Thursday, August 11, 2011

Monday Funday

I decided I wanted to take it pretty easy on Monday and try not to over do it and wear myself out for the opening day of competition. In the morning I went over to the park where the field events were taking place and wandered around until I found the check in for the mini golf course. I had my mini driver with me but that was it, so I bought a second weighted mini that was even more over stable. The nine hole course was set up so each player had to go through twice and total it up for eighteen holes. I went out for a quick practice round and played along with a pretty large group for a while then jumped ahead to play a few holes by myself before heading to hole one to get started. On the way back I saw the Seattle Crew starting their round, Big Dawg, Bjorn, Aaron and a couple more folks I'm probably forgetting. I hung around for a few minutes waiting for a couple players to show up to form a group. I ended up playing with Brian Costa (17414) and Manuel Fernandez (18407), both from the San Jose area. The course was alright with a few tricky shots and some longish holes. The coolest hole played from a hill above an island green that had a few pine trees you had to hyzer around. In the first round I got to the island (barely) and ran my putt about 6 or 7 meters past the basket (whoops!). I hit the long putt back for a sweet par 3 which felt great! Another hole played over a small pavillion and I took an unneccessary OB there which put a dent in my score. I ended up shooting an unspectacular 10 over 64, three strokes out of last cash and six strokes off the winner. I did manage to beat out Valarie Jenkins (the women's winner) by a stroke though. Both Bjorn & Kirk McAllister shot 2 over 56's and managed to cash in their division which was won by Steve Rico with a one under 53.

After the mini round I walked over to where the EDGE Skillshot and distance competitions were going on. I followed some of the Oregon guys around (Nate, Colin, Kirk and BVD) and tried to figure out the complex scoring system. Nate ended up winning the open division and the Whitler took second in the old guys division with a score quite a bit higher than Nate's! All the results can be found on the 2011 PDGA Worlds website.

I sat in the Innova tent for a while and chatted with two of their guys about the process for hotstamping and other disc related questions I had. After a bit of this I noticed that some of the big arms were showing up to put their five best throws out there in the distance competition. Of course Avery put a few shots way, way out there (166+ meters) and then it was time to watch Christian Sandstrom from Sweden. He absolutely CRUSHED some shots into a head/cross wind out to 190 meters to win the event, so impressive! I took a few pictures which I'll get up on the flickr page when I get home. Another impressive distance thrower was Jim Myers. He came up near the end and threw 5 brand new 160g Rpro Bosses out to 141.7 meters, each shot almost a mirror image of the last. Hyzer flips with ultra-long, straight glides. He definitely came prepared.

In the early evening it was time for the mandatory players meeting at Santa Cruz High School. I met Gordy outside the venue where we hung out for a while and socialized for a while. It was fun to see all the big disc golf "stars" showing up and of course seeing all the NW golfers too. Gordie and Jamie Crafts were there (volunteering at the tourney), Keith & Adam from Chainbangerz, Rob Jones Gun, Tom & Theresa, Mike Werth, Aaron Holley, Bjorn and so on and so on.... The meeting itself was not particularly illuminating. Gordy and I sat together in the second row of seats behind Steady Ed's widow and three of there children (+ spouses). There was some special recognition of Ed which the family came to be a part of. There were awards for men's and women's player of the year, points leaders, sportsman/woman of the year and TD of the year etc... A few folks gave short speeches and thanked their sponsors as you would expect. We learned that the 2m rule was to be in effect all week at all the courses and then it was time to head home and get some sleep and dream about the competition that would start in a few short hours!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Sunday Review

Gordy K. and I decided to take a closer look at the Pinto Lake course on Sunday morning. Pinto is the newest course being utilized for worlds and is located near Watsonville, about halfway between Santa Cruz and Monterey. Denise dropped me off at the course next to Gordy's rented Kia Soul but he wasn't there so I figured he got there early and went out to explore a little before our 10:00am meeting time. Parked next to Gordy's car was Wyoming player Peter Shive who was packing up getting ready to leave. He turned 70 yrs old this year and is competing in the Legends division. Peter is also running for the pdga board of directors (the election results have since been announced and he was elected) and since I am the WA state pdga coordinator he was curious about some of my views regarding the pdga and the coordinator job. One of the great things about being at worlds is having the opportunity to meet face to face with so many of the folks that contribute to our sport. If you're interested, there's an engaging thread on the pdga discussion board about Peter's views and the direction he would like to see the pdga move in.

