2014 Ozark Fall Harvest Re-Cap
Another successful Ozark Mountain event is in the books! A big thanks goes out to all of the individuals that helped prepare the courses during the period of the last couple of weeks. Unless you are part of the crew, it is impossible to fully comprehend the amount of time, effort, and money that goes into getting everything ready. Every Spring and Fall Dave McCormack and his band of dedicated workers spend countless man-hours mowing, trimming, pruning, weed-whacking, and marking the 3 courses to get them ready for the annual events. Without Dave’s dedication to this piece of property, none of us would get to enjoy one of the greatest disc golf complexes in the world. THANK YOU!!!
The weekend saw 68 official players (and a handful of Sunday add-ons) take on the many challenges that the 3 course complex offers. Some arrived as early as Wednesday and some weren’t planning on leaving until Monday evening so that they could squeeze in as much golf as possible. Personally, my legs have usually had their fill after playing the 3 official tournament rounds, but I completely understand the mentality of getting in as many rounds as possible while the courses are looking so good.
As usual, Dave went out of his way to ensure that everyone (pros included) received a sweet player’s pack and that the payouts weren’t compromised because of them. For $10 of the entry fee, everyone received a custom stamped G-Series Wizard, a Scott Stokely Fly High Disc, a full-color logo long sleeve T-Shirt, and a stash mini:
Additionally, Dave also added cash to every division as well, so you know that the payouts were more than fair. This really shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that has been to the Ozarks before, as Dave has always been more concerned with providing everyone a memorable experience versus making a few bucks. In a way, you can consider the 2 Ozark events that Dave puts on every year as a gift from Gateway Disc Sports to the disc golf community. Once again, THANK YOU DAVE!!!
Most of the campers showed up on Friday and were greeted with some amazing weather…this was not going to be one of those years where the courses/campground are covered in a hard frost every morning! Night-time lows only got down to the mid 50’s and the day-time highs reached close to 90 degrees. How nice is that for late October?! I think I even heard some people complaining about it being too hot…how quickly they forget!
Friday night officially started off the scheduled tournament festivities. NOMAD DG set up a glow course for some night time play with their custom glow chain/blacklight setup. If you have not seen this in person, it is by far the coolest glow setup around…the glowing chains look insane! On top of this, John Manion/Miller Brewing Co. provided a bottomless supply of brew for the weekend. Try as everyone might to finish all 10 x 5-gallon kegs, I believe that some beer ended up having to be dumped when it was all said and done. Let’s go ahead and call this an Ozark first! THANK YOU NOMAD DG and JOHN MANION!!!
The competition started at high noon on Saturday. All of the Pros and Advanced players started on Spencer-Davis, and the rest of the field (Intermediate, Recreational, and Women) started on Ozark Mountain. There was not a cloud in the sky and just enough wind to make it interesting. The only “casualty” of the day happened on the big course, when Victor Roarke had to call it quits due to some overheating in the unseasonably warm conditions. I can honestly say that I almost fell victim to the same demise when I got to the top of Spencer-Davis Hole 3, so he should definitely feel no shame…the Ozark Mountain DG Complex can be a brutal test!
At the end of the first day of competetion, Gateway Pro Justin Bunnell had taken a commanding lead in the Pro Open Division, carding a smoking 54 on Spencer-Davis, with local John Manion in hot pursuit, carding a solid 59. In the Pro Masters division, Roger Reyes and host Dave McCormack both started things off nicely, carding a 58 and 59 respectively. In the Advanced division, Gateway’s own Dominick Clark shot a stellar 56, taking a 4 stroke lead over Matthew Rowe. On the big course, the Intermediate division was shaping up with some tight competition – Brandon Luebbering, Micah Johnson, and Will Ward ended the day in a dead heat at 77. Aaron Hill started off the tournament in style, carding a bodacious 77 in the Recreational division, with Sam Huberburger nipping at his heels, carding a 79. Melissa Tunis (the lone female warrior of the weekend), carded a very respectable 92 on her quest for a wire-to-wire victory!
