It’s time once again to set forth my aspirations for the coming year. This year is a pretty special year, in which I will finally be able to play in the division my decrepit body has belonged in for years – Masters. This is for people who are turning 40 (I turn in August), and it will greatly open up some opportunities for me to walk away with a little extra cash I hope. Then again, I’ve had years where I expected brilliance and gotten a bucket of suck.
I’m upping my game by having TWENTY goals to hit. What’s more, there aren’t a whole lot of gimmes here; this year will be nigh impossible to get a clean sweep. Without further ado, here we go.
1) Gain enough PDGA points to qualify for Masters Worlds in 2019.
While I did achieve this last year (and quite handily, amassing 740 of the requisite 600 points to qualify), it was actually easier then than it will be this year. Pro fields were generally larger than Masters fields last year so I was able to beat more players by playing the same caliber of game. For example, let’s look at King of the Lake. In Open, I came in tied for 31 out of 46 people. Since I get 7.5 points for every person I tie or beat, I walked away with 120 points. In Masters I would have come in a better percentage (top 52% vs. 67%) yet beaten less people. Add to that Masters only get 6 points in a B-Tier event for each person beaten or tied and I would have walked away with ~84 points. So in 2018 this will be doable, but not easy. I’ll need some big finishes in tournaments with large fields.
2) Cash in 2/3 of my events.
In Open last year I managed to cash in nearly half my events. While cashing in Masters will theoretically be easier, cashing in 2/3 of the events won’t be simple. It’ll require consistent golf, something that tends to elude me at times.
3) Cash in every PDGA event.
Why not make a lofty goal then an even loftier goal? This is one that will epitomize the need for consistency. But really, this year will be best chance to do it as I’ll likely be one of the youngest guys in Masters, and as the years tick by, not only will I not get any better, but more “youngsters” will be bumping up (down?) to my division. So, why not now?
4) Cash in an A-Tier event.
I know what you’re thinking – both of you – I’ve cashed in almost half the A-tier events I’ve played in my professional life as a bottom-feeder Pro. Why shouldn’t I be able to cash in an A-tier in the easier Masters field? Well, mainly because I’ll probably only play in one or possibly two A-tiers. I mean, I’m scheduled for one in March, so I got that one booked (and my rating puts me right around the cash line), but I don’t know if I’ll have the opportunity to travel to play others. They’re on my radar, but it may not be in the cards this year without recouping a significant percentage of my expenditures. Speaking of which:
5) Win enough cash to pay for my entry fees.
It’s simple – win enough during tournaments and doubles (and ace-pots and side-bets) to cover the cost of paying for every tournament, doubles, and side-pot. I am *not* including other expenditures here yet, just entry fees. Why, you ask? Calm down, hoppity; you’re so impatient.
6) Win enough cash to pay for ALL my disc golf expenditures.
Sure, this is a pie-in-the-sky kind of objective. Not only does it include all entry fees, but it includes food, gas, lodging, clothing (I have already spent almost $240 on new disc golf shoes, inserts, and specialized socks to reduce the chance of blood blisters), PDGA membership, and discs if I happen to need those. On super rough estimates, last year I conservatively spent about $1,500 on disc golf. I made something like $570 in tournaments, maybe another $150-$200 in everything else. I’ll need to play my arse off, or at least sign up for more tournaments than I normally do and cash in the big ones.
7) Keep my lifetime streak of never DNFing (did not finish) a tournament alive.
16 years into this sport and this is one achievement I’m proud of, but one that becomes harder with every ache and pain. Hopefully working out at the gym this year and maintaining a slightly better diet will help me out. And the aforementioned good shoes. And, who knows, maybe I’ll get crazy and actually practice.
8) Never finish in the bottom third of a tournament.
The natural extension of not finishing a tournament (which would automatically be a last-place finish), I don’t want to even come in the bottom third. Last year I would have done so twice out of 11 tournaments. Next year? Not if I have anything to say about it.
