Played my first event of the year on 1/13/19 in Goldsboro at Berkeley Park. I had never seen the park before and with a cold and dreary rain opted to not get in a pre-round walk - just would play it blind and miserable.
The event was the first stop in Eastern Disc Golf’s 2019 series. Entering into my third year of playing disc golf I was familiar with the ECO tour but hadn’t played it previously. After meeting Jason T Clark at a CADL Quarterly and finding him to be a fun guy, I decided to both play the series for the year as well as sponsor a hole for the season through Fly Guy Disc Golf.
I rather liked the course. Some open holes and some wooded holes in a nice mix, it played pretty cleanly and there was not a single hole that made me ask “what’s this about?” The only “what the heck” moment I had is the strange transition from basket 3 to tee 4. (It takes you across tee 1; luckily it was not live either time we crossed.)
Weather conditions were less than optimal. High 30s / Low 40s and raining since before daylight, in an area like most of the eastern parts of NC that’s already saturated after months of rain and a hurricane that’s filled ground water tables to overfull. (More on that next). Die hard Discs golfers won’t let a little rain deter them however, and there was a rather stout crowd formed well before registration opened.
Water. Eastern NC has plenty these days. We had to forego holes 10, 13 and 14 due to standing water issues. Looking at them I personally benefited from this, as they were replaced with 3 temporary holes that I played well both rounds. Had I played 10 and 13 I doubt my score would be the same. (I didn’t look at 14, so who knows?)
Round 1 was miserable. I had a fairly good card with some nice guys who were more positive playing in the monsoon than they had to be. One guy is a newer player but a good sport - I gave him one of my pre - Eric McCabe Truths mid round (he was only throwing two putters and the event disc, and had no midrange ) I had a few wet disc / slips issues, but for the most part got off the tee well. I made a serious error on hole 6 mistaking what basket I was to throw to that unnecessarily cause me add strokes in recovery. My putting was off a bit, but I also picked up a birdie , eventually coming in with a 65 and in third placed at the break, 3 strokes back.
Lunch was brought from home - Pad Thai, blueberries, olives in oil with pesto with green pepper slices. Bottle of Aloe Water. After putting in dry shoes, socks, shirt and a hat, I was ready to go try and make some ground up.
Round 2. It was strange. For the first time ever in my tournament playing I had to “stroke” a player. The leader, Tyler Jernigan, a young man in his first event - was not on the tee when start was called. Nor was he on the tee when we started the second hole, joining up after second shots had begun. Following the rule 811 F 5, that means he had par + 4 entered for those two holes - essentially setting the leader at 8 over to being the match. I felt terrible for the kid, offered to show them the rule, and he took it like a man. He was a little miffed, you could see it in his aggressive throws when he started the 3rd and 4th holes - but he didn’t bitch or moan or complain. He simply resolved to make up the 8 strokes and make his mark.
I played better off the tee in the dryer round 2 but my putting took a turn for the worse - even 3 putting twice, and 4 putting once (!!) on holes where my drive was within 45 feet. I recently switched putters and don’t have quite the confidence in this Judge that I had in my last one. The kid on the other hand put in an absolute smoke show. In the end I shot another 65, and he shot a 66. That’s right - with his late arrival he essentially spotted me 8 strokes, and between my yips and his play he took 7 of them back. We left the area congratulating him for what we believed was his win by a margin of 2, in the first PDGA event he had ever entered.
About my bag - or cart as it was for the event - still bagging Dynamic Discs (Renegade, Truth, EMac Truth, Convict, Suspect, Slammer, Judge, Evidence, Warden). And Latitude 64 (Flow, Dagger). I really have taken a liking to the feel of Classic blend plastic when playing in wet conditions. I plan to build me a “rain bag” soon. Dynamic Discs have for me personally the best plastic and molds and I totally recommend them first whenever someone is looking to begin playing or fill a slot in their bag.
I was at tournament central feeling good. I still hadn’t won’t the elusive first PDGA, but it would be my highest finish yet with a 2nd, and as much as I want to win, I didn’t want to win on a technicality. (I had told one of my favorite competitors and friend Geoffrey Griffiths in the round that I wanted to either beat the kid by 9 so the 8 didn’t matter or see him come back and take it. I really didn’t want those 8 strokes to be what gave me an advantage. Sure, rules are rules- but sometimes it’s the lesson learned. I bet that kid is never late to a tee box again, and given his way of handling his business he deserved the win, IMO).
However, as Chuck Spike Hyzer Connelly pointed out - it’s Rec where anything can happen. My 2nd turned out to be a place of 4th and last to cash, the kid took 3rd. A couple of second card snipers eclipsed us and in the end that made it a little better in a strange way. I gave the kid my voucher and told him once more that he did a good job. (He was a good sport and I have plenty of plastic).
Fly Guy sponsored player Victoria Griffiths took a win, her second of the weekend.
One other note - after 2 years of going wherever I took a notion, it hit me yesterday just how many people I’ve met and consider friends thanks to disc golf. When I played my first event I didn’t know a single person there - not one. Yesterday I realized I knew close to 8 of every 10 people I saw - and there wasn’t a single person in the crowd that I’d rather avoid. You often see disc golfers refer to the community as family or tribe - there is something to that. We celebrate for each other. We hug, we ask how wives and kids are doing, we grab rides to lunch - it’s all generally super positive. Maybe I view it with the eyes of a rec guy - but even the pro side playing for cash seem to all get along nice and I really like that aspect of the sport.
All in all despite round 1 being the most miserable round in a tournament I’ve yet to face, it was a good day. I’m looking forward to the next ECO Tour event.
Next up - the ever popular Winter Jam, a CADL event sponsored this year by Michael Kirsch and TD’d by Robert Leonard. Fly Guy will do the payout there, as well as Mitchell and I are playing. See you there.