The Fayetteville Fort Bragg Disc Golf Club (FFB DGC) Airborne Invitational was held for the second time this year.
That may be a little confusing for some people who feel like they find an Airborne event already in the area. There are two separate events. CADL has had Jay Pontier’s Airborne at WakeMed for several years although it had to take a hiatus last year due to a scheduling conflict and Bradley Kelso started an Airborne Invitational in the Fayetteville Fort Bragg area. The two events make for a potent challenge of disc golf and a great time for comradery and fun.
Like a lot of events in 2020 the FFB DGC Airborne Invitational had to deal with a lot of restarts and redirections thanks to the pandemic measures of Covid. Chief among them the largest adjustment had to be that one course, the Lakeside Course at Mazerick Park, also known as Glenville lakes, could not be utilized and an audible had to be called to hold the event at the Scotland County disc golf course situated just outside of Laurinburg
I was actually per happy with this development as I really do not like the Glenville Lakes course. I have never played well there. It is just too challenging/ frustrating for my ability. Every time that I have played there, I’ve left deflated and angry and swear I will never return and then I don’t go play casually and I don’t practice it and then inevitably I want to play an event that gets held there so all of my rounds there have been tournament rounds and they have all been absolutely abysmal. So not to have to play that did not bring any sadness in my life at all. Zero.
Previously my only experience in Scotland County was the NexGen qualifier event that was held there earlier in the year (also by Bradley Kelso) in which I played poorly in the first round and dropped during lunch. I did not dislike the course so much is I didn’t care for how some of the OB were set up and there was also a little bit of friction on my card and I wasn’t enjoying myself - so I only had one tournament round at the course. (This is about the time I started to burn out and decided that I was going to reset and take some time off, although if you have read the blog in the last couple post you know that I had my mind changed in that regard and started looking at how I play in a different light.)
Anyway - the layout for the tournament was to be one round in Scotland County with tee times and then around the following day at Stryker Golf Course which is located on the Fort Bragg Army base.
The round of Scotland County went pretty good in comparison to how I have been playing lately. I pretty much shot my near my rating and I had several good holes and I had several bad holes. I was actually in one of the first groups off the tee which I have liked a lot.
I’m really enjoying tee time golf - one of the benefits of playing in the REC field you get to go out first. (Well, some folks might not like that because they’re still doing on the grass and maybe it’s a little cold maybe the sunlight gets in your eyes putter to because the angle of the rising sun). I actually like that I can go play around and be done by mid to late morning and I still have half of the day left to do other things. But honestly, I don’t look forward to two round tournaments at all if tee times are an option.
So when we left Scotland County , a few things had struck me as a little bit odd. There was some debate about some of the OB. There was the lack of sponsorship signs on the holes which bothered me just a little bit because I had paid for signs. It’s easy to just discount sponsorship and supporting the sport the sponsorship is also a business agreement. When you make an investment in the event to support financially you can expect reciprocity and having your signs posted or what have you - whatever you paid for. Sponsorship for me is advertising. It’s budgeted. But I knew how hectic it was to change courses so I was not really all that upset because I knew we had the event the following day on the course and people are more likely to take photographs and quite honestly where the advertising affect might be a little bit brighter.
The following morning I had a little bit of a panic - I thought about driving to the course the way that I had my entire life (living in the area ) and for some reason I completely blanked out on the fact that the roads were different now than they used to be and I had to drive almost to Fayetteville and double back to get to the course compared to driving straight from my home. I literally arrived with moments to spare and searched around to find tournament central. I eventually came around the corner to find some score points being set up and wanted to check in and it was redirected to the pro shop where I had to sign for my golf court (which I had paid for it my initial registry online).
If I graded my experience a Scotland County a 7out of 10, I will have to rate my experience at Stryker as 9 1/2 out of 10. While not perfect - The layout was just slightly confusing as it did not seem that the information on the electronic record was the same as what was being present about the tee signs at some points, as well as there were a few navigation qwerks.
Besides that, the course is beautiful - I did not see any place where a blade of grass or a stick was out of place. It’s a beautiful facility and it was very nice that they let us play there. I started off “OK” I think I was even through seven holes (I did take a bogey on 5 but made up for it with a birdie on 6) and I was I was playing better than I honestly expected to at the course. The course obviously was not set up with our division in mind (not that it should be) and I feel like I did my best to hold my way to get do well with the game that I am trying to play. Unfortunately, I then ran into a string of extra strokes from 8 going through the last hole, taking only one more par and one more birdie.
All in all I ended up averaging below my rating by 5 points, but had a fund tournament . My focus these days is “ par is good enough” – and for the 38 holes I recorded 20 pars or better .
*The scorecard did not reflect the second course correctly that we played. Its is noted here as Mazerick Pines but was actually Stryker.
Of note there was one hole that was over 1000 feet long par five it was pretty much a dead straight fairway on a continual uphill rise, with the basket placed behind the “out of bounds ball golf green”. I got to be honest – I threw four of my best continuous shots through the entire weekend on that hole, keeping it center of the fairway, chipping away at it the best that I could. As I stood ready to take my fifth shot, I had to make a decision whether to go forward or to lay up and I think I made the right decision of just try to get it within 15 feet.
I walked away plus one and I was satisfied. I’ve seen scores on it that were much much worse on the hole, and I played it as clean as I could and was able to resist the urge to add strokes to my score with unnecessary risks.
Again on this day there were no sponsor signs on the Tees - so I did have a little bit of heartburn over that. And as far as the previous mention navigation problem there was one hole in particular that we totally missed to the point that I was about to throw my throw when someone on the card realized we have skipped a hole - causing us to have to backtrack and locate it. Otherwise, everything fluid fairly well.
I’ve hesitated writing about the event immediately like I have others because I realized it while some of the things that why I was upset about were justified I also had a little bit of disappointment staining my opinion of things that actually were not all that bad in the big picture.
The reality is 2020 has just been a bitch of a year and in lots of ways. And this by no means was in a small tournament to try and put it on. You have a very large field, you have the logistics of dealing with the military base and all in all I think it was done as well as those running it could do under the circumstances. Most of the things that I took exception with in the grand scheme of life really aren’t that consequential. If anything, they are lessons to be learned for improvements to be made and not just for that event - but for any person who runs events and attended it.
I have no doubt the next year event will be cleaner will be better and will be even more exciting. And I look forward to supporting it again and I look forward to playing a new game.