2021 – Disc Golf Year in Review

It’s that time again, where I write a blog that I will occasionally look back on and nobody else will. Them’s the facts. I am happy to announce I’ve been sponsored by nobody again, an impressive 18-year streak. Still would rather be sponsored by ibuprofen than a disc manufacturer, but that hasn’t come to fruition either.

I only achieved 7 of 18 of my goals in 2019 (39%), so here’s hoping I did better than that. Let’s go!

1) Play enough events to justify the $75 PDGA fee.

I needed to sign up for 8, and I signed up for 9 (including a league). What’s more impressive is that I did this while most of the Sierra Tahoe Series events were held on weekends I had the boys, meaning I couldn’t play the most convenient tournaments. But I did what I had to do.

Verdict: SUCCESS!

2) Cash in half my events.

So you can’t actually cash at the league event, meaning I had to cash in 4 of the 8 tournaments I played. I did it in 5. Boo-yah! Either I set my goals too low or I surprised myself. Or more likely both.

Verdict: SUCCESS!

3) Cash at King of the Lake.

I’ve snuck by with some iffy justifications in the past when trying to sneak a win out, but I don’t need to do that here. I did cash at KotL this year. It wasn’t spectacular, but it was an odd year, so even scraping a tie for last cash in odd years feels remarkable. See below:

Even years:
2008: tied for 3rd out of 18 (top 17%) – won $221
2010: 25th out of 31, no cash. However, I finished the last round severely injured and was at least close to the cash line before that happened.
2012: KotL didn’t happen.
2014: 15th out of 42 (top 36%) – won $135
2016: tied for 17 out of 55 (top 31%) as an A-Tier – won $87
2018: 2nd out of 20 (top 10%), my best tourney ever – won $435
2020: KotL didn’t happen.

Compare that to the odd years:
2009: tied for 13 out of 29 (last cash, top 45%) – won $70
2011: tied for 45 out of 58 (bottom 23%)
2013: KotL didn’t happen
2015: 25 out of 36 (bottom 30%)
2017: T31 out of 46 (bottom 32%)
2019: T8 out of 19 (last cash, top 43%) – won $55
2021: T8 out of 22 (last cash, top 37%) – won $91

So it was my best odd-year showing, even though it was still a tie for the last cash spot. Still…

Verdict: SUCCESS!

4) Play 25 rounds that aren’t tournament rounds.

The computer tracking all this broke down a couple of weeks ago, but looking at some old charts and Udisc, it looks like I played 28 casual rounds this year, many with Landen. Another (somewhat surprising) success as I don’t think I’ve played that many casual rounds in a year since about 2005.

Verdict: SUCCESS!

5) Win enough cash to pay for my entry fees.

I won $813 this year, and although I don’t have everything tracked as well as I’d like (thank you again janky computer), I’m pretty certain the 8 tournament I played didn’t cost that much as most were ~$80. I didn’t crush this one, but I eked it out nonetheless.

Verdict: SUCCESS!

6) Finish every PDGA tournament I start. 

I started this prediction write-up with: “this is actually interesting that I’m including this”, and that’s oddly telling. My writeup in the predictions column seemed to indicate this would be the year I break my finish streak, and I did. In the first tournament. Yes, I was battling a torn ligament in my ankle at the start of the year, and it did certainly hamper me in my first event – in Idaho. But I really was just so miserable that I wanted instead to hang with my girlfriend and my friend Kat, who I hadn’t seen in a decade. So I failed on this, but if Danielle is to be believed, it was subconsciously intentional. So, go my subconscious?

Verdict: FAIL! (but the monkey is finally off my back)

7) Never finish in the bottom third of a tournament.

If I had been playing well in that Idaho tournament and withdrawing cost me this, I might have called this a success, or even a “not applicable”. However, I would have had to play among the best rounds in my life that final day to claw my way OUT OF the bottom third (I was tied for last out of 17 when I dropped out), so there’s no way I could justify this as anything other than a

VERDICT: TOTAL FAIL!

8) Don’t throw a round lower than 930.

