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!
I am going to start off by saying, “If you missed this event, you missed out on an incredible day of golf”! The weather was perfect, the courses were in as good as shape as I have ever seen them, and the overall atmosphere was quite jovial.
When we first arrived at the course, there was another golf outing that was just getting ready to head out onto the ball golf course. They all had their “breakfast drinks” in hand and an entourage of lovely ladies to “help” them around the course. It was pretty apparent that we were going to have to try really hard to be the unruly bunch of the day. SIDE NOTE – It was also noted later in the day that one of our groups was privy to a little unplanned side entertainment. Since everyone in attendance was of legal consenting age, I guess you could just consider this a bonus! But enough of the interesting anecdotes…let’s get to the competition…
The tournament started off with 2 rounds of 4-Man Scramble disc golf on the 4700’ White Course. It was decided that both rounds would be played back-to-back to help save a little time. Everyone was allowed to take a little break as they passed the clubhouse if desired, but it didn’t appear that anyone felt the need other than for the bathroom or for some cold beverages. A bunch of good scores were tallied and there even was an ACE by Team Hogan. It was a very tight race going into the ball golf – 3 teams were separated by only 3 strokes.
Deer Creek C.C. provided a build your own taco bar lunch in between so that everyone could stay on site. Nothing like a couple of overstuffed tacos/burritos and a couple of cold ones to get you ready for the afternoon!
Since this really is a disc golfer event, the 2 rounds of disc golf helped keep the importance of the ball golf round down a bit. As you would expect, most teams brought in a ringer that could take the pressure off of the rest of the ball golf newbies. Either way, it was a refreshing change to play the original game that inspired the one that all of DG’ers love so much! Team Stacked and Bogey Golf both turned in awesome scores (63 and 64 respectively), and overall I was very surprised at how low the ball golf scores were. Not bad for a bunch of disc junkies!
Team Stacked ended out coming out on top when it was all said and done. Considering their team name, it was probably a bit of a relief and a respite from any long-term ribbing from the other teams. Teams Ballz Deep and Slow Pokes rounded out the top 3 spots. Congratulations to the winners and to everyone that had as good a time as I did! This event will certainly become a mainstay in the GDS tournament lineup for years to come. The format might get tweaked a bit here and there, but the fun level should always remain the same. See you next time!
P.S. The next Gateway Disc Sports event will be the Iron Man on July 6th. The details are still being hammered out, but rest assured that this event will truly be the definition of “No Wimps, No Whiners”!
|2013 DG/BG Scramble – 6/8 – Deer Creek C.C.|
|Team Stacked (4)||$120||$160||43||45||63||151|
|Ballz Deep (4)||$120||$80||43||42||69||154|
|Slow Pokes (4)||$120||$60||44||41||76||161|
|Bogey Golf (3)||$120||48||50||64||162|
|Team Hogan (4)||$120||53||52||71||176|
|Ace Holes (4)||$120||53||56||69||178|
|Good Griefs (4)||$120||57||57||78||192|
|Team CTPs||Payout Calculations|
|Disc Golf||Total Cost ($30/man)|
|Round 1 – Hole 18 – Team Stacked||- Greens Fees ($20/man)|
|Round 2 – Hole 18 – Ballz Deep||= $10/man to payouts|
|+ $30 from Bogey Golf (4th Man)|
|Hole 8 – Team Stacked||Total Payout = $300|
|Hole 12 – Slow Pokes||1st – $160 2nd – $80 3rd – $60|
OK, so how many of you tried reducing the number of discs in your bag and spent the last few weeks practicing off the course?
For those that took this advice,, hopefully you are seeing improvement in your game and we are ready for a few more practice routines.
Lets start with Finesse:
Do you have a catch disc, ( 140-165 gram , 24-28 Cm diameter discs) .
80% of the time I ask a disc golfer to play catch as training they look at me like its a waste of time.
Trust me learning to control a disc nose up with hyzer is a very vital part of short drives and laying up, not too mention those 60 foot RUNS at the basket.
All right, if you don’t have a catch disc take a super soft or lightweight putter and find a partner.
Start off with a little stretching ( one of these blogs I’ll go over a stretching routine )
Now stand about 50 feet a part and throw the disc with only enough speed to land at your partner.
