Some days, disc golf is a walk in the park, and some days it is not. This weekend was one of those times that really made you question your life choices. They say adverse conditions don't build character; they only reveal it. It is safe to say that somethings about each one of the participants was revealed this weekend. Things like "who owns the most towels", "who wears shorts in all weathers", and "who can find a way to keep feeling in their fingers after 7 hours in the driving rain and cold". Despite the overall terrible conditions many, if not most, of the competitors were in great spirits throughout the weekend. It was a true testament to the characters who play disc golf in our neck of the woods.
It is a real question as to why anyone subjects themselves to a tournament in any capacity. It can be mentally grueling, even on the best weather days. At least one theory is that a tournament sets forth a level playing field on which all players can compete to see if their perception of their own ego matches that of reality. Or to put it simply, your tournament score is an unbiased example of your play. The idea behind this year's Rose Valley tour stop is that players would get a small taste of the new Disc Golf Pro Tour (DGPT) layout to test their skill sets on some pro tour level holes. We had a plan that was put into play months ago to have six brand new holes with our new tee pads and baskets. This plan did not happen. Despite our best efforts and ample time, machines broke and could not get the job done in time and we waited too long to try and make a temporary layout. We did not meet our own standards in getting a detailed map out to players in time and for that we owe an apology. We did our best and in the end, we made it work in a less than perfect way. That small problem was corrected by the players and their willingness to adapt. It was also amazing to have so many people step up and help us in the days before the event. Volunteers lined the circles, set OB, and generally did much of the set up required. PEI, and the Maritimes in general, are filled with so many unsung heroes that we feel blessed to be a part of it every time we run an event.
The course that was finally set up for tournament play did its best to balance some really technical holes (5, 10, 11, 12, and especially 18) with some shorter, more forgiving ones mixed in (4, 13, 14, 15, and 16). In reasonable conditions, this layout would have allowed for some great shot shapes, interesting scramble opportunities, and an overall challenging experience. In the conditions we were given on Saturday, though, almost none of that happened. Virtually everyone that played eventually ended up in a situation where they couldn't feel their hands, fingers, or some other part of their body and made no decisions at all other than, "how fast can I throw this disc in order to complete my round and go somewhere warm". Everyone who completed the round went through the same conditions together, and more than anything, that was the essence of this weekend.
On Sunday, the conditions improved drastically, and peoples' spirits were lifted along with the temperatures. If you haven't played Rose Valley, there are a few things that you should know about it. The design that we are striving for is meant to be a complement to the other amazing courses that exist on PEI, including Hillcrest, Huck It, and Kings Pine II. Rose Valley starts and finishes in a wide open, elevated field with a wide (but hard to hit) fairway that is surrounded by hazard. It is also one of the highest points on PEI, meaning that the wind is always a factor. Hole 2 is an island that plays almost directly into a headwind. It averaged 2.5 strokes over par for the weekend. It was brutal and amazing all at the same time. Hole 5 was featured at last year's Canadian Nationals, and it requires a small gap hit at the top of the hill before descending down a few hundred feet in an open field, only to return to a heavily wooded fairway. Holes 10, 11, and 12 are the "signature stretch" where precision, shot shaping, and power are all blended together. Any of these holes can produce a birdie or a triple bogie. They are insanely tough, but ultimately fair. Completing each one of them is an accomplishment in itself.
