Coggshall that ends well

I said it once before, here, but it’s worth saying again…sometimes you just click with a place.  Coggshall Park has been that place for me, at least when it comes to playing tournaments.  Last weekend marked my fourth tournament played there and the fourth time that no one has been able to beat me in regulation.  That’s now three wins and a playoff loss.  Suffice to say, I can’t wait for the next one.

The first round didn’t start off all that spectacularly with five pars in a row, one of which a par 4 on which I missed a 25 foot putt.  I felt like I couldn’t quite get on track because if I wasn’t hitting a tree part way down the fairway to eliminate my birdie chances, I was missing the birdie putt anyway.

I finally did find the groove on the sixth hole of the round (hole 1) by driving to about 15 feet and making the putt.  From there, it was clean driving and good putting, picking up birdie deuces on holes 4, 6, 8, and 9.  Then once we looped back to the back nine, I fell out of the groove again.  I found trees halfway down on 10, 11, and 13, and on hole 12, a short downhill ace run, I overthrew the basket by 30 feet, missed the birdie attempt and the par putt as well to take my only bogey of the round.  Not the way I wanted to finish up the round, but thanks to a great front nine, my score was still a solid 52, good for a one throw lead.

The second round, this time beginning on hole 1, started much better than the first.  Drop-in deuces on holes 1 and 2 followed by pars on 3, 4, and 5 allowed me to extend my lead from one to three throws over my nearest chaser.  Another run of birdies on six, seven, and eight enabled me to get out well in front of the rest of the card.  After a par on hole 9, I ran off three more deuces in a row on holes 10-12 to pretty much put the tournament away.  From there, my focus switched from staying ahead to maybe breaking the course record.

That switch in mindset probably wasn’t the best decision in the world in hindsight.  I did cruise to a five-throw win, but I failed to get the course record or even beat my own personal best (tied it instead).  I parred five of the six remaining holes and bogeyed the sixth (the par 4 17th) to finish with a 49.

Overall, I’m happy with the way I played.  Winning can do that, of course, but I felt especially good about my scores considering the course was playing a bit tougher than it has in the past.  Having not played it this late in the summer before, the lines and landing zones seemed a bit tighter in places because the foliage was at its fullest.  When playing it in the spring before everything is in bloom, it felt like a much more open course than it did this weekend.  I really only got myself into real, hack and hope kind of trouble on one hole, which fortunately was late in the day when things were pretty much already decided (hole 17).

A weekend off for some family fun this weekend, then back at it on Labor Day weekend with a two-day, four-course extravaganza sandwiched around more family fun.  Two streaks will be on the line at that one…I’ve cashed at that event three years in a row and I’m also riding a five tournament cashing streak currently.  Hopefully I keep both streaks alive.


Hot and busy

While I’ve not been active playing tournaments the last few weeks, I still feel like I haven’t slowed down a bit.  Summer is not just the busy season for tournaments, but also for disc golfing in general.  So when you run a disc golf course, work never ends and free time is a mythical thing.  Thus no updates of late.

But my tourney schedule cranks up again now, having started with a local event last weekend in the Vacationland Open.  A B-tier in which I can sleep in my own bed and I’m not at all responsible for organizing any part of it?  I can just be a player?  Sign me up.

The two courses used in this event couldn’t be more stark in contrast.  The Saturday course, Devils Grove in Lewiston ME, is short (total length ~4000 feet), wooded, with a good deal of elevation change.  Lots of deuce opportunities, but also plenty of places to turn twos into fours or worse.  Sunday’s course, Stevens Mountain View (SMV) in Turner ME is on the longer side at just over 6000 feet, with wide open fields and rolling hills.  Despite the length, there are still deuce opportunities aplenty.

Round one at Devils Grove started off with a bang on my opening hole, number 6.  Measuring in at just 153 feet and playing downhill, it’s a fairly simple hole, but I still managed to hit a tree on my drive and land 50 feet out behind a couple more trees. Fortunately my straddle putt found the chains to save the two and get the round off on the right foot.

That was followed by three more deuces in a row to really get the round heated up.  A few holes later, my drive on hole 12 made a lot of noise in the chains but ultimately was spit out.  Park jobs on 13, 16, 17, 18, 1, and 5 netted me a bunch more twos.  Eleven in all for the round.  That was the good news.