Since the catch discs are not going to fly dead flat at 50 you’re going to have to put a little hyzer and nose up on the discs to control. You should do your best to create a decent amount of spin on these shots. Throw about 20-30 passes and then step back about 25 feet, throw another 20-30 and step back another to 100. Hopefully you or your partner isn’t having to run all over the place. but if you do think of it as getting a good work out. Now from the 100 foot distance you should be trying hyzer all the way, hyzer flips turnover all the way low trajectory high trajectory. in fact try any way you can to get the disc to stay close to your partner. Try rollers, tomahawks side arm,, every shot you have with the catch disc.
For those of you having trouble controlling a catch disc, the main thing to remember is the spin has to match the speed, you cant have a whole bunch of velocity without enough rotation. If your throw had off axis torque ( also known as wobble, turbulence from not having a clean release.) you may want to work this out form the 50 foot range , maybe even move into to 25 so you can make successful passes back and forth.
I’m sure theres some of you out there who despite my 40 years of experience with frisbees and discs feel that a playing catch wont improve your game. the opposite is true, without the ability to control a catch disc chances are you’re not maximizing your full potential as a disc golfer.
Whats good about playing catch with a partner is you can get in about 200 throws in an hour, when it usually takes over 2 hours just to get in 50.
My next blog will be on how to create the most power out of your athletic ability! ( unless i find the time to come up with a stretching routine).
So in the first lesson I gave advice on “Getting to know” your discs and asked players to reduce the number of discs in your bag to closer to 15 discs than 24. While I know most probably didn’t take the advice or at least haven’t yet,,, hopefully some of you got out to the field to throw your discs and get to know them. By throwing shots in a field as opposed to on the course you get a chance to really try things you have never tried before and get a the back-to-back reps needed to hone in on ALL the different shots needed to have a well rounded game. Confidence in your discs and the shots required during a tournament is something that will certainly improve your game. If you’ve taken the advice and are working towards reducing the number of discs to a more manageable amount , your on your way to lower scores and having more fun.
Today I want to give a offer a quick routine for putting practice.
Even though putting is a lot less physical than driving I recommend a good stretching routine before every workout or round and we will get to a stretching routine soon, for now use what you know and just try and get all of your muscles loose.
For the serious disc golfer getting ready for a tournament, I suggest ONLY training with a basket that catches very well. Throwing too many putts into a poor catching target could actually hurt your game and your confidence in making putts.
Ok here we go putting routine 1.0 !
Take all of your putters and start by throwing 20 shots ( not your putting stroke, but a backhanded toss) into the basket from 5-10 feet. I know this may seem silly but the reason is simple, I want you to see how well the chains catch the discs and seeing 20 or so throws hit chains and stick will help you develop confidence it a good firm chain hit.
Ok start from about 12 feet and do a little rapid fire without going through your routine, but with a close resemblance to your stroke. This is an important part of the practice routines that helps with technique and should be incorporated into your practice sessions religiously.
Whether that is spin putting from your between your legs or from your chest or a pendulum swing push putt, do this in a more athletic nature at first as opposed to the slowed down version of your actual putting routine, get a total of 40 -50 throws in ranging from 12-24′ in sets of 5 from 12′,15′,18′ and 24′ to get the muscle memory going.
ok go back to about 12′ from the basket and go through your putting routine with each disc ( 20 shots) hopefully you have at least 10 putters which will make this a lot easier and more time efficient.
Step back to 15, 18 and 24 with 20 putts from each going through each shot with your full routine.
ok so now you’ve thrown about 120-150 putts and your feeling pretty good about your putting inside 24 feet and you want to start hitting some monster putts.
Too often I see players practicing mostly 30-50 footers and hitting a low percentage right before the round. I’d prefer you hit 90% form inside 24 right before you start taking that kind of confidence into the round.
At this point I know you cant help it and you want to hit some big putts, so spend 10-20 minutes in the 24-50 range and get it out of your system. I suggest waiting but my expereince tells me most are not going to just practice 12-24′ putts WITHOUT putting the 24-50.
Before you start throwing the longer putts i want you to try something, step back up to 15 feet and throw ( not your putting stroke but a back hand throw) about 20 shots into the chains, now step back to 24 and throw 20 again,, what did you notice, was the backhand throwing motion just as effective as your putting stroke?