Hole 18 deserves its own paragraph (maybe even two). To begin, the entire course was built around the idea of hole 18. From the Blue tees, it is 847 feet. For this weekend, with the impending weather, we played it as a par 5, but for the pro tour, it will be a par 4. From the tee, the fairway is about 240 feet wide with hazard on both sides. Roughly 480 feet (downhill) is an OB line. From the OB line to the start of the green it is a roughly 280 foot carry to the shortest possible spot. In most places, the carry is well over 300. If a player goes into the OB section, they must proceed to the drop zone, which is 401 feet to the pin or 321 feet to the OB line. Miss again, and players go to a drop zone that is 60 feet from the basket. It is also the last hole you played in the day, which means you have been outside competing in these conditions for at least 6 hours and are mentally and physically drained. The hole averaged almost 3 strokes over par. What was truly remarkable about the hole was it played exactly as intended: there were 3's and there were 13's, with pretty much every score in between being carded as well. Smart shots might still be punished, wind bumps might help our hurt you, a disc that missed by only inches might cost you 5 strokes. It was demoralizing, rewarding, cruel, and just. It was our most incredible finishing hole we have ever created and if you like it or hate it, you are right and we agree with you.
Our vision for the FlickLine tour stops is to challenge a different part of your game on every event. We want the tour winner to have had to overcome all sorts of challenges from short and technical courses to long bomber ones, with the understanding that the weather conditions are a part of that. On the eve of the event, we had to make some minor changes to the layouts for half of the field. We dropped the hazard on hole 18 for the groups playing from the short tees to help with the mental grind and to make it maybe a little bit more fun. We think it was the right call. From a layout standpoint, we are trying really hard to have 3 distinct layouts on our tournament courses so that each division and their skillsets are challenged to the same decision making process. We want birdies to be attainable but earned, and pars to be the result of solid throws on any hole. We hear the feedback and always enjoy discussing it to make it better on the next event. In our world, we believe you can either win or learn. If we do at least one of those things on every event, we never actually lose. Lessons were indeed learned this weekend.
You can find the event scores here.
Division winners include John Gill by 2 strokes in MJ18.
Mandy Isenor by 1 stoke in FA2.
Blaise Roberts in a playoff for MA2 over Rick Robichaud (because after a weekend of hardcore disc golf, who doesn't want to play bonus holes!)
Alan Gallant by 6 strokes in MA50.
Nat Deveau by 9 strokes in FA40.
Colin Alford by 6 strokes MA40.
FlickLine's own Tanis Trainor by 6 strokes in FA1.
Antoni RIchard (another FlickLine gem) earned the MA1 victory by two strokes.
And James Mallard won an impressive playoff victory in MPO over Hunter Treneer who put together an incredible bogie-free 6 under round in the finals.
We wish we could be there on every card to tell you about the battles and to do justice to all of these wins, but at this moment we still haven't figured a way to be everywhere at once. Each of these players earned their wins and battled through personal obstacles to come out on top. If you are the type of person who enjoys data and numbers, take a look at the hole by hole scores here. They are truly wild in terms of the variety of numbers that any given hole produced. It was one of those things you kind of had to see to believe.
One thing that has always stuck out to us on events like these are how some people can succeed and what they do that is different than everyone else. There were only two people in the entire field that finished in single digits over par and they went to a playoff in MPO. Both players found a way to played quiet almost unassuming rounds where they had solid shots and simple recoveries. Often times great rounds are like that. You don't feel like you are doing anything overly special but rather that you are doing alright. Many players who have career rounds say they were surprised to see their scores at the end of it. "Keep it simple" seems to be the way to success.
There were a couple of really neat moments that we would like to share. The first one is the fact the the MJ18 division was being awarded their prize only a few seconds before the MA1 lead card was going to tee off. These two things happened within 20 feet from each other and was very interesting to see 6 junior aged players standing together all at different parts of their journey. The MA1 lead card had a 16 year old and two 17 year olds, plus the oldest member of the group at age 24. It brought plenty of smiles to the old guys standing around to know that the future looks bright. Second, it should be noted that turf tee pads make an incredible wall for a tent if you are ever trying to hide from 50+km winds and driving rain. Our 10x10 space was constantly crammed by players, TD's, and Island Disc Golf. We kept each other warm and in good spirits.
Mostly, this weekend's recap is another way for us to say thank you to everyone who came out to play. We all have our own reasons for being there, but doing it together is what makes it truly amazing.
Join us at CBU on June 24-25!
Until then, shoot a little and have a lot of fun!