Big day yesterday and one of my favorites of the year, as I ran the 13th annual GreenHorn tournament at Dragan Field. I have a page on the site here that gives the backstory and purpose of the GreenHorn tournament. For the second year in a row, I was able to combine it with the Trilogy Challenge.
If there’s anything I feel is lacking in disc golf, it is proper rules awareness and education. Too often, players new to tournament play are thrown in and expected to pick up what they need to know as they go. And in doing so, are (unintentionally) taught some half-truths and misinterpreted rules as often as they’re shown and told the correct way to do things.
To do my part to correct that, I run the GreenHorn tournament every year and do my level best to give some of our local players a proper grounding in tournament rules and etiquette before they venture into the larger disc golf tournament world. No going into bigger tournaments thinking falling putts are fine and throwing from OB is the norm.
The Trilogy Challenge makes a great compliment to that goal as it gives every player, new or veteran, everything they need to play a tournament including a driver, a midrange, a putter, and a mini-marker. I add a rule book to the package and it’s complete. Additionally, the Challenge draws tournament-experienced players to the event where they not only get to compete in the event, they also serve to provide hands-on mentors for the Greenhorn players. And on occasion, even those experienced players learn something during the rules clinic. 😉
Twenty players came out for the fun, eight just for the Trilogy Challenge, and 12 there for the full GreenHorn experience. It was a much closer battle for the Trilogy title this year with a 17 throw difference between low and high score (as opposed to a whopping 62 throws at last year’s event).
In the end, Lance Norton won the Trilogy round with the only sub-60 score of the day, a 57. For the GreenHorns, it was a close battle the whole day, requiring two extra holes before Shannon Cote emerged the overall winner of the day, shooting 61 +65 = 126. Full results here.
Next week continues the Trilogy and GreenHorn events, only separately. Saturday I host a second Trilogy Challenge at Enman Field in Brunswick, and then on Sunday, it’s GreenHorn Doubles. Same idea as the singles, only we double up the fun, best-shot style.
Another set of back to back tournaments this past weekend, this time with some success. On Saturday, it was the West Thompson Open C-tier at West Thompson Lake DGC in Connecticut, and on Sunday it was the Newton Hill Open B-tier at Newton Hill DGC in Worcester MA. It was hot, humid, wet, and hot…a typical July weekend in New England.
West Thompson Lake and I have a hot-cold relationship over the years. Either I score well or I have an implosion or two…rarely ever find myself having an average, ho-hum kind of round. It’s either a 50-51 type score or a 58-59 kind of round…never in the middle. This day was no exception.
Round 1 featured only one real hiccup, and that came on hole 13 where my drive hit a tree late and ended up about 40 feet out. From there, I proceeded to three-putt my way to a 4. The only other score over 3 that I took that round was a 4 on the par-4 hole 10. The rest of the round was a solid mix of 2s and 3s for a total score of 51, good for the hot score of the round.
Round 2 was another story. In a good round, holes 1-5 should yield more twos than threes. And it did for my card mates. Not so much for me with hole 5 being the only deuce. I closed out the front 9 with a four on hole 9. Then came the aforementioned hole 10. My drive rolled OB. My second shot was OB by a centimeter. Ended up with a six. I followed that up with a deuce on the next hole but that would be my last. A four on hole 15 and the rest threes, and I ended up with a disappointing 57.
I somehow managed to hold on to the last cash spot for $25. On the plus side, I got a ringside seat to team64 mate Sam Henderson shooting the hot second round and putting himself into a playoff for first. Unfortunately, he lost the playoff on the third hole. Still a good day overall for the team.
As warm and sticky (and rainy during round 2) Saturday was, Sunday was decidedly warmer and stickier with temps and humidity levels exceeding 90. Add to that a course that runs up, down, and across a big hill, and a long and exhausting day was all but guaranteed.
In round 1, all the excitement came in a six hole stretch in the middle of the round. After starting the round with five consecutive 3s (two of which were the result of missing putts in the circle), the brief roller coaster began on hole 2. Starting there, the scorecard looked like this: 2, 3, 4, 2, 2, 5.
