2017 Disc Golf RESULTS SHOW!!!!

Trigger warning: this is really long. If really long things give you fits, move right along.

That’s right my regular viewer(s), it’s time for the Disc Golf results show. I do it every year and then assess how I did overall. In 2016 I made goals so low you could belly-crawl over them and hit an impressive 9 out of 15. So this year I resolved to step my game up by making more lofty goals. This was impressive, because as you’ll remember IN THE INITIAL POST, this was my last year in the regular “pro” division before I get to play with all the old folks (the year you turn 40 you get to play “masters”, which is a significantly easier division to hit the cash line each time).

But we’re not there yet. All the tournaments have been added as official to the PDGA website (well, almost all of them, more on that later), so it’s time to start the self-reflection/self-congratulation/self-flagellation. And awaaaaaaaay we go.

1) Gain enough PDGA points to qualify for Masters Worlds in 2018. 

First off, I’m going under the assumption I will need 600 points to qualify for Masters Worlds (which will be in Kansas City and there’s a very very good chance I won’t be able to go anyway). Whatever. It turns out I did make enough points, 725 in total (not counting the one tournament which isn’t scored yet, which I’ll talk about later). Not only should that be enough, it’s 7th most in the state on NV. Should be good enough to receive (and likely ignore) one of those awesome invite letters.

VERDICT: SUCCESS

2) Break the odd-year curse by cashing in at least 1/4 of my events. 

And how. I played in 10 events and cashed in HALF of them, not counting the one I’ll get to later. And these were not flukes, well, most of them weren’t flukes. I earned them in a very strangely patterned fashion. More on that later as well.

VERDICT: SUCCESS

3) Cash at King of the Lake

This one was both surprising and also not surprising at the same time. As I chronicled in this also-lengthy write-up after the tournament, I tend to suck at KotL in odd-numbered years. This year was no different. In fact, King was probably my worst tournament of the year. I was battling a bad back, but really, I just didn’t play well. No excuses, I just sucked. There’s always next year, an even year.

VERDICT: FAIL

4) “Make” more than $700 in Masters

Somewhat surprisingly, I almost made $700 in pro, coming in at $575 for the year in tournament play (this doesn’t count dubs and ace pots, where I certainly would have raked in the requisite seven bills). To calculate what I would have made in Masters, I have to make several assumptions. First, I have to assume I would have played the exact same way against different competition. Second, in the “actual” tallies, there were ties and I only know how much they both received which were split pots. If I were to add myself in there, I’ll have to sort of estimate how much I would have made coming in a place ahead/behind the people whose cash I knew. Lastly, I have to assume how much the purse size would have grown with me in there. Essentially, these are wild guesses.

Anyway, how would I have done with the old farts? Welcome to my good friend, Excel Spreadsheets, Esq.

That’s right, not only would I have WON three tournaments in Masters (I’ve only ever one won pro tournament), I would have more than tripled my income. I mean, taxes-declaring stuff right there.

VERDICT: MAJOR SUCCESS

5) Play every event at the Sierra Series FINALLY.

Another answer that I can start with “not only did I…” I did finally play all seven events of the series. What’s more, due to a few regulars not playing the whole thing, I managed to “cash” in the series. Only two places actually got cash as far as I know and I came in third. But my prize there was actually something I’ve always wanted but never gotten – a metal mini-basket. It’s super sweet. I just eked out a good player around my rating who played great all year too.

VERDICT: SUCCESS

We’ll be back to our programming, my fine viewers, after a word from our sponsor.

6) No DFL (dead f’n last) finishes.

I sure tried my best to fail this one. I played my first tournament at Auburn, a course I really hate and one I tend to suck at. I just barely got by without being bottom of the barrel. Then I also tried to play a blind course at sea level in east coast humidity with brand new shoes. I lost to players with 910 ratings, but I did not come in last.

VERDICT: SUCCESS

7) Beat Jere Eshelman in a single PDGA round.

Although this was the year I finally managed to check some of these long-standing goals of mine off the checklist, this wasn’t one. I didn’t actually play in any events with Jere (who turned Masters this year, so I imagine I will have more opportunities in future years).

However, I did manage to beat James Proctor, the 23rd highest rated player IN THE WORLD, in a round at King of the Lake. I also bested a 992-rated Masters player and 2x World Champion Jim Oates in an entire tournament. So you know, I won’t N/A this one, I’m gonna go full-out success on it. That won’t stop me from making this goal next year, methinks.

VERDICT: SUCCESS

8) Keep my lifetime streak of never DNFing (did not finish) a tournament alive. 

Not much to say about this one other than I did it. No real close calls either, though I had enough blood blisters to shellac a walrus, if that was the sort of thing that blood blisters did.

VERDICT: SUCCESS

9) Throw two or more 1000-rated rounds. 

In a year where I alternated historic with mediocre, I managed to blaze into uncharted territory here. With only four tournaments left, I had a single 1000-rated round to my name on the year. But I managed to quadruple that number before the year was done. That’s right, somehow I churned out a record four 1000-rated rounds in 2017. I’ll get into this in greater depth in the RANDOM FACTS section at the end.

VERDICT: SUCCESS

10) At least 1 round over 1010.

I have set this goal every year since around 2012, two years after my record setting 1025-rated round at Shady Oaks. Not only had I never achieved it, I rarely came close, having only thrown one round over 1004 since then. Somehow, and believe me I’m not quite sure how, I managed to do it three times this year. I threw a pair of 1021-rated rounds as well as a 1014. I’ll be talking about these more later as well.

VERDICT: SUCCESS

11) No more than 3 rounds below 940. 

So you know that round I keep referencing that I’ll talk about in greater detail later? Well, I built up that suspense because I thought that mystery round would single-handedly decide the fate of this goal. But it won’t. I had 5 rounds that were below 940. One of them was thrown in that east coast humidity-ridden round described above, and it would have been either the worst or second worst (a ~906 rated round), but for some reason the TD never turned the report in and, as of today, November 15, it is not an official round. So it never happened. But yeah, doesn’t matter, I still blew this one. My five crappy rounds were in five different tournaments at five different courses to boot. Oh well, can’t win ’em all.

VERDICT: FAIL

12) Have my rating go over 965 at some point this year during an update.

For one precious ratings update spanning just over a month, my rating was 966. Man, I don’t even really want to count this one, but I guess I did accomplish my goal.

VERDICT: SUCCESS, but an uglier color

13) Hit an ace or an eagle. 

Yes! Not only did I hit an ace, but I managed to do it during doubles when the ace pot was over $100! I gave my partner some of the winnings but still managed to take home an $80 payday, easily my largest for an ace. (Previously, I only had one pot-ace, and it was for a whopping $17.)

VERDICT: SUCCESS

14) Play more casual golf, either alone or with the boys. 

Every year I say I won’t make vague, hard-to-quantify goals, and every year I do. This is one of them. I will say I did get out with my 8 year old a few times to play doubles, something he really enjoyed. But if I were to objectively look at my year, I really didn’t practice much. Like most years, I played quite a bit in the early months, but then tailed off. While it wasn’t the stop-playing-after-King-of-the-Lake of years past, it was definitely not what I’d envisioned. Hopefully I play more next year to get my body ready for serious competition. Hopefully I don’t make this same goal next year. Stupid ambiguity.

VERDICT: FAIL

15) No missed putts within 15?.

This one is sorta objective too, but I definitely remember missing a short putt in my very first tournament and thinking “well, there goes that goal”, so apparently I didn’t do it. I’d probably guess I missed a handful of absolutely-should-have-made putts this year. My putting experienced some incredibly high highs (three of my top four putting rounds of all time were this year). But yeah, definitely missed a few dinkers.

VERDICT: FAIL

16ish? It’s an odd numbered year so I want to break my ridiculous streak of sucking in these years, both skill-wise and goal-wise.

This was an unofficial one, but it’s how I ended my blog, so I’m going to include it. This was one of my best years financially and included four of my best rounds to date (my 2nd highest rated round of ALL time, my third, my fourth, and my 8th). But the lows were pretty darn low. It may have seemed like I excelled all around, but it was a roller-coaster. I still have to say overall it was a success. The highs were just too high to ignore.

VERDICT: SUCCESS

THE END!

Well, I ended up at an impressive 12 – 4 this year, a year with low expectations. I’m pretty excited about that. It’ll be interesting to see what 2018 brings me in a new division with a whole lot on my plate off the course.

 

 

 

 

 

Oh, you didn’t think this was the actual end, did you?

BONUS ROUND: THE STATS!

Because it just wouldn’t be a disc golf blog without stats. As impressive as my four high rated rounds were, they were also so statistically similar that it was kinda creepy. Each of them came in the third and final round of a tournament. Each of them were preceded by two terribly mediocre rounds. Each of them catapulted me from despair into the cash. Here’s another fun Excel spreadsheet breaking it down.

I mean, that sort of erratic consistency is almost downright amazing. What’s more, that trend, of playing badly early on and excelling later on, was pretty steady the entire year.

Round 1 average rating: 952.5, about .86 strokes below my rating per round

Round 2 average: 953.8, about .74 strokes below my rating per round

Round 3 average: 988, about 2.25 strokes above my rating per round

Howzabout individual courses? I said earlier I hated Auburn, and that’s true. Not only do I not enjoy the course, I have the numbers to back it up. 6 tournament rounds there, only one round above 951 (and even then it was only 5 points above my rating). All six rounds average about 22 points below my rating, between 2 and 3 strokes below average PER ROUND. If I ever tell you I’m signing up to play a tournament there, I give you permission to slap me.

And let’s be fair, I don’t just hate courses because I suck at them. I love Sierra College even though I suck at it. I have 12 tournament rounds there, only four of which are above my rating (for a TOTAL above rating score of 22 points). Contrast that with the 8 rounds below my rating (230 points below my rating) and you have an average of 17.3 points below my rating, nearly 2 strokes.

On the other end of the spectrum, how about Turtle Rock, home of one of my 1021 rated rounds? I have 17 rounds there, which does dilute the numbers a bit, but only six are below my rating. I average just over a full stroke above my rating each round there.

I’d include Zephyr Cove, but my scores are all over the map. My 23 rounds run the gamut from a 901 rated round to a 1021. Hell, this year alone I vacillated 105 points at Zephyr.

SEE YOU NEXT YEAR IN MASTERS!

Nevada State Championships recap

I recently wrote about the Mountain Mayhem, which was a very bizarre tournament. Here were the summaries of the three rounds:

Round 1: My putter was stone cold and I couldn’t throw an up-shot to save my life (all three bogeys were caused by mis-executed up shots followed by missed putts). I wasn’t pissed off, but I definitely was disappointed. It was “mediocre” as I put it later that night. After one round, I was right in the middle of the pack (they were paying 6 out of 15 and I was in 7th).

Round 2: This round seemed more disappointing, though really, it was equally mediocre (both rated in the mid 950s, or roughly one stroke worse than my ‘average’ round). So yeah, Mediocre City.

Round 3: When all is said and done, I ended up shooting a 50, eight under par. It felt great, and sure enough, it was the hot round of the day (there were a couple of 51s). That round is unofficially rated a 1019, my second-highest ever. I propelled me from 9th to 5th, and in the cash.

You may wonder why I’m summarizing a tournament from two months ago, especially when the one I played yesterday was on a different course and under totally different circumstances. Well, because the results were almost exactly identical. Frighteningly so. Let’s break it down.

