of the sponge.