9) Don’t ever take myself out of contention in the first round.
Ah, it just wouldn’t be a goals column without one goal that is subjective. As was evident in my wrap-up article last year, I tended to shoot my worst round to start a tournament. How bad is “needs improvement” and how bad is “out of contention”? Well, last year I finished a tournament with a 1012 rated round and still didn’t cash (Finals at Tahoe Vista). I would say more than 6 strokes off the cash-line (with 2 rounds remaining) would qualify as out of contention. So that’s our criteria. In fact, no, let’s make it tougher. No more than 5 strokes off cash line after 1 round (or no more than 3 strokes if a 2-round tournament).
10) Don’t lose a playoff in a PDGA event.
I’m optimistically thinking I’ll be vying for trophies this year, which could mean having some playoffs. In my PDGA career, I’ve done pretty well with playoffs, having won three and lost one. (One of my wins featured me playing with my opponent’s discs because I was too lazy to walk back to my car to get my own.) So if I find myself in a playoff, I don’t want to lose it.
Notice the sneaky wording on this – if I don’t actually have a playoff in any event, I SUCCEED! I’m not counting doubles here because I have been playing with L as my partner, so any ties result in basically a handicap closest-to-the-pin contest.
And now a word from our sponsor, wind.
11) Throw three or more 1000-rated rounds.
Last year was the first time since 2009 that I achieved this (I got four), so I think it’ll be a challenging goal for this year, too. Hell, I’ve only hit two 1000-rated rounds in one calendar year 4 times: 2006, 2009, 2013, and 2017. If the patterns holds up, it looks like 2022 will be my next due date.
12) Throw at least 1 round over 1010.
I’ve only done this four times in my 13 years as a pro, and three of them inexplicably happened last year. But you know what they say about 1011+ rated rounds, don’t you? They’re bad ways to start a cliché.
13) Beat my all-time highest-rated round of 1025.
Somehow this is a goal I’ve never set for myself. Sure this one is a long-shot, but as I proved last year with two 1020+ rated rounds (one of which involving a missed 25’ putt), it’s possible.
14) No rounds below a 930 rating.
In 2015, I had 3 of these rounds. In 2016, 3. Last year a whopping 4. I didn’t want to go back further than this because it makes me sad. *sigh* Okay, I did go back and found that I’ve never actually done this. The closest I came was in 2011 where my first tournament round of the year was a 920-rated round but after that I never threw anything worse than a 956 (which I threw three times).
15) Have more rounds over my rating than below my rating.
This one seems like a no-brainer, doesn’t it? You should always be above your rating about as often as you’re below, because the worse you do, the lower your rating goes, making it easier to shoot above your rating. It’s maths! But it doesn’t always shake out like that.
2017: 14 rounds above, 16 rounds below (1 was exactly my rating)
2016: 10 above, 13 below
2015: 8 above, 12 below
2014: 9 above, 12 below (1 exact)
In fact, you have to go all the way back to 2013 to find the last time I achieved this goal. I had 14 above, 11 below that year. I think the conclusion to be drawn here is that I tend to shoot a little below my rating, but when I am above, I crush it.
16) Have my rating be over 970 for one or more ratings updates in 2018.
At the time of this writing, my player rating has been between 958 and 969 for 39 straight updates spanning back to September of 2012. The time to break that trend (in the RIGHT direction) is NOW.
17) Hit a tournament ace or eagle.
I got a dubs ace last year. I want more, only in a more high-profile situation. I thought I did this more often than I really did. I had a tournament ace in 2008, but then my next one didn’t happen until 2012, followed by one in each of the next two years. Then nothing since. No tournament aces since 2014! Yeegads!
18) Hit metal on hole that’s more than 300’.
Most of my aces are on shorter holes, with only three of my 13 aces coming on holes over 300’. Since it would be a tall order to specify wanting an ace on a long hole, I’ll call it good if I tickle the chains or hit cage/number plate. Pole on the flight is acceptable, not on a skip.
