Tag Archives: General

First Folf

Quite the weekend to start off the new year. In what has become a tradition for me (6 years running now), I participated in a tradition that dates back to the mid-1970s.  That tradition has come to be known as First Folf at Fort McClary.

But before the fun began on Sunday, I got the good news on Saturday that my sponsorship deal with Latitude 64 and Westside Discs has been extended through 2015. Wahoo.

And even more fun (of a more sarcastic nature) was had on the drive to Fort McClary on Sunday morning as the tail-end of a messy snow-ice-rain storm was passing through.  The good news is road conditions weren’t as bad as they could have been and all the precipitation passed through by the time we started playing.  The bad news is that the weather apparently scared off a bunch of regular participants in the event so the field was smaller than usual.

Fort McClary is a small state park in Kittery Point, Maine.  The land had been fortified in some way since the late 17th century  protecting the mouth of the Piscataqua River where it entered the Atlantic Ocean through Portsmouth Harbor and Pepperrell Cove. The Fort was officially established and militarized in the 19th century. It has been maintained as a park and an historic site since the 1920s.

Ft McClary – First Folf 2015 – "Tee 10" overlooking Pepperrell Cove where the Piscataqua River empties into the Atlantic.  Traditionally, the hole plays down some steps and into an underground bunker but it was flooded out due to the storm.  Instead, the target was a section of fence that surrounds the staircase. Pink tape can be seen marking that section.
Ft McClary – First Folf 2015 – “Tee 10” overlooking Pepperrell Cove where the Piscataqua River empties into the Atlantic. Traditionally, the hole plays down some steps and into an underground bunker but it was flooded out due to the storm. Instead, the target was a section of fence that surrounds the staircase. Pink tape can be seen marking that section.

The park is divided into two parts by the main road through the village.  The “park side” consists of a playground and picnic area, some nature trails, and a small pond that is frequently used in the winter for hockey.  The “fort side” nearer the water features old buildings and battlements.

The tradition of frisbee golf (true frisbee golf with actual Frisbees) at the Fort dates to the early/mid 1970s when a group of friends would play their made up course at the Fort just because they had free time and loved throwing Frisbees. As these friends aged and graduated and moved on with their respective lives, they made a pact to always gather once a year (on or around New Years Day) at the Fort to “relive” the old days and play frisbee golf.  And they’ve stuck with it, getting their children involved and soon enough, probably their children’s children as well.

The “Folf” crew has grown from the original handful not just through growing families, but through inviting new friends and acquaintances to play (you tell two friends, and they tell two friends, and so on). That’s how I came to be a participant.

I have family ties to Kittery Point. My father grew up there. My grandmother still lives there. I spent many hours of my childhood playing on the playgrounds at Fort McClary when we visited family.

Ft McClary - First Folf 2015 - A look down "hole 6" where the object is to land your disc on the elevated platform of the gazebo playground equipment in the distance.
Ft McClary – First Folf 2015 – A look down “hole 6” where the object is to land your disc on the elevated platform of the gazebo playground equipment in the distance.

So in playing various disc golf tournaments, my father, my uncle and I all became acquainted with one of the original Folfers.  And in the course of conversation, the common connection of the Fort came up and the invitations to play the First Folf event were offered.  All three of us jumped in (some sooner than others…I was actually the last to join in the fun) and now we all look forward to starting the new year with First Folf.

The event itself consists of a single round of 18 holes, followed by lunch and awards (and usually thawing out) at a local restaurant.  Over the years, the “course” has changed with new holes and targets tried and new angles thought up.  The current layout used in the last few years has more or less stabilized into something that the original Folfers say is pretty close to their original design (give or take a few trees and objects).

This old school course is entirely made up of object targets.  They range from throwing the disc through a “V” created by two birch trees to striking park signs, doors and flag poles to landing on an elevated platform that is part of a piece of playground equipment.

