It was going to rain.
It was cold.
And it was 5:00 a.m. in the morning.
And I was so excited I could hardly contain myself.
On January 18 2020, I kicked off my disc golf season as I have every one so far – playing the Kentwood Winter Jam. This event, sponsored again in 2020 by Kirsch Lending and led by Tournament Director Robert Leonard (Team Fly Guy!) has been the “jumping off point” for my disc golf endeavors since I began playing PDGA matches.
The event is a charitable event, and creates donations for the Food Bank of Central and Eastern NC. Robert estimates it has averaged a $1,000 a year, for the last 14 years, in donations.
Last year it also served as the first PDGA event that Fly Guy Disc Golf served to fulfil payout for AMS.
Although last year when writing about the event I waxed poetic about Kentwood, it deserves a recap. It’s a small, sometimes tight feeling park style course, with just enough trees to confound me, and devoid of grass on most of the course. While Holes 1 through 3 and hole 10 are among a green meadow like field with some stately trees, the rest of the course is generally dirt pack and pine straw – or rocks. Lots and lots of rocks. (Enough so that “Kentrock” is the easy go to nickname, and the unofficial mascot of the course is a sunglass waring rock, lovingly called, you guessed it – ‘Rocky.)
The field for this event fills fast – with 2 added holes a field of 100 not only fills the park, but parking spreads like kudzu vines all up and down Kaplan Drive. Its elbow to elbow in disc golfers, and the air is littered with beloved beaten and scared Rocs, Magnets and Wardens. I’t the most played course in NC according to Udisc; the proximity to NC State and it’s being one of the oldest parks in the NC for disc golf lend to its well-worn baskets and beaten footpaths claim to glory.
It’s a park you love or hate – and often you even see those who deride it come back and play a round for nostalgia sake.
My own Udisc stats – far from every round I’ve played there – indicate that since I downloaded the ap I have played 170 rounds, for an average of 55.4 ( par is 54). I hit my first Ace there – hole 2 – and several others. ( Only 1 since I started using Udisc ) Leave it to say – it’s a course that is popular, short – and fun.
There is only one “long” hole – the dogleg uphill 14th, with a stand of guardian pines just before the transition to a basket seen from the tee only in the months when there are no leaves on the trees.
Comparing the years.
(For Winter Jam, Par is 60 – 20 holes)
In 2017 I shot 69/71, coming in 18th out of twenty in my first PDGA event ever.
In 2018 I shot 61/55, coming in 5th . It was my best finish yet, and my first time winning merch.
In 2019 I shot 60/59, for a tie in 17th.
And in 2020 – I went 60/61, again for a tie in 17th.
How I got there tho …..
I had quite honestly the most weird round of Kentwood I have ever played in round one. I had 7 birdies – 7! For me that’s amazing. But I offset them with 7 bogeys! Womp womp. If not for getting it over the lip of the basket 5 times, I could have had a really good round. But coming in with a par based on the last few years, while I knew it would not be leader worthy, I figured I had played well enough and colmed down enough that in round 2 maybe with a little bit of luck I could strike.
I need not have bothered day dreaming.
Ben Powel (hometown unknown, no PDGA #) destroyed the MA3 field with a blistering 14 under, shooting 46. This (unofficial) rated round of 998 was only 1 stroke off of the Hot Round for the entire event , which was posted by Kentwood and Raleigh legend Phillip Bartholomew. It’s not foreign to me to start a second round strokes behind the leader – but honestly I didn’t know what the hell to think about shooting dead par and being 14 strokes off of the lead. As should be expected Powel would go on to win the MA3 field, ending with a -22 total (second round was an (unofficial) rated round of 927 and a 52 – corrected scorecard of 50 plus 2 ). His -22 would have won MA2 by 2 strokes, won MA50 by 1 if he were eligible, placed 2nd in MA40 – by 1 shot - , ties MA1A and tied for 5th in a 21 player MPO division.
Event data https://www.pdga.com/tour/event/43676#MA3
I wish I had seen him playing – would love to have seen someone catch lightening in a bottle like that.
Anyway – so knowing that there’s no playing for first, I really enjoyed my second round none the less. Rain looked eminent – but held off for the time at least - and we had some fun. I was carded with some guys id never met – rare these days but still happens – ad I had a good time seeing “new” approaches to the game.
After the regular rounds were in, there was a final 9 ( A tradition that Robert holds on to ) but I didn’t get to watch it – I was busy getting ready for payout and catching up with Mitchell for the day.
We stayed till it was all over, getting help packing up in the rain, and went home, one more Winter Jam under our belts.
Looking forward next year to number 5.