What a great experience playing the 2012 Disc Golf World Championships was. The style of golf played a huge role in my enjoyment of the experience. Almost every shot required a decision. I introduced myself to Sam Nicholson, the Tournament Director, and he said that their goal was to make the players think. I can say that his goal was accomplished! The narrow fairways required a lot of thinking. Constantly assessing how much risk you were willing to take to advance down the fairway. I can’t tell you how many times I said that I would love to play doubles on these courses. There were so many times that I would have loved to try to throw the perfect shot, but the loss of control seemed like too much risk to me. I felt the courses were fair, it seemed possible to play safe and just throw midranges down the fairway and accept that you were not going to get a birdie, but a par should be safely achieved. This of course was after seeing Michael Johansen play the same fairways very aggressively, really going for the birdies. I’m still learning how to play these shots that way. You really have to commit to every shot; any doubt or indecisiveness would lead to that all too familiar SMACK as your disc hits a tree. So once again, Sam –Mission Accomplished! I used my brain a lot.
The first round I was a little disappointed when I learned I was going to have to play in a fivesome. I really don’t like playing in groups that large, particularly in a tournament, but there was an upside. Our fifth player was none other than The Champ himself, Ken Climo. There was some kind of mixup and we had to deal with it, but I suppose if you have to play in a fivesome, you couldn’t ask for a better player to join the group. I was also pretty excited that I played with him in what he said was his very first tournament that he could have played open, but chose masters instead. He really put on a clinic in that round, which we played at Nevin. I really studied his form and determined that I need to work on my balance and follow-through. His form has stood the test of time and it was fun to watch him shred the course. His putt was working very well, nothing too flashy, but he consistently got the job done inside the circle. I think he beat me by 5 strokes in that round, and he would continue to do that through out the event.
Honestly, the event was kind of a blur looking back. Driving from course to course, finding lunch along the way, balancing visiting with friends and getting enough sleep was a challenge. I’m not sure I could have done it with out the GPS feature on my phone, it really helped navigating the country roads and interstates. Just when I started to feel like I knew where to go, the event was almost over.
I played well, but not my best in most of my rounds. I never really had a horrible round, and that was by design. All of the courses could easily jump up and bite you, and I realized that, and tried to play on the safe side. My worst hole of the tournament was at Eastway. Hole 16 has a carry over an OB pond, with OB to the left of the landing zone, and woods on the right. I threw a good drive to about 30 feet and made a decent putt that teetered on the right edge of the basket, and fell out, rolling to about 28 feet down the hill. Missed that one into the cage, it rolled to 15 feet, then banded the next and it rolled to about 15 again and finally made it for a 5. That was my second and last double bogey of the event, thankfully!
I ended up in a tie with Ron Convers and Mike Moser (pretty darn good company!) for fifth place overall, 4 strokes out of making the top 4 for the final 9 holes. I felt pretty good about it, as I played well over my rating and the four people who played better than me were four of the top players in the world; Ken Climo(1), Barry Schultz(2), Johne McCray(3) and Patrick Brown(4). I guess that if you have to lose, it doesn’t feel that bad to lose to such quality players. I feel I made a valiant attempt to defend my title, and I think erased the nagging voice in my own mind that said my victory the year before may have been a fluke. The way I see it, I played well, never once kicked my bag, made some new friends, and had a lot of fun, all of which equals success in my mind.
I would like to deeply thank Michael Johansen for his southern hospitality and disc golf guidance, as well as his mother Laura, father Robert, sister Virginia and her husband Geoff. Shasta and I felt right at home and were treated like family, and that was invaluable to the enjoyment of our experience! ~JB Next up: Pittsburgh!