Ft McClary – First Folf 2015 – the flagpole that serves as the object target of "hole 9" (playing from down the steps to the left) as well as "hole 13" (playing through the brown brick powderhouse window).
Ft McClary – First Folf 2015 – the flagpole that serves as the object target of “hole 9” (playing from down the steps to the left) as well as “hole 13” (playing through the brown brick powderhouse window).

Some targets are used multiple times.  One object, a large well cover, is not only used twice as a target, but twice as a tee as well (it is the tee for one of the holes playing to the pictured flagpole above).  There are also a number of mandatories that have to be navigated.  For example, one hole forces you to throw between two specific trees before taking a 90 degree turn to the left and playing to the door of the men’s room.

A few mandatories are actually windows in buildings through which you have to pass before completing the hole. The window in the brown building pictured above is one such example.  There are windows on two sides of the aforementioned well cover.  One hole forces you to come through one of the windows on one side of the building before landing on the cover. Later you must enter through one of the windows on the other side before again landing on the cover.

Sometimes, mandatories are the targets as well. There is one hole in which you must throw your disc through a crotch in the tree, but can only do so in one particular direction.  Still other targets, like the men’s room door and the “zebra” striped sign, can only be struck on one side.

All this adds up to a golf course that puts a huge premium on placement and approach angles over distance.  The only holes that exceed 230 feet bend around mandatories that make it difficult if not impossible to cover the whole distance in one throw. Many times, the difference between getting a two or a three on a given hole is landing one foot further to the left or the right and being lined up to be able to hit the target properly.

Case in point, I had drives on both holes playing to the well cover that had it traveled just a foot or two further, I’d have been lined up with a dead straight shot through the window directly to the well cover.  Instead, I was forced to lay up (8 feet on one, 12 on the other) to give myself a putt.

Fortunately, despite a few of those hard to swallow extra throws, I was able to throw the lowest score of the day amongst the 12 participants.  It was my second time doing so in my six years of playing the event, but the first time being the solo low score (no tiebreakers at First Folf).

Fort McClary - First Folf - Sweet first place trophy plaque for the 2015 First Folf. Better trophy than 99% of the tourneys I pay to enter.
Fort McClary – First Folf – Sweet first place trophy plaque for the 2015 First Folf. Better trophy than 99% of the tourneys I pay to enter.

With the conclusion of First Folf, my 2015 season is underway. I intend to be a bit more diligent with the blog and update it with every event I play (most probably won’t be quite this long). We’ll see how that goes.

I’ll just conclude with a formal invitation to anyone reading to visit and “friend” the Fort McClary Folf page at Facebook and then feel free to join in on the fun of playing at the Fort. There are tentative plans to do a doubles tournament in March, which would be the third year running of that event.  That one is two rounds and yours truly (with my partner Charlie Sawyer) is the defending champ. We welcome any and all challengers. 🙂

My scorecard for First Folf at Fort McClary - January 4, 2015
My scorecard for First Folf at Fort McClary – January 4, 2015

New box of goodies

After playing the Thorndike Memorial a couple weeks ago in rain, snow, and 30-40mph wind gusts, I came to the conclusion that I needed a new wool winter hat (“beanie”).  So where else to go than Dynamic Discs to order one with a Latitude 64 logo.  This I did on Monday morning.  On Thursday, my new hat arrived but it wasn’t alone.  It was accompanied by 6 discs and a new tee shirt as well. Imagine my surprise.  This sponsor thing might be paying off.

Box of sponsor goodies that arrived rather unexpectedly.
Box of sponsor goodies that arrived rather unexpectedly.

