Azalea Amateur – Castle Hayne, NC March 23,24 2019
Back in September of 2016 when I was first introduced to disc golf, I did as I usually do when interested in a new hobby or skill – I went to YouTube University. A few hours later down in the rabbit hole of seemingly endless videos I found a video I watched three or four times - the 2016 Final Round of the Azalea Open. Two things happened that evening – I saw Michael Johansen for the first time and instantly thought he looked like the coolest and calmest dude ever, and I fell in love with the course – it looked so daunting and inviting at the same time. That video alone is partly responsible for sparking my interest in the game. There’s no shame in admitting at that time I didn’t know much – heck I didn’t even know that the Open and Amateur were two different events – I just thought it was a cool tournament held down the road form where I lived and decided one day I wanted to play that course.
A few months later I did just that – I drove down to Burgaw NC and stayed an evening with my best friend, and the next morning got up and went and played Castle Hayne alone on a Sunday morning at sunrise. To say I threw a lot would be like saying there’s a little bit of sand on Topsail Beach. But I had fun, I counted every stroke, and I limped away a few hours later brier scratched , tired and toting a 102 throw round – but grinning like a drunken fool – it was amazing.
Over the span of time I have returned a few times –and chipped away at the strokes. I joined the New Hanover Disc Golf Club in 2017 and 2018 as a supporting member since they are the caretakers of this gem. I’d even stop by when traveling I 40 when I didn’t have time for a full round and just throw 1 thru 3 and then Hole 10. It’s a great park.
NHDGC made some improvements / rearrangements in 2017 (if I am remembering correctly) – the first several times I played the course, it was always a bit different. Then there was the catastrophic Hurricane Florence last year that wreaked havoc over the eastern half of NC – and the Castle took a beating. But still I’d go back when I could, and clip away at that 102 score.
Back a few weeks ago I played the second stop on the ECO tour, played at Castle Hayne and somehow played above my usual skill level, tying local Trey Cooke (rated 850) for a tie of 5th ( last cash). I was super happy – rated at 814 it felt good to put in a solid second round - as a matter of fact both rounds were my best at the course to date – an 87 and a 79. I felt like I was ready – I had been fortunate to snag one of the only 28 registrations spots when the Azalea Am went live on discgolfscene – and I felt I could at least come back and play to my rating, maybe better.
Saturday Morning (March 23) I left out from Harnett County and headed east at 5:15. The ride was fast and a bit easy – not a lot of traffic going to the coast yet. I got to the course and quickly got registered. The player pack featured a par of discs, a cool pint glass, a disc golf pin and a decal. I need to point out that the caddy book was the nicest I have ever received at an event to date. Whichever members put that together deserve a firm thank you and handshake.
The NHDGC did an amazing job of getting the course clean and welcoming – the entrance with the tulips was just beautiful. Also it needs to be noted that there were spotters on 2 difficult holes all 4 rounds. I’d like to express one more “Thank you” to the volunteers – that was awesome and helpful.
The morning was brisk – I slipped on a pair of pajama pants I had brought over my shorts, and looked a quiet spot to meditate for a while. Mentally refreshed, I decided to track down my usual band of Team Fly Guy and associated players for a few warm up throws. As I sought them I met Trey in the parking lot and exchanged pleasantries. He told me He’d get me this time, and I agreed. No reason to argue facts – he’s rated higher and local – he should. I passed a few moments chitchatting and then went hiking across fairways until finally finding Dave Morse, James Graves, Geoffrey Griffiths and Jon Karwicki on Hole 8.
The warm up throws are of no consequence – it was here that the leading week’s bet reached a crescendo and finally became an all-out good old fashion jive talking session. James and Geoffrey like to place wagers pitting Jon and myself against each other. The stakes have risen in recent events – and spirits and junk talking was at an all-time high.
I’ll break down the event into a few smaller bite sized commentaries:
- I shot 4 rounds I’m happy with – including a new personal best 73 in the second round. That’s +9. I’ll take that for a tournament round at the hardest course I play. Unfortunately while I was happy with my other rounds ( 82 1st, 81 3rd and 80 4th ) - I ended up in a tie for 13th.
- My rounds were rated 800, 868, 803 and 818 – so a net avg. 822 – about 8 points better than my current rating – so I am happy with that .
- I was pumped second round to play with Caleb Cooper – I like the guy – and sad that he pulled something in his back and had to drop. Hope to see him again healed up and on the course soon.
- After round 1 I was solidly behind the eight ball in the bet – Jon had 5 strokes on me. My second round was rock solid though and I topped him by 12 , for a net 7 stroke lead. Come round 3 we matched scores and I only added 1 more in the 4th, winning the bet for Geoffrey.
- Trey did in fact get me by 8 strokes.
- I won a CTP in round 1 - a cool Glow Champion Eagle with a mini Innova stamp – and I’m going to give it away! – More below.
- The Team Fly Guy Group did well – James won Rec, Geoffrey took 5th in Rec, Victoria won Adv Ladies, and Wade took 2nd in Adv Men.
- We gave James all grades of grief for his win ( 9 strokes overall ) - but he came into the event rated 857, so he was solidly within his rating when he chose his division. Pair it with his recent win in the Eco though and those 6 rounds average 910.6666, so we figure he’s gonna get busted out of MA3 pretty soon. ( Then Geoffrey can resume his title of resident Team Fly Guy bagger, lol )
- I still am solidly a Dynamic Discs player. and let me tell you, I put some solid work in with my Fluid Truth the whole weekend. Hands down my favorite disc of any that I bag. I just wish I had an orange one.
I had a great time. I also learned a VERY VALUABLE lesson – and I credit it with my second round score. I say that because on Sunday I didn’t use the same strategy and it hurt me – and when I tried to in the 4th round it was too late. I’m going to work on it a bit and if I see it works again, I’ll share it here in a different post.
So – about that CTP. I really have enjoyed the response that these blog posts have been getting – and I want to give the disc to one of your readers. So you can sign up here and answer the question: What do you enjoy about HP’s Notes and News the most?
Of course there’s some fine print: Entries will be taken until March 31 at 8:00 PM EST - when a random person will be chosen to receive the disc.
Limit one entry per person. Multiple entries will be deleted.
Team Fly Guy Members are NOT eligible to win.
Good Luck and thank you for reading HP's Tourney Notes and News hosted at flyguydiscgolf.com .
Next up – a double feature weekend in Kinston – the 3rd Eco Stop at Barnett Park on Saturday March 30th and then the III Lancer Chain Chaser on a temp set up on the campus of Lenoir Community College on Sunday March 31.
Until then –
All photos credit Hannable McGarity