The bad news were the fours I took on four of the remaining seven holes.  Couple unfortunate kicks, one bad putt, and one stupid decision were the culprits.  As it turns out though, the score was still good enough to make the lead card even if I was six behind the leader who shot a blistering course record 41 to set the pace.

Second round started okay with a drop-in two on hole 1 and a drop-in three on hole 2.  Then the mistakes started happening.  An overaggressive second shot on hole 3 that only went about ten feet resulted in a four there.  Hole 4, the longest hole on the course at 390 feet straight uphill, caused me trouble when my drive caught an early tree and my second shot wasn’t much better.  Salvaging a five there only cost me one throw on the rest of the group, fortunately.  But on hole 5, which is about 1/3 the length of hole 4, I repeated my error with a bad drive and a second shot that barely advanced me 10 feet.

At that point, I had to stop the bleeding.  Fortunately, we were entering a stretch of short, “must deuce” holes that I did just that on during the first round.  And so I repeated the feat with deuces on 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 to get myself back on track and in the hunt again.  That’s about as far as my hot play would go that day and 52 ended up as my final score for the round.  It wasn’t the worst score on the card (that was the 54 shot by the guy who opened with a 41) and certainly not the best either, but it  dropped me to the second card for Sunday’s third round.

2015 Vacationland Open - SMV - The rig for a long day in the hot sun with minimal shade provided by the course. Photo courtesy of Ashley Mower/SMV
2015 Vacationland Open – SMV – The rig for a long day in the hot sun with minimal shade provided by the course. Photo courtesy of Ashley Mower/SMV

When I prepare for a tournament, especially on course(s) I’m familiar with, I like to come up with a target score for each round.  To determine that target number, I estimate what I should score on each hole assuming an average drive and that I will make most putts within 20-25 feet.  In execution, I rarely match the hole-to-hole scores exactly, but if I play a good round, I should be pretty close to the target total.

I bring that up only because my round at SMV was about as close as I can remember coming to hitting every hole on the number.  I’ve matched or bettered my target score in plenty of rounds by picking up better scores where I didn’t “plan” for them balanced by taking higher than intended scores elsewhere.

I opened the round taking a four on a hole I’d hoped to score a deuce.  And the four was only after my 12 foot dead-center putt for three sliced through to the pole and popped back out.  On hole 2, I picked up a deuce on a hole I “planned” for a three.  After that, I matched my little plan on every remaining hole in the round.  Deuced every hole I felt I should and took threes on everything else for a total score of 50 (target number = 49).

That was good for the second best score for the round but it wasn’t enough to change my position in the standings at all: sixth.  Top eight scores made the cut for the final 9 safari round, so I survived to play more golf.

The safari round began with the first four holes consisting of combined holes/fairways (tee 1 to basket 3, tee 4 to basket 5, etc) that got us out to the far corner of the property before playing back in on regular holes 14-18.  For me, it was an uneventful nine holes.  I made a 40 foot putt to save three on the first hole and had another short putt spit back off the pole on the eighth hole (#17).

The rest of the holes were just routine drive, approach, putt (except the one hole that was long enough for an extra approach). Since I started the round three throws behind 5th place and two throws ahead of 7th place, I wasn’t really likely to move up or down the standings anyway, so I finished in the same place I’d been since round 2: sixth.

2015 Vacationland Open - SMV - Putting out on the last hole of the safari final 9. Photo courtesy of Ashley Mower/SMV
2015 Vacationland Open – SMV – Putting out on the last hole of the safari final 9. Photo courtesy of Ashley Mower/SMV

Overall a good weekend of play, especially so as my first real competitive rounds in a month and, due to work, not getting as much practice in as I wanted.  Putting was solid all weekend, with only four misses within the 10-meter circle, two of which were spit-outs off the pole.  The difference maker, as usual lately, is getting into the circle with enough regularity (and in few enough throws) to really score well.  It was really feast or famine at Devils Grove in that respect.  Either I was parked, I hit an early tree, or I overshot the basket by 35-40 feet.

This coming weekend, it’s back to the course where I’ve never lost in regulation, Coggshall Park in Fitchburg MA, for the Fall Finale (yes it’s still summer, what are you gonna do?).  I’ve played three tournaments there with two wins and a sudden death playoff loss.  Here’s hoping I go three for four.