All of the discs represented new and in some cases pre-releases by the Latitude 64, Dynamic Discs and Westside Discs and the set was comprised of two drivers, two midranges, and two putters.  The drivers were the latest from Dynamic, the Felon and the Freedom, both in Lucid plastic with the Freedom sporting a sharp Oklahoma Open stamp (it was pre-released to select tournaments only).  The midranges were both Claymores, Latitude 64’s contribution to the 2014 Trilogy Challenge lineup.  One is in Opto plastic, released earlier in the fall.  The other is the as-yet unreleased and highly anticipated Frost plastic.  I can only imagine they sent the Opto in order for me to contrast it with the similar in look but not in feel Frost plastic.  The putters were a just released Westside Harp in VIP plastic and a scented (orange) Dynamic Classic Blend Warden.

I couldn’t wait to try them all out but unfortunately Mother Nature and a head cold had other ideas.  So I had to wait a week before I felt well enough to head out with some of the new stuff.  Unfortunately the wait made me miss out on some unseasonably warm weather early in the week.  I bagged the Harp and the Claymores and went out for a “putters and mids only” round on a chilly Thursday afternoon.

First impression on the Harp was that it is very overstable for a putter.  Perhaps just as overstable as my Sinus, if not more so since the Sinus has had six months to break in.  What really struck me is that there didn’t seem to be any extra glide.  When it dove at the end of its flight, it went more or less right to the ground.  The only drawback I’ve found when throwing the Sinus is that though it dives off hard as an overstable disc should, it also continues to fall forward as well.  The result being that it every so often blows by the intended landing zone by anywhere from a few to 25-30 feet.  The Harp didn’t seem to have that issue at all, though as it breaks in, things could change as it’s rated to have more glide than it showed me.

I am impressed with the Claymores as well. My lone experience with them was throwing the Trilogy Challenge version this summer. Then, it seemed to be a stable but somewhat touchy mid that would turn over more than desired if overpowered.  I don’t know if it is the change in plastic or me (having only played with it for one round or so), but that didn’t seem to be an issue with these new ones, particularly the Frost.

Whenever I threw one, I threw both to get side-by-side comparisons. The Opto generally turned over slightly then faded back slightly for a good straight flight while the Frost held a flatter line (less turn) and faded just a bit at the end. The Frost also seemed to weather the wind better, holding its line into a head wind and not fading too hard with a tail wind.

And the feel…such a great feel to the Frost plastic. Firm but not stiff.  Flexible but not floppy.  It had the sturdiness of Opto and Gold line with the give under the fingers of soft Zero (or Classic). I already can’t wait until they produce more molds in it (initial release will be the Claymore, Diamond, and River), particularly the ones I’m already bagging .

I got out again for two rounds on Saturday, this time with the full bag and the Felon added to the mix.  I’d have bagged the Freedom as well for testing but we got some snow Friday and the Freedom is unfortunately white.  That one might have to wait until spring to get any work.

I don’t foresee the Felon pushing out any of my drivers at the moment as it, speed-wise, slots in between my fairways and my distance drivers…a veritable no-mans-land in my bag.  However, with its speed and stability, I thought it might fit as a good overhand disc so that’s what I decided to use it for during these rounds.  And it sufficiently served its purpose.  Good flat glide as it rolled over and then dove to the ground. It worked well enough that it’s going to stick in the bag for now, though part of that is the disc it’s replacing (a Gold line Flow) is white and as mentioned earlier, snow has arrived.

I think the biggest benefit of these new discs showing up out of the blue is that it was a morale pick-me-up at just the right time.  My tournament season has wound down so the motivation to practice is significantly lessened. Plus it’s getting colder and the sun is setting at 4:30 in the afternoon.  A handful of new discs is a battery charger if ever there was one.  And these have given me a charge.  The Harp, after just three rounds, is in and the Sinus, for now, is out of the bag. I just want to keep throwing it and confirm that decision.  Now to just find some time to do it…

Directors Cup

On the weekend of October 25-26, the PDGA hosted an outstanding event at the International Disc Golf Center called the Directors Cup.  This was the second annual edition and it was also my second trip to this invitational event.

