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Year in Review, part 2

Continuing in the spirit of part 1 and putting together some short lists of highlights from the past year.  This time a little more disc/throw-centric…

New additions to the bag

As this is my second year being sponsored and completely re-forming my disc lineup, my bag continues to be a work in progress.  I’ve thrown lots of really good discs in the process of finding the perfect set-up for my game, but a few have stood out.  Here are the most significant additions since the end of last season.

  1. Westside Harp, VIP – technically I acquired this one in November of last year when it was first released, but it didn’t really make the lineup until after a few test rounds in the winter. But it’s stuck in there now because if there is something that has always been a staple in my bag (at least since they’ve been available), it’s been a premium plastic, overstable driving putter.  For years, it was a CE Rhyno.  For years to come, I expect it to be the Harp.
  2. Latitude64 Spike, Zero Hard – another that was technically in my collection prior to the calendar change, it was also in the “trying it out” category through the winter.  It was a revelation from the moment I started throwing it though. Its glide and under-stability are uncanny even when brand new, which made it a perfect compliment as a driving putter to the Harp.
  3. Dynamic Discs Evidence, Fuzion – The 2015 Trilogy Challenge mid-range.  So glad that this was PDGA approved even before the Trilogy Challenge season began, because I got mine early and loved it from the first throw. It’s marketed as under-stable, but it’s only a touch so, which makes it ideal for my mid-range game.  All of the mids I’d tried in that spot — Truth, Claymore, Fugitive, Warship — were stable and straight enough, but didn’t quite give me the initial flip from a hyzer release I was looking for.
  4. Westside Seer, TP – under-stable fairway driver that isn’t too under-stable.  The Seer will turn out of a slight hyzer release and hold the turn for a good long time before fading out ever so slightly.  Just what a lefty backhander is looking for on the ever-present right-to-left “righty” holes in the 280-350 range.
  5. Westside Bard, TP – over-stable mid-range with some glide.  This was the slot in my bag that had been filled by the Suspect, but I found the Bard was more high-speed stable and wouldn’t flatten out too much when thrown hard the way the Suspect often did.  I love the Suspect, but between the Bard and the Harp, it just didn’t have a purpose for me anymore.

There have been other discs that have come and gone and even come back again in my bag, but those have been the steady “keepers” since they initially found a place.

Best holes of the year

This one is about my best played holes this year.  Sometimes it was one great throw, sometimes more than one, but the bottom line is that it was a sequence of events memorable enough for me to recall months later.  Listing in chronological order rather than trying to rank them.

  1. Tourney 54, Round 2, Hole 9 at Buffumville Lake – This one began with a terrible drive that turned over hopelessly OB only to get not one but two fortuitous bounces off the rip-rap rocks.  The second bounce caused the disc to glide at least 100 feet to land safely in-bounds.  The second throw got held up a bit by the headwind to land about 40 feet short of the basket.  The third throw began as a lay-up attempt but at the last second, I realized that the wind had died down to nothing so I gave it a run and made the putt for my first and to date only birdie three on the hole.
  2. Greater Hartford Disc Golf Open, Round 1, Hole 11 – 700+ footer with an OB wall and a strategically placed tree on the left side of the fairway, and everything sloping gently down to the right and away from the basket.  Best way for me to attack it was with a roller followed by another roller.  That got me to about 60 feet where I canned a jump putt for the birdie three.
  3. Crane Hill Open, Round 1, Hole 14 in the A position – Goes without saying that aces belong on the list. It’s doubtful this hole can make a list like this one if it isn’t an ace.  The throw was a slight turnover with a Warden that drifted a bit from right to left but held the line all the way in.
  4. Coggshall Fall Finale, Rounds 1 & 2, Hole 6 – Can’t really distinguish between the two rounds so I might as well count them together.  Both involved long drives on the hole which landed within the same 5-8 foot area (round 2 being closer to the basket).  Both involved hitting a putt from outside the 10-meter circle to convert the deuce. Both together probably accounted for about half my margin of victory on the day.
  5. Tournament of the Damned, Round 4, Hole 10 at West Thompson Lake – One of the more not-so-lefty-friendly holes around.   OB to the right, dense trees to the left.  I threw one of my best rollers through the bottleneck at 270ish feet and ended up at least 400 feet from the tee and within reasonable reach of the green.  My approach throw was an anhyzer over the OB riprap that got to the ground before it could fade out and slid into the pole for an easy birdie 3.  Not only the first and easiest birdie I’ll likely ever get on the hole, but it pretty much iced my victory in the tournament.

