Women’s disc golf clinics attract wide range participants, create young fans

If I had known it would be the subject of an article, I’d have approached this event much differently. We think and act much differently when we’re wearing our journalist hats (you know, the fedoras with ‘Press’ taped on the side). But I was just really excited that my wife and daughters had not only agreed to but were even looking forward to a disc golf clinic. At least – being in Dad Mode – I was quick to snap lots of pictures.

The event was a women’s disc golf clinic put on by Prodigy Disc team members Sarah Hokom and Paige Pierce in Santa Cruz, three days before the Masters Cup National Tour Event. The excitement came from the fact that I’ve waited for a long time for them to show interest in my favorite sport/activity/hobby/obsession. My wife used to play with me many years ago, before the kids came along, but it was always more about wanting to share something I loved. The kids have played a few times, but hadn’t gotten hooked into disc golf as of yet.

The clinic was scheduled for 5 PM, and as it happened it was particularly windy (and cold) for Santa Cruz in April. As a disc golf instructor, I can assure you that these are not ideal conditions for teaching or learning the basics of flying disc sports. We arrived a little before 5 PM, and aside from one lady were the first on the scene. Slipping into my journalist mode (it happens subconsciously- or maybe I’m just curious/chatty) I asked her about what brought her there. She told me she was from San Francisco (a 1-2 hour drive, depending on traffic) and had played a week earlier in the Amateur Masters Cup event. The clinic was promoted during that week and during the Daisy Chains Women’s tourney in Santa Cruz County the week between the Am and Pro Masters Cup weekends. Clearly this clinic had been well-planned.

I caught up with Sarah Hokom when she was already in Georgia for the Hall of Fame Classic on the PDGA HQ grounds, and asked her a few questions. She was understandably busy during the clinic, and as I mentioned already, I was more focused on watching my wife and kids. According to Hokom, the clinic was the fourth she and Pierce had conducted that year, with “at least a dozen” more planned to take place. She said that so far she has seen 10-15 participants at each event, and the number correlated to the level of local promotion. I didn’t count, but I thought I saw somewhere between 15 and 20.

Pierce and Hokom set up a table with some Prodigy discs and shirts, and asked each participant to fill out a short form with contact info and a short questionnaire. Hokom  – a former high school teacher – said she’s working on a survey for more formal feedback, “but so far, many of the attendees have reached out to me with positive responses.” And as to who typically shows up for the clinics:

“I get all types of players,” said Hokom. “There have been new players at each one, seasoned players and all types in between.

After waiting for 10 minutes past the listed start time to allow for those operating on ‘Santa Cruz Time’ to show up, they began by having the participants pair up to play catch and warm up. Good idea- especially on a chilly day. My younger daughter paired up with Pierce and took the assignment very seriously. After they warmed up, they broke into two groups, with Pierce teaching the basics of backhand throws and Hokom sharing the secrets of her deadly sidearm technique.

Sarah Hokom demonstrating proper sidearm technique. Photo by Jack Trageser
Sarah Hokom demonstrating proper sidearm technique. Photo by Jack Trageser

As a fellow disc golf instructor I was impressed with the lesson in a couple of different ways. First of all, it was clear to me pretty quickly that some women are for whatever reason more receptive to instruction by other women. My wife and girls, for instance. They made some advances that afternoon that were really encouraging. And I don’t attribute it to just the ‘female connection’ thing- although that is significant. Hokom and Pierce made some great points that stuck with my older girl in particular, like Paige telling her to snap her backhand at the point of release. It’s not something I teach, but really helped my daughter throw with more armspeed.

Paige Pierce of Prodigy Disc explains the basics of proper technique for backhand throws in disc golf. Photo by Jack Trageser.
Paige Pierce of Prodigy Disc explains the basics of proper technique for backhand throws in disc golf. Photo by Jack Trageser.