If your not successful with this backhand toss from 15-24 feet i suggest working on this a bit and then we will move to 24′ – 50′ and then on to approaching and laying up from 50′-150′. You should limit the time spent on the 30-50 foot putts until you really have the under 24′ putts success rate at 80-90%.
I want to help new players with developing a practice routine — so here’s lesson number one.
There are many shots in disc golf and they all require practice in order to improve on them.
Today I want to help you “get to know the discs in your bag”!
Lots of newer players to the game will typically have about 25 discs in their bag.
Try as I may, I have had a hard time convincing players to reduce the number of discs in their line up. In my opinion it is extremely difficult to really know the flight characteristics of 25 different discs and have the confidence throw every one of them with accuracy.
With that said … i suggest you start by reducing the number of discs you use for tournament play to 12-15. Chances are no one will do this. After all, you invested hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars in your discs and you feel compelled to use all of them.
So … take your big bag of discs out to a soccer or football field (that hopefully has short grass so you don’t spend your time looking for the discs) and start with a little stretching and loosening up.
If you have a partner, passing a catch disc or softer putter, back and forth, from about 50-100 feet is perfect.
Ok … your loosened up and ready to get to really know your big-bag-o-discs.
I suggest starting by throwing putters at 50% power — which should equal about 150-foot shots. Work your way to mid-ranges and then drivers for the first set of throws.
Start by trying to throw mostly straight or flat shots. Repeat the same style of throws for all of the discs in your bag, down and back or 2 reps.
On the next set of throws start imagining shots that you would use each disc for, whether that’s a turnover, hyzer, sidearm tomahawk etc.
Repeat this for at least 4 reps.
Ok, so now you have 150 or so throws in and your getting some good feedback.
Now try and see what other shots you can do with your discs that you typically do not do.
Like try hyzering your turnover discs and turnover your hyzer discs. Maybe work on throwing different heights or trajectories with your putters and mid-ranges … see what they are capable of in terms of glide and carry. Practice outside of the box.
Wind down this practice session by picking out your top 10 favorite discs — or the ones you have the most confidence. Give them 4 more reps (40 more throws), simulating the shots you would use those particular discs for during a round.
It is important that this practice session take place on a field and not on the course.
Give this routine a week or two and you will notice that by having a smaller lineup, you will reduce your errors, increase your confidence and give yourself more chances to score. In the next lesson I’ll ask if you reduced the number of discs in your starting lineup. With a manageable lineup, we can get to some more in depth training routines.
The preferred lineup for most top pros will look like this:
There is not one shot in the game that cannot be completed with these discs. To know all fifteen discs requires a lot of off-the-course training and practice.
Having much more than fifteen discs in your starting lineup will most likely compromise your ability to have the utmost confidence with each disc.
The Famous quote ( press conference) from Allen Iverson was in reference to the coach saying Iverson was dogging it in practice. While “some” highly skilled professional basketball players may think practice isn’t important and they have their skills honed in as an individual, practicing as a team is a very important part of winning championships. Last timeI checked Allen did NOT win a ring as a pro. Team sports are much different than individual sports and certainly require game plans and executing them in order to be the best, but without a serious training regiment and the willingness to get the most out of practice, you can only go so far.
Disc golf like all other individual sports requires spending time practicing to improve or maintain a high level of play. You wanna get better at throwing a roller? Well,,,throwing 1 or 2 during your afternoon bag tag challenge a few times a week is better than nothing, but pales in comparison to throwing 30 rollers in 10 minutes in a field.
Practice and training takes time and commitment and you have to understand the importance of working things out in practice and then bringing them to the game once you have developed the confidence.
So you heard about a grip different than yours, or a longer run up, a longer back swing, more follow through??? You saw a guy throw over the trees on a hole at your home course that you always try to thread the needle. You want to improve you game?? Really?? How long do you want it to take to get better??
You think you can do it while playing for score in your monday night league? Sure, you can get a little better, slowly but surely,,,,, but guys that are really good at disc golf train like true professionals. They are constantly trying new things, a new disc, honing down a hole on thursday for the upcoming event. Working these things out on the practice field and then implementing changes into your game day, require developing lots of confidence in the changes. The worst thing a player can do is lack confidence in a shot or a disc.