On hole 8, the roller coaster seemed to want to continue when my drive on the short par-3 skipped down hill and into the woods. The resulting lie was about 25 feet from the basket with an obstructed view. With a straddle stance, I managed to get a putt out, but it hit the front of the cage and rolled back down the hill behind me. Now I had a 30+ footer to save my three and the only saving grace was that it rolled to a spot with a clean line to the basket. I hit that line and made the putt. From there, I carded six more threes in a row to finish the round with a score of 54.
That score put me on the second card at this tournament for the second year in a row. And it also put me on the hole where the “roller coaster” began in the first round, hole 2. Fortunately, it was a little bit less of a roller coaster and a bit more successful than the first: 2, 3, 3, 2, 2, 4. Then on hole 8, I carded a two with another big putt out of the woods downhill of the basket. After that, I settled into a three groove through the back 9…the only blemishes being a four on hole 15 followed by a 2 on hole 16. I closed the round with a drop in deuce on hole 1 for a total score of 50.
My two round total of 104, which was exactly the same total I had at the 2014 Newton Hill Open after two rounds (55+49), was good for third overall for the second year in a row, and earned me a place in the final round safari six for the second year in a row.
In the safari six, I made a run at it, gaining at least a throw per hole on the leaders on the first four holes. Then I ran into trouble on the fifth safari hole. In hindsight, I’d have been better off laying up my fourth shot, but I decided to try to give it a run and didn’t even get it halfway there thanks to a tee sign that I never should have been near in the first place. From there, I three putted to a seven and ended the round still firmly set in third place.
It was an exhausting weekend, but it was worth getting through it in the end. Now it’s time for a bit of a break and running some tournaments, beginning with the annual Greenhorn Tournament and Trilogy Challenge. Next tournament to be played looks to be the Vacationland Open on August 15.
Busy busy busy…the typical story of my summers. Apologies for not updating after last weekend’s tournament, so this one will be another two-fer. On July 4-5, I played the Greater Hartford Disc Golf Open A-tier at Wickham Park in Mancester Connecticut. This weekend, it was the Crane Hill Open B-tier at Crane Hill Park in Wilbraham Massachusetts. All that adds up to a lot of driving and a lot of playing in an 8-9 day period.
The GHDGO proved to be more of the same kind of golf I’ve been playing for the last month or so. Nothing egregiously bad but nothing extraordinarily good either, and lots of “birdie” chances from 35-50 feet that by and large became easy pars. It’s not the worst way to play a tournament, but against the stiff competition at the GHDGO, it wasn’t a great recipe for success.
In the end though, the difference for me between cashing and not came down to hole 1. The downhill hole measures at 520 feet with a 350-380 foot carry over an OB area, and that’s from the “regular” tee. For two of the three rounds, the “pro” tee was in play, which added another 100 feet to the hole and the required carry.
In the first round, with the first throw of the tournament, I managed to worm-burn a downhill throw and never made it across the OB. Then I threw into the OB long of the basket from the drop zone in an attempt to make up the penalty and save bogey. That netted me a 6 to start the weekend. From there, I managed to pull it together and have a fairly good round for 20 of the 21 remaining holes on the course to finish with a slightly disappointing but still one under par 69.
Second round was more of the same…steady play with the exception of hole 1. This time from the long tee, I failed to properly account for the head wind and didn’t get the lay-up drive I wanted (there is a safe bailout zone to the right that I wanted to get to). The drop zone from there was the “regular” tee. More of the same…OB. To the drop zone again, where I again threw OB through the green. The damage: 7. The score overall was a 73…one over or even par depending on who you ask.
Sunday morning brought round three on the hardest possible layout on the course. No surprise, I played my best round of the weekend on that layout. Not the lowest score (71) but definitely the highest rated. The biggest difference was the improvement I made on hole 1. Again, playing from the long tee, I successfully made it to the bail-out safe zone, and then got on the green within 20 feet on my second shot to card a 3.