We had to leave early as the girls got cold, and it was a school night. But the lesson had inspired my oldest, and she insisted we go out on the weekend to watch the women’s lead card of Pierce, Hokom, Innova Disc Golf team member Valarie Jenkins and eventual winner Catrina Ulibarri. I had figured on watching about an hour or so of the action. But my daughter – who at first rooted for Pierce after the lesson but then switched allegiance to Jenkins once she realized that Val and I were in Discmasters together, insisted on sticking there for the full 4.5 hour round. She was wearing a thin cotton tank-top and obviously cold (blame that one on Dad), but she was hooked on the action. And she got the full experience. All the women in the group signed a disc for her, she got to hold the leaderboard for short intervals, and Val in particular was gracious enough to acknowledge her repeated compliments and commiserations.

A young fan holds the leaderboard and watches Masters Cup winner and Prodigy Disc team member drive on hole 7 at DeLaveaga Disc Golf Course. Photo by Jack Trageser.

The clinic encouraged my wife and both my daughters because they all experienced noticeable progress in throwing straighter and farther than in the past. My older daughter had stars in her eyes after getting to see Pierce, Hokom, Ulibarri and Jenkins in action up close. I’m not sure which (participating in clinics or seeing top pros competing at National Tour event) has more potential to increase female participation in disc golf, but both seemed to be well-received by the women and girls that showed up. The trick is getting them there. Will disc golf ever be as popular among women as it is among men?

“The nature of sports and the nature of women conflict more often than for men, so no” said Hokom. “Its not that women don’t enjoy it, its just that less women enjoy it than men.”

Valarie Jenkins poses for a picture with a young fan at the end of her round on the 2nd day of Masters Cup action at DeLaveaga Disc Golf Course in Santa Cruz, CA. Photo by Jack Trageser.
Valarie Jenkins poses for a picture with a young fan at the end of her round on the 2nd day of Masters Cup action at DeLaveaga Disc Golf Course in Santa Cruz, CA. Photo by Jack Trageser.

Hokom said she is promoting the formation of ladies leagues because “I think they are helping the growth of women in the sport and provide a supportive and fun environment for more women to play.” Based on what I witnessed in April, and what the local female disc golfing population tell me, I’d say she’s right. Hopefully the trend toward women’s clinics, leagues and tournaments continues. I know at least one young girl who plans to show up.

Casual golf’s competitive summit: the epic, friendly grudge match

I rarely dedicate an entire post to a first-person account of a disc golf round, because I know from reading others’ how quickly that can get old. But on rare occasions I feel it’ll make for good enough reading that I break my own rule- and today is just such an instance. If you aren’t familiar with DeLaveaga in Santa Cruz, CA, follow the provided links to hole descriptions to better visualize the situations described.

First a tiny bit of background. My friend Alan and I have played together since the late 90’s. Back then we used to gamble small wagers, and in the early days he was an established pro (he in fact won the Faultline Classic/California State Championship at DeLaveaga in 1994) and I was playing Am1 and just learning the craft. He hustled me more often than not, but I payed attention, and eventually my improving game and injuries on his part swung the balance in my favor. I’d say that I’ve had the advantage for the past eight years or so. But in the past few months Alan has really cranked up his game, and we’re pretty even right now. I’m sure the readers will agree that it’s much more fun if you’re evenly matched with your playing partner. Which brings us to today.

We try hard to play when the courses are not too crowded, but this weekend a Saturday 2 PM round at DeLa was the only time that would work for both of us. We’re just not used to being on the course at such a peak time. It was like a party spread over 80 acres! That, for us, is not a good thing on a golf course. Discs flying every which way, voices continually cascading up and down the ravines .  .  . it was wild, man. Crazy wild. And the wind was frenetic too. It was pretty gusty, but the really challenging aspect was the fact that it kept changing direction. You’d factor the headwind into a certain shot and just like that, tailwind.

Hole 1 was not indicative of how the rest of the round would go. Alan essentially missed the very generous double-mando and took a bogey, something he would not do much the rest of the round. After that, we both kind of dug in our heels for the next six holes with matching pars. Granted we missed opportunities on some birdie holes like 3 and 5, but considering the rowdy groups we had to play through at least we played relatively mistake-free. I had to save par after my drive on #6 crossed an OB line by one foot just right of the basket, but otherwise not much drama. Even though I’ve been landing across that OB line often lately, Alan correctly pointed out that “it makes sense to go for it when the putt to save par is less than 20 feet.”