NOTE: I already likely did this in 2018 on hole 2 at Dayton, but since it wasn’t totally obvious (I skipped off the guardian branch and then the disc just stopped, so we think it hit cage), I’ll say it doesn’t count.
19) Play at least 25 “casual” rounds.
That’s only two a month, so it sounds doable, right? Well, we’re early on in February and I’ve played 3, so I’m pretty much on track. But I tend to play less casual rounds late in the year, especially in the final few months of the year. I consider dubs, tags, or anything like that casual. But playing warm-up holes the morning of a tournament, even if I happen to play 18, doesn’t count.
20) Play at least two courses I’ve never played before.
I needed a 20th. So now I have one.
In the immortal words of Mr. Stick himself, I’m going to spend this year “throwing plastic at metal”. Hopefully in not a lot of throws.
21) Win 1 tournament.
I can’t believe I forgot this one. This was literally the main goal I had in mind for this year when I sat down to compose this absurdly long post. Last year I *would have* won three Masters events (assuming an awful lot of factors). So it would seem like I’m really dropping my goal unnecessarily, right? Well, not necessarily at it turns out.
You’ll see above that I’ve only ever won three tournaments as a member of the PDGA. Since 2004. Let’s go over those wins. Hell, let’s even add that 4th win I had back before I was officially a PDGA member.
Jersey Jam – 2003 – White Division. Remember that year they tried to break the divisions up in weird color-oriented subset that everyone hated? No? Good for you. Well, I sandbagged my first tournament (this was probably equivalent to the rec division) and even then only tied for first. I did win the playoff though. My first win under my belt in maybe my second ever PDGA tournament? Well, what can I say, I was a sandbagger.
Animalfest V – 2004 – This one I was proud of, and really to this day the only win I feel I truly earned. It was in the Advanced division, but lest you think I sandbagged, I was definitely not a frontrunner to win it all. I wasn’t even a 900-rated player yet (I was 896) and I beat probably ten people better than me, including a kid with a 950 rating. It was mainly on the strength of a round with MISERABLE rain and mud conditions. Either way, I’m very proud of this win. I was 3 ahead of 2nd place and 7 ahead of 3rd place. Hard to tell how I would have stacked up in a different division as they played different courses/layouts.
Jersey Jam – 2005 – I got a thing for this tournament, don’t I? Well, just in case you think I must have played lights out, I have to bring up a few things. This tournament was held the same weekend as Worlds, meaning the turnout was, how you say, light? There were only 5 players in Advanced and I was the highest-rated going in. I averaged only 937-rated rounds. I mean, I won this, but it was more that no one else bothered to beat me.
Then I turned pro. Let’s see when that other win happened.
Rumble at the Ranch, 2013 – 8 YEARS LATER! This was my only Open division win and there’s a few things rolled up with this. First off, like the last win, this was a really light field – only five players. I was in the middle of the pack, but other than Joe there weren’t too many strong players. Halfway through the first round, I got called on an OB penalty when I did NOT think I missed the mando (and it’s still the worst mando in disc golf because it’s something like 150′ from the pin – how can you tell!?) I argued but lost. That cost me two strokes on that hole, then two more strokes on the next two holes as I steamed.
At lunch, I was in last place, four strokes off the lead.
I played decently to start the second round, but it was about halfway through the round that the hurricane came. I’m not being exactly literal, but you could actually watch the approaching storm come. Huge downpour and horrendous wind gusts over 50 mph (that lasted about 20-30 minutes). It was so bad that some people stopped, but we never heard a whistle so we kept playing. And I made up so many strokes in those holes (I ended up coming in first by 5 strokes). It’s the only tournament where I beat every other player regardless of division.
So anyway, I have 4 wins to my name, only one (1 and a half?) of them was truly an achievement. So, let’s go for win 5 this year. Then 6, 7, 8. But for the sake of this goal, just 5.