Heavy snowfall Friday night into Saturday could not keep 60 disc golfers from making their way to Pine Hills Golf Club in Ottawa to compete in the 3rd Annual Pine Hills Ice Bowl. Disc golfers from all over the state risked dangerous driving conditions and closed roads to play in this annual fundraiser event. Over $2,000 and 195 lbs of food were raised for the Youth Service Bureau of Illinois Valley’s “Street Outreach” program. Tournament Director, Dana Vicich attributed the strong turnout to the reputation of Pine Hills as being a great place to play disc golf, especially on a cold and snowy day like Saturday. Players took advantage of the warm clubhouse between rounds as well as the numerous fires out around the course during rounds. He also cited that in general, disc golfers have big hearts and love to help a worthy cause. A big round of applause needs to go to Jeremiah Pike and the Pine Hills staff for their hard work and countless hours they put into hosting the event. Pike has seen the event grow each year and looks to continue that trend in 2015. For more information on how to help the Youth Service Bureau and their Street Outreach program, call 815-433-3953.
While chatting with a buddy after the whole World’s fiasco, he told me that I was going to go win the next tournament I play in. We’re both similarly rated and have experienced some of the same ups and downs. “Miss the cut one weekend and win the next!” I took this conversation to heart and decided that was exactly what I was going to do. It wasn’t easy getting right back on the horse, but that’s what I did. What helped make the decision was that Plastic Addicts was hosting the Central Illinois Championships at two of the best courses in Illinois, McNaughton and Morton (Northwood Park).
McNaughton is a classic course and known as one of the most challenging courses in the state for the past 15+ years. It is one of my favorite courses of all time. I can remember my first time playing there, it was in ’03 and I had only been playing for a year. I played it with my left hand, as my right hand was broken from a lacrosse accident. Like most of the locals that play McNaughton, I only managed to play the easier front nine.
Over the following years I would try to get over and play McNaughton as much as possible. As I got better and better, it became a goal to shoot a round in the 40s from the long tees. This feat had only been accomplished two times, and that was by Brian Schweberger (long time touring pro) and Cam Todd (’01 World Champ). They both did this when the course was a little bit easier. Many of the long tees have been lengthened and a few baskets pushed into tougher placements since then, making it extremely difficult to break into the 40s. There had been many events with many world class players and no one had been able to do it. Many rounds started out on pace to shoot in the 40s, but would fizzle out on the difficult and demanding back 9.
I woke up early Saturday morning and made the two hour drive down to Pekin. I was feeling pretty good about my putt, even after coming off a horrendous showing at the World Championships. I had put in some time on the practice basket and found my putting rhythm. Adding a little ‘hitch’ seemed to get my timing back together.
I started my round on one of the easier par 3 birdie holes, hole 2. A solid drive left me with a 28 ft. downhill putt, which I confidently made. I then went on to have drop in birdies on the following 2 holes. Short birdie putts were made on holes 5 and 6 before I took pars on 7 and 8. Another good birdie putt on 9 left me at 6 under par after 8 holes being played. This was not new territory, as many others have lit up the front 9 before. The back 9 is where things get serious. I was unable to capitalize on any of the few par 3s on the back, but I was getting 3s, which is not easy to do. My hot putting streak ended on hole 17 when I missed my difficult, downhill putt for 3 and carded a par (4). At this point, I knew that I had a special round going. Just thinking about it right now makes me feel like I could go out and putt as brilliantly as I did for those first 16 holes. Hole 18 is one of the better finishing holes in the state. Unfortunately, a few of the trees that made the drive difficult are now dead and gone. I took advantage and ripped a solid teeshot. It wasn’t my best drive on the hole, but it left me in a spot where I could reach the pin on my 2nd throw. I proceed to nail my 400+ foot upshot. It looks like I’m parked for the birdie 3 and that baring any craziness on hole 1, I was going to card a 49. As we get to the basket for #18, we see that I’ve gone deep and have a tester for my birdie. Had I done as so many others before me have done? Did I count my chips before I had em? These were the thoughts bouncing around my brain.
I am now facing a 25 footer for what is most likely a record round. I had just missed a putt on 17. I shake these thoughts off and all of the other negative ones that were wreaking havoc on my confidence. I go through my routine, which now consisted of the mantra, “Hold the pose, like D-Rose” (a reminder to follow through on putts). My card-mates stare on, possibly aware of my score or possibly thinking about their shots and their less than stellar round. I’m now in my routine and putting just another 25 footer. In the scheme of things, that’s all it is, just another putt. Center chains and it sticks on the old basket. I don’t let my emotions get to me, we still have hole 1 to play.