On hole 8 things started to get interesting. We played through a group of four that was courteous enough to let us through, but out of ignorance (not malice) moved and talked during our drives. I went first, still holding the tee after hole 1, and my drive ticked something on the left side of the fairway then shot across it into the rough on the right, well short. Alan laced his Z-Glide on a nice hyzer line that would result in a birdie that got him back to par and tied the score. My compliment for how well he dealt with all the commotion in getting the good drive off could have been taken as being of the backhanded variety, due to his well-known preference for absolute silence and stillness. But he took the high road and thanked me without a hint of sarcasm. My difficult second shot saved par and prevented the dreaded two-stroke swing.

Alan picked up a second birdie in a row on the short but technical hole 8A, grabbing the lead by one. He just hasn’t been missing any make-able putts lately, and his 25-footers on both 8 and 8A were dead-center perfect. We enjoy playing subtle mind games, but I refrained making this comment out loud just yet. At this point it was still me and him against the crowds.

We both collected pars on 9, which was quite good considering the slurring slackers among the group we played through. One guy in yellow-framed pimp shades mumbled a prediction that we’d hit the trees guarding the narrow gap like his pals all did- even though he didn’t wish that fate upon us. Something along those lines, anyway. But we didn’t, and he and his friend were left in our wake (for the time being).

Hole 10 at DeLaveaga from the tee. The author's lefty drive was a technical; S turn that passed all the tree in the fairway to the left before cutting back right to the hole. Photo by John Hernlund.
Hole 10 at DeLaveaga from the tee. The author’s lefty drive was a technical; S turn that passed all the tree in the fairway to the left before cutting back right to the hole. Photo by John Hernlund.

On hole 10 I impressed the next group we passed with a high flex hyzer with a Blizzard Ape that, as planned, soared left of the trees before fading back to the right (I’m a lefty, remember) to within 28 feet. My putt found the chains for a birdie and the tie. After 11 holes we were both at -1, Alan with two birdies and one bogey, and me with that one birdie and the rest pars. Nice, clean golf.

On hole 11 with the basket in the long-left position even good drives require accurate upshots to earn par. Mine was too aggressive on the left side, and after another ricochet I ended up barely inbounds on the right with probably 50 large trees between me and the cage. I scratched out a bogey- the best I could do – and Alan turned a great second shot into a par, putting him back in the lead by one. He increased it to two with a nice drive for easy birdie on #12 in the ‘island green’ position.

After we both carded a pretty standard four on the 580-foot wooded #13, a.k.a. I-5, Alan hit a 40-foot par putt on 14 that had me wondering if he was ever going to miss a putt again. This time I couldn’t help stating as much out loud, and I sincerely meant it as a compliment rather than a sinister bit of psychological warfare.

After routine pars on 15, Alan picked up another stroke when I bogeyed 16 with a drive so horribly right that I had no option but to pitch out sideways to the fairway. “The wind!” I cried. Then his birdie on 18 (where we once again encountered the rambling, drooling fools from back on hole 9) gave him his largest lead at 4 strokes, -2 to +2.

On the next hole, 19, I received a faint glimmer of hope when we both threw near perfect drives straight up the middle. Each of us skipped into the fallen log that crosses the fairway about 20 feet in front of the short pin, but his must have rolled backward a bit because he ended up with a 35-footer. He wisely chose to lay up rather than risk the steep ravine just behind the basket, and my knee-knocker with the same backdrop went in for a birdie and the tee for the first time since hole 10. I admitted to him afterward that I’ve never been so happy to see him lay up, being certain that he’d make any putt he attempted.

