Last weekend I traveled the 99 miles west to Columbia, MO for the Mid America Open, which I believe was my first PDGA tourney in 3 years other than the Gateway or Ozark Mountain Opens. The Men’s Pro division turnout was pretty weak with only 9 players, but three were 1000-rated pros and a few others were Columbians who knew the courses really well, so I knew this would be a tough event to win.
During the first round at Indian Hills I played with Fred Garver and Jake Bowen, both of whom I hadn’t seen in a long time. Since I hadn’t played that course in years or much disc golf period, my score suffered; I struggled and shot a 58. Many of the pin placements were tougher to get to than I remember and some I had not seen before at all. Fred ended up shooting the hot round in Open with a 52, which was pretty solid. He made a lot of jump putts and all of his testers for par.
Gateway Disc Sports has supported Fred Garver with discs and apparel for many years and this weekend Fred put those discs to good use. Fred threw “E” Warriors and “E” Scouts for most of his mid range shots with many parked right under the basket. He also made nearly everything inside 40’ with his trusty array of Wizards. It was obvious from the start that he was there to take nothing less than first. The only good thing about the first round for me was that I was only 6 shots out of first place, but little did I know that would be the closest I got.
Fred went on to shoot the best score in the second round, giving him a six-stroke lead after day one. I sat in fourth place, eight strokes back. After a better day two, I was sitting in third place going into the final nine, 1 back of Ken Franks and five ahead of Bryan Johnson. Fred again had the low score and cruised down victory lane to win the 27th annual Mid America Open by twelve strokes. I can honestly say that even on my best day I probably wouldn’t have beaten him. The crowd was behind him and he never let off the gas, hitting big putts and playing really solid golf all weekend. Hats off to Fred, he played great! As for me, I’m happy with second place; I didn’t really think I was going to take first because I’ve played maybe 20 rounds in the last two years. During the final nine I threw some great shots, some big drives, and made some solid putts with my own trusty Wizards, one of which I’ve had in my bag for nearly ten years. During the final nine I realized I had forgotten how it felt to perform in front of a crowd and how it felt when the crowd reacts to a great shot; it was awesome!
All in all, I had a great time seeing my old friends and meeting new ones, shooting some okay golf and discovering my love for competing in disc golf all over again. Keith Amerson, George Smith, and Mark Ehlert of the Columbia Disc Golf Club do such a great job of running this event and Gateway is happy to be a proud supporter of their club.
On a related note, Fred has been working hard on his course at Garverland and plans are under way to get Titan Portable targets out there soon. If you’re coming through Columbia in the near future, make sure you call Fred and set up a time to stop by his place and play his killer disc golf course.