Hole 1 is a par 3, but its a pretty tough birdie. It is easy to rack up a 4 if you get aggressive and miss your shot. I take a safe shot that nearly turns out perfect. I play the low flex shot with an overstable disc and I just clip one of the guardian trees. No bad kick. It just drops me into the fairway, roughly 125 feet out. So I’m left with all of the same thoughts as the last hole and I can hear the story, “I had a 49 in the bag, but couldn’t get up and down from 125 ft on hole 1″. Not today though. I again bear down, pushing out the negativity and perfectly place my Ridge (Vibram Putter) next to the basket. It was such a relief to tap out and count up the scorecard. I had done it, a 49 from McNaughton long tees. Too bad it wasn’t a few years ago when there was a $50 bounty offered by the TD (coincidentally I was the TD) on a sub 50 round. I didn’t care though. I could have shot it in a practice round and been this happy. But I managed to put it together and do it during the 1st round of a B-tier. That was just the icing on the cake.
I went on to win the tournament after a decent 2nd round over at Morton. It felt more like a celebratory walk in the park than a competitive tournament round. In a year of ups and downs, this round would definitely be one of my biggest highs.
A month later a star studded field of golfers tackled McNaughton long tees for the Ledgestone A-tier. Lefty all-star Devan Owens absolutely shredded the long tees. Owens would unfortunately (for him) run into problems on hole 17, much like I did. He wasn’t as fortunate though, carding a bogey 5. He would finish his round on 18 with a birdie 3 to card another 49. I am not gonna lie, I was excited that my 49 was not trumped. I’m happy to share the record with a friend and great golfer like Devan.
So there is the story of my 49. Many of you probably haven’t played the long tees at McNaughton, but I’m sure you have a course that you can relate my story to. I’m already looking forward to getting back out there and trying to top those 49s.
I battled poor putting and a weak mental game all week at the World Championships. In the end, I came up pretty short of where I would have liked to finish. I’m disappointed, but eager to learn from it and move on. Moving on is what I’ll be doing this weekend at the Central Illinois Championships, presented by Plastic Addicts. (If anyone needs discs, I suggest purchasing from Plastic Addicts!). We are playing on two of my favorite Illinois courses- Northwoods Park and McNaughton Park. Then on Sunday, I’ll be heading out East to one of my favorite events of the year- The Vibram Open. Really looking forward to that trip, with my good friend Miles from Paragon Disc Golf. After the Vibram, I’m ganging up with a few friends and we’re heading up to Vermont for some disc golf and brewery adventures. It is going to be a good few weeks out on the road. I’ll be happy to get back home to see Ashley and get back to wedding planning (11-23!!!). I will only be home for a few days before heading back down to Peoria for the Ledgestone Insurance Championships. I had a horrendous finish to that event last year, so I’m really itching to put together a solid performance this year. Thanks for reading, I will try and keep up with a few posts here and there during the trip!
I’ve been spending quite a bit of time at Lemon Lake (LL) over in Indiana practicing for the upcoming World Championships. Many discs have been lost and will be lost out there at LL. I’ve lost my share, that’s for sure. I took it to a new level this week and went and lost my phone out there. Other than that little problem, my practice rounds have been going well. I’m feeling fresh and confident coming into the World Championship week. Here’s to hoping I don’t lose anything else at LL over the next ten days.
Finally, this weekend I’m getting back at it. Haven’t playing in a tournament since Beaver State Fling! Its been a good break, in which I’ve used to do some fun things with friends and family. I’ve also been getting a good amount of practice in. My Bullseye practice basket hasn’t got too much of a break.
This weekend I’ll be competing for the Illinois State Disc Golf Championship. This is one of my favorite events of the year. I’m currently the back to back runner up at IL States. I’m working hard to try and not make it 3 years in a row. The tournament takes place at one of my favorite local courses in Joliet- Highland Park.
The World Championships are right around the corner as well. They are being held at the Lemon Lake disc golf complex in Cedar Lake, IN. Its only a little over an hour for me to drive to ‘Lemon’, so I’ve been getting a good amount of practice in there. I’m looking forward to a week of disc golf competition. Its a beautiful thing when you wake up and the only thing that you have to do is play disc golf.
Back to practice putting.
After a fun weekend of disc golf in IL, Ashley and I flew out Sunday night for Portland, OR. We’re here to play in the Beaver State Fling and also to visit good friends. Our yearly trip to Portland is always a favorite.