On hole 20 (in the right position) I threw a tall, climbing shot with my Ape that started with a steep anhyzer angle to the left, over high tree tops, fading for the second half of the flight to the right and landing within 15 feet. Another birdie, and the lead was down to two strokes. Alan joked that it was getting warm “right around here” (pointing behind his head) and guys on the next tee overheard and yelled “He’s breathing down your neck, eh?!” Everyone had a good laugh. (It’s worth mentioning here that Alan and I haven’t always been able to jointly enjoy the moment of close competition like this. We’ve come a long way. In fact, we stopped wagering even small amounts years ago because things were just too intense. Click here to get a flavor for our competitiveness)

After pars on the next couple holes, we came to #23, a prime birdie opportunity that we both got to within 30 feet of with our drives. I went first, and nailed my tricky downhill low-ceiling putt. Alan came as close as a person can possibly come to a perfect putt himself, but missed by a fraction of an inch (Alan called it a ‘micrometer’) to the right and spit out. He also had to putt a bit firmer than normal due to the wind, or it likely would have stayed in anyway.

Down to a one-stroke lead, -2 to -1. The drama has been on a slow simmer until now, and the heat was about to get cranked up quickly for the last four holes.

Hole 25 is uphill with another slope running left-to-right, and an OB road all along the right side. The basket sits behind a wide oak tree. I stepped up and threw a perfect drive, starting it left and letting it fade right just enough to land it underneath the basket without skipping toward the road. Alan needed to match my birdie to hold his one-stroke lead, and to do that he had to start his drive over the road on the right, trusting it stay right long enough to clear the oak then hyzer back in bounds at the end. Mission accomplished. Both birdie putts were complete gimmies, making the score -3 to -2 with three to play. Before marching up the hill to the next tee, we shared a square-on high five (you know how sometimes they awkwardly miss) and a couple warm smiles. I think we both had an inkling how the round might end.

Hole 26 is also uphill – even more so – with a dramatic, steep, left-to-right slope as well. I collected a par, but Alan’s upshot just caught a lip to the right of the basket and rolled away, resulting in a bogey. Tied with two to play. He had given away so little during the round, and now an ill-timed bad break brought us even. Alan lamented how close the disc came to doing exactly what he planned, but kept his emotions in check admirably well.

Hole 26a at DeLaveaga, photo by John Hernlund
Hole 26a at DeLaveaga, photo by John Hernlund

26A at DeLa is flat, on a mountaintop of sorts, with sharp drop-offs left and right. Drives need to clear a ceiling early and they must start straight to avoid early trees and finish straight to keep from dropping off either side. Alan’s drive was perfect, giving him a routine par. Mine, on the other hand, ground into the fairway early and left me an almost impossible upshot into the teeth of the wind. I thought I had pulled it off, but the wind carried it right over the basket and just over the edge of the slope on the right. Bogey. Arggh! All that work coming back from 4 strokes back, only to bogey the second to last hole! I don’t remember how well I controlled my frustration at that point, but it was definitely fighting to get out.

Stepping up to the finishing hole at DeLa at that point, on this clear, windy day, it was obvious why it’s called Top of the World. We could see everything from several holes spread out in front of us to the glimmering Pacific Ocean, and a forest of trees in between.

Alan threw first, and his drive seemed absolutely perfect out of his hand. But near the end of the flight when it should have begun fading back to the left and the basket, the wind kept it right and straight where it finally came to rest about 80 feet right and 30 or so short.

As I stepped onto the teepad, knowing his par was assured and a birdie would be necessary to tie, a couple mountain bikers approached us from being just as a couple other golfer hiked up to us from below (playing the holes out-of-order, which in disc golf is of course no big deal). Alan and I looked at eachother and both laughed because Alan had remarked earlier that people kept approaching when it was his turn to throw. Now it was my turn.

Hole 27 at DeLa, with the city of Santa Cruz and the Pacific Ocean in the background. Photo by John Hernlund.
Hole 27 at DeLa, with the city of Santa Cruz and the Pacific Ocean in the background. Photo by John Hernlund.

After spouting some kind of bravado like “I feed off this” (the extra viewers) I launched my Obex hard and well left of the basket, counting on the overstable disc to hyzer back at just the right time. For those that don’t know, the long downhill hole requires throws with a downward trajectory to get all the way there, and as the disc headed for the tops of a grove of large oaks I yelled “Get up!” four or five times in rapid succession. It just cleared the trees as it began to fade right, then disappeared for a second behind those same trees. When we all saw it again, it was sweeping toward the basket, then landing 18 feet away. The guys watching were duly impressed, and after a little cheer myself I realized that if I didn’t hit the putt it meant nothing.

