Well, this was a very special Master’s Cup. I felt a little better going into the event because I had gotten back to putting in some work on the course prior to the event. I didn’t do as much as I could have, but I did make a significant contribution. Of course Mr. Jim Hagen had put in his usual large amount of mowing and general maintenance. He really does a lot up there and we who use the course should always be thankful he cares as much as he does. This year there were lots of new volunteers getting involved and that was great to see. Of special note was Branden Sage. He took it upon himself to up the ante and make our tee boxes look and play great. He cleaned up the edges and distributed large amounts of wood chips to the borders that had we got any normal rain, this being April and all, would have really helped keep mud off the boxes. We got lucky and didn’t get the rain, but the boxes really looked great. So thanks to all who helped. Jimmy kept a record of how many hours we all put in, and one thing that you could do to help the cause of the Delaveaga Disc Golf Club would be to help present information to the city about the real value of volunteer time that goes into the course. The city has worked well with us as of late, but we need to generate a professional looking document that can show how much we as a club put forth in hours and dollars to keeping the course the valuable resource it is for the people of Santa Cruz County. If you have experience in generating this kind of documentation, please step forward!
The event had an extra element this year that I hope becomes a tradition; a great check-in party at the host hotel, Paradox. We each got a ticket for a free beer, and could earn a second by hitting about a 40 foot putt with DGA’s new putt and approach, the Breaker. When I showed up there was a lively party going poolside complete with a full bar and music. I made the second of my two free putts and earned a second beer ticket- Yes! Good times were had by all who attended, and it was a lot of fun to see how creative the putting got. There were some shots off the fence, and skip/bounce shots off lounge chairs that were fun to throw and watch. For all those who took part, I believe we have local Braden Coolidge to thank. He worked with the hotel and TJ Goodwin to arrange for the check in party and as I said, I hope it becomes a tradition. TJ has bought new energy and drive to the event in the last few years and I’m very thankful that he has. I think we can expect the event to improve in many ways in the years to come.
I was a little concerned that I might loose a little focus for this event because I was hosting my friend Jamie Tuckey as well as my DGA Teammate, Tom Brenton from Minnesota. I haven’t hosted two players in my little studio before and being a bit of an introvert, the extra interaction was a slight concern. In hindsight, I think it was more of a benefit than a distraction. I picked both of them up from the airport on Wednesday and made sure they got to the course for practice rounds and tournament rounds. I experienced so much hospitality on my little mini tour last summer, I knew that I wanted to return the favor however I could. We talked and discussed strategies for specific holes and vented to each other when we needed to. Tom made some comments to the effect of Dela requiring a lot of focus to throw precise shots on almost every hole. He said that most courses you can get away with less than precise shots on lots of holes, and it made me realize how demanding the course is. It is easy to take it for granted when you play it so often, so it was nice to appreciate a newbies perspective on what makes Dela so revered and respected as a world class course and a most difficult test of physical skills and mental toughness.
This year had an extra level of anticipation for me because the best disc golfer of all time, Ken Climo, was playing in the masters division for the first time. I have watched him come into town and dominate the course before, so I knew he had what it takes to win there. I’m not sure I was intimidated by him, but I sure respected his ability to play the course well. This was also the first year that Micah Dorius, who I have also seen win the Open division here, was going to play masters. I have always respected his ability to play well there since he won open the same year I won the amateur title in 2003. So that’s two players rated over 1030 I was up against. Throw in Patrick Brown, who plays there all the time and plays extremely well there, and I was feeling like I had my hands full. A little too full… Jason Tyra was there as well, and he and I almost always end up finishing close to each other. Come tournament day, none of this matters, it is you against the course.
The first day, I played pretty well, shooting a 2 under par, which I was happy with. Eliminating the parking lot holes really makes the course play much tougher. I thought anything under par was pretty good. Patrick scorched the layout with an 8 under though, so my work was really cut out for me. Kenny and Micah were right up there too, I think both shooting -3. Day two I played an even better round, -3 and ended up tied with the Champ at -5, Micah was at -7 and Patrick had shot even and remained at -8. So Sunday the stage was set for an epic battle.
