Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Off the Course: Horsey History

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to reconnect with a friend of the blog as he brought his newly hatched heir back 'round these here parts so the in-laws could catch a glimpse of the lad.  After a round at Des Moines' Ewing Park DGC, we headed out for some smooth craft brew because (as we all know) that's how we roll.

We take a seat at the bar with our rounds and catch up.  This gentleman lives more than a hop, skip and a jump away after all.  As it turns out, the Kentucky Derby was gearing up as we were settling into our spots.  The Kentucky Derby as you likely know is the kick off event of the big three American horse races that constitute the Triple Crown.  It is akin to a major in golf.  As they parade the horses with their diminutive riders, we happened to look up just in time to catch the name of a particular horse, I'll Have Another.  And as we were a couple in by this point, we thought the moniker serendipitous considering, you know, we were at a bar.  Besides, with the odds they were giving him, we offered that the owner would likely want to have another after what could only promise to be a back-of-the-pack performance.

We were focused on Union Rags, one of the favorites throughout the first turn.  That is until we realized that at the back of the pack, he had no shot.  With nominal interest in the event, we watched the rest unfold.  It is horse racing after all.  Then, coming down the backstretch, here comes our man I'll Have Another storming up to take the derby.  The bar erupts in exuberant exaltation.  ... Because apparently everyone loves horse racing.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Hot or Not: PDGA Player Ratings for May 2012

With so much else happening, I haven't had an opportunity to comment on one more facet of being a PDGA member.  This changes now.  Along with sweet swag, tourney privileges, and a card that says that I'm a BA disc golfer, the King and I are now rated disc golfers.

Ratings are the means by which our community measures ability (at least for PDGA members).  Ratings are not the simplest things to tabulate accurately.  Think of the complexity for a moment.  Ratings need represent the aggregated performance of a single disc golfer across various rounds in various locations in incalculable conditions.

You cannot go simply by course pars.  Who would set the criteria?  Beyond that, how would the ratings take into account 30 mph gusts of wind over and against calm conditions?  Then the location question.  How does a gusty round at Winthrop Gold in South Carolina compare with a calm day at Blue Ribbon Pines in Minnesota?

In steps the rating system referred to as Scratch Scoring Average (or SSA).  I won't bore you with the details because I can't understand them, but the idea is a relative and fluid system that rates each round not against the tangible, physical elements of the course, but against the intangible, human element of the players themselves.  Each round is evaluated based on how those already rated perform around you, with standard (or scratch) representing 1000.  In order for a ratable round to occur, the round must be in a sanctioned tournament; comparable with at least five players whose rating is at least 800 and whose rating is based on at least eight rounds of information.

It is a complicated system, but from what I can tell very equitable and as complete a system as I could discern.  For more information, please go to this explanation:  http://www.pdga.com/files/documents/PDGARatingsGuide.pdf.

I won't trouble you with the ratings of MRK or myself, though in the future I will likely outline my hopes and goals for my rating in a future post.  Until then, live in wonderment and awe of the rating system!


Programming note: I will try to have a post for you next week, however, I am preparing a vacation to Utah (yes, I know), and I may not have time to produce one in time.  I'll do what I can, because I know the many readers of this blog await my posts in anticipatory silence.  Yeah... that.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Acorn Open 2012: Burrito Power Ups

Second tourney of the year is in the books.  It was, in a word, bipolar.  This is a word I used in description of the last tournament.  It is applicable for both, but for different reasons.  More on that in a bit.

This is a tournament the King and I had been looking forward to playing for some time now.  Honestly, when my interest in playing a tourney was first piqued, this is the one which caused the... piquing.  With the ever-efficacious benefit of hindsight, I'm glad we waited.

The day leading up to the event was an exercise in fluidity.  The original plan was to meet the Mid Range King in the Cities; sneak in a warm-up session; spend the night at my old roommate's abode; then rock faces at the tourney before riding off into the sunset.  Things changed.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Tourney Week: Watch Your Nuts!

A month after the "Groan at Doane", MRK and I will be hitting up our second scheduled tournament of the season.  We will be making a stop by the 2012 Acorn Open.  Taking place at Acorn Park in Roseville, this is a course with which we are much more familiar.  After all, Acorn is a place we considered home for a time.  Being close to our Alma Mater, URBWes, the King and I frequented this place more than any other (save perhaps the Bethel course after it came online).  We threw here before I switched back to a backhand throw.  We threw here in the Minny winters.  And we throw here when we are back in the Cities.  It is that standard by which we can examine the change in our game.

In fact, MRK and I were recently in the Cities at the same time and had the opportunity to get in a round at Acorn as a warm up.  Honestly, it was rougher for us than I thought it would be.  The reason?  Changes in our games.  One would think that as we develop as players our capacity to approach a familiar course with surpassing deftness and command.  Not the case.  Our games have developed consistently throughout our time in the game.  This includes the years since Acorn was our local haunt.  Such is the result when a great change encounters that which is familiar.

Our conditioned minds have an expectation for how to play a hole.  We have played it that way many times before.  It is tried and tested and must succeed the same way in the future.  Apparently my arm failed to get the memo.  I throw a Starfire much differently than I thew it back in the day.  The same for my Roc.  This is to say nothing of the increased reliance upon such discs as the Buzzz and the Stalker.  I would even contend that this presents a unique challenge that may be even more harrowing than playing a course blind.  We must alter entrenched mental approaches, and we all know that altering standing behavior is more difficult than establishing new behaviors.  My game has changed; my approach to a course needs to change with it.

I think I am up for it.  And I think the King is as well.  We will approach the task with alacrity and verve.  We will overcome ourselves.

At least we will have fun in the attempt.

Watch your nuts, Pap,


Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Disc-ussion: "One, Little Trick..."

BryJohn isn't much of a disc golfer.  Never really was.  Sure, he had played from time to time at the local camp course (re: designed for the young), but outside of a round or two, nothing that would be considered substantial.  Yet, being the great friend that he is, wanted to be party to the Disc Weekend that was my bachelor party last year.

Think back to when you first picked up a golf disc.  The way you threw it like an ultimate disc, and the way it went the wrong way.  The transition is difficult in the best of times, much less at the courses at Highbridge.  But being a good athlete, he soldiered on.  Then, about half way through the Granite Ridge round, I offered a small bit of advice.  Instead of letting it ride the rim, try tucking your index finger underneath the rim.  The result was instantaneous.  BryJohn's drives instantly gained 50 ft, and the resulting technique helped him figure out some other little things he could do to make his game better.

Such a small thing.

Bend one finger and throw 50 ft farther.

For me it was the transition from an untrained backhand to a forehand... then back to a better trained backhand.  Or seeing how competent golfers putted.  Or (and here was a thought), planning the natural fade of a disc into my shot preparation.

We all have those little techniques that have made a world of difference in our game.

Now's your turn...  Tell us of a specific change that you have made to your game and tell us how it impacted you.