In this blog today I want to be clear,,, if you play disc golf for fun and just don’t have the time to practice, than have fun at your league night, have fun in your round with your friends and have fun when you get the chance to play a tourney on the weekend. For players that want to get the most of their skills and challenge themselves to be the best they can be, its practicing and working hard that will get the best and fastest results.
When I first started traveling out of town to compete at disc golf in 1983,, I realized a few things:
1) I had as much disc golf skill as anyone.
2) My 18 years of playing sports had me in as good of shape as any disc golfer I had met.
3) my years of team sports and being a part of lots of winning teams and knowing what it took to get there all started with combining DESIRE with practice and being prepared!
So, my desire to win was also up there with the likes of Dave Greenwell, Johnny Sias and Steve Wisecup. Seeing these guys compete at the highest level and their determination to win and be the best,,,, immediately inspired me to do what was necessary in order to “HANG” with them,,,which was,,,,practice more, train harder and be more prepared than anyone else.
I started setting goals for my training regiment which included number of reps per week for putting,laying up and drives. I set a goal to improve my game and be able to “BEAT” these guys.
While my natural abilities had gotten me close, I had a long way to go and i knew right away that it wasn’t possible without practice and training.
Over the next few weeks I’m going to cover many areas of training and practice routines,, from 10 foot putts, to monster rollers and even diet and cross training exercises.
I’ll close this blogpost out by mentioning the fact that starting at about 16 years old I saw Nikko put in more time practice putting in my backyard then anyone could have possibly put in (sure may have been grounded to the yard, but he sure made use of his time there). He eventually combined his off course training which included lots of practice shots in an open field with after schools rounds of disc golf at Endicott park,,, often playing by himself and throwing 4 or 5 drives and lay ups on every hole, often 2 or 3 rounds a day. Of course Nikko started with a ton of skill but it was the hours of practice that catapulted him from a decent amateur to one of the best players to have ever played this game.
Of course there’s always one or two guys that seem to do well without training, but most likely this isn’t you. While in Florida back in winter of 1998/99 we were at Ken Climo’s playing cards,, every time ken folded a hand, he ran outside and threw a few dozen putts. After 4 hours of card playing Ken had about 300 putts thrown. So even with 9 consecutive pdga world championships Ken was still very at adamant about his training,,,that’s why he’s the champ!
Check back soon for some of the training methods that I have used as well as many of the other top players in the sport today.
Disc Golf is now more popular than even with no signs of it slowing down.
The PDGA has done such a great job of providing an outlet for the competitive adult disc golfer. The collegiate championships will certainly grow the sport at the college level, but not much has been done nationally to create more play among kids under 16.
A few years back myself and other members of our club here in ST Louis, wanted to run more events geared for kids, but the board at the time wasn’t quite sure if bringing kids out to our events was a good idea. Disc golf has been long known for its counter culture side and ” extra curricular activities” that have become the norm. We actually had a vote about trying to attract kids under 16 to play at our events. At the time, the consensus was that our members didn’t want to give up their behavior in favor of more kids playing at our events. There was an effort made to run JR only events, but unfortunately after a few low turnouts the direction was abandoned.
Over the last 10 years there has been a 30% drop in JR play in Ball golf, but more recently the number of kids playing golf has risen and is now on a huge increase as high school and jr golf is more popular than ever,, especially amongst girls.
The PGA has several programs including First TEE and the Drive, Chip and putt competition ( based on the NFL’s punt, pass and kick) and these programs are churning out the young golfers of the future.
Yes we ( disc golf) does have the E.D.G.E. program, but after a closer look this program appears to be more of a marketing program for one particular company. Ive tried on several occasions to donate 500 discs to the program, but my efforts were not welcome.
I feel its time for the pdga or maybe a new group of promoters to spend the time energy and money that is necessary to establish JR disc golf as part of the sport.
I’m writing this blog to start the discussion as whether or not the current organized entities in the sport are ready to do whats necessary to allow kids to play WITH us or is a separate JR disc golf the only way this will work?
Please repost this article on your local club message board or share with your friends on Facebook and twitter and go to our website and vote on what you think is the best direction to head today.