NEVADA STATE CHAMPIONSHIPS

Zephyr Cove is a course I like – it’s a top half course no doubt. My historical ratings are all over the map, everything from a 1004 rated round to a 910 rated round. My back was doing okay, though I’ve been dealing with a head cold for 3 weeks and I slept poorly because of the pups. And off we go to—

Round 1: I popped a 5-hour energy drink and tried to start off strong. And I did, kinda. I was -3 with 4 holes left to go, which would have been pretty good. My putter was failing me, though, and I ended up missing 6 putts from between 20-50’. Then I hit the tricky holes 12 and 13 and bogeyed them both. That put me at a mediocre -1 for the round. (My first round at Kirkwood is unofficially rated 955. The first round at Zephyr is temporarily rated 956).

Round 2: Same course, slightly harder layout (about 1/2 a stroke harder). I was feeling quite tired so I popped another 5 hour energy drink and headed out. I started on the tough holes 2-6 and bogeyed two holes in a row again (holes 3 and 4 this time). Both drives were not horrible shots but got back kicks. Then I proceeded to stay the course, shooting 3 birdies, and having a nearly identical round. Much like the Mayhem, I had two identical rounds that featured the exact same score. (The ratings were again nearly identical: Mayhem 2nd round 957, here 962).

After two rounds at the Mayhem, I was in 9th out of 15 people, 4 strokes off the cash line and 10 off the leader. At the NV Championships, I was in 9th out of 15 people, 4 off the cash line and 8 off the leader. Spooky, isn’t it?

I started again on the tough stretch of holes, 2-6. I had a 40’ severely uphill birdie putt on 2 (easily the best drive I’ve ever thrown on that hole). Putt was on line but missed short. Parred hole 3 easily. Had a 50’ birdie putt on hole 4 (easily the best drive I’ve ever thrown there). Putt online but missed short. Parred 5 and 6 with no real problem. Then I hit birdie row. I mean, literally, I hit ‘em all. I birdied 7 (20’ putt), 8 (drop-in), 9 (20’ putt), 10 (25’ putt), and 11 (drop-in). Then I came to the difficult holes 12 and 13. On twelve I took a par and on 13 I found the first trouble of the round, hitting early wood and bouncing backwards. I spent five minutes lining up different shots (probably to my group’s dismay) and opted for a tight high hyzer line through a million trees for about 150’ to the pin. I missed my line by just a bit, wrapped around the tree I meant to cut in front of, and ended up UNDER the basket. Sick up for the  par. I parred the difficult hole 14, birdied the touchy hole 15 (35’ putt) and then got 16 too (park job). My final three holes all left me with long jump putts (~50’, ~60’, ~45’ respectively), all three of which I ran but just came up short on each.

Where did that put me? Well, like at the Mayhem, it left me with the hot round. At the Mayhem it was a bogey-free -8. Here it was a bogey-free -7. There, the hot round by one stroke, here, the hot round by two. Then it was a 1019-rated round (my second best of all time), at Zephyr it was a 1021-rated round (my new second-best ever). Then I jumped from 9th to 5th and in the cash. Here, from 9th to 4th. I would have come from behind and won Masters at the Mayhem by 1 stroke. I would have won Masters at Zephyr by 3.

Essentially it was the same story. It felt good to crush it both times and take home a couple of shekels. Let’s hope for starting out of the gate a little stronger at my last tournament in 3 weeks.

King of the Lake (post-script)

It’s been several weeks, and you might have assumed (correctly) that I sucked for King of the Lake, so I didn’t bother posting about the rest of it. And that is largely correct.

But I did want to talk quickly about two things. 1) My incredibly bizarre round at Tahoe Vista. 2) Weird trends with King of the Lake.

Let’s begin.

Image result for #1My weird round.

I’ve described Vista as my do-or-die course, in that I either crush it or get crushed. It’s kinda rare that I just shoot an okay round there. During 2017’s King incarnation, I managed to do both.

After day 1 I was floundering in the bottom half, probably a handful of strokes off the cash line (Zephyr really killed me).

Hole 6: So I start on hole 6, the EASIEST HOLE on the course, and I probably average a three on (a very rare birdie, a very rare bogey). I’d say pros average 2.2 on that hole. Whatever. I FINALLY throw a good drive right up the gut, fly over the basket, but skip up the hill a bit. No problem, maybe a 20′ putt. Except I’m behind three branches. I have to release my putt near the ground (under the first branch), go OVER the second branch, and come down before the guardian branch. And it’s all down a 30 degree slope. Probably the most convoluted 20′ putt I’ve ever had. And I just missed low. Par.

Hole 7: An easy par four. I throw a pretty bad drive but follow it up with a good up. But NO! I somehow skipped 40′ past (on a course that really doesn’t allow for skips). No matter, I bang the putt. Birdie.

Hole 8: A gimme hole that I rarely seem to get. I got it handily. Two birdies in a row.

Hole 9: A really really tough hole that I four as often as I three. I played a “safe” hyzer shot that was supposed to bail out and hopefully give me a 50′ level putt and also take the OB out of the question. I’m a little short of where I wanted, leaving me about 50 uphill with my foot in a bush. BANG! YES! Extra birdie, and for a turkey!

Hole 10: I didn’t have the right disc in my bag to try to deuce this difficult par 3, so I just played a “safe” flick shot, threw a 70′ up shot, and tapped in a par.

Hole 11: A pretty difficult 370′ hole but, for whatever reason, one I play really well. Threw the perfect drive and found myself 2′ from the pin, just long. ACE RUN! Still a birdie.

Hole 12: So at this point, I’m -4 through 6, which is pretty darn good. I step up to hole 12, the second easiest hole on the course. This is a gimme, and what’s more, it’s my bread-and-butter hole. Except I throw my drive into the one pine right in front of me. No matter, the disc slides down and I have a clear up shot. Which I saw off and leave myself no look for par. Okay, settle down. A little touch forehand upshot will give me a slim chance for par but an easy bogey. But I gack it and it hits the guardian trees and slides 20′ down the hill. Whatever, bogey. BUT – I hit the cage and it rolls back 35′. And I miss that. A six. A TRIPLE BOGEY ON THE SECOND EASIEST HOLE ON THE COURSE. WHEN I WAS HAVING A KILLER ROUND! How… what… how does that even happen?

Hole 13: I par. I was really shaken by that six. How do you go from killing a course to blowing up in one hole?

Hole 14: A really tough 3. I throw a pretty good drive but hit the guardian 200′ down the fairway, leaving me a tough high hyzer window to hit. Which I don’t. At all. Still thinking of that 6. I proceed to kick deep into the woods, leaving me nothing but a total 1 in a million desperation forehand roller. And I HIT MY LINE! Only hit the last possible object before curling around toward the pin. Upshot, putt. Double bogey. WHAT JUST HAPPENED? I go from -4 to +1 in three holes? Holy bejeezus.

Hole 15: A pretty easy birdie hole, but I par it. My drive was okay but I didn’t convert the 45′ putt on an elevated basket.

Hole 16: Another must-get. I actually hit the post. Drop-in birdie.

Hole 17: Scenic downhill tunnel shot unless you thumb the hole. I do, which usually gives me anywhere from a long look to a gimme. I leave it early and have a 70′ blind hyzer putt. And damn near make it, but no, settle for a par.

Hole 18: I grip my drive just a touch and it leaves it wide. Should be okay but no, it actually doesn’t quite stay in the dogleg left fairway. In fact, I’m neck-high in a bush. I only have a pitch out, which I throw too far into the other fringe. I pump a terrific third shot, giving me a 60′ save for par over a tree, which I just barely miss low, giving me a straight up bogey.

Hole 1: Now I’m plus 1. WTF happened? This is a pretty easy hole but one I rarely get. I park it for the bird. Okay, at least I’m back to par.

Hole 2: I throw a decent shot and end up at circle’s edge with an uphill putt. Chain out right, settle for par. Grrr.

Hole 3: MY NEMESIS. I swear, I average 4.8 on this par 3. I throw a decent drive, giving me a pretty easy up and down. Only I saw off my up, leaving me a 30′ downhill putt. Actually make the par. Screw you, hole 3.

Hole 4: A really tough par 3, and I throw the drive of my life and put it about 15′ away. Another rare birdie.

Hole 5: A deceptively tricky par 4, and one I’ve had trouble with in the past. I throw a mediocre drive (flipped up in the wind more than I expected) but threw a great second shot, leaving me a 25′ cleanup putt for birdie, which I make.

I finished the round shaking my head. I had eight birdies, probably the most I’d had on this course in one tournament round (I crushed three great rounds there in 2013, but even then I’m not sure I had 8 birdies in any of those rounds). But I had a bogey, a double bogey, and a triple bogey. I probably average even on those three holes, maybe even below. But let’s say I were to have shot a disappointing +1 on them, my round goes from a mediocre rating (unofficially 963) to one of the best of my life (1012).

Needless to say, between that disappointment and my body which was not doing so hot after three rounds of golf, I tanked my final round at Sierra College. I’ve still yet to play an actual good round of golf there. Sucks because I enjoy the course, I just stink at it.

Image result for #2Even/Odd splits

As I detailed here last year, I tend to suck at King of the Lake during odd-numbered years. And that did not change in 2017. My best odd-year finish was way back in 2009, when I came in T13th out of 29 (45% percentile).

2011: T45th out of 59 (76th percentile)

2013: They didn’t have it, which I suppose is fortunate.

2015: 25th out of 36 (69th percentile)

2017: T31 out of 46 (67th percentile) – bear in mind 5 players didn’t even finish the tournament, so I might have done even worse if they had. Worse yet, I can often fall back on “well, I did crappy in open but would have taken 5th in Masters) – nope, wouldn’t have cashed there either.

Contrast that with even years, where I cashed 3 out of the 4 years (two of which were A-tier events) and the fourth year I got injured in my final round.

Next year, I’m playing in an even year, playing Masters, and hopefully get back to my odd (even) ways.

King of the Lake (Day 1)

This seems to be a tournament I recap pretty regularly, so let’s get to it, shall we? I slept very poorly last night, which sounds like the norm, but really I’ve been sleeping well for most tournaments. HOWEVER, I’ve slept like crap all week, so that seemed to continue.

Also, I’m going to give a warning – I’m gonna be talking about diarrhea. Not metaphorically. Skip it if you want.

Round 1 – Bijou

We started round one at Bijou, a course I have seemed to play very well lately. It was set pretty short. And my stomach was just unsettled. Not sure why. It could have been a) I’m battling something, b) I didn’t sleep much, c) I ate crap for dinner – CostCo chimichangas, or d) I had two glasses of wine. Whatever the reason, I had two trips to the bathroom before the round began. And another halfway through the round. And then played the last 9 holes (of a 27 hole layout) trying desperately not to crap my pants. Literally.

What did that mean for the round? Oddly, I played pretty well. My drives were solid, although my putter took quite a while to get going (I missed three putts in the circle in my first 9 holes). It took me about that long to get my first birdie, but I ended up throwing a bogey-free 10 down. While that sounds awesome, and it was identical to my first round during the South Lake event last month, it was barely above my rating. Don’t know what today’s round is, it’s not updated. But the leader shot -18, so my -10 will probably be around my rating. Sigh.

After the round I was on 4th card out of 9 (just in the cash if it were only a one-round tournament). A couple more trips to the bathroom and barely any lunch and I drove to Zephyr Cove, a course I am inconsistent with – everything from a 1004 rated round to a 901.

Because of my wonky stomach, I decided not to have a 2nd 5-hr energy drink. I was really tired, but didn’t want to upset anything further. When the round started, I actually felt decent.