I also ran into Tum Tum, WA's TC Bare in the parking lot at Pinto and had a friendly chat before Gordy showed up and we headed off to hole one to start a practice round. The twenty-seven hole layout at Pinto Lake measures out at 11,606' and has a par of 89. About half the holes that are part of the regular 18 hole layout play through a wooded area with lots of elevation changes. Then there are the holes "up on top" that play across, around and through a huge meadow. These puppies are long and lined with OB rope. The icing on the cake is a 1288' par five monster that I would say is not the signature hole on the course but is probably the most memorable! To flesh out the 27 hole format nine holes were added around some sports fields near the park entrance. Although not particularly interesting, the holes seems fair and the layout is adequate. The temp baskets for the nine "letter" holes weren't in place yet on Sunday but Gordy and I did find the tees and the pin placements marked in paint on the grass so were able to throw around six of the holes and walk the other three.

While we were out playing the course we crossed paths with some of the Oregon crew including Brody Miller, Sean Phillips and Kirk McAlister. Needless to say we kept glimpsing 500'+ throws in the rear view mirror. We also saw Mando's own Tom Bontempo out playing the course with his grandson Derek. Tom's comfy trailor is set up in the parking lot at Pinto and he's going to have a pro shop set up there all week. We also met a guy named Edan (#31776) from Homer Alaska and he joined us for a bunch of holes as we closed out the round. Edan has a few videos up on youTube featuring his course called "moose pretzel".

After finishing up at Pinto Lake Gordy gave me a ride back into Santa Cruz and we zipped up to the armory building near DeLaveaga to check ourselves into the tourney and pick up our player packs. Included in the player pack were a flashflight disc with a worlds stamp, a Champion Roc (kinda gummy) with a worlds stamp, some cream to prevent reactions to the prevelant poison oak, a coupon for a free T-shirt from the DGA and a pair of KEEN's latest disc golf shoe called the DeLaveaga. Comfy and cool looking red and black numbers. After the check-in we met up with Denise and headed downtown for dinner at a burger joint and then strolled through the boardwalk and then out to the end of the Santa Cruz pier. There are some tourist shops and restaurants out there, people fishing and lots of sealions on the pilings down below barking and fighting for the prime resting spots. All in all a fun way to wrap up the day.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Saturday wrap-up

I got an earlier start on Saturday since I was motivated to get down to the Pinto Lake course so I could check out the layout while photographing the Mixed Doubles competition. I arrived just as the players meeting was finishing and the competitors (25 pairs) were about to head out to their holes for the shotgun start. Pinto Lake is a beast at 11,606' and features a par five 1288' foot hole which I suppose could be eagled by someone like Dion that can chuck a disc 650'. For me it's going to take four really solid throws to even have a slim chance at getting a 5. I'll give you a damage report after the round on Wednesday! Speaking of Dion, I watched him and his partner, Liz Lopez, play hole 14 which is 523' uphill along a narrow road with a serious dropoff on the right side and steep, tree lined hill to the left. The basket is perched precariously up on the slope about 35' perpendicular to the road and is deservedly rated as a par 4. Dion had two great drives to put his team pin high along the road but with a plethora of small trees in the way of their potential birdie putt. His comment after taking the par was something along the lines of "great, two fantastic shots to get to a spot with a zero percent chance of hitting the birdie". The next group to come up the road was Jesper Lundmark and Camilla Jernberg who put their second shot in virtually the same spot at Dion and Liz. Yep, Jesper nailed that "zero percent" birdie putt, pretty cool to watch! Watching the doubles was a good way to learn a few things about the course. Saw some amazing shots of course but learned a bit of stratagy too. I got some decent photos too which I'll post on the ol' flickr page when I get home.

At the end of the doubles my wife Denise kindly picked me up and whisked me over to my friend Jim Velzy's house. I played Ultimate and Disc Golf with Jim back in 1991/1992 when Denise and I spent a year living in Santa Cruz. Jim and I headed up to the legendary DeLaveaga course to meet up with Gordy Kirkpatrick for a practice round. By this time the doubles tourney had gotten over to DeLa and they were about to start round two, this time playing alternate shot. Fortunately for us they didn't fill the whole course and with a little creative jumping around we were able to play the entire 27 hole course without getting in the way of the tourney. There were a lot of folks up at DeLa and I ran into the Whitler and Kirk McAllister among many others. After the round Gordy and I met up with Denise and headed out for burgers and a walk along the boardwalk and then out to the end of the Santa Cruz pier.