I was probably as nervous for a round at Dela as I ever have been. It showed in my drive, that I threw with a total lack of assertiveness. It came out of my hand early and went left. I was in a tough spot and had to play away from the basket, leaving me in a tough spot, only 20ft left and a little long, but blocked by a tree. So I ended up boggie on the first hole. I then parred two, hit a thirty footer on 3 for the only birdie of the group. Then came a defining moment in my round. I had been trying the sidearm roller on 4 but I didn’t like the wind or the feel of it this day, so I decided to try the high window backhand and I threw it a little high, and the wind lifted it into the first set of branches, coming down just on top of the hill. My worst drive on that hole in a long time. I was fortunate to have a small window all the way to the pin and it was my best option to get there. It required a super straight shot with just the right speed into the dangerous green. Everyone else in the group made it at least 50 feet farther than I and my chances of success weren’t looking that good. I hesitated a bit on the shot, the window was small and intimidating, but I envisioned my trusty “limey” green aftershock flying right down the line and trusted it. Well, It might have been one of the best shots I’ve ever thrown, nailing the window right down the heart and sliding to a stop 6 feet past the pin. This was a moment that defined the round. I went from the high of birdieing hole 3, erasing the bogey on one, to the low of having the worst drive, to the advantage of a tap in 3 on what often plays like a par 4. The rest of the group faltered, taking 4s and 5s, and now I was looking good and feeling confident. That feeling propelled me to birdies on 5 and 6 and I was all of the sudden with in a stroke of the lead and feeling good.
The rest of the round I was feeling that confident and in the zone feeling and before long, Patrick and I had separated ourselves from Kenny and Micah.Going into hole 19 we were tied and my drive leaked left but got lucky and made it through for a 28 footer which I made to take the lead by one. We both parred the difficult 25, which always feels good. Then I threw a good high anny on 26 which made it to around the short pin, where I would lay up for a par. Patrick then through a perfect shot on the high anhyzer line and put it within 25 feet and canned the putt for a 2. Tied up, he had the box on 26a and threw another gorgeous shot that looked to be parked. My shot leaked left at the end and I thought it might have gone down the side a bit. When we got up there, he had slid past the pin and just inside the circle, while mine was in the bush, about the same distance. He putted first and missed, going about 23 feet past. I missed my straddle from a knee putt but stayed close. Patrick then had a put with onlookers in his background and missed it left. So I had a one stroke lead on the last hole. Last year 4 of us were tied on the last hole and had any of us parred, that would have won the event, as we all took bogey or worse. So this year, I knew the value of a par on that hole and decided to play very safe, throwing my new Breaker hard with anhyzer away from the Out of bounds road. Safely on the fairway, it was Patrick’s turn. Needing a birdie to tie, he threw a very aggressive line towards the road with a roc. It seemed to take a long time but it eventually turned safe and hit the tree near the basket, leaving him just inside the circle. I threw my upshot, again with the breaker, sidearm, fading away from the road and towards the pin. It landed close and skipped to about 18 feet. He gave his putt a great run,but it hit the top nubs and skipped off. Let me tell you, I’m good at 18 footers most of the time, but this putt, to win the Master’s Cup, and complete my secret goal of beating the Champ, had me nervous for sure! Heart pumping and nerves firing, I released it and somehow it found the chains and stuck in. I had shot a -6 to come from behind and win the Cup for the second year in a row. What a feeling! Hugs around for everyone, but the biggest went to Farina Headrick, Steady Ed’s widow and owner of DGA, my sponsoring company.
It was a great time and I’d like to thank all the people who help put the tournament on. Most of us just show up and play, somehow thinking our entry fee is enough to make it all happen. Well, it isn’t. People volunteer their time and energy to make these events run. There are a lot of them and they deserve our gratitude. Thank you one and all!