Saturday night at the campground was once again one of the main attractions of the weekend (at least for me)! The glow baskets were kicked back on by NOMAD DG and a formal glow doubles round took place. I believe that there were around 12 teams that particiapated, with the top score going to the team of Nic LaBanca and Allen Hooper. Good work fellas! There were at least 4 unique campfire areas set up for everyone to stay toasty at and the neverending flow of some fine Miller Brewing Co. product continued late into the night. If there was a competition for which campfire ignored the early tee-times and stayed up the latest, it would certainly have to go to the “Camp Soggy Log” group. They did their best to send John Manion back with a bunch of empty kegs, but alas it was not to be. Even some breakfast libations on Sunday morning couldn’t tap the last keg out.
The Sunday morning rounds started off with plenty of dew on the ground and a slight chill in the air. Everyone was forced with the decision as to whether or not to dress warm for the early morning or dress down for the impending heat. As Mother Nature would have it, it didn’t take long for it warm up. By 11AM, I am sure that just about everyone had their bags over-stuffed with any extra layers they had put on, as the temperatures were already approaching 90 degrees and nary a cloud in the sky.
Round 2 saw the Open/Advanced divisions playing the Ozark Mountain course. George Smith shot the hot round on Ozark Mountain, shooting a 65 (course par 72). Justin’s lead took a bit of a hit, but he still maintained a nice 3 stroke going into the final round, shooting a 68. In the Masters division, Roger once again shot the hot round, carding a 71, giving him a 4 stroke lead over Jerry Barklage going into the final round. Nic LaBanca and Doug Buettgen both shot a very respectable 76 in the Advanced division. The lead card of Dominick, Matthew, and Andy Roden all seemed to set their cruise controls at too slow of a speed and let the second card make their move. Nic LaBanca headed in to the final round as the Advacned division leader by 1 stroke! The Advanced Masters divison played their final round (they all agreed to forgoe the third round), with Jack Lowe shooting a very nice 80, taking home the title of Advanced Master Champion. Congratulations, Jack!
The Intermediate and Recreational divisions started off Sunday on Akita’s Run. Brandon once again shot the hot round in the Intermediate division, carding a solid 56 on a very tight and technical par 54 layout. Dave DeMoss made a nice jump in the ranks, shooting a 58, getting himself to within 5 of the leader headed into the final round. In the Recreational division, Andrew Bignall absolutely smoked Akita’s Run, shooting a 54, giving himself a 5 stroke lead over Aaron and Sam going into the final round. In the Women’s division, Melissa protected her lead, carding a very solid 70.
After a short lunch break, everybody was sent back out for their third and final rounds. Personally, my legs were telling me “NO” and my brain was telling me “NO DNF”. I wasn’t going to let the Ozark Mountian DG Complex defeat me, so I carried on. Every uphill tee-shot looked that much more intimidating and every hike up the hills seemed that much more daunting. Gotta love it!
The Pro and Advanced divisions finished up the tournament on Akita’s Run. Even with it’s shorter length, there is nothing easy about the layout, so there is always plenty of room to make a move. In the Open division, Justin got down to taking care of business, shooting a 49. Eventhough Aaron Walther shot the hot round with a 47, Justin’s score was plenty to secure the title. Congatulations, Justin! In the Master’s division, Roger once again shot the hot round with a 52, finishing up his wire-to-wire victory. Congratulations, Roger!
The Intermediate and Recreational divisions finshed up their weekend on Spencer-Davis. This is certainly no easy task, as the dramatic inclines and constant hiking up and down can really put your legs to the test! In the Intermediate division, Brad Hilton shot the hot round with a 63, making a valiant attempt to catch Brad. Brad was up for the competition, however, and he secured his wire-to-wire victory, shooting a 65 and winning by 5 strokes. Congratulations, Brad! In the Recreational division, Seth Black shot the hot round with a sweet 66, launching himself into the payouts, while Aaron Hill shot a 68, launching him to victory by 1 stroke over Andrew. Congratulations, Aaron! In the Women’s division, Melissa finished off her wire-to-wire victory shooting another great score with a 75. Congratulations, Melissa!
As darkness fell, the scores were all tabulated, prizes were paid out, and everyone headed out on their separate ways after a very memorable Ozark Fall Harvest tournament. If you weren’t able to make it this year, make sure you free up your calendar next year…if this year’s tournaments were any indication of what is to come, you won’t want to miss out! See you next year!