Round 2 – Zephyr Cove

I started parring the very difficult hole 4, but bogeyed 5 (drive slipped out and I air-balled a 20′ putt after a great upshot). Birdied hole 6 which I’ve never reached before (I threw the perfect drive and put me 33′ short, and I made the putt). Few pars (just off on my aim) and then a near-ace birdie. Followed by a bogey when I let my drive out early. (You’ll see a pattern… for a while).

Par followed by a near-ace on the really difficult hole 12 (I made the 40′ comebacker) to put me -1. As per usual, I followed it up with a bogey (drive slipped out early). In fact, hole 12 was my last good drive of the round.

I finished on holes 15-18, 1-3 (most are birdie-able) hoping to get one or two and find myself a stroke or two down for the round. But fatigue took over and I griplocked just about everything. Hole 15 griplock and REALLY bad break, giving me no real upshot; bogey. Hole 16, griplock, tough flick up that I didn’t execute and a literally impossible putt. Two bogeys. Followed by two pars (mainly because of a great up on 18). Then bogey on 1 (griplock drive, griplock upshot), par on 2 (hole is too far for me), and then bogey on three (griplock drive, griplock flick up, missed putt).

Man, nothing really worked. Aside from a couple of sick ace runs, the round just sucked. I don’t know where I am in terms of placement (I’m guessing around 28 out of 46 – and they’ll pay 18 or 19) or rating (I’m guessing 970, 930).

My body is craving decent food, so I stopped and bought some salads and am chowing down, washing down my muscle relaxer.

I need sleep and a body that behaves. I can still cash, but I gotta get my head out of my arse, and poop out of my arse too.

Mountain Mayhem recap

It’s been a while, so it’s time to do a brief run-down from this weekend’s tournament. You’ll see by the end why I’m picking this one to review Heh heh.

Round 1 – Kirkwood – I’d only played Kirkwood once, two weeks ago. I shot a par then (one birdie, one bogey, a crapton of pars). In fact, I feel the course is largely a par course. There are birdies to get, but only a few of them are really must-deuce holes. A few holes are tough threes, but certainly not par 3.5s. It’s a par course. So how did I do in round 1? Why, par of course! I shot three birdies and three bogeys. My putter was stone cold and I couldn’t throw an up-shot to save my life (all three bogeys were caused by mis-executed up shots followed by missed putts). I wasn’t pissed off, but I definitely was disappointed. It was “mediocre” as I put it later that night. After one round, I was right in the middle of the pack (they were paying 6 out of 15 and I was in 7th).

Round 2 – Kirkwood – My back started seizing up at lunch, so I downed a pain pill and a 5-hour energy and headed out to Round 2. It was basically a carbon copy of round 1, only more roller-coastery. I managed to snag five birdies on the 19-hole layout, but also took five bogeys. Of those bogeys, three were caused by mis-executed up-shots followed up by not converting my putts. I now have a fear of 100′ approach shots. If there’s a person there, I can put the disc right next to them every time. As soon as it’s a basket? I throw it 30′ short. Huh.

This round seemed more disappointing, though really, it was equally mediocre (both rated in the mid 950s, or roughly one stroke worse than my ‘average’ round). So yeah, Mediocre City.

After round 2, my back was in bad shape. I rode home, took a muscle relaxer, then had trouble sleeping. I managed probably about five hours, but not the full eight I was hoping for.

I show up and see I’m in 9th place, only two strokes from the cash line but also only two strokes from 13th out of 15. We played Turtle Rock, my favorite course out west and one I realized I tend to shoot pretty well at (I average two strokes over my rating a round there).

Round 3 – Turtle Rock – I started out with an anti-inflammatory, a pain pill, and a five-hour energy drink. In practice, I’m feeling pretty good. Let’s hope it translates. I start out with a drop-in deuce on hole 3, a par (on the tough hole 4), and then two tough-luck pars. Still, I’m in decent shape at this point. Then I start to dial it up. A 30′ birdie putt on hole 7 for deuce. Hole 8 is a 350′ anhyzer shot. Paavo in my group steps up and clanks off the cage for an incredible ace run. How am I supposed to follow that up? By throwing an identical shot and hitting the post, that’s how. Deuce on 8. Par on the difficult hole 9. Drop-in birdie on 10. At this point, I’m feeling really good.

Hole 11 is ~777′ and it is tightly wooded the whole way. I throw a killer drive and a decent up. My third shot I forehand straight into a tree in front of me (one of my few missed forehands this tournament). I throw a pretty good recovery Buzzz shot to put me around 30′. This is to keep my bogey-free round alive. And I hit it. Next hole is my nemesis, and true to form I miss my line and it puts me in a bad location. Bad upshot leaves me 50′ out. BAM, hit it. At this point, I say to myself “I’m invincible. Let’s attack the rest of this round”. Hole 13 is a toughie, I par. Drop in deuces on 14 and 15. Par on 16. 17 is an easy par 4, and I throw a great drive and a pretty good up, leaving me 23′ to clean up. I miss a little low. My first missed putt of the round from inside the circle. Hole 1 I give myself a 40′ look for birdie, just bounce out. Hole 2 I have another drop-in deuce.

When all is said and done, I ended up shooting a 50, eight under par. It felt great, and sure enough, it was the hot round of the day (there were a couple of 51s). That round is unofficially rated a 1019, my second-highest ever. I propelled me from 9th to 5th, and in the cash.

It was an uneven weekend, truthfully. My first round I couldn’t putt and my ups were lousy. Second round my ups were horrid and my putting was mediocre (my drives for the two rounds were above average, all things considered). Third round – everything clicked. I hit huge out-of-the-circle putts, had incredible drives, and my up game was solid (and thankfully not all that necessary).

My back feels better than I expected it to. It actually hurt more two weeks ago after playing at the flat Bijou course (though I did play 81 holes compared to 56 this weekend).

KING OF THE LAKE IS IN TWO WEEKS! Woo!

2017 Disc Golf Goals

After last year’s success (I hit 9 of my 15 goals which were, in truth, not exactly reach-for-the-sky goals), I’m going to try to top that this year. 2017 will be my last year playing Open (the regular professional division) because in 2018 I will be able to move to the Masters (old dudes) division where I hope to have better success. So does that mean this is a transition year?

Well, hopefully not. For the last two years I’ve played quite a bit until King of the Lake then basically stopped playing all year. One of my goals is obviously not to do that, but for a special reason. What is that reason? Read on to find out!

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1) Gain enough PDGA points to qualify for Masters Worlds in 2018. 

This is the aforementioned reason why I want to play the whole season out. It looks like I need 600 points to qualify for 2018 Worlds (the location of which has not yet been announced). In the off chance it’s somewhere accessible to me, I’d like to qualify outright instead of hoping to get in when registration opens up to the public. My pro points WILL count for Masters totals, though, so that’s nice. How often have I hit 600 points in a season? Since moving west in 2008, I’ve hit 600 points 7 out of the 9 years. That sounds like a shoo-in until you realize that I was only over 800 points in one of those years, and quite a few were just barely over 600. It’ll mean playing many tournaments that are well populated by open players and beating some of them.

basket2) Break the odd-year curse by cashing in at least 1/4 of my events. 

Last year I lowered my bar so much it was a tripwire – I hoped to just cash at all. This year I’m going to raise the bar to a difficult be achievable goal: making money back at least 25% of the time. This is something I’ve done about half the years I’ve been a pro, but those tend to be the years I play fewer tournaments. We’ll see if I can have sustained success over a year where I hope to play quite a bit.

basket3) Cash at King of the Lake

I’m not sure if this will be easier or harder this year. The King will be a smaller tournament than in past (2 days instead of 3) so it may not attract quite the large fields it has in the past. While that seems to make it easier, it might just mean that more of the top “local” pros show up and raise the cash bar comparatively. I’ve cashed in half the KotLs I’ve played (3 of 6).

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4) “Make” more than $700 in Masters

Clearly, I’m not playing in Masters so I can’t make money in Masters. But making the logical assumption that I would have finished with the same overall score as I did in pro, I want to find out how much I *would* have made in Masters. Take 2015 for example. I made $0, not cashing once in Open. Had I been in Masters and played the exact same, I would have cleared almost $1000. Last year I made $345 but would have made $470 in Masters.

basket5) Play every event at the Sierra Series FINALLY.

I’ve never done this, though it’s been a goal of mine every year. It’s comprised of seven tournaments this year and it includes (and removes) a few traditional courses, so it’ll be a pretty interesting year. Dayton is in for a 2 day tourney (never been done before I don’t think) and Truckee Regional is out (yay because I don’t like the course, boo because I tend to shoot it well). Kirkwood is in, which is cool as I’ve never played there.

basket6) No DFL (dead f’n last) finishes.

I wasn’t going to include this again this year as it is a pretty easy goal to hit (I’ve only DFL’ed 3x since moving west, and two of those were technically ties so they weren’t DEAD last). I *am* including it mainly because I’m starting my tournament season next week after having taken the last six months off. Seriously, I’ve thrown maybe 50 holes since last June. And I’m playing at a course I’ve always done poorly – Auburn, where I’ve only beat my rating once and have averaged 15 points worse than my average). Plus I may hit up some other tournaments pre-May when I historically do very poorly.

basket7) Beat Jere Eshelman in a single PDGA round.

Last year I tied him twice. This will be the year, I can feel it (provided we even play at the same tournaments this year – he hardly played any Sierra Series events).

basket8) Keep my lifetime streak of never DNFing (did not finish) a tournament alive. 

With my back getting worse annually, this one is more and more difficult, but so far I’m perfect with it.

basket9) Throw two or more 1000-rated rounds

In my 13 years of playing disc golf, I’ve only achieved this three times: 2006, 2009, and 2013. If my math is correct (3 years between the first two times, four between, the second) it won’t be until 2018 until it happens again. But hey, dreamers can dream, can’t they?

basket10) At least 1 round over 1010.

It’s looking less and less likely every year, but I’m gonna keep throwing this one out there.

basket11) No more than 3 rounds below 940

I originally set the goal as no more than 2 rounds below 940, but changed my mind. Since 2008, I’ve achieved my initial goal only in 2009 and 2011, both years I played fewer than normal rounds. Giving myself one extra bad round opens up a few additional years where I achieved the goal, or about 1/2 the time.

basket12) Have my rating go over 965 at some point this year during an update.

Though I’ve hovered around here forever (my rating has been between 958 and 969 since August of 2012), it hasn’t been over 965 since August of 2014.

basket13) Hit an ace or an eagle. 

I’ve averaged one ace a year my whole career but didn’t have one last year. I’m due. (I added the ‘eagle’ a bit because I think I’ve only ever eagled a hole once – hole 4 long at the Ranch, which I’ve seen someone have a 70′ putt at. I guess this gives me a *slightly* easier chance at achieving this goal.)

basket14) Play more casual golf, either alone or with the boys. 

Disc golfer Matt called me up recently just to see how I’m doing and tell me that he’s game to play anytime, even if it’s just at the pitch-and-putt. Paul called me up within a week to basically have the same conversation. I played so little last year because of many factors but I really want to get out and play more “fun” golf this year. Casual rounds, kids rounds, dubs, tags, whatever. I want to get out of this habit of just playing one time the week of a tournament to “get my arm ready”. I want to be playing consistently all year, and I want some of those rounds to not be just to prepare, but just to have fun.

basket15) No missed putts within 15′.

I’m not going to bring a tape measure out with me on the course, but I tend to remember those missed putts pretty well, even if they were 16′. I’ll know which ones I’m talking about.

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It’s an odd numbered year so I want to break my ridiculous streak of sucking in these years, both skill-wise and goal-wise. Other than that, the season starts soon; one week to get my body in shape and there’s snow everywhere in Reno. LET’S BRING IT!