I’m sure there were plenty of other well played holes, not to mention plenty of poorly played holes, but they all start to run together after a while.

That’s all I’ve got for now. There may be a part 3 if I can come up with more ideas.  I’ll take suggestions too.

Year in Review, part 1

With 2015 winding down, there’s not a whole lot left to do except look back and reminisce on the highlights.  As they come to me, I am going to try to put together some short lists of notable moments and things from the past year.  I’ll start today with some course-based lists.

New (to me) courses played

The list is, sadly, a short one to begin with so it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to rank them in any kind of order or leave any out.  So I’ll just list them in the order I played them this year.

  1. Cross Farms, Tolland CT – First PDGA of the year for me.  Fun course with a lot of tight, wooded fairways. Didn’t play particularly well, but would definitely go back again, if only for some redemption.
  2. Devils Grove, Lewiston ME – It only took a year and a half for me to finally trek the 10 miles to this one, but as I often say, with a course literally in my backyard, it’s hard to get out to other courses in the area without an excuse.  I finally had one with the Vacationland Open. The course is on the short side, but takes advantage of every bit of elevation change it has to add challenge.
  3. Beacon Glades, Beacon NY – Stopped here to play a round and break up the long drive to PA for the Yetter. Other than a bit of confusion on where to start (a hole was removed and the rest renumbered, which wasn’t noted in the course directory), and a lost disc on hole 17, there wasn’t a whole lot remarkable about the course.
  4. Porcupine Ridge, Vassalboro ME – Another one, like Devils Grove, that it took a few years for me to get around to playing.  Again, a tournament helped get me there. It’s too bad I didn’t play better that day, because the course is fun with a variety of challenges.
  5. Hippodrome Disc Golf Complex Hogback course, North Augusta, SC – A course I’d only seen on video from the National Collegiate Championships, and the videos didn’t really do it justice.  It played a bit shorter than it seemed on the video, but that isn’t a bad thing.  A lot of narrow fairways through the woods that would be a nightmare if they were any longer.  My only regret was that we didn’t have the energy (we certainly had the time) to play the other course on site, Old Glory.  That’s the one with hanging baskets and other tricked up fun that I enjoy and many others scoff at.

I’m hoping that in 2016, I will add more than five new courses to my list.  That will take some concerted effort, perhaps even skipping out on a couple familiar tournaments in favor of something new.

Favorite courses

Tough to distinguish this list from my favorite courses in general, but I’m limiting it to among the 27 courses I’ve played this year in tournaments or for fun. In no particular order, just numbered for organizational purposes.

  1. Tyler State Park, Newtown PA – A sentimental favorite but also one of the best courses I’ve had the privilege of playing. The best part is that it is ever evolving, and always something new every time I go.  This year, six brand new holes were added to bring the grand total to 36.  Though there are multiple pin and/or tee locations on each hole, I usually only get to see it when it is in its longest, toughest set-up for the Yetter, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  The front 18 (the East) in all longs plays to a true par 72, and the SSA rating tends to match it.  The back 18 (the West) is a bit softer par-wise, but that’s only due to having more par 3s and fewer par 5s.  It’s every bit as challenging as the East course, though.  Both courses are disc golf as it was meant to be.
  2. Coggshall Park, Fitchburg MA – I thought about not taking how I play the course/tournament into consideration, but I just can’t do it here.  When you play a course particularly well, it’s hard for it not to be a favorite. It’s still a little rough around the edges and could use more/better tee pads, but it seems to treat me pretty well so I can’t find any reason for complaint.
  3. Crane Hill, Wilbraham MA – This one has been growing on me since the first time I played it three years ago.  Maybe it’s due to the fact that I finally played it well in a tournament, or maybe it’s due to getting my one tournament ace of the year there, but something happened this year to raise its esteem in my eyes.  It has a little bit of everything, which is all you can ask for from a course.
  4. Winthrop Gold, Rock Hill SC – I haven’t played a tournament there in close to ten years, and it only makes the cut this year because we happened to stop by on a whim (and actually intended to only play the short Lakefront layout), but it has been a favorite since the first time I played it.  Playing it without the ropes and the spectacle of the USDGC didn’t really diminish the fun factor one bit.  Maybe someday I’ll get to play it again in competition.

