Welcome to our Flex Start Disc Golf Event!
The third stop of the 2023 Keweenaw Disc Golf Tour went down on Saturday, 17JUN. Ten players attended the two round flex start, battling the hills, the heat and each other for prizes and tour points on the par 56 track.
A flex start tournament meant that players could arrive at any time between the prescribed hours of 8AM and 8PM and play on a card with at least two players. They were allowed as much or as little time for a break between rounds as they wanted, so long as they finished their second rounds by 8PM. This meant there was not a strict round one and round two, a lead card and chase card vibe or players battling it out hole by hole. This lead to a much more casual vibe overall for the tournament.
Some scores were fairly hot to match the warm temps which pushed into the 80s with a mostly clear sky. Nathan Soule put up an even par first round and a -2 second round, setting the bar at two down fairly early in the day. His was the best score from a group of players who arrived in the morning. However, Drew Pickens had a shot a putting up a hot score as well. He carded a total of nine birdies across two rounds but couldn’t manage to keep his score card clean, resulting in a two over score at the end for a 7th place finish. Han Johnson was in a similar position, scoring on 8 holes but ending with a total several strokes over par.
This storyline of birdies and bogeys – colorful scorecards if you will – was a theme for essentially every player in the event, not just Drew and Han. Every player carded at least one birdie in both rounds. If this tournament were based solely on holes played under par, the scores would have been absurdly low across the board. But many players got into trouble often. In fact, taking par on a given hole was less common than birdie or bogey for the field. This is due to a combination of several factors. For starters, many of the holes, particularly the front nine, are not terribly difficult in terms of distance or shot shape and lend themselves to easy birdies. Several of the holes on the back nine are considerably down hill, making them reachable by players who could not normally birdie holes of the same length on flatter terrain. Working against the field (and increasing the bogey strokes) was the rough on the course. The course is on a ski slope, which means fairways are wide open with dense woods and few throwing lanes immediately off the fairway. Stack this with a general lack of familiarity with the course from all but one player and the result is players not knowing the exact shot shape needed or which disc to select, getting off the fairway and the rough preventing scrambling to save par. This was, far and away, the most “boom and bust” tournament of the tour so far this year.
The afternoon saw a second large wave of players. Ethan Wallis carded his KDGT personal best five total birdies at this event, while Josh Eckloff had the biggest improvement from round one to round two, shaving seven strokes off from his first lap to his second.
Tom Voelker shot a total of three under across two rounds to secure the 5th place on the leader board. His tournament was much like a roller coaster – higher peaks and lower valleys in round one, coming in just one under par with six birdies, and a little more even keeled in round two, posting a two down with four birdies.
Jerry Lutz came out strong with a -4 first round and was able to ride that out, matching course par in his second round, to finish at four under total, good enough for a 4th place finish. This fourth place spot, and his consistantly high finishes at the other two stops, means he is currently in first place in tour points standings with 208.
The Porcupine Wilderness stop saw the first tie inside the cash line. Ontonagon local Richard Olszewski used his knowledge of the course to be one of the few players to minimize the bogey strokes, making his birdies really count. Caden Lehto had a similar story, carding very few bogey strokes on the day and posting the second hottest round of the tournament in his first loop with a -6. These two players were all knotted up at nine under par when it was all done, so they combined prizes and points for second and third and split them evenly.
Hottest round of the event went to Dylan Boberg in his first time around the course with an impressive eight under par with only one bogey stroke. It was good he got it though. He carded an impressive seven birdies in round two as well, but fell victim to the “boom and bust” nature of the course and came in just two under par in spite of all those birdies. He just eeked out Caden and Richard by a single stroke, posting a -10 (102) on the day to take down first place. This was Dylan’s first win on the tour, the 100 points from which catapaulted him all the way up to fourth in the standings.
The performances from Dylan, Caden, Tom and Jerry are made all the more impressive when you consider they participated in a 27 hole doubles event earlier in the day! Way to go guys!
The tournament helped to bring a spotlight to the course, an underrecognized gem of the Keweenaw disc golf scene. A camera crew was dispatched to put together a piece highlighting the course and event on behalf of the Ontonagon tourism board. All players were pleased with the condition of the course. Signage, mowing, parking, water, bathrooms and other amenities are all top notch. Hey – it is the only course on the Keweenaw where you don’t have the leave the course to get a prepared meal! The tournament being there inspired a family to check out the rental discs available from the park and give our sport a try for the very first time.
There were no injuries, although much blood was lost to various biting insects like mosquitoes and black flies. Folks stayed hydrated in spite of the heat and sun. Everyone talked about wanting to come back again, both for casual play and future events.
Overall, the Porcupine Wilderness stop of the 2023 Keweenaw Disc Golf Tour was a smashing success. Many thanks go out to the players who attended and the State Park staff who facilitated the event. You are all highly appreciated.
See you at the next KDGT stop at Calumet on 29JUL!