Due to the wind Alan chose to lay up and settle for no worse than a tie. I hit the putt, and that’s how we finished: knotted up at -2. I was glad that no one had to lose such an epic back-and-forth struggle. Alan might have felt differently, but he didn’t show it. I’ll try to get him to post something in the comments section. We’ll see if his version of any of this differs from mine.

We recorded the scores on this card after the fact, and had to use an old card from a past Masters Cup where holes 23 and 24 were not played.
We recorded the scores on this card after the fact, and had to use an old card from a past Masters Cup where holes 23 and 24 were not played.

Afterward we stuck around a bit and sung a few songs in the middle of the parking lot while he played his Ukelele. We’d never done that before  (at least not there) and I think we just wanted to bask a little longer in the glow of camaraderie of casual golf’s competitive summit: the epic, friendly grudge match.

The author and his playing partner relax after a tense match.
The author and his playing partner (with ukelele) relax after a tense match. Photo by Jack Trageser

Discmasters, the world’s first disc golf variety show

Most of you who read this blog know that I run School of Disc Golf as a side-gig, mainly because I thoroughly enjoy getting new players hooked on the game and helping those already addicted to get better. You’ve likely at some point read that I used to play all the tournaments I could get to, topped out at a 999 player rating (so close!) and for a time was an officer of the DeLaveaga Disc Golf Club.

What I don’t think I’ve mentioned in quite a while in this space – if ever – is another off-and-on project of mine- Discmasters TV. Since the first new episode in quite a while just hit YouTube I thought I’d take a little time to tell you about the show and its origins.

It all started when I came across a video on YouTube that covered a tournament in Santa Cruz called the Faultline Classic. I thought the video was well-produced given the obviously limited technical resources and decided to approach the guy who posted it with an idea I had been tossing around for some time. The concept was for a ‘lighter side of disc golf’ type variety show that would incorporate instruction, interviews, and cheesy, badly-acted comedy. It should come as no surprise the last part came naturally.

My original model for the show and indeed the name itself came from a cheaply-produced fishing show from the 80’s called Fishmasters that itself was a spoof on another show called Bassmasters. I liked the way Fishmasters turned their minimal technical capabilities (which I think were still greater than ours) into a positive by having it add to the comedic element of the show- knowing that anything we could muster would have the same limitations.

So as I said, I contacted the guy who posted that original Faultline Classic video and learned that he worked for Community TV in Santa Cruz, and the video had actually been broadcast there first, on local TV. At this point, let me introduce that guy- Ben Baker.

Ben had a year or two before that graduated from San Francisco State University with a film degree, and his job at the TV station was his first film-related position. He liked the idea as much as I did, and was even more excited when I told him that I had spoken to disc golf luminaries (and friends) Nate Doss, Valarie Jenkins and Avery Jenkins and gotten them to agree to participate as well. As luck would have it, the disc golf touring season had just ended and Nate, Val and Avery would be in Santa Cruz for the next couple months, enabling us to spend time in both the studio and on courses shooting footage.

A side-note about Ben: When we started the project he was enthusiastic about disc golf but pretty much a novice player. His sidearm shot had power yet score-wise he was all over the place. I even hustled a lunch out of him giving him a stroke per-hole at DeLa (that’s 28 strokes!). Ben was not altogether pleased with that introduction to disc golf gambling. That was a couple years ago. This past season, he captured the overall Championship for the venerable NorCal Series tour in the AM2 division. Good for you, Ben! I’d like to think that my instruction and Val, Avery and Nate’s excellence rubbed off on him.

As we envisioned, the show has covered lots of disc golf-related territory. There have been instructional posts by me (on the show known as Jack Tupp), Nate, Avery, Val and even one on putting by Nikko Locastro. There has been lots of tournament coverage, including the 2011 Pro World Championships and the Otter Open in Monterey.