Disc Golf Review – 2016

Now that I can say with certainty that I am not playing any more events this year, given my ailing back, my job search, my family, my Ubering… etc, it’s time to review how I did on my predictions this year. SURELY I could do better than last year where I completed a whopping 2 of my 15 goals. I mean, I’ve lowered the bar so much over the years that I could basically wriggle over it at this point. Well, let’s see:

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

FAIL. I needed to play in 8 PDGA events in order to make back every dollar of the fee. I played in 7. Essentially, I paid $5 more in fees than I should have. Technically I didn’t hit this one, but it’s pretty close. But I’m nothing if not pedantic. 0-1.

basket2) Cash in a tournament. At all. 

SUCCESS! Talk about lowering the bar. Last year was the first year since becoming a full time pro in 2006 that I didn’t cash. So I did cash, three times actually. The first was a cheapie, coming in 2nd in an very weak field where only four players even finished (I averaged under my rating for the record). Then I managed to come in 9th in an extremely strong fielded King of the Lake. Oddly, I won more at the cheapie Dayton event, but that’s neither here nor there. I finished off with a good finish at Bijou, which is surprisingly becoming one of my better courses. It continues my weird trend of even-year success at disc golf.

basket3) Top 3 at either Sun Valley tournament.

FAIL. There was only one tourney there this year and I did pretty poorly at it, throwing my two worst sanctioned rounds ever at Sun Valley. I average 15 points below my rating and was 9 strokes off the cash line. Ugh. Turns out my weak arm is really exposed there, where worse players who can throw farther have easier up shots than me every single hole.

basket4) Cash for the first time in the Sierra Series. 

FAIL, but with a caveat. I’m not sure there even *is* a cash line at the Series anymore. I mean, TECHNICALLY I came in 3rd out of all qualifying players, having played in only 4 events (1st, 2nd, and 4th all played more events than me). But I don’t think anything even went to the winners this year. Maybe it did? I don’t know. I basically stopped playing disc golf after King of the Lake in July for the 2nd straight year.

basket5) No DFL (dead f’n last) finishes.

SUCCESS! The worst I came was 3rd to last (twice) but with a many stroke buffer between me and the bottom. One might argue that this bar is very low, but I will take my victories wherever I can.

basket6) Beat Jere Eshelman in a single PDGA round.

FAIL. The most frustrating fail of all, really. It’s now been almost ten years of competing against him, and in the past the best I’d done was tie him (once? twice? I forget). My best shot was at King of the Lake, where I played the highest-rated tournament I’ve ever played over 5 rounds. In one round, he blew me out of the water, beating me by 8. Two other rounds he just scraped by with 3-stroke victories. What about the other two? TWO TIES! That’s right, I tied him again in two consecutive rounds, at Bijou and then the next day at Truckee. I. Just. Can’t. Beat. Him.

basket7) Keep my lifetime streak of never DNFing (did not finish) a tournament alive. 

SUCCESS! I was playing through some pretty severe back pain and a couple of times had to choke down a few ibuprofin (or stronger) to start the last round, but each time I pulled through. We’ll see how next year goes, as my body doesn’t appear to be reversed the trend of deteriorating rapidly.

basket8) At least 1 1000-rated round

SUCCESS, but man, only by the specific wording I used. I did shoot one 1000 rated round exactly, at Bijou at King of the Lake. Interestingly, I shot three strokes better on a slightly easier layout only a few weeks later and it was rated a measly 992. Go figure.

basket9) At least 1 round over 1010.

FAIL. I now think my best chance of this is when I become Masters age in 2018, especially if I play in a major tourney like Worlds. But for the time being, I gotta be content that I at least have 15 thousand rated rounds to my name, even if 14 of them are 1010 and lower.

basket10) No more than 1 round below 930

SUCCESS! I did throw a 926 rated round, though to be extremely picky it wasn’t during a tournament, it was during the sanctioned league. I threw a couple of duds in that league, though some were rated lower than expected because the league was full of people with otherwise poor ratings who were playing only on their best course. Either way, it was a success. My next lowest rated round was a 937 (also during league).

basket11) Have my rating at some point this year move out of the 959-969 range

SUCCESS! Talk about the cheapest of the cheap. The way I phrased this question implied that a NEGATIVE rating would achieve success, and that’s what happened. What’s more, I only dropped one point below my arbitrary range, to 958. This rating stayed for 3 ratings periods. So by just changing my range, I’ve been within a rating of 958-969 for 28 straight ratings updates (a period of over four years).

basket12) Hit one ace. 

FAIL. No caveats here. No aces either. Though I did throw two remarkable ace runs on the same hole in back to back rounds (hole 26 in the right position at Lizard Peak) that were almost exactly the same. But yeah, no aces this year.

basket13) Camp out and actually have the “fun” experience at one of the Turtle Rock tourneys. 

SUCCESS! And how. Much went into planning this one night, from making sure it was okay with Ash to preparing the van to sleep there to finding a place to legally park… all to really drink too much (after a game of a game I dubbed Jengboccshoes since nobody seems to know the name). It was bad enough where the next round the next day I was “STUNK” as Matt coined the term for “hungover, probably still drunk”. If I put this one on my list next year, it’s going to be to go and have a pleasant campout experience that doesn’t jeopardize my tournament. (I missed cash by only a few strokes that tourney, playing well in my other two rounds.)

basket14) Play dubs at least 5 times this year.

I genuinely don’t know. I played dubs a bit in the beginning of the year, but then it petered out when the sanctioned league started up. Did I play five times? Sure. I’m gonna say I did. Who’s gonna say I’m lying. SUCCESS!

basket15) Try to have fun.

SUCCESS! I normally don’t like these subjective goals, but I can say without hesitation that I had fun playing disc golf this year, even when my back was acting up. Last year I got burned out after King of the Lake (the disappointing finish there might have had something to do with it). I wasn’t having fun. This year I did basically stop after KotL, excluding a one-off while travelling in Virginia, but it wasn’t because I wasn’t enjoying myself. It was coincidence. Of the 4 tournaments I had on my schedule to play afterwards, each of them had a major conflict:

Sierra College – This tourney was (and always seems to land on) Ash’s and my birthdays. Oddly, that’s not why I didn’t play it. Two weeks before I had been out of town for a work interview in NY, and the week prior I was back on the east coast for a wedding. It was a no-brainer to change my plans to be home with the fam.

Markleeville Mayhem – my first diagnostic back injection. I withdrew from the tourney, and even if I had stayed in, I wouldn’t have been able to play.

Nevada States – I had the 2nd round of my short story competition, but oddly THAT wasn’t why I didn’t play. I ended up having an emergency trip to FL to help my mother move her belongings to NC.

The Series Finals – My first true back ablation procedure was the day before, and I DEFINITELY wouldn’t have been able to play after that.

It’s a shame because not only was I played pretty well (not amazing, but solid) but I was genuinely enjoying myself more this year. But life got in the way.

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So it appears my predictions did much better this year. I was 9 out of 15, easily my best total. What does that mean for next year? Well, for one, it’s an odd-numbered year, and I do pretty crappy in those. 2nd, I won’t be masters age yet – I’ll be the oldest “regular” pro. Third, the back ablations I had to fix my back haven’t really done anything. I’m still in significant pain any time I try to bend (I actually have an appointment in an hour with my surgeon to see what’s up).

My goals are going to be pretty scaled down next year. I just don’t know how much I’ll play (I’ve played one round of 9 holes in the last three months of this year and I am still unemployed so I don’t really have money to throw around. I liken the odds of me cashing in a PDGA event with my wonky body right now to be LESS than if I just played poker.) 2018 should be a better year when I can hide away in the age-protected Masters division. I would have cashed in the same # of events this year in Masters, but would have made considerably more money.

Anyway, that’s that. I’m gonna write up a before-and-after update on my teeth shortly. I know, promises promises…

 

22nd Annual Tahoe Pro/Am

I’ve developed a love-hate relationship with Bijou, just like the one I have for Truckee. I don’t really care for either course that much (certainly when put against the other Tahoe courses), but I tend to play them well. Case in point, my last two 1000+ rated rounds were both at King of the Lake, both at Bijou, and one of my other 12 1000-rated rounds is at Truckee. The courses are generally deuce-or-die courses, though, and even with that there are still holes at both courses that make me scratch my head.

It’s actually because of my dislike of the course that I haven’t played in the Tahoe Pro/Am since 2013, where I came in 12th out of sixteen (shooting -11, 27 off the leader). How’d it go here, fresh off an unofficial 1000-rated round 2 weeks ago at KotL?

ROUND 1

It was set up pretty short, but not as stupidly short as in the past. There were still a handful of difficult holes, but probably 18 birdie-able holes out there. And I started on the easiest stretch of holes, parring like a mofo. To be fair, my first three drives were all excellent and all three got TERRIBLE breaks. Through my first 12 holes, I was -1 with no bogeys. That’s right. One birdie in my first 12. That WOULD NOT DO. And so it continued. After deucing hole 7, my next birdie wasn’t until hole 14 (one of the tougher holes), and then again on hole 21 (also one of the tougher holes). So through 20 holes – I started on 2 – I was a pretty bland -3. But remarkably, other than a bad drive on hole 10, I really was never in danger of bogeying. All of my drives were 35-60′ away. Like just about all of them.

In fact, the way it would end up was that I had 5 birdies, including 2 of my last 3, no bogeys, and I never missed a single putt within the 33′ circle. That’s because at least 18 of my other drives were within 35-60′. And I only made one of them (and it was really the only danger I had the whole round, my only near-bogey).

The round was ho-hum and I expected it to be around my rating, only when the ratings came in, everyone got crushed (by the 27-hole format and by the fact that low-rated course locals shot the course really well). The bad news was it was an unfair 945-rated round. The good news was somehow I was still in the hunt, in 6th place of 14.

ROUND 2 

They changed 7 holes, some of them easier, some harder. I’d say all in all the course played maybe 1 stroke harder the 2nd round.

I started by just going full throttle. Starting again on 2, I birdied holes 3, 4, 7, 8, 10 & 11. Six down after only 10 holes is a pretty hot start. From there, I would find the round followed the first round pretty closely. All my drives were pretty danger-free, but I found myself 35-50′ away on most putts, and I only made two of them (missing 2 or 3 in the circle). It was another danger-free round – and it would end up being another bogey-free round – but I had trouble getting the birdies after my hot start. Still, I finished up at a pretty impressive -10 (only one stroke off the hot score for the day). It wasn’t quite thousand-rated, and that’s for the exact same reasons as the first round.

What’s more, the two 1000-rated rounds I shot at the past Kings of the Lake? They were -7s on pretty comparable layouts. This was a -10 with no bogeys, but because the field was weaker, the ratings were pretty lousy. Ratings, though a noble effort, are a truly imperfect science.

So after the first day, my body was beat up but I found myself on top card against a medium pro field. I was pretty pleased.

ROUND 3

They moved 11 more baskets so the course was harder, but maybe only 4 strokes harder than the 2nd round (and par was 3 strokes higher). Which plays to my strengths – I play better on the holes where you have to get your tough pars, rather than the must-getting of easy deuces.

By now I’d played 54 birdie-free holes and I was starting on the easiest 9 holes (the leader would end up going -8 on them). I started going 2 3 3 2 3 (par 4) 3 3 2 3 on the front nine. While I lost 4 on the leader, I was happy with a -4 there.

