This is a quasi-analytical and play by play follow up to the last blog post which can be found here.
When I last left you, I was telling you how the advice of three folks I admire had kind of cosmically linked up. Jay Clark’s order of “Let go worrying about a rating and just play”; Jay Pointer’s “Players are going to play” and Geoffrey Griffiths’ “Par is good enough”.
I was very eagerly looking forward to the last weekend of the ECO tour. The weekend became a double header due to having to reschedule events affected by the PDGA’s COVID moratorium, and it featured likely my two-favorite course of the season’s ten selected. On Saturday we were scheduled for Ahoskie – a flat ( well mostly flat) wide open long piece of land that is both very simple yet surprising elegant at the same time, and then on Sunday the second of the twe Greenville area stops, a pair of rounds at the newly installed Farmville course.
This would be a good opportunity to see if I could combine the wisdom of the sages and see if I could “Let Go” “Play” and see if I could let “Par” be good enough.
Mitchell and I arrived in Ahoskie and quickly got the Fly Guy tent in order. I checked in, and gingerly tested my back with just a few light throws. I was coming off of an injury (back pain I mentioned in the G Vegas post) and this would be only the second time I have even attempted to play in 14 days. It felt good.
The players meeting was quick and informative, and then we were off.
I started on the 18th hole. When I arrived, I got in two great practice anny putter throws – one a mere 4 feet from the basket which is installed in the trap of a multi-trunked tree. It was going to be a good day.
Until the round began. Somehow despite two excellent practice throws, when the throw mattered, I left my throw too wide, and I hit a tree and went deep into jungle territory. A decent forward progression pitch out, a lay up and a putt and I was already +1 after 1 hole.
I expected my resolve to be tested (to strive for par and not take stupid risks) at some point, but I did not expect to have to do it on the second hole I’d play. As we walked up to Hole 1, there was a Mando to consider, with OB to the right of it. I was last to throw – and managed to make the Mando only by virtue of hitting the post it was on and taking a kind kick left. Upshot, missed putt, putt - +2 after 2.
Great drive and Par. Then on our 4th hole, a grip lock or bad disc selection (still not sure ) but a pitch, a missed putt, and a putt. +3 after 4 holes. Did not look like “Par is good enough” was going to get a chance to be tested at this rate.
Our fifth hole featured the pin in a location I had not played it before – and required one to cross an OB ditch -that was guarded both sides with trees that just wanted to grab your disc and throw it to the ground. Somehow I fought through them ( because my intended low line didn’t happen ) and I was across, and laid up for a putt and what would be the first of 5 pars over the next 6 holes, taking a bogey only when I went OB on 6 but still played out in three strokes, plus the penalty. At that point I was +4 after 10 holes played.
Hole 10 is a 1,000 foot march with slight elevation, a ditch to cross, and punitive OB in the wide open right to guard against over aggressive hyzer play. I took an OB on the hole, had a bad throw and a dinker putt, and took a 7 (double bogey) on the hole. +6 after 11.
The next 6 holes I played for a net par – 4 natural pars, a bogey on 14 ( Missed easy putt that hit the top band) and a birdie on 16 – which felt great – not only because it was my first birdie of the round but because 16 was set up VERY narrow and I saw a lot of folks taking OB strokes.)
It was at this point I made a foolish mistake. I knew in my head I was +6 = and I wanted to try and make sure I didn’t go deeper -and I attacked the 17th hole – our last of the round – too aggressively. I lost sight of “Par is good enough” and switched to “I HAVE to make par” – and it bit me in the butt. I limped away with a 6 on the hole, my feelings hurt, and a bit let down. Though all in all I was +8 on the round and lower mid pack, I felt like I had stuck to my guns. I didn’t look at my rating at that time (Jay Clark’s wisdom); I had played hard ( Jay Pontier’s wisdom) and I had resisted ( for 17 holes at least) taking too risky of shots and settled for par being good enough ( Geoffrey’s wisdom).
Lunch flew by (I had Mitchell order us a Pizza from Domino’s – excellent decision). Round 2 I had played myself to a start on 16 – Great! My birdie hole! Except this time, I went OB, pitched, laid up, putt - +1 after 1. Felt familiar. Hole 17 – my nemesis – I played smart – and still took a 6 like a punch in the face. +3 after 2 – off to a worse start than before. But I got myself in order and parred the tree trunk 18th, as well as Holes 1, 2 and 3 – so after 6 holes I was only +3 and feeling the vibe. Putting 4 pars together in a row settled me quite a bit. I took a bogey on 4 (the tree and creek hole ) but I erased that bogey with a 3 ( birdie) on the long number 5. And I did not have to take risks for it. Just two well placed intentional throws and a putt from about 28 feet. When I walked up to Hole 6 all I cared about was not a repeat of the OB I took in round 1, and I walked away with a par, as I did on 7 and 8 as well. Hole 9 I was set for another par – but kissed off the chains left side and took a bogey. +4 after 12.
It was at that moment I did a little assessment. First third of the round I took 3 strokes net. Second third I took 1 Net. I did not want to take any in the last 6 holes – and if I could manage that I had cut my first round “over 8” in half.
I managed (for my first time ever ) to find the par on 10 – taking the 1000 foot hole in 5 strokes. Then disaster – on hole 11 I took a 5 also – but it is a 435-foot Par 4 – making me +5 after 14 holes.
