Return to Success: CanNats satellite

For 2021, the Canadian Disc Golf Association held the Canadian National Disc Golf Championships in expanded COVID fashion. Because the singular event was cancelled due to pandemic restrictions, the CDGA shifted to holding satellite events in each province. On Sept 17-19, the BC satellite was held at Raptors Knoll disc golf course. The TD (Craig Sheather) brought a lot of creativity to the event, highlighting the diversity of Raptors Knoll’s multiple tee pads and pin placements. Day 1 we played 18 holes on a mixed course (6 red-tee short holes, 6 blue-tee medium holes, and 6 gold-tee long holes). The baskets had also all been moved from their BC Open positions. Day two saw play from the blue-tee pads for the open divisions, and interestingly, without any of the potentially punishing OB Raptors is famous for. Day three saw us on the gold pads with “all of the teeth” of Raptors in play (OB was back).

After my recent failings at the Stillwood tournament I was both nervous and excited about heading to Raptor’s. The course is much more open and suits my style play, but the mix of short and long holes was going to neutralize some of my distance advantage and force me to play holes I normally didn’t play. Stillwood also saw me running into some issues with putting, so despite a week of assiduous practice, I was heading into the event without a lot of confidence.

Friday broke dark, grey, cold and wet. Standing on the tee pad for one brought back memories of the previous week’s cold and wet event. My hope was to finish the round in the neighbourhood of 9 or 10 down–I wasn’t close. The best I could manage was a frustrating 3 under par despite two Eagles, one on hole 2, a 300 foot hyzer bomb through the woods driven by my over-stable Kahu (RPM’s primary long range driver) and the other on hole 17, where my under stable Pekapeka flew a beautiful anhyzer-S 340 feet to the basket, leaving me a 16 foot putt. An eagle on these holes is perhaps not as impressive as it sounds as these were eagles from the Red tees, and all pars at Raptors are calculated from the Gold (long) tees. Still, those shots felt good. We were playing in mixed groups, so I had no idea where that -3 put me in the division (MP 50).

Turns out the weather hit everyone hard–the three-down had me tied for the lead and calculated as a not unreasonable 940 rating. Day two was going to be exciting, playing from the blue tees and in much improved weather. The group was also going to be a fun one, with Graham Garlick (-3) and Dave Slater (even par) rounding out the top three in MP50 and Julie Moen (the event’s sole FPO also at -3) joining us. I’ve played with all of these folks before and both respect their games (Julie coming off a second place finish at Am Worlds!) and enjoy their company (serious players who also know how to laugh and enjoy the round). The moderate distances meant that low scores were achievable with good drives, but it wasn’t the birdie-or-die setup that the red tees offer. My round started slow with a par four on a hole that is an achievable three (my upshot flew wide and was knocked down by a tree well outside putting range). Hole two I missed my Eagle opportunity, but had a tap in birdie and hole three was a tap in birdie as well. Hole three my putt for birdie fell short, leaving me at -2 as we stepped up to the par 5 hole six. I promptly crushed my drive into the first available tree, locking up the bogie 6 and setting me back to -1, opening the door to another frustrating round. Graham was sitting at -3 by that point and Dave and Julie were with me at -1 . Reminding myself that hole six was the first hole of the rest of my round I picked up a tap in birdie that set up the start of something special–with me proceeding to score on 11 of the next 13 holes (10 birdies and an Eagle on hole 13). The final tally was a -13 1013 rated round (one point off my highest ever rated round), in the clubhouse with a 6-stroke lead.

The psychology of sport is a fascinating thing. I woke up on day three of the event playing out in my mind how I was going to fail on every hole. OB drive on one, into the trees on hole two, kicking right on hole three, etc. My putts were going to be short and my drives weak. 7:30AM saw me out in the park out back of our house throwing drives like Chevy Chase practicing the Caddyshack course the night before a big tournament (though my throws at least let me know I could still hit a decent drive). I had to do something to distract me and quiet my mind.

Which brings me back to last week’s post wherein I noted my undisclosed plan for putting warmup. I had envisioned creating a strip of cloth that I could hang from a tree or fence that would mimic the pole of a disc golf basket, with the chain area marked off at the appropriate height, allowing me to practice putting anywhere I could hang the contraption. A hour or so of peaceful distraction later, voilá!, the Pocket Putt 2000 was born.

By then it was time to pack up and head to the course, this time from the long pads, all ob in play, and in mixed weather conditions. Day three had the top three old guys running heading to head, as Julie apparently decided it would be more fun playing with her younger colleagues in MPO (OK, maybe that was the TD’s decision). I stepped up in the rain on tee pad one, ready to confront my demons from the morning, and promptly threw a weak hyzer straight ob, ensuring the bogie 5. Graham parred the hole, cut the lead to five, and I thought, ‘Well, here we go!’ That said, the poor throw strangely relieved the pressure I had been feeling and hole two and three were tap in birdies. After a brutal 45 minute wait to tee off on hole 5, I was able to score another birdie, putting me -2 for the day, now 11 strokes ahead, all but sealing the win barring a series of very unfortunate events (which happily never happened). I ended the day -1 (964), the event -17, and with my first win in a major provincial event since 2017.

Graham, myself, and David, post-event

Despite my internal mental stresses of the weekend, playing with Graham and David was, as always, a real pleasure. Everyone in our group was jovial and positive, even when running into trouble. The three of us also genuinely want our competition to throw well, and for the event to be determined based on our own personal performance, and not the misfortunes of our competition. Any given Sunday holds for disc golf too–and these comradely battles will continue.

Below are all the winners of the satellite events across Canada. And here’s hoping we’re all back together next fall at a truly national nationals in PEI.