It was on hole 6 when my back started tweaking. I guess good health couldn’t last forever. On hole 10 I just missed my line and kicked off a tree out of bounds, my first bogey. Well, not really, as I ended up double-bogeying the hole. I followed it up with a park-job birdie, so good there. But then another bogey on a missed 25′ putt. Uh oh. If my in-the-circle putts started to fail me, I would be in trouble as I was having a tough time off some of the tees.

I sort of righted the ship a little in the middle 9 holes, parring out mostly. Then around hole 19, the putting wheels came off.

19 – great drive, 22′ birdie putt, missed it.

20 – great drive, 25′ birdie putt, missed it.

21 – short drive, mediocre up, hit a tricky 20′ straddle putt around a large tree.

22 – decent drive, 40′ birdie putt, missed it.

23 – good drive, 33′ birdie putt, missed it.

24 – bad drive (kicked off a guardian tree that I’d missed the last bunch of times playing the hole), only an okay upshot, missed 40′ putt.

25 – Just missed my line, kicked off a tree. Very bad upshot. Missed 20′ par putt.

26 – Excellent drive (though I was told the basket was in a different position, so I parked that extremely tough position but was 40′ long for the actual birdie) – missed the putt.

27 – Good drive with an unfortunate skip that put me 40′ away, missed putt.

That put me at a -3, though with just being able to hit my putts, I would have had an incredibly hot round of -11. The worst part is I hit metal on every putt, no airballs. I try not to blame my back, but I can’t ignore the fact that every putt I missed was either low, left, or both. That’s a clear sign of me not extending and/or following through with my putts.

I was sure I’d played myself out of the cash, but somehow I still managed to come in 5th out of 14 (they paid 6), so it’s my second cash in a row. The name of this weekend was “so close”. I’d say on the weekend I had more than 30 putts between 35-60′, and I think I made 4 of them. Up until my collapse at the end, my short-range putting was clutch, and I made hardly any errors all weekend (2 bogeys and a double bogey out of 81 holes, that’s it). So close to glory (if I made just 1/3rd of those putts, I’d have finished in 2nd and more than doubled my cash).

The third round was also below my rating (but somehow rated higher than my -5 bogey-free first round – go figure). But I’ve now cashed in 3 of the 5 events I’ve played this year. It’s nice to see, considering my back issues (which I go for a shot for tomorrow) and my very limited practice schedule.

As a postscript, during King of the Lake, I came in 17th, but had I been in the masters field, I would have taken 3rd place (a difference of $150). In this tournament, I came in 5th in pro, and would have come in merely 4th (a difference of only $5). So not quite as frustrating there.

King of the Lake – Final Day

I’ve been making a whole lot of comparisons to last year’s King of the Lake, where I started hot but then fizzled in a pretty remarkable way. But after four rounds played, this year’s iteration seemed a whole lot closer to 2014’s version. That year I was pretty close to the cash line with one round at Tahoe Vista left to play. And this year, that’s pretty much where I was (15th of 55, only two strokes “in the cash” at the start of the round). So really, it’s a better comparison to 2014, when I managed to cash in a pretty thick field.

Last night was the third night in a row I couldn’t sleep (I tossed and turned for 2 hours) at which point Ash suggested I sleep in the guest bed at my in-laws, a lumpy bed in a hot room. I initially declined but then gave in. And I think I fell asleep in 5 minutes and slept most of the night through. FINALLY, a good night’s sleep.

I woke up stiff and sore, but had an anti-inflammatory AND a painkiller and stretched everything I could think of stretching. By the time my round started, I was actually feeling… pretty good? Certainly not pain-free, but better than any of the prior 4 rounds. Let’s get to it.

ROUND 5 – TAHOE VISTA

Two years ago, I knew I just had to throw a pretty good round to stay in the cash, and I answered that task by throwing a +1 through 14 holes (NOT a good start) but hitting my last 4 birdies to end up at a quite serviceable 55. I was in the same place to start today, but they threw us a curveball by having us start on hole 10, not 1. That means the easier birdie holes would be in the first half (along with the massive 1000+ foot par 5 hole 18). These were the holes that saved my butt two years ago. Today?

I started with an easy par and a DROP IN birdie on the pretty tricky hole 11. On thirteen, the hardest hole on the course, I had a great drive but a STUPID upshot and took a bogey. Then came 16-18, three of the four I’d birdied two years ago to clinch my cash spot. Today, I nailed them all again (16 was a 20′ putt after a near-ace, 17 was a thumber to a 20′ putt, and 18 was a 30′ windy putt to get my birdie four). So with half the course done, I was -3 and looking good (beating my card by a few strokes).

Holes 1-6 aren’t gimmies, but I should be able to end up -1 or -2 through them. Turns out, no. 6  boring pars. No real chances for birdie, no real danger for bogey either. So all I had to do was maintain to end up with my 55. If I could just manage one birdie in that stretch, I’d end with a pretty hot 54.

And that’s the problem. I started saying “if I could just manage…” instead of executing each shot as it came along. After a 30-minute wait on hole 7, I throw a GREAT drive but a pretty bad up-shot, leaving me a 50′ flick upshot on a tricky hill to set up my par. Except I decide to throw my flick about 90′ instead. Then, when going to get my disc, I slip on the hay and totally CRASH HARD on my back. It had been feeling good the whole round, but after that, it was back to all wonked out. It really sucked (and so did bogeying that hole). Hole 8 is a should-get birdie. I threw a very good drive that just flipped up a hair in the headwind and left me with a 30′ putt. I missed it. The final hole was SO CLOSE to the right line, instead I clipped a branch and then failed miserably on my next shot. I bogey the last hole.

So after the long wait (and after the failed upshot, and after the big fall), I go +2 on the last two. I lost 6 strokes to one of my cardmates in the last 6 holes, who shot the hot round of our group and only beat me by 3. Did I play myself out of the cash?

No I didn’t. I came in tied for 17th out of 55. This round was a little closer to my normal style of play. My forehands finally came back to earth (and were actually pretty poor other than a spectacular upshot on my other nemesis hole – hole 3). My putts were decent – I don’t think I missed anything within 25′. But the problem was nearly all my birdie putts were 30-50′. I made one putt that distance all day (and it was a par save). Nearly all my putts were low, though. That’s the sign of a tired body.

All in all, I was very happy with my performance, though I was always a couple of factors away from really putting it all together. However, when I look at my score, it was 4 strokes better than in 2014, which one of my best tourneys ever. I averaged over 976 in terms of ratings, and that was with some pretty sloppy play throughout (round 1 featured MISERABLE putting, rounds 3 and 4 were lousy drives, and round 5 my ups and forehands fell apart). And ALL of this is with the ailingest back/body I’ve ever had in a tournament.

Final fun fact #1: If I were masters age (2 years!) I would have come in 3rd. THIRD!

Fun fact #2: I appear to be the San Francisco Giants of King of the Lake. I play really well there in even years only.

2008: Came in tied for third (out of 14), lost the playoff.

2010: I was near the cash line with my final round yet to play and I injured my throwing arm halfway through the round. I finished the round throwing 150′ drives (or lefty) at a 878 rated round. I was out of the cash by 20 strokes, but I probably gave up close to that due to injury.

2012: KotL didn’t happen.

2014: Cashed as an A-Tier.

2016: Cashed as an A-Tier.

In odd years? I tied for last-cash once, but otherwise have fared pretty poorly.

GO ME!

King of the Lake – Day 2

You’ll remember from yesterday’s post that last year at the same time, I was in a similar favorable position until round 3, at Sierra College, where I threw a personal worst (63) followed by a serviceable but unimpressive 50 at Truckee. This year, we were going to flip the schedule.

As has been the case for the past two years, I had trouble sleeping last night, though I did get maybe 4 hours (up from 2 the night before). And when I got to the course, my body was just. not. having. it. My glute (which had started bothering me yesterday) was super tight. I had trouble with release points. My putt never quite felt solid. Fortunately, Truckee Regional is the course for that, as it’s a very short birdie-fest, about all my back and butt felt up for.

ROUND 3 – TRUCKEE

I tend to shoot Truckee well, despite not liking it much. Go figure. I start out on hole four, a tough but gettable birdie, and throw is super short (my body not working again). I throw the “safe” up shot – the hole is on a MASSIVE hill – and it lands a little hot, catches an edge, and rolls 40′ down the hill with no putt. I take a bogey (my 2nd of 3 rounds to start with a bogey). Two holes later I birdie, then I miss the EASIEST HOLE EVER (which I miss ALMOST EVERY TIME). Angry from that, I get four birds in a row, including one of the hardest holes at Truckee, hole 11, which I managed to put 5′ away.

Two holes later, I give one back on a terrible up shot and missed putt. The end of the round was definitely a place I could get some more birdies, but unfortunately it wasn’t to be, only carding one more. I finish at 49, one better than last year (though the conditions were windier this year). And at this point, I starting to freak out because everything is basically still the same as last year when I FELL APART at Sierra College. Would I repeat?

ROUND 4 – SIERRA COLLEGE

I started on 4 which was the hole that basically started my downward spiral last year (I took a five on it). I TOTALLY NAIL the gap and leave myself an unimpeded 100′ up shot to get my par. Except no, I decide to throw a terrible up shot and miss the putt. 3rd round out of 4 to start with a bogey. Then on the fun downhill hole 5, I misthrow my drive by a little and have a basically unmakeable 45 footer, but an easy three. I throw the “safe” shot to about 10′ from the pin, hit a tree, and it rolls back 25 feet (maybe 10 feet closer than the previous putt).

Remember how yesterday on the 2nd hole of my second round, I missed a dinker and shouted at myself “I will NOT let this happen today”? I said that to myself, out loud, as soon as that disc rolled back. I would NOT implode like I did last year. And I banged the 35′ with a straddle putt.

I want to take a moment to say that, in my life, I throw probably less than 5% forehand (flick) throws, and basically only straddle putt when I have to. Today? I straddled as my default and just about every forehand was perfect or at least exactly where I aimed it. Who knew I can now rely on that?

Back to hole 6. I take a par on the difficult par 4 (featuring a VERY slick forehand with a QSentinel), then four the next difficult par 4 (had what I thought was a great flick hit the last obstacle and leave me a 50′ uphill putt, which I nearly made). Then we start BIRDIE row.

Hole 8 – I left myself a 20′ putt for birdie. I airballed it. I say out loud to myself: I will NOT let this happen today.

Hole 9 – Horrible horrible drive. SICK 150+’ flick shot to put me within 20. Made the putt.

Hole 10 – Horrible drive. Really amazing up shot considering where I was. I MISS the 20′ putt (though it did hit center chains, just too high). That’s IT. NO MORE TODAY. I WILL NOT F’N LET THIS HAPPEN ANYMORE!

(By this time, I’m +4 to ironman par, or +2 to course par, which is putting me dangerously close to where I ended up last year. My drives were erratic, but I was saving like a mofo. Maybe I could still pull it together.)

Hole 11 – Miss my line by less than a foot, up and down par.

Hole 12 – Throw a flick just a touch early, SUPER death putt, lay up, par.

Hole 13 – This is a silly hole, and people always say that there’s a flick line (which I’ve never tried in a tourney). But hey, flick’s working, so let’s do it. BAM! Hit the line, leave myself a 20′ putt. Hit it. YES!

Hole 14 – A very good drive, 20′ putt, hit it. YES!

Hole 15 – A tweener par 4, but one I so rarely birdie. VERY good drive, perfect up shot, drop in birdie. 2nd turkey of the day.

Hole 16 – TOUGH par 3, throw my drive within 50, though my putt is obstructed. Give it a run, just miss, it ROLLS 18′ away. Make the putt.

Hole 17 – I hit first available tree 100′ down the fairway. I then throw a pretty lousy up shot that leaves me a 40′ putt. NOT TODAY! BAM! Hit it.