Lots of disc golf celebrity appearances in addition to our regulars: Greg Barsby, Eric McCabe, and Nikko come to mind, but there have been plenty of others (you’ll have to watch the shows to find out who else.) Viewers also get introduced to players known better in Santa Cruz than the rest of the dg world, like Shasta Criss, Don Smith, Tony Tran, and Jon Baldwin (who became World Champion in the Masters division after his Discmasters appearance).

We  managed to get a cool logo created by Nate’s step-sister, the talented Audrey Karleskind. Even a cool theme song (lyrics by Yours Truly). And of course, there have been numerous bits of cheesy comedy.

My favorites are the ones that involve me playing bongo drums while Avery tries to putt, followed by Avery nailing me with a disc with Kung-Fu like accuracy, and magic minis that adversely affect my wardrobe. And of course there is the hipster-doofus named Jimmy Shank. Gotta love that guy. And possibly the best is yet to come as we shot some great footage in which Valarie stars. Stay tuned for that.

The just-released clip I mentioned earlier is a 48-minute studio interview of disc golf hall-of-famer Tom Schot and Monterey disc golf pioneer Merle Witvoet. It was shot just before the 2011 Pro Worlds so part of the talk is about that, but I think the most interesting discussion centers on the history of disc golf in Santa Cruz, of which Schot is principally responsible. Disc golf historians should find it interesting.

The best way to see all the episodes and other miscellaneous short clips is to visit the DiscmastersTV channel on YouTube. And if you’re eager to see new episodes, visit the Discmasters page on Facebook and let us know. Hope you enjoy watching them as much as we do shooting them.

the latest on the Santa Cruz disc golf scene

I ordered the 2010 DDGC club shirts recently, and made sure the club logo, ‘Epicenter of Disc Golf’, was included on the front. Sometimes such things are empty slogans that bare little resemblance to reality. Not so with us.

We’re literally like an active fault-line from which tremors small and large regularly emanate. Right now we’ve got so much going on, all at once . . . . it blows the mind! Or at least kinda boggles the mind.

It’s a well know fact that two-time world champ and 2008 USDGC champ Nate Doss is a home grown DeLa local, as is top female pro Carrie ‘Burl’ Berlager. Now we’ve also got WonderTwins Avery and Valarie Jenkins living here too. They’re not really twins.

This year, 2010, is the 25th anniversary of the Masters Cup. I’ve got plenty to say about this event’s history and its future that I’ll save it for another post, but for now a little teaser: The $2000 skins match hosted by Tom Schot’s World Disc Sports that has preceded the Masters Cup for the past few years will this year include the past four World Champions. Nate, Avery, Feldberg, and The Champ (Ken Climo).

The cat is . . . rowwwwwrrr . . . out of the bag! A group of determined individuals from Santa Cruz, Monterey, and San Jose is bidding to host the 2011 Professional Disc Golf World Championships. The plan is to use DeLaveaga, Pinto Lake, Ryan Ranch (Monterey), CSUMB Oaks (Monterey), and Hellyer/LaRaza (San Jose). We should know fairly soon if this news is more Walter Mitty or Walter Kronkite.

My favorite news of the day: tomorrow kicks off the inaugural season of the Santa Cruz County Interscholastic Disc Golf League. We’ve got 53 kids from five different schools signed up to play in team competition, with a big trophy cup going to the school that wins each year. We’ll also award an individual points winner for the weeks that we use the stroke play format (the other half of the time we’ll play match play). And there is no reason the number of schools can’t grow from five (SLV, Scotts Valley, Harbor, Aptos, and Soquel) to include Santa Cruz High and schools from Watsonville to represent Pinto Lake.