Well, I made it almost one round before ruining this one. Damn Idaho and its humidity and rainfall and open land and blind course… But it turns out I missed this goal four times, twice in Idaho, once during King of the Lake (which would otherwise have been a pretty great tournament since this happened when I was on the top card during round two), and once in the final tournament at the Ranch.

This actually brings me to an interesting point. This was easily the year where I played the most open courses in tournament play. I would say I average about 25% of my tournament rounds in the open during most years. In 2021? 14 of my 20 rated rounds were in open courses, and that’s being generous in saying that Bijou isn’t an open course – it’s wooded but pretty lightly. Anyway, big time fail.

VERDICT: Sad panda.

9) Throw a 1000-rated round. 

The drought since 2018 is officially over! I only threw one this year, but it was a very respectable 1016, which helped propel me to my second consecutive win at Turtle Rock (there was no tourney in 2020, and I won in 2019). This year it took a playoff, but I took it down. There will be no Turtle Rock tournament in 2022 because of the fire that ravaged that area, but here’s hoping I can defend in 2023.

Verdict: SUCCESS!

10) Hit metal on a drive.

For a while I thought I was going to have to count the metal hit I had on hole 10 short at Mayor’s Park early in the year, but I got a straight up ace in September while playing with Landen. It was the first ace he’d ever witnessed, and my first thumber ace. I nearly got it the very next round too, throwing just too high.

Verdict: BOOM GOES THE DYNAMITE!

11) Have more rounds at or above my rating than below my rating.

Well now, this is an interesting one. If I average my ratings points above and below my rating for the year, I shot -77, which would lead me to believe I failed this goal. However, in 20 rounds, 12 of them were above my rating. The problem is when I did poorly, I sucked. And 6 of my above-rating rounds were less than 10 points above (meaning about one stroke better than my average for the entire round). Still, a win is a win.

Verdict: SUCCESS!

12) Have my rating be over 970 for at least one ratings update.

No sir, I don’t like it. The closest I came was a brief time where I was at 965, but I mostly hovered around the 960 plateau all year.

Verdict: FAIL.

13) Play 6 new courses.

I nailed this one exactly, having played Mayor’s Park (which I helped design), the Washoe Golf Course, Mallard Park (ID), The Ranch at Old River (CA), Tree Top Park (WA), and South Pines (CA).

Verdict: SUCCESS!

14) No double bogeys or worse.

Next year I plan to track my scores a little more thoroughly (can you even WAIT for all the stats I’m going to throw at you?) but for now just know that I failed in this, and in the first tournament round I played in 2021. Stupid Idaho. I failed this one a number of times, and it might have been a pretty lofty goal to begin with.

Verdict: FAIL, and not valiantly either.

15) Have fun.

Curious that I didn’t list winning a tournament on here, as that’s always a goal of mine. I think the reason I didn’t was because I tend to have less fun when I care about a goal like that. And truth be told, I did mostly have fun this year. I don’t think I ever really got bitchy throughout the year (even during my terrible start and end to the year). I would have preferred to play some of my favorite tournaments, but scheduling has been unfortunate that they’re nearly all on weekends I have my boys. With Landen playing and Duncan enjoying it more, there’s a possibility of more tournaments in 2022, but we’ll see. The schedule so far does NOT look favorable.

Verdict: SUCCESS!

Bonus goal: win a tournament!

Verdict: Success at Turtle Rock, my favorite course on the west coast. May it recover from the fire quickly.

Summary: 2021 was a weird year on so many levels. But as for disc golf, it was a more successful year, even if my general play was nothing to write home about. I only had two rounds rated 980 or higher, and a whole lot that worked out to slightly better than mediocre play. It was enough to make a bit of coin. In all, I succeeded in 11 goals, failing in 5. That’s pretty darn good.

The biggest joy this year was getting to see Landen play his first tournament and Duncan really enjoying playing more (he has discovered my Champion Stingray, which he throws upsettingly consistently – I should take some pointers from him).

Let’s see what 2022 has to offer!