Hole 18 – This hole can suck my monkey. I am not sure exactly of the exact #s, but I think the last 10+ tournament rounds, I’ve 4’d this very doable par 3, or worse, usually by yanking my drive into the trees on the right and not having anything. I walk up saying out loud to myself and to my group “I’m going to hit this gap!” Then I threw, and while the disc was in mid-air, said “No I’m not”. I hit the trees on the right and it ricochets across the fairway to the left side. I’m left with a 250+ up shot with a manageable but difficult gap. NOT FUCKING TODAY! I WILL NOT BOGEY THIS HOLE TODAY! I throw a SICK upshot and it skips to about 18 feet away. I hit it. UP YOURS HOLE 18!

Hole 1 – A gimmie birdie. I JUST miss the line, clip the last guardian tree (would have been an ace run without that), leaving me a 45 footer. I just miss.

Hole 2 – Throw what I think is the perfect flick, but my drone catches some headwind, flips straight, and I smack the last guardian. I’m left with a tricky 100′ flick shot, which I execute pretty damn well. Save par.

Hole 3 – The easiest par 4 on the course, I throw a pretty solid drive but get an unfortunate kick. I throw a pretty great up but again clip the last guardian, leaving a 40 severely uphill putt. I just miss.

So while I was on pace for another 60+ round, I managed – through simple willpower alone – to salvage a 57. While not much above my rating, this was just an example of me playing without my best stuff. Or even mediocre stuff. I willed myself to succeed. And I did, more or less, just dropping a few spots in the cards.

My body, however, is shot. Totally shot. My back is sore, my glute is on fire, my groin on the right side is starting to flare up (likely from compensating for the glute and the back), and I have no less than 3 blisters forming on both feet. I am really really really hoping for those injections I’m getting soon to work – I simply can’t continue playing when my body is so shot afterwards.

So where do I stand? I’m in a tie for 15th out of 55, with them paying the top 22. There are 9 guys within five strokes of me behind me (and one tied), and only 4 within five strokes the other way. So like 2 years ago (when I cashed) I need to maintain myself at Tahoe Vista to grab cash (which I did with a 55 that included birdieing my last 4 holes).

The question is: is my body up for the task?

King of the Lake – Day 1

It’s that time of year again, my favorite tourney of the year, King of the Lake. You may remember the story from last year (but chances are you don’t because not many people read my disc golf posts all the way thru). Actually, you definitely won’t remember because it appears I didn’t actually blog about it last year. So in 2015, I played my tuchus off for two rounds, shooting a 74 (-7, rated 1004) at Bijou followed up by a shooting a 53 at Zephyr (-1, rated 969). After day 1, I found myself in 9th after the first day out of 36 pros. Then it came apart at the seams in spectacular fashion (something I don’t know much about), throwing a 63 at Sierra College (generously rated 901), then redeeming slightly at Truckee (960-rated 4 down), before collapsing again the final day at Vista (928 rated 61).

This year, I had lower expectations. The field was much deeper, having 55 pros, but I have had my own issues to deal with. My back has been hurting so much that I’m going in for injections (and possibly ablation – the burning of my nerve endings) in my back in the next week or so. Also, I’ve been spending all my free time completely redoing our house. Needless to say, I’m not really in my prime competition shape right now. So I was playing just to have some fun. So how’d it go?

ROUND 1 – Zephyr Cove – The TD Skot “thanked” me for my help with scores by putting me in a card with 3 of the five top rated players at the tourney. What’s more, the CCDG guys were there to film, and guess which card they picked? I later found out it won’t be a whole video with commentary (a good thing as you’ll soon find out), but it will be a highlights video only.

I start out on hole 2 with some jitters, and it shows. I saw my first drive off, throw a very bad up shot, and miss my putt. That’s a bogey to start (a hole I bogeyed last year as well). Then on a tough stretch of holes I have 3 drop in pars, which is nice, but then another bogey (terrible up shot). Then something pretty amazing happened. Two amazing things. My drives (which, after the first hole, had been great) basically finished out the entire round among the best off-the-tee shots I’ve had in years. I was CLUTCH off the tee. And, on the flip side, my putting was the WORST tournament putting I’ve had in years. I missed 9 putts within 45′, 6 of which were inside the 33′ circle, and 2 of those were within 15′. These aren’t exaggeration – I missed that many shots. It’s on video after all. If I had just made the 6 in the circle, I would have tied the hot round. THE HOT ROUND. Instead, I had great drive after great drive leave me with pars. I even ended my round by missing a 15′ par putt (after a great save on my only other bad drive of the round).

I did manage to squeeze out some birdies, putting me at 52 (-2, tentatively rated 979, which is right on target for last year’s scores too). More surprisingly, that 52, with my 9 missed putts, still somehow put me in the thick of it. I was 4 strokes off 2nd, 3 strokes off 3rd. I couldn’t believe it.

Assuming that the CCDG video comes out, I’ll eventually link it, and my hope is that, with it being a highlights video only, you’ll see a lot of me off the tee, and maybe a few putts in there. But man, I was one aspect of my game away from shooting the best round of my life, wonky back and all.

ROUND 2 – BIJOU – Last year I started here, but this year it was our second round. Nearly all the holes were set up the same, so I knew what the 1000-rated target was, though I gotta admit that my back was starting to give me problems, and I was just trying to save face with my putter.

I start out missing the first (easy) hole, then putting my next drive within 20′ (another easy hole). AND I MISS THE PUTT. I give a shout, immediately apologize to my group, take out my headphones, and tell myself “I CANNOT DO THIS ANYMORE!” Over the next several (difficult) holes, I par, and finally hit a birdie with a 20′ putt on hole 11 (we started on 7). A few holes later, the hardest on the course, I take a four (bad drive, but two good attempts). So after the first third of the course, my score is even. Ugh. Then something clicked. My katana was just gold for me the entire rest of the round (hitting just about every gap I threw it in).

My putting was better, but it wasn’t even necessary – I was putting my drives within 10-15 feet of the basket. I ended up birdieing 8 of the last 18 holes and, with the one other bogey I took near the end on the other hardest hole on the course, I ended up at -7, same as last year, currently rated at a 1000 even (which unfortunately will probably go down a point or two when the scores become official). I beat everyone on my card (by 3 or more strokes) and I managed to pull myself up to 12th (out of 55 this year). Did I manage to beat Jere Eshelman, which was  been one of my goals for years now? Of course not. He also threw a 74, meaning I’ve tied him a few times, but still haven’t beaten him. Hurrrgh.

So where does this leave me? Well, almost exactly where I was last year. My back hurts about as much as last year (I ended up not playing disc golf for about 4 months last year after KotL). But this year I feel like I’m playing on house money. I didn’t plan to be competitive for many reasons, and I am. Tomorrow, I plan on going out and just trying to execute my shots, not think about my poor putting from today, not think about my implosion last year, almost certainly not putting headphones in (they seem to be a massive distraction for me).

I start tomorrow at Truckee, which was the course I’d played second last year. It’s a course I usually shoot well (despite not really caring for the course). He’s hoping my back cooperates. And I actually get some sleep! This tournament insomnia that I’ve gotten the last few years has GOT. TO. GO.

Odds and Ends

Time for a bullet list!

  • I recently read through the fiasco that was our first house-buying experience (in a buyer’s market nonetheless) so I arrived at doing a sell/buy transaction with trepidation. Also, having heard some friends at their wit’s end with the insane market that is flooding the real estate world, I expected disaster. So following copious amounts of knocking on wood, I’m happy to announce that so far this has been smooth sailing. We received 3 offers on our house (two over asking price) within two days and accepted one. Our house inspection has been done and the appraiser has come by with no issues. As far as the house we wanted, it was more than we really wanted to spend, but we made an offer at it was accepted. (It was actually our 3rd offer, but the first to be either accepted OR denied – long story) We close on our current house on 4/29, but will rent from the new owners for 2 weeks. Then we move into the in-laws house for about 6 weeks. Finally, we close on our new house 5/6, but the old owners will rent from us until between 6/15 and 6/30. The latest we will be able to move in will be 7/1. Pictures will come when they’ve cleared their stuff out, so we don’t feel weird about posting pictures of their Furry costumes on the web.
  • No real change in my dental happenings. Waiting on the insurance company to (likely) reject the request for payment, and then we’ll schedule the appointment for my surgery. (Maybe an MRI first?) In the meantime, I’m trying to live my life.
  • Everyone's favorite amorphous mascot, Archie!
  • At the above game, we have front row 3rd base seats, L got his face on the jumbotron (smile cam), he got a baseball (not a foul ball, but an Aces employee gave him a ball actually used in the game), we got a shirt (the lady behind snagged it but gave it to him anyway), 2 free burger vouchers (since the Aces scored 10+ hits), 2 free taco vouchers (our row only out of the entire stadium), and they won 6-1. Oh, and Landen got to take a picture with everyone’s favorite amorphous mascot Archie! I’d call that a good game.
  • I’m going to play my first disc golf tournament of the year this weekend at my local course. It’s two rounds of 27 hilly, long holes. My back has been pretty bad lately, but we’re going to go to PT twice this week and see what happens on the weekend. I ended up selling my Gorilla Boy bag because it’s just too heavy for my back, opting to stick to a smaller bag. I may have to buy something in the middle so I actually have a water bottle holder. *sigh* Getting older.
  • D & L are now both at the Montessori school, which puts 3 grades together. So D is with everyone from 3 yr olds to kindergartners, L is with 1st-3rd graders. They’re both blossoming (L was doing division problems in his head, D has started spelling words). It’s good to see our tough decisions rewarded.
  • Years ago I wrote a blog called White Christmases, noting that I live in a desert, yet from 2007-2012 I experienced at least some snow in 4 out of 6 Christmases. Since then, that percentage has continued. 2013 (no snow), 2014 (a dusting), 2015 (about an inch fell the morning of). So yeah, if you want a White Christmas, move to the desert I guess. 6 out of 9 years so far.
  • 2016 has already had some of the highest highs in a while, but more it’s had some of the lowest lows in my life. Here’s hoping for a rebound.

2016 Disc Golf Goals

It’s that time of year again, the time of year where I optimistically (foolishly) believe I have a chance to be World Champion, and I will have 100 aces, and I will finally beat Jere Eshelman in a round. Then May comes, my back goes out, I stop practicing altogether, and in rare instances (last year), I don’t make a single dollar playing disc golf all year. I do this every year. Seriously, every year. So let’s do it again!

You’ll notice if you clicked on the last two years’ results above that I make pretty modest goals and then fail to meet even them (in 2014, I reached 3 of my 13 goals, in 2015 only 2 of 15). So this year, having experienced major surgery (and likely a second surgery) and a back that continues to give me periodic problems, I’m not holding out hope for a bounceback season. I *have* been practicing once or twice a week for the last month, so I’m not totally out of it, but I have to realize that my body just isn’t what it was when I was actually (barely) contending in the open division.

Well now, that was a depressing opening. Let’s get to it!

1) Play in enough tourneys to justify the $75 PDGA fee. So I need 8 tournaments. I was originally going to specify something about the Sierra Series, but for now, let’s just stick to any 8.

2) Cash in a tournament. At all. Last year was my first year since turning pro in 2005 that I didn’t cash. What’s more I only even sniffed it once or twice. I just want to not have all my competing be in vain. Still 2 years until Master!

3) Top 3 at either Sun Valley tournament. As of now there are only 4 players signed up for the one in 10 days, so I like my odds.

