In 2017 after playing disc golf for almost exactly one year, I was Tournament Director for my first time when I put on the 1st Annual Pine Cone Open. (Yea, yea, that is grammatically improper – no such thing as a “first annual” – but it was intentional – I liked the sound of it, incorrect though it may be..)
From the outset I always tried to make this event stand out. I was able to mobilize deep and effective sponsorship – many of which continue to this day. I had an added cash of $500 for the Pro side of things, and it was an instant hit with the AM side because we went deep into both a huge player pack as well as added value payouts. The event filled – though at the last minute and a good time was had by all. We fielded a 5 player per card roster of 90 players at registration, with 85 ultimately playing in the event.
Last year in 2018 we did much the same – deep payouts for AMs accompanied by huge player packs, and added cash to the tune of $500 for the Pros. Again sponsorship was important and without them the event could not have the flair it does. The only primary difference in the events was a decision to limit the field to 72 players, keeping cards to 4 players. We played the full field, utilizing standby wait-listed players to account for the inevitable “no-shows”.
If there has been an issue over the first two events, it is the low participation of the Pros. The course is not widely played, and the lines are hard – but more so I think the timing has been the largest issue – by holding it on the last weekend of September, it is also the same weekend for USDGC – and we are well within driving distance. So I’ve always kind of just brushed it off to the better players taking that weekend to go to the major and practice to try and qualify. ( I did this year – try that is – but that is a different blog post.)
This year I decided to look at the Pine Cone and make some decisions – did I need a Pro side? Did I want to give $500 added cash for a few guys to show up and simply split it? Or – what if I embraced the AM players, gave a tournament that focuses on them, and paid out huge vouchers on top of player packs?
I made the decision to go AM only – and added MA4 (Novice) – a division not seen offered in the area. Likewise I wanted to see ladies involved so I had both FA1 and FA3. For Juniors I offered both FJ18 and MA18. And for age protected, I offered not only MA40, but MA5 0 as well.
The event filled in a day and a half. While not as sudden as many events in the area this season, the rapid pace versus a few weeks of the first two Pine Cone Open events told me I had made the right call. Again with a limited field of 72, come event day there were some drop outs and a pair of wait-list additions for a total of 66 competitors. I was very pleased by the final demographics of the event:
MA1 – 4
MA2 – 13
MA3 – 17
FA3 – 5
MA4 – 5
The 3 juniors and 9 ladies were all presented with Fly Guy Disc Golf lapel pins at the players meeting.
For the first time I offered a presenting sponsorship, which was purchased by United Traffic Services. We had event sponsorship from Westside Discs. Likewise we received sponsorship from Fred Smith Company, Austin Trucking, Hanson Aggregates, Ugly Goat Enterprises, Brad D Cummings Construction, Greenville Disc Golf Club and John Heister Jeep Dodge. There were also several hole sponsors.
The player pack for the event included a Dri Fit Shirt provided by Westside Discs, with the event image on the back and Fly Guy’s logo on a sleeve. The additional screen printing was flawless, matched the original shirts and was performed by Ken Olsen.
Also for the player pack each player received a Westside Gatekeeper in Lucid plastic with the event image as well as were allowed to take a disc of choice from an entire line offering of Westside discs in stock stamps.
Rounding out the player pack were Fly Guy Disc Golf logo’s TickKey tick removal devices and a spray bottle of War Paint Tick Preventive from Lyme Warrior.
The event also marked the debut of the Brad D Cummings Construction Ace Pool – for this event a no entry free $200 prize should an ace be hit – but it went unclaimed. This pool will be carried to future events that I TD, with the value being increased by player participation in buying into it.
(Fun Fact – despite its relative shortness, there has not been an Ace ever hit during a Pine Cone Open event.)
Another new aspect of the event was the use of the PDGA live scoring feature. Utilizing live scoring, as well as the greatly improved Tournament Manager, made the “business” of running the vent amazingly simple. I did not have any complaints from anyone on the site. (There were however concerns for folks whose data service was not well covered in the area, but they still could log score and it updated accordingly when they received service again.)
This year the hot dog lunch, which traditionally has been for a $5 fee, was free thanks to sponsorship by Team Fly Guy’s Victoria Griffiths, who bought the entire field lunch to celebrate her husband Geoffrey Griffith’s birthday. There was plenty to go around, even after round two.
All day everywhere I looked were smiles. I cannot remember a single complaint or conflict. Payouts were generous and awards were awarded within 15 minutes of the last card being turned in.
I’m already looking forward to the next one.
Pine Cone Open 3 results can be found HERE