Favorite tournaments of the year

To make this a bit more interesting, I’m disqualifying any tournament I had a hand in organizing or helping to run in some way, as well as any tournament I won, from entry on the list.  Sorry Coggshall Fall Finale, Tournament of the Damned, Yetter, Porcupine Ridge, and anything at Dragan Field, this list isn’t for you.  In chronological order…

  1. First Folf and Fort Doubles, Ft McClary, Kittery Point ME – Lumping two events into one since they share the same course…an object course in a small park that was formerly a Revolutionary War era military installation.  Good old-school times with a lot of good people.
  2. Coggshall Spring Fog, Coggshall Park, Fitchburg MA – A little bittersweet to include this tournament on the list, as it took losing in a playoff for it not to be disqualified for being a tournament I won.  Hands down, the second round was the closest and most intensely competitive round I played all year.  After hole 1, I never trailed (until I lost the playoff hole) but I was never more than a single throw in the lead either.  Win or lose, those are the best rounds to be a part of.
  3. Crane Hill Open, Crane Hill, Wilbraham MA – An ace, a top 5 finish, and less than a handful of bogeys on the day.  Can’t really beat that against a deep and talented field of players.  That it doubled as the lone road trip of the year with a good friend made it even better.
  4. Newton Hill Open, Newton Hill, Worcester MA – Nothing like persevering through adversity to make a good finish at a tournament feel like a great one.  And for the second year in a row, the final round was just a tad too short (six holes) for my taste.  🙂

That’s what I have for now.  I intend to put up a second part to the year in review soon.  Maybe I might even come up with enough ideas for a part 3 as well.

Spring? If you say so.

Calendar says it’s the first day of spring.  Conditions say otherwise.  Oddly though, unseasonably cold temperatures make for the most ideal course conditions right now.  The snow melts just enough from the sun during the day to freeze up really solid during the cold night.  So at 9am, you can walk on top of snow that still ranges from a few inches to a couple feet deep and not sink in an inch.

So I went out this morning with the mercury reading 15 degrees (and rising, fortunately) and played a couple rounds. The aforementioned frozen snow meant not only easier walking but no discs burying, so for the first time in a couple months, I was throwing ribbon free discs.

And being ribbon free, I finally got to test out a couple new molds released earlier this month by Westside Discs: the Bard (midrange) and the Seer (fairway driver).  The discs I was throwing are both Tournament plastic.  The Bard weighs in at 175 grams while the Seer is 167g.

The Bard is advertised as an overstable midrange.  The flight ratings indicate it has no high speed turn and I saw nothing to indicate that isn’t the case. With a hard flat release, the Bard carried a fair amount on a straight trajectory without a hint of turn before gradually fading to the ground.

The Seer is touted as a understable fairway driver with a good deal of high speed turn and some fade.  Again, that’s what I saw from it. I really liked the way I was able to throw it with a slight hyzer release, have it flip up to flat then continue to turn over with just a slight bit of fade at the end. With some more seasoning, this may be the reliable turnover fairway driver I’ve been searching for since the switch.

Both discs may find their way into my regular bag with a bit more work as they both potentially fill roles I’ve been unable to settle on a solution for to this point.

In other news from my rounds today, I managed to bag my second ever unwitnessed therefore doesn’t really count ace.  In all the years I’ve played, I’ve been fortunate to have had witnesses for 21 aces, and for a long time I prided myself on not having thrown one in when no one was there to see it.  That is, until last winter when I finally broke my streak with my first solo round ace.  Today I bagged #2 on hole 5.  My third time getting that hole and second in a row with the same Classic Soft Warden (first time was witnessed back in December).

Still a few weeks away from real tournament action but preparations are well under way.  Starting to get into a routine with my putting practice inside, and hopefully can start to transition to some outdoor putting practice soon. I mean, eventually the weather has to catch up with the calendar, right?