Two of my favorite tournaments are the first two big tournaments of the Northern California disc golf season. The St. Patrick’s Classic A-tier and the Auburn Amateur B-tier have me eagerly awaiting the start of each tournament season. They are at 2 of my top 5 all time courses. I am frequently the most rested, practiced, and mentally clear for these two events coming out of my off-season. By the end of the season, I am frequently nursing several injuries and have an entire season’s worth of mental baggage. I usually play a couple of warm up events early in the season but I really focus on these events. It’s not a mistake that my 2 best rounds of competition came at these two events. Here is a quick wrap of the events of the first quarter of my 2014 season:
I played the inaugural event last year and was really pleased to get back there this year for the 1st game of the North Valley Series. The Lava Creek course is on a ball golf course in the foothills of the Sierras. The landscape is awesome, the weather was perfect and playing on manicured fairways is always fun. The course plays long with lots of very interesting elevation change and creative but not overbearing use of o.b. The are nice segments of technical shots that keeps a players interest between the big arm shots.
This year the director Mike Pease added a very fun wrinkle: tee times for a 1 day 2 round tournament. I have never seen tee times for 2 rounds in one day and was very interested to see how it was going to go. There was a large field but the tournament went smooth. Tee times had to be early but I personally love playing at 7am. There were very few waits. All my groups were fun.
Only negative was that we could not re-sort cards by score for the second round and we really didn’t know how we had performed against the field. I personally think that is more than a fair trade and would like to see more events run this way.
This A-tier event is practically in my backyard. I play the Shady Oaks course sometimes 4 or 5 rounds a week. The course is 10 minutes away and plays very technical with sporadic big holes and suits my game pretty well. There are 10 safari holes set up every year that plays through a protected nature park with vernal ponds throughout. Its format is three rounds of tee time golf played over three days – the most accurate way to judge a field of golfers.
My first round was a solid 3 under par with only a couple bogies. My backhand payed off with equal birdies as with the forehand. I did not do anything spectacularly well but also did not give anything away.
Round two was a pretty good 1 under par that felt a lot worse than my score reflected. The final round was excellent for 2/3rds but the final 8 holes were very difficult and I ended with a disappointing 6 over.
The event was well run as always with lots of support personnel, good food provided or available, side events and perfect weather. The course was well maintained and clean except for the unfortunately unavoidable cigarette butts.
I witnessed support personnel work to maintain a professional environment and players were mostly well behaved and considerate of the course and other park users. With the safari holes this course is an awesome test of a golfers skill set. There are big arm pulls, forehand skip shots, backhand rollers, spike hyzers, thumbers and tomahawks. Every crack in your game is exposed. I am already excited to play next year.
This was the 2nd tournament in the North Valley Series and was at Anderson River Disc Golf course. This was the 1st time I had played this course and did not have time to check it out before playing in the event.
I hadn’t played any courses in this part of Northern California. The terrain was fantastic on the way to the course; the course itself was unsatisfying.
Several holes just did not make any sense. A complete U-turn off the tee, a Tetris shaped In-bounds in a small square of grass, a rotating mando on a big oak tree in the center of a 15 foot wide artificial fairway defined by OB tape all contributed to lots of frustration.
I can always tell I’m going to dislike a course when I find myself standing in the middle of a small field and I see 5 or 6 baskets. I am glad the community has a disc golf course but I can’t see myself head up there for an event again. The event was run well enough, as the NVS tournaments usually are, and we all had a good time, just not for me.
Last year I threw my personal best tournament round at -9 and rated at 991 in the first round of this event. I missed a couple straddle putts inside 20 feet that could have had me even higher. The subsequent two rounds were progressively worse. I had a hard time dealing with leading the second card in my second advanced tournament. I started trying too hard.
This year I was worried about the effect my previous year’s performance might have on my psyche. My first round was a solid 3 under with only 1 stroke lost to loss of focus. Despite not having a personal best 1st round, I ended with the same number of strokes as the previous year; I played far more consistent.
The guys in the Chain Zombies Disc Golf Club put on very reliable events with well organized side events, quality players packages, and solid pay outs. They make the course progressively harder, longer, and more technical as the weekend progresses.
Auburn is only below really signature courses like Golden Gate for me. It probably has the greatest range from short and technical to long and powerful with every variation between. The changes in pin position don’t just make a hole longer but with the same base strategy. Instead, alternate pins change the core approach to the holes.
Zachary Taylor controlled the division for the first three rounds. He took a 3 stroke lead into the Final 9 over the constant pressure of Bill Lewis, who was 3 strokes behind. Both Eric Langton and Brandon Nolan joined Bill in picking up several strokes over Zachary during the Final 9 but no one could overtake him.
The beginning of the disc golf season has been a huge success. I’ve been in the gym far more. I’ve been doing more stretching and preparation for rounds rather than just putting for 5 minutes and then hitting the tees.
I’m not lighting it on fire but overall I’m very pleased with my game and the way this season is rolling out. Check out the new links on the blog for BioSkin and look for an upcoming article about my first ambassadorship.