I cannot lie. I was disappointed. Because I had not been aggressive. I had a good drive. I had a good follow up. I laid up to within 26 or so feet. But I did it to myself. I had a phone call (I know, I know) and I tried to putt with the phone in my hand. Sailed right over the top. Tail between my legs took the 22-foot come back putt and moved on to hole 12.
Took Holes 12, 13 and 14 down with the upmost of caution – I had a look on 12 but did not want to risk it after the issue on 11 – only birdies I would try were dead 100%ers. Then we get to the last hole.
Hole 15 is across an opening, into the woods, basket tucked approx. 35 feet into the left. I though in round one I had the line – but to high. I made the decision to go for it.
It would be cool to say I ended with an ace. But I did not.
I did however fly right past the pin, to a favorable tree kick back towards it, and was able to card an easy 12 foot birdie putt to erase the mistake on 11 and take a +4 for the round.
As I walked to the tournament central, I finally looked at my rounds on the scoring app. I had managed to shoot both above my rating – a first all year since my slide had begun!
I ended up 12th of 19 for the event – again – I was fine with that given where I’ve been finishing this season, and given that just weeks before I had literally sworn off all but a few events for a break.
I finished the day on a high note, feeling like I had won – I hadn’t beaten the field but I had beaten a tougher opponent – myself – and I was ready for the next day.
Sunday – different course, same morning routine. When the Start call is made, I find myself on hole 15 , playing the short pads at Farmville.
I started hot. Hot hot. The hottest I have ever played in an event. Par Par Par Par Par Birdie Par Par Par - Halfway the first round ( I found out latter – as you will see) I was leading the division at -1 !
My first bogey fell on hole 6 – and I earned it with a bad tee shot that required a pitch out. Par holes 7 and 8 only to take a bogey on 9. This one was all on me, too. I had a par putt from only 12 feet. The basket is close to the 14 tee box, there was a 2 card backup, our card was scattered all around the pin, and I had someone behind it – and instead of just following routine, I stabbed a quick putt only to totally miss the damn chains by a foot. Egg on my face, I took a bogey and sat at +1. That alone was OK.
I took a par on the 10th – but then disaster struck.
As we sat backed up on Hole 11 – someone started talking about scores. I said, “I don’t want to know mine” and they didn’t tell me. But another card joined us and the first thing one of the guys said was “Damn HP – you’re on fire!”
Yep – kiss of death.
Hole 11 I great drive – deep, great drive – but I lofted my follow up shot into some limbs, had to layup and then putt - +2 after 14,
Hole 12 – safe throw to the side – but zero sight of the basket around a huge tree. Laid up, top banded yet another time, took a 4.
I settled a little – OK +3 is still ok – and I pared hole 13. Only one more to go.
Hole 14 is night and day different depending on the tees you play – and from the shorts it is a par three protected by jungle. I found the jungle. But I recovered with what must be the best roller I have ever laid down – intentionally cutting it around the corner, and I had what should have been an easy putt. However, I lofted it, and took a bogey.
So, I was +4 total for the round.
Alas my second round was not as well played. I started “ok” – from Hole 16 going Par, Par , then OB and took a double. I then also went OB on Hole 1 and took a double, and after 4 holes (well, 2 really ) was +4. Same as my entire first round total.
I am proud that I never really lost the “Par is good enough” goal in that round. I took 4 more strokes over the next 14 holes to finish +8; but there were 11 pars in that run. ( I took a bogey on 4 with a bad drive, pitch out, lay up and putt; I took a double on 11 with an absolute horror show performance – drive in the woods, roller into a puddle, upshot into a hole, missed putt and putt) and then my final bogey was due to taking an OB on 12 when I threw it into the creek.
So, after the second day, I once again was +12 total, and took 14th out of 22. My first round (+4) was above my rating, my second (+8) was just below. On the weekend my average of the 4 rounds was about 22 points higher than my current rating.
Is par good enough? Maybe, depending on the field and the day. It would not have been for either of these events – though it would get you close. Ahoskie was won in MA3 with a total -3. Par would have landed you in 3rd. Farmville saw a winner in MA3 at -5, with 4th place placing at even par. Both significantly better than my finishes.
But I had played 72 holes of disc golf and walked away with 46 holes scored par or better – 63.8%.
Compare that to the previous ECO double header of Jacksonville and New Bern( where I played with a completely alien to me set of discs) – where I had 49 out of 76 – statistically a better percentage of 64.5%.
If statistically when it came to par I hadn’t improved - Why did I feel like I had played better? Because I had – just not where I was looking.
Let us look at Jacksonville first. I finished +15, taking 16th out of 21. Would par have won? No – Par would have placed 3rd – winning took a -6.
Then at New Bern I was a whopping +21 and took 13th out of 19. Par would have won this event as the winner was +3.
I think the reason I felt better is that despite basically having the same number of pars (within 1 percentage point) – my MISTAKES and my “press to catch up and then blow up” were much less. And I had streaks of pars, not streaks of par bogey par triple bogey par, etc.
Side by side looking at the weekends, I was +24 compared previously being +36.
I finished in relatively the same places, but I had avoided much worse finishes by trying to be smart and not take risks outside of my skill level. And I did feel good. I had finally done what I had never been able to do before – go into a weekend of play with a plan and stick to it. The results are going to be what they are going to be. But – it gives me a good starting point.
So yeah – for me – right now – I think that Par is good enough. I hope to shoot it one day soon.