Down in October

So all the good momentum, playing-wise, that I carried through August and September seemed to run out of steam in October.  Two events, two disappointing outcomes.

The first was the Earl Cup on October 10.  Earl Cup is a Ryder Cup-style match play team event pitting a team representing Dragon Disc Golf against a team selected by the New England Flying disc Association (NEFA) president.  The event has a rich history dating back to 1998.  After victory last year, my team from Dragon Disc Golf (the Pilots) was the one defending the Cup on “foreign” turf…Flat Rock disc golf course in Athol MA.

Suffice to say, we were unsuccessful in defending the Cup, bringing our road record in the Cup series to 0-9 and our overall record to 5-13.  Good thing the event is as much fun as I have all year, win or lose.

After two rounds and 12 matches, we were down 9 points to 3, one of our worst doubles showings in a long while.  Typically when we lose the Cup, we keep it close in the doubles and then lose it in the singles round.  Not so this year.  While we needed 9 points out of the singles round and only got 5.5, we made it a lot closer than it could have been.  We scored three wins against three of their top four rated players, pushed three more, and split the two women’s matches.  Our losses were all relatively close. Despite the overall loss, I thought we had a great showing right through to the end.  I couldn’t be prouder of our efforts.

I had no time to lick my wounds though as another big event loomed on my horizon for the following weekend: the Porcupine Ridge PDGA Open.  This one was a bit of a throw-back for me as well as something new entirely.  While I officially had no involvement with the event, I was asked to step in to help run the event as an experienced hand.

My duties were to cover the PDGA-related details of the event (results uploaded and report filing) and help with registration/check-in.  It’s something I’ve done in the past at other events, but usually it was in reverse…I sanctioned the tournament, set up pre-reg and all that, then on tournament day handed over the running of the event to the course owner or other designated TD so I could primarily be a player during the day.  I’ve had personal success at some of those events, playing well enough to win a couple of them.  So I thought nothing of helping with this event.

I (re-)learned a lesson in the first round.  While I can get away with not having a proper warm-up at a tournament I’m TDing most of the time  (typically if it’s small enough), I’m doing so on my own course and know it and myself well enough to warm up as I go without my game suffering too much.  That success doesn’t apply on a course I’m playing for only the second time ever.  Particularly when the weather isn’t exactly what I was prepared for.  The cold I was ready for…the wind, not so much.

So I started the first round on the open part of the course (holes 2-6) in much heavier winds than I saw forecasted.  Add in that I was no where near warmed up and it was not a recipe for success.  It’s not as though I was throwing poor shots or the wrong discs and getting tossed around by the wind.  I wasn’t.  I thought I made good choices for the most part. It was more just that every shot I threw ended up 50-60 feet shorter than I anticipated.  So threes turned into fours and twos turned into threes.

It wasn’t an unmitigated disaster by any means, just a early hole to dig out of, but I still felt out of sync for the whole round after such a rocky start.  It probably didn’t help that I let the interminable waiting on every hole get to me more than it should have, but all the waiting just exacerbated the feeling that I couldn’t get into the flow of the round at all.  The end result was easily my worst round of the year.  A 66 that put me 12 throws out of the lead and in dead last place.

At the risk of sounding like I’m playing the blame game (because the blame for my poor play is all mine), I have to comment on the slow play of the round anyway.  There were 50 players in the tournament, spread out in 16 groups across the course (14 3-somes, 2 4-somes).  Theoretically, at least, everyone should be moving at more or less the same pace.  The foursomes were strategically placed so that there was an open hole behind each of them at the beginning of the round.  They were both behind my group, one immediately behind us and the other two groups back, so they were not the cause of the slow play from my perspective.

There are, of course, a couple holes that are on the long side and back-ups there are to be expected here and there, but typically once you’re through such a hole, it should be fairly clear sailing for a while afterward.  The group in front should be able to get through the next hole easily before my group finishes the longer hole.  That wasn’t the case on Sunday.  We were waiting for the group in front of us as early as the second hole of the round (their first).  And from then on, we wound up waiting at every tee for the rest of the round.  Sometimes for a moment while the group in front putted out.  Sometimes for a few minutes when we arrived to find the group in front barely halfway down the fairway.  While the round lasted about three hours, I’ve played five+ hour rounds (27 holes) that moved faster than this one seemed to.

The only saving grace in my own warped little head was that if they were playing that slow that we could keep up despite my many throws, then they must be struggling as well.  I might not be playing myself into as big a hole as I thought.  Not so when the scorecards were turned in and the worst of those three had me by 8 throws.  So disheartening…and confusing.

But enough of that and on to the second round, which flowed much more smoothly, perhaps because the pokey player(s) were following my group this time. 😉  Whether it was that or just having a different frame of mind (no pressure), things got off to a better start and stayed better.  I improved my score from the previous round on three of my first four holes, then kept that up for the whole round.

My only goal for round two was to climb out of last place.  I didn’t manage to climb ahead of the others in my group despite a 9-throw improvement (we shot the same score in round 2) but I and they were able to catch a few folks we had trailed entering the round, so mission accomplished.  No DFL…yay.

On the positive side, the poor first round removed any chances I had of making it into the final nine or the cash, so as soon as the round was over I was able to devote the rest of my energy to being a TD, getting the results from rounds 1 and 2 posted online before the final 9 began, and having the final 9 results posted before we even got the ring of fire started before awards.  Things that were the reason I was asked to do those jobs in the first place.

On the down side, not making the cash meant my cashing streak ended at seven straight tourneys.  Oh well.  There’s time to start a new streak before the end of the year and hopefully carry it through the winter.  The new streak could start as soon as November 1 at the Thorndike Memorial.  Here’s hoping for a better playing as a TD experience.