Somebody else, but I had a blast playing in my first tournament. I played in the 2015 Tupelo Fall Classic at Tombigbee State Park. We had eleven people in the novice division. For tournaments hosted by the TDGA, they have the novice division for those who have never played in a tournament. After playing in that first tournament, one is required to play in the amateur intermediate division or higher. Of the two courses at the park, the novice division played two rounds on what is known as Bigbee 1. It is the shorter course at just over 3800 feet from the blue pads, and probably around 3300 feet from red pads, with a par of 54.
I had gotten out to the course for a practice round on Friday. It was my first ever round at the course, even though it is less than five miles from where I work. After Saturday, I was glad I got that one partial round in, as I knew the course somewhat when the tournament started. For my first round, I played with a husband and wife duo and a junior division player. The TD put the juniors each with a separate card owing to the majority had never played in a tournament setting nor played the course.
The first nine holes of the first round went very well. I had three birdies and two bogeys, and was one under going into the back nine.
Starting out the back nine with two pars, hole number 12 was where my round went south. An early tree off the tee led to a poor upshot, not because of the throw, which was nice, but the disc landed right behind a small tree about twenty five feet from the basket. Not using a straddle putt very much, and not having practiced a straddle putt at all, I fell short on my par putt, taking a bogey. Hole 13 was similar, though just a botched drive, poor upshot, then a missed par putt. Continuing the poor play, I took a triple bogey on hole 14, a double bogey on hole 15, and a bogey on hole 16. Fortunately, I was able to par out, and finished the first round with a seven over 61. Thank goodness for lunch and the break between rounds.
I failed to mention one big difference from Friday evening to Saturday morning. The wind was howling Saturday morning when it was calm the evening before. While it only affected play on two holes, those were the holes that I took the triple and double bogeys. It played a large role in my play during the second round. After eating, my attack strategy changed. A visit to my vehicle saw my ditch my large bag in favor of my small bag, a NutSac Bags single bag. It holds six to nine discs, depending on the molds. I took along a Prodigy 400G D4 and 400S PA4, an Axiom Crave, a Westside VIP Bard, a Dynamic Discs Fluid Escape, Lucid Suspect and Fluid Warden.
What a difference it made making those disc and bag changes. I knew what each disc could do for me and did not have to make much of a choice when reaching in the bag. The start of the second round saw me in seventh place and playing a crowded course as all players were on Bigbee 1. My card started on hole 15, a lengthy par 3 at 381 feet from the red tee.
While taking a bogey to start the round, I was fine with that hole’s score since it was so windy. I took par on the next two holes, then racked up three birdies in a row. After a lot of par saves, crucial second shots to give me a chance at par, and a few bogeys, I finished the round with a bogey on hole 14. Tracking the round on my phone with the Udisc app, I finished with a one under 53. In almost two years of playing disc golf, that second round was the first one I’ve ever played under par. I finished the tournament in sixth place out of eleven novices. Fortunately, the payout was for six places, so I got a disc out of it.
There are a few things I would like to relate about my first tournament experience. All of the following points are something positive and useful when playing at any time.
- Know Your Game – Having never played the course until the day before the tournament, I wasn’t sure what I would need in terms of types of discs and how many to carry. The first round, I bore my large bag with all of the discs I like to throw. The second round, I changed to my small bag with fewer discs because I knew the shots I needed to make and what would work.
- Be Cordial to Cardmates – I had great conversation with everybody I played with. We talked about where we were from, courses we had played, others we knew playing, etc. Compliments on good throws abounded, and bad shots were dismissed and laughed at with no negativity displayed.
- Rules Can be Bent – For playing in a division with other players who had never played in a tournament, I saw a few things that should have been mentioned during our play. But, being our first tournament, nobody called out obvious foot faults, stance violations, or courtesy violations. Could we have done so, absolutely, but it would have ruined the experience, so things were left unsaid, and the rounds were enjoyed with good spirits.
- Be Confident – I was worried about having never played the course. Getting that one practice round in, from the long pads, helped out tremendously. Going from the long pads to the shorts left me confident in my ability to throw the shots I wanted to throw. My strategy change for the second round was a big boost as well, since I knew what I needed to do on each hole.
- Follow Through – I can’t stress enough how important this was to my second round score. In using my new two step forehand throw, making sure I got a good follow through enabled several of my drives to get closer to the basket than I had previously done. Putting is where it really helped. A Mind Body Disc blog post kept coming to mind while I was putting in the second round. With a good follow through, I made several crucial putts for par along the way.
I can’t wait for my next tournament, though it may be a while with winter coming up quickly. The one consolation I can take from winter is that here in Mississippi, we don’t have all that snow to deal with like those in Northern states get each year. We just get to deal with it being rainy and cold, and mud that sticks to our shoes.
I would like to take a moment to point out a few discs that were money for me this past weekend. The Dynamic Discs Lucid Suspect that I won from their Is This Disc Right For You video giveway has quickly become a favorite of mine. I was throwing it on holes from 135′ to over 300′ and could get it to hyzer or anyhzer thrown with a forehand easily. Due to the strong wind we had on those two open holes, my Westside Discs VIP Bard was a beast in fighting through that wind and finishing left and in bounds. In the same manner, the Dynamic Discs Fluid Escape held great lines when I needed a soft fade at the end of its flight. And to my favorite putter, I adore thee, Prodigy 400s PA4. It kept me going when I needed a great putt, and grabbed the chains like a child too tired to walk.
So, as other disc golf bloggers have said in posts, go play in a tournament. You’ll love it, and get the disc golf bug even deeper in your system. But, don’t forget to practice, everything, putting, driving, upshots, layups, tomahawks. You never know what shots you’ll need during competition. It was a blast for me this past weekend. I am looking forward to the next one.