One part seminar/conference, one part tournament, the Directors Cup is a free to participate event for PDGA tournament directors, state coordinators, and volunteers.  It is the PDGA’s way of thanking its thankless volunteers and also of gathering those volunteers together for a weekend of camaraderie, idea sharing, and learning.  The weekend consisted of about 5 hours of seminars and roundtable discussions on topics ranging from sustainability to best practices in running events, two rounds of competitive ratings-based play, and lots of free food and conversation.

While much of the seminar material had a “preaching to the choir” kind of feel (after all, all of us there were experienced TDs and ardent supporters of the PDGA), there was plenty of information shared by both the PDGA staff and the attendees that allowed everyone to leave feeling they had a new perspective or a new concept to put into action at their next club meeting or tournament.

Some of the highlights for me in terms of new and enlightening information didn’t necessarily come from the sit-down structured lectures and discussions.  For example, after the first round of competition, everyone was invited to observe the staff as they checked scores, inputted them into the TD Report spreadsheet and uploaded them to the online Tournament Manager for display on PDGA.com.  For most of us, this process is old hat, though perhaps few of us have had the experience of entering scores and uploading them immediately after the round (it’s more of a take the scorecards/scoreport home and type it all in at night kind of thing).  But it was in the lulls between cards trickling in where we got a real glimpse behind the curtain that is the PDGA HQ.

One attendee took advantage of a break in the action to ask Tour Manager Andrew Sweeton about the status of an event he had sent in for sanctioning but hadn’t seen any confirmation.  As we watched on the big screen, Andrew took us into the back end of the events database to first find proof of payment on the sanctioning fee, then into the event itself to process the payment and post it to the online schedule.  A small thing in the grand scheme, but I found it to be an interesting glimpse into the day-to-day operations of the PDGA staff.

The fun and educational part about day two focused on live scoring.  First was a practical demonstration on how to set up live scoring for an event.  Then, we were all invited to set up our own phones to be able to live score our round.  Those who weren’t scoring their group’s round were able to watch everyone else’s scores on their own phones during play and on the big screen in the main room of the IDGC afterward.

My takeaway from the process was that it really demonstrated we aren’t far away from players in any event being able to do the same thing, whether it’s a Major or a local C-tier.  Really the only step left to take is an app or gateway that gives players access to post their scores without giving them full access to the entire tournament manager system (giving that access is too ripe for abuse and headaches for the TD post-event).

At the end of the event, in addition to the “player pack” goodies we received and the merchandise from the pro shop that we either won or purchased with our 20% discount, we were all given a 1GB USB drive containing nearly 200 files including notes from all the lectures and discussions of the weekend, how-tos for a myriad number of tournament related tasks, and spreadsheets and templates designed to automate various aspects of running a tournament.

The ability to go home with that little thumb drive enabled me to immediately put some of the things I learned and saw at the Directors Cup to use for my C-tier the following weekend.  It took, for example, the concept of pre-printed and personalized scoreport cards from the realm of “hey that would be cool to figure out how to do that” to “hey I’ve got a template for that at my fingertips, I can do it right now!”

If there was one thing the event lacked, it was more time devoted to sharing ideas and concepts amongst our fellow TDs.  There were brief conversations over lunch/dinner and among groupmates about different things, but something more formal and organized would really have taken the event over the top.  We got the lecture/demonstration of how the PDGA/IDGC staff runs an event, and it was great, but I feel like it would also be great to have different TDs from different areas be able to demonstrate and discuss their best practices as well.  There were people in the room who have run Worlds, National Tour events, and some highly successful A and B-tier events.  Who wouldn’t have wanted to hear more from them about what made/makes their event what it is.

Overall, though, it was a very fun and educational weekend, and I anxiously await attending the 3rd annual Directors Cup next year.  It is definitely a must-attend event for any and all PDGA tournament directors.  Plain old players could get a lot out of it too.  Here’s hoping the event continues to grow and regional satellite events are in the near future as well.