The CSUMB (CA State Univ. Monterey Bay) course is on a former military base that's been transformed into a state university. After a little map consultation I found my way to the first hole and started off solo at around 4:30 pm in breezy conditions. I think this course has the most potential for windyness so I'm glad we play it in the morning with a shotgun start. The first five holes feature a lots of OB danger and significant elevation changes and has the most "urban" feel of anywhere we play. After really screwing up hole three I decided to go back and play it again and met a masters player from Phoenix named Toad (#24029) at the tee box. We ended up playing together for a while and since he had played more of the course already he was able to give me some good advice about where to watch for trouble. This is another looong course (10,911' par 86) and there are plenty of spots where it would be easy to lose a disc. There was almost no one else playing the front part of the course where we were but we did see Brad Hammock practicing his putting in the wind by himself on hole 3. Toad took off after the eighth or ninth hole and I played the rest by myself occasionally throwing an extra shot or two in an attempt to find out what disc to use in competition. I've also been taking notes on the back of the course maps I carry with me to refer to once the tourney starts. I wrapped up the round at 7:15 and with a few mulligans thrown into the mix I managed to play the course shooting around 89 for the twenty-seven holes. I had a few deuces on the course including a couple of really long ones which felt encouraging. There are some cool holes on this course but my overall impression is that it's my least favorite one of the tourney. It's plenty challenging but it just isn't particularly pretty and it feels the least developed of the bunch. If there are plenty of spotters out there on Thursday it'll really help keep things moving.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Friday practice

Got a good night's sleep Thursday night, enjoyed a leisurely breakfast and then by around 11:30 I headed down to Monterey to take a look at two of the courses I'm scheduled to play. First stop was Ryan Ranch, a 27 hole course that's listed as 10,245' and par 85. Pulling into the parking lot I saw maybe 10-15 cars and a few folks out on the course. After a quick stretch I made my way over to hole one and got things started. I found out quickly that Ryan Ranch is dry, sandy and has a ton of scrubby, bushy oak trees, a bit like the SE course at Ft. Steilacoom but without the Scotch Broom. The oaks are much more dense than the ones at Steilly making them much grippier/stickier which will definitely be a factor here since the 2m rule is going to be in effect all week. After negotiating the first few holes on my own I ran into J. Michael Barry (#1130) and he joined me on the next 8 or 9 holes giving me some good advice about the course since he's somewhat local to the area. After Michael bailed out I continued on my way, taking a few notes about where to exercise caution and what discs were working well. There are a lot of elevation changes and sloped greens on this course so getting in a practice round is critical. I also met Bruce Waldo (#25581) and Doug Smith (#13349) out on the course and chatted for a couple of minutes. Meeting lots of disc golfers from all over the place is one of the great pleasures of playing worlds for me. I finished the round after almost 3 hours and shot a 10 over 95 with no birdies. I know I can improve on that (and let's hope I do!). In the parking lot after the round I starting talking with a Norwegian golfer named Tor Laudal (#36212) and then noticed Jim (no spin) Myers (#3396) close by so I introduced myself to him too. Jim grew up a stones throw from Lakewood Park back before there was even an inkling of a disc golf course there. His father now lives in Auburn so he comes out to the Puget Sound from time to time and likes to play all the DG courses he can find. After a short conversation I hopped back in the car, made a quick stop at Costco for a slice of pizza and a cold drink, and made a bee line for my second practice round of the day at the...

CSUMB Oaks course, about 15 minutes north of Ryan Ranch.

Friday, August 5, 2011

All the way to Santa Cruz

I left Seattle on Thursday morning at around 7:00am with my wife Denise riding shotgun. We hit a little traffic in Portland but otherwise it was smooth sailing and we made good time heading south with brief stops at Costcos along the way to grab a bite and fill the tank. A mere 15 hours and 900 miles later we cruised into Santa Cruz where we are staying at our friend Laurie's house. It's really fun to be back in S.C., it's been almost 20 years since I was here last!

Most of the day on Friday was spent checking out the two courses we'll be using for the tourney- Ryan Ranch and CSUMB. More on that soon...

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Ready to go

Busily packing tonight, getting ready for the long drive down to Santa Cruz. After many weeks of anticipation the trip is finally upon us!