I know high school sports are cash-starved right now, so maybe the affordable aspect of disc golf, which resonates so clearly these day, will shine a light on some of the other positive elements of the sport. One dynamic in particular that I’m interested to see unfold on the high school level is disc golf’s egalitarianism. On the course and at tournaments, you just don’t see the cliques and social strata that you see in other sports. Players genuinely want everyone else to enjoy the sport to the fullest, and it shows. As our players sign up to play in this high school league, we’re noticing that many of them play other high school sports, like baseball, track, and soccer. In other words, they are they typical ‘jocks’ that enjoy and excel at all sports. But disc golf attracts a good number of kids (and adults) that never showed interest in organized sports. It’ll be interesting to see these kids mix, but I’m confident the established disc golf paradigm will hold true and it’ll be a great experience for all.

More on Aptos and the rest of the Santa Cruz DG scene

Didn’t mention it in the last post, but big props and thanks to Jake and his minions for first getting a course approved at Aptos High School, then making it a reality, and finally for continuing to make improvements to the layout, design and amenities.

It doesn’t seem that long ago that, during a round a DeLa, I said to someone “Just imagine: in about a year we’ll have FOUR courses in Santa Cruz county!” At the time we had DeLa and Black Mouse, but the Mouse was in a state of disrepair with less than 18 holes, and no way for first-time visitors to figure out the layout. Now look at us.

DeLa- What can you say . . . it’s DeLa!

Black Mouse- Although the original layout was better, at least the course is back to 18 holes. Plus, thanks to a great volunteer effort (sometimes it seems like elves come at night and refine paths from hole-to-hole), cement teepads are slowly beginning to increase and small signs help people find the next hole. This course is short, and carved into an extremely wooded and hilly 30 acres. A great contrast to the area’s other courses.

Pinto Lake- The work to get that course installed (both politically and sweat-of-the-brow style) is a great testimony to why Tom Schot is a member of the Disc Golf Hall of Fame. After getting the first nine completely installed, with cement pads, DGA signs, Mach III baskets, and tons of OB markers, the ‘back nine’ is well on the way to being completed as well. Reviews of this course are mixed, but no one can deny that it’s tough score-wise and endurance-wise, that it’s a beautiful bird sanctuary, and that it has the potential to one day become DeLa’s predecessor as a world-class disc golf challenge.

Aptos High School- This course is the perfect compliment to the other three. It’s the best choice for beginners due to its moderate length and openness, but the elevation changes, design, and wind keep it interesting for more accomplished players. It already has cement pads on all 18 holes, and Jake just announced the planned addition of alternate pin positions. Considering the steady progress they’ve achieved there, expect those new positions soon!

Masters Cup 2009: Three Weeks Later

I didn’t bother to blog after my third and final Masters Cup round, because- let’s face it . . . who wants to write about how they saved their suckiest for last? The tournament itself was epic, however, and as a major contributor to the volunteer effort I found that rewarding even if my own performance was not.

After shooting +4 the first round and +2 the second round on the ultra-tough layout, I was tied for 8th out of 38 players. I figured a decent round on Sunday would help me climb a few notches, and that even third or fourth was within reach. Instead, my drives continued to be just a bit off-target, which at DeLa in the long layout usually means trouble. But being the optimist that I am, I have to say that simply by sticking to my gameplan I managed to grab the last cash spot in an NT event without being ‘On’ even once for the whole 84 holes. Consider these stats: Only four birdies, but no missed putts inside 30 feet, no double bogies or worse, and no mental errors where I decided to go for something with low odds. Basically, I was playing for par on everything, hoping to take the birdies when they presented themselves (which unfortunately was not often). I ended up with a +8 on the final day, dropped to 14th place, and didn’t feel much like writing about it until today. So let’s get to the good part!

This year’s Masters Cup was one of the best. We had a handful of aces when most years there aren’t any, including TWO in the lead group on the final day. Even though Nate Doss didn’t win again, he was right there until the end, and the winner, Greg Barsby, is another NorCal homeboy that’s been playing tourneys since he was a kid. Marty Hapner won the very tough Grandmasters division with a score that beat most of the Masters. The weather was as perfect as it was foul for the Am weekend, and the whole vibe just seemed in tune all three days. Plus, I get to play DeLa all year long. The Masters Cup is more like that thing I do once a year. But I’m sure I’d be writing something different if that third round was a -2 instead of a +8!

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.