If there has been a weekend in particular that I had been looking forward to for disc golf, then May 4th and May 5th was it - I had plans to play two events, on vastly different courses, presented by two fairly iconic Tournament Directors.
This is Part 2 of that weekend - the 5th stop in the ECO Tour, put on by Jay Clark, played in Ahoskie, North Carolina.
Sunday May 5th - Its 4:00 am and I have already called the alarm on my phone a "sumbitch" twice. I have somewhere between a 2 1/2 to a 3 hour ride in front of me for an event that starts at 10:00, in a park I've never seen in a town I've only heard of.
Late start? Have to drive into the sun rise? Have no clue what the course has in store for me? Yeah - this is starting to feel familiar - of course it's a Jay Clark / ECO production.
The ride is a bit ominous as I left the house in the pitchest black of night and run my wipers almost the entire way. I stop three different times, for water, or a snack, or to stretch ( still a little sore from the day before's event) - and somehow, some way I finally manage to find myself in Ahoskie - a town I jokingly refer as named for a phrase meaning " Where the Hell am I?"
Already I see the ECO regulars - Ken, Gillly , Scott, Caleb, Andrew - hey hey, the gang's all here...
This was the first chance I have had to bump into Scott since he agreed to accept Fly Guy Team sponsorship, so I handled a little business with him, providing him with a few discs and some minis, hats and a shirt.
I got to admit - I am feeling fine. I had a good finish for myself the day before when I took 4th at Riverbend Open, and the course I was taking in in Ahoskie was ...
Well... it's wide open. Board flat ( I'd wager there is not 30 feet differing elevation across the entire property albeit for ditch lines and creek beds) , and wiiiiide open. Hay pasture wide open. Football field wide open. Runway at JFK Airport wide open. I was in love at first sight.
Even better is the promised / threatened rain eased off - it actually was steadily improving weather wise as we got walking to the tees in round 1.
So far as round 1 goes - understand - I drove all that distance with the best possible outcome scenario to be to come in second. This is Tyler Jernigan's home course ( you should recognize the name form some of the other ECO posts I have written ) and he throws F-A-R far. Every encounter I have had with him has at some point gotten around to how far he can throw and how he loves the Ahoskie course, the 1000 foot hole, etc etc , so whether intentionally or not, he and his dad pretty much had me in the mind space that he was to forgone winner once the ECO rolled around to Ahoskie ( spoiler alert - he was, lol ).
That said - I'm playing for second - but I did not get off to a good start. I played fairly clean enough , making a few OB throws here and there, eventually getting around the long course with a 67.
Pay attention here folks - this is where it gets a little weird.
I did not keep the card. We were a foursome, and one of the other players not keeping the card also keep the score electronically for his own record keeping. At the end of the round, the electronic put me at 67. I made the least committed attempt to add my score ( because 67 corresponded with the over/under head count I already had) and accepted it, wrote in my 67, and headed to my truck for lunch.
The scorekeeper had accidentally recorded a 4 on a hole where I had a 3. This made the total of the line 68 ( mathematically correct, incorrect for the number of throws). I took the corrected score - 68 - PLUS 2 strokes for scorecard error - for a total of 70.
With Caleb getting sick a taking an exit and a 999 in his pocket, I was sitting in dead last of the players still competing. Nice.
When we got to the tee for round 2 the gentleman who had taken score the round before was extremely apologetic - I keep telling him " no worry - It's just disc golf" and " It's really not that big a deal" - because it wasn't. I also didn't see it as his fault at all - it is MY responsibility to verify my score - I failed, and I got dinged.
Funny thing is, I kinda just shrugged my shoulders, thinking I was out of the running and tired after three rounds for the weekend - and in the fourth round I played very loose. I took shots I normally would not, tried fun lines, and just chucked the discs a time or two. It was a total shock to me when at the end of the round I had actually shot better than the previous round, carding a 66 and somehow sniping my way from last place to 4th .
Sometimes you just really can't understand the value of comfort and relaxation versus stress when it comes to performance and outcome. At least I can't.
So for the second day in a row, I finished fourth. I did it in two distinctly different ways - one day taking it after leading the first round, the next day climbing therefrom last place.
I did "cash" at the ECO by finishing fourth - but honestly don't know by how much or what it was for - I gave it to the guy who kept score both rounds, telling him I had plenty of plastic and to add it to his voucher. The main takeaway for me was with Caleb dropping out, and Geoffrey and Dave not playing, even my 4th place should help me at least not loose ground in the Tour points.
Team Fly Guy's Scott Conway took the Open field - and made a eloquent and thoughtful acceptance speech - that I totally failed to record. Trust me - he said nice things,and they were appreciated.
Myself, I was tired - so after slipping Gilly and Jay each a Fly Guy T-shirt, I loaded up and headed home. Besides - I had plans -- over the next few day's I'd play Castle Hayne and Arrowhead between days at a conference - but those are tales for a different post.