4) Cash for the first time in the Sierra Series. I’m going to be optimistic that I will play most of the events and give myself a shot at cashing, but truthfully, it’s going to come down to a good showing at King of the Lake, where most of the points are given out.

5) No DFL (dead f’n last) finishes. Yeah, it’s that bad where not sucking the most has become the bar to beat.

6) Beat Jere Eshelman in a single PDGA round. Still hasn’t happened.

7) Keep my lifetime streak of never DNFing (did not finish) a tournament alive. This one seems to be getting more and more difficult every year.

8) At least 1 1000-rated roundI average almost 1.5 a year, so this is certainly do-able, though I should note I’ve only thrown 1 since 5/6/2013.

9) At least 1 round over 1010. Only ever done once, but an old guy can hope, can’t he?

10) No more than 1 round below 930I’m reluctantly coming to grips with the fact that I will suck at least one round every year, especially in the early months. So I’m lowering my basement to 930 (it used to be 940) and allowing myself one stinker. I’ve had 3 years since moving west where I accomplished this.

11) Have my rating at some point this year move out of the 959-969 rangeI’ve had an impressive 22 ratings update streak of this rating going (dating back to 9/2012). I’m okay if it drops below, honestly, as long as it changes. This is a pretty monotonous streak.

12) Hit one ace. I average one a year, helped in large part by a 3-ace 2013. So what’s one more?

13) Camp out and actually have the “fun” experience at one of the Turtle Rock tourneys. Recently I have placed too much importance on cashing (for a guy who doesn’t practice). I want to go back to why I play, to have fun. The camp-out experience helps this a great deal, even if it means sleeping on the ground and drinking – essentially giving myself a fast track to playing poorly the following day. I suppose it could be any tourney, not just Markleeville; it just makes the most sense there.

14) Play dubs at least 5 times this year.

15) Try to have fun. Last year I got burned out, partially because of my back, but partially because I just wasn’t actually enjoying myself. Two years of disappointing play has something to do with that, I’m sure, but really, if I’m not enjoying myself, why am I doing it?

There you have it. The bar keeps getting lower. Hopefully I decide whether I’m supposed to vault over it or limbo under it. Knowing me, I’ll probably just run headlong into it.

Day 61: Same Old Same Old

I’m asked with some regularity how my jaw is feeling or how my recovery is going. And I wish I had something more interesting to answer. I see no day-to-day improvement, and that’s really annoying and frustrating.

I still can’t open my mouth altogether very wide, though wide enough to put a spoon with some not-tall food into it. I can’t chew everything, though I can chew a fair amount without my jaw giving out. I can actually play a round of disc golf (throwing at maybe 75% power) with no pain, save from me giving a howl when my hyzer-flip forehand shot caught the top of the only obstacle in its way to a beeline to the basket. That howl hurt, but the round didn’t.

I should amend that, the round hurt A LOT, but it hurt my back far more than my jaw. Oh man, my back. I’m going to need surgery on that some day too. I keep on hoping it won’t be until I’m an old man, but my back is informing me on a constant basis that I am, despite all protestations, an old old man. Good thing I got physical therapy on Monday – I like bending and would prefer to do it without worry.

Anyway, I go back to the ortho in a week or so for him to look at my teeth, say “yup, they’re coming along”, and send me on my way. The jaw pain I’d been having over the past couple of weeks seems to have subsided, which is a relief. Now if only my back would cooperate.

PAIN: 1 (for the jaw)

INCONVENIENCE: 3 (my bands are no longer to keep my teeth closed, they’re for orthodontic reasons, but I still forget to put them on all the time after eating)

REGRET FACTOR: 1

Day 30: 3rd Follow-Up Appointment

Ultra-Myspace shot

This appointment was definitely the middle child of appointments. I didn’t get the freedom of the first child (my splint doesn’t come out until my next visit on 2/9), and I didn’t get coddled like the last child (I didn’t even get my teeth brushed this time!) However, it was a pretty informative visit.

He took another X-ray that showed the changes in my airway. Before, the narrowest part of my airway was just more than 3mm (it’s supposed to be 10-12mm). Now, the narrowest part was just over 7mm, with two other parts he measured being between 7-9mm. Nobody, including the surgeon, expected me to go from 3mm to 12mm. It’s not realistic, no matter how much he reshuffled my jaws. So he was quite happy with this result, especially when you bear in mind that once the splint comes out, my lower jaw will actually go even further up to touch my upper teeth. That will cause a slight increase in the airway.

He was happy with how I looked, how wide I could open, my speech, just about everything. Then he asked me to try to jut my lower jaw out. I don’t think I moved it even a nanometer. It was a weird feeling not really being able to move my jaw in a certain way when my brain was like, “hey, dumb jaw, I’m sending you some damn signals! Turn your ringer on!” It’s good to have specific stuff to work on.

He then mentioned a procedure I could opt to undergo (after maybe 6 more months) that would increase my airway even a little more, though it’s largely a cosmetic procedure. It would give me a chin, which I haven’t had since I was a kid. Basically, he would make a lateral cut in my chin and pull out the jaw/chin about 5mm. This is attached to several muscles, which would in turn pull my airway open a little more. Plus, I would admittedly like my profile more.

This came with a # of caveats. First, he wants to see how I’ll look in 6 months with (theoretically) no swelling and my face as it will basically look forever. I imagine he’ll take more X-rays to gauge my airway width. Of course, this being a largely cosmetic procedure means I’ll have to pay out of pocket, and while he could do it in his office (no hospital costs), it’s no small chunk of change. I think the procedure will be too expensive to consider (at least this year). It’s something to think about, though, and ask if there’s a certain window where this procedure would need to be done during – can it wait 2 years? Food for thought.

After my appointment I had a couple of hours to kill before grabbing my son so I went and did something crazy, I played some disc golf. It was my first time touching a disc since November. I bumped into a guy I knew and told him I’d play, but he’d have to go pretty slow for me. I throw at around 60% power (anything more than that jarred my jaw a little) and played just the flat holes. I shot an even on a pretty easy layout with no real wind. Any other day I’d be pretty upset with that score, but yesterday it felt so good to just be out and active that I will say it was a phenomenal round, especially since I couldn’t throw more than 250′.

I clocked over 8k steps yesterday, by far my most since the surgery. It wore me out, playing just 11 holes of pretty short golf, but today I don’t have any repercussions other than a pretty sore pectoral (standard for my first day of throwing after any long layoff). I don’t know when I’ll be in tournament shape (certainly not anytime soon), but suffice to say I should be back sooner than I thought.

Oh, and today I had MAC AND CHEESE FOR LUNCH! That’s apparently my threshold, less so for the chewing (it was pretty soft) and more so because I can’t fit anything larger than a shell into my mouth right now.

PAIN: 1

INCONVENIENCE: 4

REGRET FACTOR: 1

The most recent ortho pictures EVER!? I couldn’t believe #9!!!!

Just because *I’ve* made it a rule never to click on click-baiting headlines like this doesn’t mean nobody else does. So yeah, it may not be Buzzfeed worthy, but check out what’s going on with my teeth. First, a comparison of where we’re at from the inside:


Xray1 2014-05-07Xray1 2015-10-07

 

Xray2 2014-05-07 Xray2 2015-10-07

The change is pretty astounding. My teeth have undergone a pretty crazy transformation already, and I haven’t even gotten to the major stuff (except, perhaps, that I have 8 fewer teeth than when I started).

What they’re working on now is two things – the major one is that the top teeth need to be angled a little different, a little away from the bottom teeth (which is funny since up until now, everything they did were to rein those top teeth in). This is really the major thing that *could* push back the surgery date. The other thing they’re working on is rotating one of my lower back teeth. This isn’t necessary for the surgery, but will have to get done anyway, and they can do it concurrently with torquing the top teeth, so why not?

Today the surgeon Dr. M will be getting molds and will be performing “mold surgery” on them to see if all the jigsaw pieces will fit like he hopes. So, I had hoped to get confirmation today that Dec. 21 will be the surgery date, and I do not have that confirmation yet.

However, I have the ortho Dr. O extremely happy with my progress. He seems optimistic about the Dec 21 date, but really, he doesn’t have final say. The surgeon does. Here’s a picture of how far one set of my teeth has come in exactly 17 months, which also provides a glimpse into what it’s like to be missing a whole bunch of teeth:

Teeth5 2014-05-07Teeth5 2015-10-07

 

Also pretty amazing. It’s contrasting pictures like this that make me happy I’m doing this procedure. If nothing else, I’ve actually started using my front teeth to chew a little bit, and this isn’t even where my teeth will end up.

But now I feel like we’re racing against the clock. Why am I so insistent on a December surgery? Two reasons, really:

1) Ash has her winter break for 3 weeks starting on that day. Since we won’t be able to have my family in town to help, it’s going to be a brutal recovery and Ash will be as worn down as me, probably more. If she weren’t on break, it really wouldn’t be feasible for a typical recovery as I will need someone by my side, at least for the first week. So without her break, she’d have to take a few weeks off of work, which we don’t really want for a myriad of reasons.

2) I found out last week that Dr. M the surgeon is retiring at the end of December. So if I go on as scheduled, I’ll be one of the last, if not the last, patient he performs this procedure on. The surgeon isn’t really old – I’d peg him as maybe 60, but he’s been doing this for 30-35 years or so. It’s good that he’s retiring, but NOT BEFORE HE WORKS ON ME! Part of why I agreed to this procedure is because I liked and trusted him so much. Yes, he has a partner that is probably also very good, but there’s no doubt I want M to do the procedure, and Dr. O today also confirmed that would definitely prefer that I have Dr. M do it as well.

So the nerves continue. And also, I see pictures like this:

 

Face3 2014-05-07Face3 2015-10-07

Wow, my teeth are definitely looking pretty great right now. So why do I even bring up this comparison? Well, this is the first time I’ve really noticed just how much weight I’ve put on in the last 17 months. It’s been something I’m consciously doing in preparation for the surgery. Or at least, that’s what I’m telling myself. I totally abandoned my work-out regiment at the start of the year, have been eating pretty crappily ever since and not working it off. I’ve more or less stopped playing disc golf (my only real regular exercise) and have been going to PT for my back.

Suffice to say I’m not exactly happy with how I look in this picture. The double-chin I’m less concerned about, because actually I really don’t have a first chin (you can’t see it with this picture, but my profile pictures show that I really don’t have a chin). I’m *hoping* that the surgery will correct this a little. I don’t have unrealistic expectations – I’ve noticed in my research that underbites tend to see a pretty significant aesthetic difference after the surgery, whereas overbites are far more subtle. I’ll have a little more of a chin, but without him putting an implant there, it isn’t going to look a whole lot different.

So this parlays into how I feel about myself going into this. I’m not doing it for aesthetics, but I don’t like my look in profile. I DO like my smile more now than before, but I realized the crookedness of my teeth had less to do with my image issues than the shape of my jaw and chin in profile. I’m also not happy about letting myself get really out of shape.

Starting November 1, I’m going to cut out soda (again), cut out fast food (again), try to eat better (again), and try to work out more (again). I’m not setting rigid goals like in the beginning of the year, b/c once I broke the first one of those, I allowed myself to waterfall in breaking all the other ones. Just general health goals. I don’t like flabby me as much as less-flabby me.

I also had my very first dream, or even part of a dream, about my surgery. I was looking at a grainy album cover that had some poor sap with a huge round wedge in his mouth, unconscious. Then it sorta morphed into a video of the same, and someone squeezing a flat tube above the wedge. I was told it was how that person was able to breathe. I, in the dream, did a “gasp for air” that I do in real life when demonstrating why it is I’m having this procedure done. I wonder if I actually did gasp for air in real life. I’ll have to ask the missus. It wasn’t a particularly bad or scary dream, but I imagine they will be coming with more frequency.

