This year I decided to try and tackle the ECO series - a 10 event traveling series produced by Jay Clark that encompasses the eastern high points of disc golf in North Carolina. I had been interested in previous years, but due to a lack of consistent offering of a Rec Division I had stayed away . When I finally crossed paths with jay in December 2018, I told him that and he was quick to let me know that for the upcoming season he was adding Rec back and it would be included in a points series system, and I told him I would try and make them. I also sponsored a hole for the season in exchange for advertising of Fly Guy Disc Golf.
I have really enjoyed the series so far, making the first three stops. ( Disclosure - I am not writing this until 4/14/2019, which is the date of stop #4 - New Bern, which I am not attending. Sometimes life gets in the way of disc golf). The Kinston stop was different in that it was held on a Saturday, instead of the regular Sunday event. This was done to accommodate for the Lancer Chain Chaser being held the following day, allowing for folks to get in 2 tournaments in a weekend in one town. I was registered for both, but with ( what turned out to be completely inaccurate) storm predictions for the Lancer, I opted to drop , playing on the ECO stop.
One thing I really enjoy about the ECO series is there is a good serving of folks who, like me, focus on making as many of the events as possible, which leads to a lot of familiar faces. I feel like this is benefiting me personally as I grow in my disc golf experience. In the first few years I traveled all over, playing any event that caught my attention within a 3 hour driving range. I enjoyed this plan with no plan, but it meant that often times I'd be at events where I knew practically no one, save Dave Morse who also had a nomadic style of event selection. While that is good - who doesn't like making new friends? - it leads (for me at least) to every event - especially first round - to a round of having to get to know someone, feel out their style, watch for social cues - and then maybe focus on my game. Contrast that with playing the Eco where more and more I am among the same competitors where we know each others pet peeves and what they like, and the round is instantly more relaxed.
That is the ECOs draw for me know after a few rounds in - seeing Dave and Geoffrey and Victoria - but also seeing James and Caleb and Jacob and Jay and Gilly and Austin and on and on - it's part and parcel the fruit of what I love about disc golf: Its people.
Disc golf is a bit like work when I think about it. At some point, every single person was the new guy. Among those who are already there, there's factions that don't bother learning the new guys name, because they see people come and go all the time and they are focused on their own successes. Then there's the folks who realize your gonna be stuck together - so they may as well at least get to know your name and enough about you that your goals don't contradict or cancel each other out until it's payday. There are cliques. There are loners.
But there are also those who are there because it feeds them and their passion. They are the shining ambassadors who not only see the glass as half full - they see a whole table of glasses set out to quench everyone who has a thirst. They welcome the new guy, taking him around and making introductions. They don't start the relationship by crowing about their accomplishments or superiority - rather they remember when they were the new guy , and how someone welcomed them, and try to honor that by paying back to the craft by doing the same.
Dave Morse is a shining example. I bumped into Dave at an odd event here or there, and at first his impression on me was one of benign politeness. He would offer positive feedback, constructive while polite advice - all while being competitive and focused without being an ass about it. But I remember the day it "clicked" and I realized Dave was someone I wanted to know more, and to be my friend. I had decided on a whim to go to the Tar River Roundup 2017. When I arrived, I knew only a handful of players - and initially only saw people who were in higher divisions that I wouldn't be playing with, and were already warming up so I didn't want to bother them. I drifted aimlessly about for a while, until I settled at a table to just wait out Chuck's starting the player's meeting and get going.
I have a silly ritual before rounds - I like to pull every disc out of my bag, and rearrange them. I was doing this when I felt someone sitting beside me. I didn't look up initially - focusing on my bag ( at that time i had an all pink bag, and zero duplicate molds - i carried like 24 or 25 different discs... sheesh ), It was Dave. Without preamble, he handed me an AJ Destroyer he had found in a bin at a Play It Again Sports, and just started talking, picking up as if we had been in a conversation and he stepped away for a drink but was back. It made me feel good. I do not know if it is the same point in time for him, but it was the moment I decided we were friends. At that table in that moment we laid out plans for a few future events where we'd play together - and have done so ever since.
So yeah - after all of that - that's what I like about the ECO series - making more connections like that. I have done decent for me so far, cashing in the first 2 and missing the line in the 3rd by one spot. For me its not about the winning of the merch ( I gave event 1's voucher away, rolled events 2 over for entry into event 3 ). I have enough discs - while my personal reserve doesn't match the store inventory, I'm good, I promise. But I realize my skill set is still in Rec - really Novice, but that is not offered around here - and competing in Rec is comfortable for my level of commitment and allows me to compete with myself. It's nice that the ECO offers rec as a series - an i want to support that.
As for the event it's self - weather was perfect, park was in great shape and I had a great time. Paul Toriello clearly dominated the field for our division, laying down back to back 62s. I played with him in both rounds,and he had a really good day. I enjoyed being on his card.
Round 1 I put up a 69 - a round I was "OK" with given the way I played the course most recently at Kings Cup. That was good enough to tie Caleb , but Dave had us by 4 when he carded a 65.
Geoffrey wasn't there to make any of the super motivational $1 "I bet HP can.." bets, leaving it up to me to self motivate to try and catch Dave.
I almost made it - round to saw my 66 better than Dave's 68, but that was still 2 shots too many in the total. Caleb went on fire with a chase card 62 ( tying Paul for the hot round ) and as Chuck will say " Anything can happen in Rec" leapfrogging up past us both. Tyler Jernigan carded consistent 66, 67, punching me to 5th when he and Dave walked away tied for 3rd.
Full event results here