Overall, I finished a few throws out of the money. If I had managed to salvage fours on hole 1 on Saturday, I might have scratched out last cash. And last cash is about as well as I expect to finish on that course against that kind of competition. The course, even in the “standard” layout (which is also the shortest), plays against my biggest weakness and that is length off the tee. I managed to compensate on some of the longer holes with some effective backhand roller shots, but that can only get me so far.
On the plus side, my putting game was strong. Only missed two must-have putts inside the circle all weekend, and managed to sink a couple longer ones, including a 55 foot jumper for a birdie 3 on the 720 foot hole 11.
Made the long drive home for a week of work on the course, mowing and weed-wacking. Squeezed in a round or two as well. Before I knew it, it was Friday again and I was back on the road for the Crane Hill Open.
This was my third year playing this event, and the first two years did not include a whole lot of personal success. But the tournament staff makes it worth coming back every year. Third time’s the charm, I guess as I finally seemed to solve Crane Hill.
The frustrating part about the design at Crane, and it’s a good one, is that it requires precision and tends to punish overly aggressive play. In other words, where you get into trouble and the strokes start piling up quickly is by trying to do too much. That usually goes without saying on any course, but this one really emphasizes that notion.
Round 1 on the shorter “A” layout started off well enough with a string of ho-hum pars interrupted by a lone birdie deuce on hole 6. On hole 9, a mental mistake led to my first bogey. Instead of taking my time and finding a more stable stance, I rushed my putt from an off-balance stance and missed. I made up for it by draining a 50 footer downhill to deuce hole 11.
Couple more of those ho-hum pars led us to hole 14. In the A-position, hole 14 is a short but perilous little hole. The tee and basket are at roughly the same height with a valley in between and a gradual drop off behind the basket as well. Many drives that land short end up rolling away, and drives that go long leave long death putts that almost always call for a lay-up directly under the basket. It can be deuced and it can be sixed very easily (I have proof of both :)). My drive this time had the height I wanted to ensure I didn’t hit short and roll, and fortunately the basket got in the way of the throw going long. ACE!
That got the momentum going in the right direction. I played hole 15 perfectly for the par 3. The hole is arguably a par 4 so a 3 felt good. More pars on next four holes (including a drop in par 4 on hole 16). Parked the 360 foot hole 2 for the CTP prize and birdie 2. Finished the round with a drop-in deuce on hole 4 and a final score of 50. That was good for a tie for fifth place, three throws off the lead.
Second round was on the longer, tougher B-layout. In theory, the layout had fewer birdie chances and not with the way our group played it. If one of us didn’t get the birdie on a hole, it involved a great save for the par. It made for some exciting viewing, if only there was a gallery to enjoy it.
Unfortunately, it took me a while to get on the birdie train with the rest of my group. I chugged along with pars through the first six holes of the round before finding bogey trouble on hole 8. Came back from that with a par on 9 and a birdie 3 on hole 10. More bogey trouble on hole 12, missing a 25 footer for par. A par 4 on hole 13 led us back to hole 14. The B-position is about150 feet longer than the A, but still set up well for me as a lefty. And I proved it by splitting the gap with a Pure and landing 10 feet away for the deuce.
Just like the first round, momentum was gained from that hole as I scored solid back to back par 4s on holes 15 and 16 (both could arguably be par 5), including a 40 foot putt on hole 16. Made another 40 footer for deuce on 17. Missed a putt on 18 for deuce then finished the round with a par on hole 1. Final score 58 (par = 59). Total score 108. Final placement, tied for 4th, four throws out of first.
Between the good finish, the ace pot, and the CTP, it was a very good day for me. Really starting to feel like my game is gelling. Only three bogeys all day, all of which were silly mental lapses and thus feel “fixable”.
Next weekend is another two-fer weekend, playing the West Thompson Open C-tier on Saturday and the Newton Hill Open B-tier on Sunday. Took 2nd place at last year’s Newton Hill Open…hoping for a repeat performance, if not improvement.