I *should* find out anywhere from tomorrow to next week if I’m going to hit the Dec 21 window for surgery. Keep some body parts crossed, especially if they’re fun parts to cross. Let’s do this!

Disc Golf Goals – How’d I do? (spoiler alert: crappy)

You know it’s not good when it’s October and I’m already going over my year-end goals. This is because… well, I’m on a disc golf hiatus. I’ll explain more later. But suffice to say, this is going to be a truly humbling exercise.

1) Play in the entire Sierra Series, the GCC, and maybe one tourney at a course I’ve never played.

NO – I played the GCC (did poorly), and then played the first 3 events of the series. After a truly disappointing showing at King of the Lake (where I was in the top 10 through two rounds, including a 1000+ rated round a Bijou, I proceeded to throw my worst-ever rounds at both Sierra College and Tahoe Vista. I went from top 10 to bottom third.

I DID play a tourney at course I’ve never played – Oroville – which saw my lowest two combined scores (ratings) in years. I have NO idea why I even wanted to do that. Playing a course blind and – worse yet – playing two courses that DON’T HAVE DISTANCES MARKED blind – is just stupidity. My new resolution is to never play a course that doesn’t have accurate distances on their signs.

2) Cash at either of the A tiers I’m playing (GCC and King of the Lake). 

I did not cash at all. Not once. For the first time in my life, I did not cash at a PDGA event in a calendar year. Worse yet, despite playing basically my exact rating all year, I only sniffed cash once (and I played myself out of it by one stroke b/c of what I now realize was heatstroke). It was really frustrating. At my local course, I played toe-to-toe with some of Norcals best, but lost by 4 because I missed 11 putts! ELEVEN putts! At Turtle Rock I went-bogey free on the toughest round yet lost strokes on many of the pros because I hardly got birdies. And then, of course, KotL where I was on pace to have a great tourney, then just sucked it up big time.

3) Cash in at least 1/2 the Series tournaments I play.

Close. 0%. That’s almost half, right?

4) Top 25% or better of a B Tier. 

Ugh. This isn’t getting any better.

5) Top 3 at the Sun Valley tournament.

Had I converted HALF of my missed putts, I would have. Instead, I finished in 8th (of 15).

6) Cash for the first time in the Sierra Series. 

Nope nope nope.

7) Beat Jere Eshelman in a single PDGA round.

I think this is the one that bugs me most. In that same Lizard Peak tourney where 11 putts over two rounds cost me 12 strokes, Jere beat me by 3 strokes and1 stroke respectively. Again, at Turtle rock, he beat me by 1 (on my bogey-free round). And on my 1000+ rated round at Bijou during KotL? He beat me by two. SON OF A…

8) Keep my lifetime streak of never DNFing a tournament alive.

I did drop out of a tournament due to injury, but it was before the tourney started, so I consider my streak still active.

9) At least 3 1000-rated rounds

I had a 1004 at Bijou. My next best was 982. *sigh*

10) At least 1 round over 1010. 

Nope. I’m adding to my collection of rounds between 1000-1010 (13 and counting, compared to just one over that).

11) No rounds below 940. 

Truly embarrassing. I had FIVE, including two that were below 905 (but at least above 900!) When I was off this year, I was truly off.

12) End up with a rating over 975.

Again, no such luck. Instead, I’m kinda rocking a pretty impressive streak of consistency – twenty straight ratings updates with a rating between 959-969. I’m nothing if not consistent (except, of course, for my actual playing time, which is painfully inconsistent).

13) Hit a dubs ace or a tourney ace.

I did manage to snag an ace, but it was a few days before a tourney. In fact, I was practicing one of the Lizard Peak holes in a position I’d never seen, and I threw a great anhyzer with my FIGHTER Buzzz 343′ downhill for the ace. It was so windy that I barely heard any chains.

14) Play at least 3 new courses this year.

I ACCOMPLISHED ONE OF MY GOALS! I actually played 5 new courses this year, including one in a new state (UT!) That brings my total to 140 courses in 29 states.

15) Continue playing dubs/tags during tournament season.

Ha ha ha! Ha ha! Whew. *wipes tears from eyes* Heh, that’s a good one.

16) Stop talking about myself so much during the tournaments.

Gotta be honest, I don’t know if I did this. I was conscientious of this all year, and I took my iPod out more often than I had in past, so I think I was sorta good at it. But it’s also one of my inherent flaws. I’m gonna keep working on it.

Actually, I may not need to. As I stated, I’m on something of a hiatus. I feel really frustrated with where in the country I live. I have to average 970-980 golf to even scrape last cash at a tournament. Nowhere else in the country is that the case (for B Tiers at least). I looked around, and in many places, a 950 or 960 would get me there.

I simply have too many other balls in the air to actually practice like I would need to to be competitive. And being close to 40, but not actually being 40, doesn’t help. If I were 40 (or even 39 turning 40), I’d be able to play Masters, an age-protected division. If I were to have done that this year, instead of cashing in 0 tournaments (out of 7), I would have cashed in 5 (coming in 3rd, 4th, 8th, 1st, and 1st). I didn’t crunch the math, but that’s probably a different of about $800.

I’m also just not having fun. Knowing that I have to play the best golf I’ve played in years to even scrape bottom of the barrel just isn’t fun. Halfway thru events I was looking forward more to going home than finishing playing.

With surgery scheduled next year, I’m likely going to be missing most of next year. I’ll try to play King of the Lake if possible b/c it’s my favorite, even though I will NOT be hoping to compete (with such little practice and a likely atrophied body, I don’t hold false hope for success). Maybe I’ll make next year (and possibly the year after) where I really take the boys to play often. Landen’s getting old enough where he could start playing tourneys (only if he wanted to!) but we’d have to see if it’s worth it.

Anyway, yay disc golf!

GCC – Round 2

This is my second time posting this (thanks Rodeway Inn!) In other circumstances, I would normally say “for holes 1-11 just see yesterday’s entry“), but I didn’t actually post anything from yesterday. Suffice to say that for the first 11 holes I matched yesterday’s round hole for hole. A worse putt here, a better putt there, but the exact same round. This includes holes 10 and 11, two birdie holes that are pretty easy. Both of them I put within 35-45 feet and miss both putts. Hole 12 is an easy deuce, which I of course threw OB and took a four. I “made up” the stroke on hole 13, which I parred (vs. a bogey yesterday). So still the same as yesterday.

Hole 14 was a great drive, and GREAT forehand up (which had some NASTY luck – in fact both of my forehands today were excellent and both had bad luck), leaving me a difficult low-ceiling 40′ putt (vs. a drop-in birdie). I miss. The next hole featured my best roller of the tournament, but a terrible up shot cost me a stroke and I parred that hole.

Yesterday at this point I was -1 with three hole left: an easy par 3, a difficult par 5, and an easy par 5. You’ll remember that I took 4 OBs yesterday, costing me 4 strokes, ending at +3. Today, one stroke worse to start, I managed to park hole 16 (the island hole) for my FIRST deuce of the tournament. Hole 17 featured a pretty sick upshot that skipped up in the OB “pond”, rose in the air, then hit the OB and slid down about a total of 18″ away from “safe”. If there had been a spotter on the far side, it’s possible the shot would have been called safe. But there wasn’t anyone there, so I took an unfortunate OB and scored a bogey (still somehow one stroke better than yesterday). After  a birdie on the final hole, I came in with a -1. Not amazing, but better than yesterday. It moved me from around 66th to 58th.

I figure to cash I’ll need to end up around -1 or -2 (3 or 4 strokes better than where I’m at now). I gotta really step my game up. How am I preparing? By losing money at blackjack and drinking.

GCC – Round 1

The nice thing about today is I don’t even need to recap my whole round, only the last three holes. In practice I was all sorts of off, so I changed my strategy to playing very easy, safe golf. Which I did. Through 15 holes, I was -1 (2 bogeys, three birdies – but no deuces). In reality, I never even gave myself a chance for deuce. On the birdie holes I was 50-60′ away for my birdie, and I made everything from 25′ and  in. Just boring, decent golf. In fact, the hole I resolved to “attack the course” more was my first OB on the day (hole 13).

Then, with daylight fading quickly (the sun had already gone behind the horizon with three holes left), I come up to the final hole 16. A very easy island hole (one of only a few must-deuces), followed by two tricky par 5s, one of which I feel is a pretty easy 4. I figure if I can get just one bird, I’d walk away with a respectable -2.

I throw the haybale hole, an island. I go long by 3 inches. Literally. 3″. Unlike most islands, instead of getting to play from where I trickled out (which would have been a 15′ par putt with the penalty stroke), they put you at a drop zone with no realistic chance to make it. So I bogey because of three lousy inches.

Then the TD comes up and says that play will be suspended at 5:35 and we finish whatever hole we’re on, and we’d have to come back first thing in the morning to finish the round. There was NO WAY we’d get to hole 18 in time as there were already groups waiting. So we tee off in the scant light on 17. I throw a good drive. Then I go for an all-out shot with a backhand roller to give me a shot at a difficult birdie. I slip on the dirt and my roller goes OB – by 4 feet. I then throw the “safe” shot to before the OB ditch that’s before the basket, okay with taking a bogey. But because it’s dark and I can’t make out distance, my “safe shot” slides OB. By 3 feet. I go up and down to take a double OB double bogey.

Now in basic darkness, we sit on 18s teebox amazed that we are going to have to go back to the course at 8am to play ONE HOLE. The TD comes up after a few minutes and says a couple of groups behind us (there were 4 groups after us) want to finish in the dark and we could too. Hell yeah we say. I have a drive that hits a guardian tree and give me a tough look. I know I have to clear an OB lake but I don’t know how far it is. The guy tells me the OB line is around this one telephone pole’s distance. Which I misread entirely because it’s basically pitch black now. So I take another OB stroke. I finally get around to finish with yet another bogey.

So from -1 with 3 holes left, I throw 4 OBs, go +4 on those holes, and finish at a disappointing +3. That -2 (if it weren’t for those three inches) would have likely put me around a 985 round. Instead I’m probably mired in the low 950s. Now I need two really good rounds to cash.

At least I need some stupid deuces. The good news is that with that pretty lousy finish I’ll be tee-ing off quite early so I won’t need to worry about the darkness tomorrow.

*sigh*

Pre-GCC Glee

Why am I so gleeful? Well, because I’m actually out playing some disc golf on a Friday. That’s why. But more than that, I’ve just felt very good this entire year so far with my game. Will that translate to a killer round today? I don’t know. But the prospect is exciting.

Take last week for example. I took Landen out for a quick round of the pitch-n-putt behind his school. I brought along just two discs and a water bottle, which I held the entire time (even when throwing). My “drives” (all made with putters) were okay, but my putting was incredible. I made two putts from just 0utside the circle (~35′) and a third uphill putt from around 70′. And that was all within nine holes.

Then I managed to get to the course early enough yesterday for a practice round, which is a good thing since the course is COMPLETELY different than the last time I played here two years ago. And I was playing very solid. I went OB only once and did not have a bad drive with my boss. More importantly for this week, my roller game was pretty good.

In short I’m just feeling very confident. Of course overconfidence is just as dangerous as underconfidence, in fact probably more so. I’m going to leave early today to play a local 9-holer just to get my arm going. Then I’ll probably show up at the course early and walk it with Skot Meyer (who is playing Masters and has a teetime four hours before mine).

Now, if only we can finish before dark. (It’ll be VERY close IMO).