Planning for the 8th Annual St. Louis Open (Supertour/A-Tier status) began nearly a year before the weekend of June 21st -23rd. Scheduling, Player’s Packs, course reservations, sanctioning agreements, and securing an adequate amount of volunteers takes more planning and time than one can imagine. The traditional STLO date of the first weekend in May had to be changed this year due to a last minute conflict with the PDGA’s own NT event, the Hall of Fame Classic. As big of a disappointment/hassle as this may have been, sometimes you just have to roll with the punches and make the best out of a situation. After the club took a close look at the available dates, they rested on the weekend of June 21st-23rd. The Kansas City Wide Open (PDGA NT event) took place the weekend prior, so the theory was that the touring pros would be in the area and making a quick drive to St. Louis would look pretty attractive. As it turns out, a few other clubs had the same idea. When the final scheduling was released by the PDGA, the STLO was going up against 6 other Supertour/A-Tier events! I am not sure what the PDGA was thinking on this one, but as the old saying goes, “The show must go on”. In the future, the PDGA should probably be a little bit more forthcoming with their scheduling information. Even with all of the competition, the STLO was able to bring in the 2nd highest amount of entrants out of all of the events. 198 total players participated in this year’s STLO. A big “THANK YOU” goes out to everyone that signed up this year!
The festivities started off on Friday morning with Check-In at Endicott Park. Everyone (including the PROs) received a Player’s Pack/Gift Pack. Without a doubt, this year’s Player’s Pack will be a contender for Player’s Pack of the year…the value of the bag of goodies was off the charts (eclipsing $100 in value by a long shot). Here is a quick rundown of the contents:
- Tournament Dri-Fit T-Shirt
- Stock stamped Dynamic Discs Bio-Fuzion Disc (mix of drivers and midranges)
- Tournament stamped Innova Disc (Roc3, Ontario Star Roc, KC Pro Roc, TFR Flat Top KC Pro Roc, Champion Tern, Metal Flake Tern)
- Tournament stamped Discraft Disc (Buzzz in Elite X, Z, ESP and Cryztal plastics, Nuke in Z and ESP plastics, Zombee in Z plastic, and Drone in Z, ESP, and Cryztal plastic)
- Tournament stamped Gateway Disc (super grippy black RFF Wizard)
- Schlafly logo stamped Disc (a sweet ultra-lightweight Gateway putter perfect for playing catch and warming up)
- Aluminum water bottle
- 24 oz. Koozie that fits around the water bottle
- Scorecard Clipboard – custom CNC milled to fit inside of a Gateway putter
- Erasable Scorecard
- Tournament Pencil Set
- Tournament Sticker
- Player’s Handbook with all of the pertinent information for the entire weekend
As you can tell, all of the AMs should have pretty much felt like winners before the competition even started!
After Check-In, all of the players had a couple of choices for what they could do for the rest of the day. Kyle Whitaker of Pin High Discs ran a PDGA C-Tier 1-Round Showdown at Carrollton Park DGC. This was a FLEX start event that gave the out of town players a chance to play the newest addition to the STLO course lineup. Local hotshot Zackeriath Johnson absolutely lit it up, shooting an insane 55 (course record). Although the PDGA currently has his round rated at 1054, the reality is that he was probably a lot closer to shooting an 1100 rated round. The closest competitors (both 1000+ rated players) were a distant 9 strokes behind, so you know that he absolutely crushed the championship layout!
The other option on Friday afternoon was the traditional Bring-Your-Own-Partner Doubles event at Endicott Park, run by Lars Nordgren of LSDiscs. This event is always a blast! The sounds of golfers enjoying some light-hearted competition could be heard throughout the evening. It is always nice to get a little fun time in before you have to tighten the screws up for the official weekend.
9AM Saturday morning was the official start of the 8th Annual STLO. The various pools played their 1st rounds in clear weather. The weather forecast all week had called for clear skies all weekend with a 20-30% chance of some spot storms. As fate would have it, that 20-30% chance turned out to be 100%. A nasty storm developed right over the St. Louis metro area right as the first rounds were finishing up or were completed. Some golfers reported torrential rain, flash flooding, hail, hydroplaning on the highway (yikes!), intense lightning, and, generally speaking, some dangerous weather. Luckily all of this pretty much took place in between the 1st and 2nd rounds. The 2nd round start times were delayed a bit because of this, but in all honesty, we were VERY fortunate that no one got caught out in the middle of the course when the weather gods threw down their best. Once the 2nd rounds got started, everyone had to deal with some lingering drizzle, standing water, and slick fairways/tee boxes, but the nasty stuff had moved on for the most part.
After the 2nd rounds were completed, most everyone headed back to Tournament Central at Endicott for the Player’s Party. All of the scores were tallied and displayed for everyone to see, there were some side games (Basket Toss and Accuracy Toss), and there was a nice spread of food catered by Qdoba restaurant. The only regret of tournament staff all weekend was that they didn’t monitor the food a bit better. Unfortunately some of the PROs were left out as their rounds didn’t finish up until close to dark and the rest of the pools maybe had a bit too much time and free reign…lesson learned. In the future there will either be more food or some volunteers making sure that everyone only gets their fair share (can’t blame the hungry golfers).
Sunday morning came around with the top cards in all of the pools getting their final chance to make a move before the Final 9. The PROs finished up their last full round at Endicott, with George Smith, Nikko Locastro, Justin Bunnell, and William Themm on the Men’s Pro Open lead card. The battle for 1st place was only separated by 1-2 strokes, so the competition was hot and heavy! As fate would have it, after the 18 holes were completed, the lead card was STILL only separated by 1-2 strokes going into the Final 9. This might have been the closest the competition has ever been at the St. Louis Open!
Just about every division’s lead card played a Final 9. The Pro Open Men, Pro Master Men, and Advanced divisions played a Safari Final 9, while the rest of the divisions played a Select Final 9. The Pro Open Men were the last to go. A very nice sized crowd of spectators followed them around and cheered for the good shots and groaned on the bad ones. It is always a nice treat to see some of the top golfers in the world show off their amazing skills and also show that even they are human and make a bad throw every now and then. The lead bounced around throughout the 9 holes, providing for some good drama. After all of the dust had settled, the 2013 St. Louis Open Champion was crowned. Nikko Locastro came out on top for his third year in a row!
Just as soon as the Final 9 rounds were completed, yet another set of nasty storms decided to pop up, cutting the Awards Ceremony short. All of the plaques and payouts were handed out as quickly as possible and everybody high-tailed it out of there. It was definitely an anticlimactic finish to such a great weekend, but St. Louis weather in June is what it is! No matter how it finished, when it was all said and done, the 2013 STLO was great success! A big “THANKS” goes out to all of the players, volunteers, spectators, and especially to Steady Ed Headrick for developing the game that we are so thoroughly enjoy!
See you all next year!