Kentwood. For disc golfers in North Carolina and beyond, just saying “Kentwood” elicits many reactions. It’s one of the “OG” courses in North Carolina, the second course established in the state in 1983. ( See Eric Vandenberg’s 3089 excellent essay at https://www.pdga.com/course-directories-and-earliest-disc-golf-courses ). Its home to unknown thousands on “First rounds”, “First aces” and “First wins”. Home to a summer doubles series that has a 31 year strong tradition. It’s small. It’s changed over time due to hurricanes. It’s heavily played and a very nice part of the community for students at nearby NC State and Wake Tech. Rumor has it that it once was covered in grass, though now its heart – a hill that comprises holes 5,6,7,8,14,15,16 and 17 are a hardscrabble rubble pile that lends to its being locally referred to as ”Kentrock”. She’s tough on discs, easy on players and according to Udisc’s late 2018 blog post is the most played course in NC (https://udisc.com/blog/post/the-most-popular-course-in-every-state ). Some folks get to a point where they personally outgrow it, some don’t play anywhere else – but in the end Kentwood is disc golf royalty in NC.
For full disclosure Kentwood is the course I have played more than any other, Of the current 523 rounds I’ve logged into Udisc ( and untold number before) , my records indicate I have played it 165 times. It is also where I played my first PDGA tournament (Winter Jam in 2017), where I first “placed” for payout (Winter Jam 2018) and the first PDGA event that Fly Guy performed payout for the field (Winter Jam 2019), which brings us to this post’s Tourney Notes.
January 19 2019 - the air was a bit damp and there was a threat of rain – a situation that of late seems par for the course. Mitchell and I arrived and got registered, and a full hour and a half before the players meeting the small parking lot was already full and the course a hive of activity. You could already tell it was going to be another great day at Kentwood. Winter Jam is a bit of a homecoming for me – although I play it nearly daily whenever I can get away from the office, and many of the players in the field are folks I see and play with casually all the time – Winter Jam is kind of like Thanksgiving dinner in a community where you see your cousins all the time anyway. It’s just the one day a year that’s a bit special.
I did not warm up. Didn’t throw even a putt. I’ve been nursing a little something in my right ankle (plant foot) and it’s not like I don’t know the layout or couldn’t tell you what disc ‘m pulling on every tee, and likely on about every approach if needed. Instead we set out some boxes of the newest of our plastic for any early bird shoppers – the remaining stock of the new McBeth and Wysocki plastic, from Discraft and Innova respectively.
Come time for the players meeting, I stood in the back listening and eating an apple fritter that was gifted to me by Bryan Berning (115412). The Winter Jam was sponsored by “Your favorite mortgage lender” and all around local disc golf enthusiast Michael Kirsch (50156) – who eats, sleeps, breathes, bleeds and loves Kentwood – and powered by CADL ( Capital Area Disc League) - a club of utmost value to the disc golf community in the area. The TD for the event carries a decent set of credentials himself – former NC PDGA State Coordinator and 2018 AM Worlds TD just to name a few, Robert Leonard (21676) who was assisted by Bobby Henn (46735) got us informed of the OB’s and then we were off to the races.
I pretty much didn’t have a terrible day, played to around my rating - but played below my expectations. For some insight, I took only 11 birdies in the total 40 holes (It plays 2 additional temp holes for a total of 20 and a 100 player field) . But a double (!) and 8 bogeys put me at the end of the day at just -1 on the day / 119. That’s not to say there was not a few exciting or entertaining moments…
The “nip-skip” – Round 1, hole 4. I’m planning to back hand one of my favorite Lucid Convicts – a shot I make all the time. Except this time I make the pull “just a little too close” – and caught myself on the chest. Threw it a bit wild – where it hit the hill, skips into a huge flair – right over the baseball fence for OB, barely 1/3 the length from the hole.
The “I have forgotten how to throw hole” – both rounds I threw OB on 2, going into road. Once it landed right in front of a (speeding) Mazda which struck my Fluid Truth.
The “I never birdie this hole – but did twice today hole” – both rounds somehow managed to put my first shots within easy putting distance on Hole 8 – a long downhill run that I struggle with most days.
The “ no really – that’s just a good miss” hole – Round 1, hole 14 – the longest ( I believe) hole, which passes through some guardian pines then climbs uphill to the left, finishing at a guarded basket behind a massive oak. Going for my preferred line to the right (wider) gap, I misfired – and it the inside (narrow) line with a VIP Sword – and to top it off it was clean and crushed. Probably one of my best shots on the hole ever – and I’m honest enough to tell you it was luck.
And lastly, one that wasn’t mine but I witnessed it – and still don’t understand it. William Calhoun ( No #) , playing in his first tournament, hitting his first ace ever. That alone is special. But…
Hole 5 is an uphill shot. The basket is to the right, and there’s decent trees as obstacles sprinkled through the fairway. Ball field to the left is OB (though not a real threat), then woods deep left – and woods lining the right hand side forming a buffer between 5 and 6. The shot was a Star Sidewinder, thrown RHBH. It left William's hand on an aggressive left to right turn, anny’ed over just as it entered the tree line for what most every time would be a wooded jail sentence. But not today. It hits a limb, shoots to the ground, and becomes a roller, arcing miraculously towards the basket. Here’s where the Gods of Kentrock looked down and smiled – his disc struck either a root or rock, skipping in a laser precise line up into the chains.
Full event results are located at https://www.pdga.com/tour/event/38995
Wrapping up business, the AM Payout was nice and deep, with AMs receiving Fly Guy Dollars totaling $525 . We had a full setup, with plastic from Dynamic, Westside, Latitude 64 , MVP, Axiom, Innova and Discraft.
I‘d like to thank the folks who gave us a hand setting up and tearing down – Bobby Henn, Tamim Nexami, Tyler Hamilton, Patricia Sisco- as well as Team Fly Guy members who pitched in all around Mitchell McGarity, Chris Dimsdale, Dave Morse and Tony Sisco. If I left anyone out that’s my shame – know you were appreciated.
Next Week is Kings Cup in Kinston. Fly Guy Disc Golf will be set up as a vendor all 4 rounds – stop in and check us out! We’ll even have a few carts – new and used in tow, along with a couple of bags and lots and lots of discs.
Photo Credit Mitchell McGarity