Prior to nearly missing our flight, I played in two tournaments- The Sinnissippi Open and then Leo B’s Hundred Dolla Holla on Sunday. On Saturday, I played one of my best rounds of the year during the first round. I played a bogey free round that included 15 twos over 24 holes! This was not a duece or die layout either. My 2nd round was not so hot. I was able to hang on and win the tournament by one stroke. On Sunday, I grinded it out at Trinity Links in Lockport, IL at the Leo B Holler. Too many bogey strokes during R1 killed me. I played a solid 2nd round and was able to finish in a tie for 3rd and a healthy payday for a little unsanctioned event. Congrats to Fierke for slaying it 2nd round and taking down the W.
We’ve been hanging at our good friend, Steve’s place for the past few days. Got a chance to check out Blue Lake, which will be a course played in the World Championships in 2014. Tough course with tons of OB. Other than that, we’ve been out to Milo McIver prepping for the BSF this weekend. The weather is looking to take a turn for hot, which is nothing new for us. We’re prepared and looking forward to the event.
On Monday, we’re going to head to the Oregon Coast for the day/night and get in some beach time. I could live out here, but it is just too far away from family. Thanks for reading and I’ll try and update again sometime soon.
Last year, upon leaving the Kansas City Wide Open (KCWO), I had an awful taste in my mouth. I was amidst an awful stretch of disc golf. My game was way off. It was my first year attending the KCWO and I was blown away by the greatness of the event. It was awesomely organized and I enjoyed myself very much, when off the course that is.
Flash forward to the present. I’m back at the KCWO and looking to redeem myself for my lackluster performance the prior year. A positive mindset combined with solid putting and only a few bogies helped lead me to my best National Tour finish of my career. With a solid final round, I snuck into the top 10, finishing in a tie for 9th. I was rewarded with a solid payday and an invite to the United States Disc Golf Championship.
On top of the positive mindset, good putting and minimal bogies I have to give some credit to the Vibram Lace. Shot after shot, the Lace performed for me. I had some really great 400+ foot drives that flew perfectly straight. If I needed a distance shot to finish to the right, the Lace was up to the challenge. Countless upshots with my Ridge put me in contention for birdies. As always, the Ridge performed well, especially when the winds were up.
This was also the first tournament (and first time ever) that I wore a Big Hyzer Ergo bag. The Ergo is a newly released bag that I have to give some credit to. Playing on the long and hilly KC courses in crazy heat and humidity is not easy. You need all the energy you can get. The Ergo was honestly a joy to have on my back. It distributes the weight very nicely and comfortably. I’m glad that I didn’t have to lug my old bag around those hills all weekend. As of 6-15, they are available for sale at the above link.
Big thanks to everyone in KC for putting on another great show. I plan on being back next year and hopefully I’ll be able to recruit some more players to come down and see what its all about.
It was originally going to be a quick Spring series, but due to courses flooding twice, we stretched it out a little bit. The Finale was held in Streator, IL at the beautiful Marilla Park on June 8. 80 players came out and enjoyed the challenging Marilla course. Congrats to the Series Winners- Open: Alan Wagner, Advanced: Kyle Chapman, Intermediate: Matt Skrogstad, Rec: Brennan Krenz, Novice: Jeremiah Bly, Int. Women: Judy Reiter, Adv. Sr. GM: Mark Harston.
Big thanks to all of our sponsors and even bigger thanks to the players. I’ll be doing a ‘Thank You’ post series raffle. You get your name entered for each event played, but if you played all three you get your name in five times. I’ve got some great prizes, like a Big Hyzer 8 Frame Bag as well as ILL Series Discs and more. I leave to play in the Kansas City Wide Open National Tour on Wed, so the raffle may have to wait until I return.
Until next time,
Pine Hills will be out at the Finale this Saturday taking lunch orders during registration/check in. A few different wraps will be available as well as pizza. Cost will be around $5 (2 slices of ‘za or a wrap and chips). Ottawa Sparkling Beverage will be on hand selling old school bottles of soda as well.
With the onslaught of rain we’ve had lately, Marilla Park has some standing water. No, it is not nearly as bad as this past April when we had to cancel the event. We will have to tweak a few things to make it work though.
-Play hole 3 Tee to 4 Basket
-After playing to hole 4′s Basket, walk up the road to the upper portion of the park to play 3 temp holes.
-Upon finishing the 3 temp holes, play hole 5 w/standing water on right OUT OF BOUNDS. I will have this water flagged out. All other water on course will be played as casual water (minus the creek).
-For hole 6, we will use hole 4′s teepad
-Hole 15 (the awesome par 5 aka signature hole) will be shortened to a par 4 due to standing water near the basket.
Please remember that hole 12 has a mandatory, which is marked by an arrow. On hole 15 it is mandatory that you play to the left of 14′s basket.
There is quite a bit of poison ivy at the course, so plan accordingly.