Until about two weeks before the event, I had no idea we had an FPO field of eight for an early summer B-tier in mid-Wisconsin. When I saw all the talented players in the division, my goal became simply to cash. The Wilderness course is located in Montello, Wisconsin, on a campground (there are a ton of them in the area). Designed by Patrick Blake, the course is wooded, technical, and beautifully maintained. Each hole has two tees and two basket placements. Previously, I had played there only a few times. I held the one Dolls travel league I hosted there, as the course is gorgeous and has a variety of holes one doesn’t see everywhere. I had also played in a twelve-some prior to a friend’s wedding last fall, where we played herd golf triples (I was lucky enough to draw into IL/IA triplet including Des Reading and Kathy Betcher). And I had played a previous Wilderness Open there, with a much smaller FPO division.
I arrived at the course Friday afternoon, intending to play a round with just me, or me plus a couple of others. Instead, I joined Team Panda for a(nother) twelve-some and we played doubles, short to short. For the tournament, round one was long to short, and round two was short to long. While it was not a preview of the holes I was playing the next day, herd Panda golf was a super fun time, and put me in a great mindset going into Saturday. Friday night, determined to go to a supper club for dinner (Wisconsin is known for these) – goal achieved. While many camped for this event, I stayed at a charming local motel and got a good night’s sleep prior to the event. Saturday morning, I arrived early so I could stretch, check in, putt, warm up and prepare for the event. I was apparently early enough to miss the parking lot bouncers who were waving people off the course lot into an improvised parking scenario farther from the course (another benefit of being an early bird). A bonus of playing a course outside of tournament warmup and play is the ability to determine an appropriately playable warm up loop, which I did. My first round, I played with Ceci Vollbrecht, Katie Gratzl, and Serena Gilles. Ceci had just come off a super performance at college nationals and was throwing super well. Because the course requires precision as well as distance, for round one, my Atomic and Cosmic Piwakawakas were my go-to discs. They hold the line you throw them on beautifully, and I have never had a disc like this, where it can be made to go completely straight for 200-250’. Between them and my Tui putting team (soft Magma is a rock star disc, and the mid-Magma holds its line in the wind nicely), I managed to throw a four under the course par and was in the lead by four going into round two, much to my delighted surprise. For round two, I got to throw with Ceci again, and added Becky LeDonne (an ultimate frisbee teammate and good friend from my Nemesis days), and Kayla Lowrey.
The second round layout, and the massive amount of distance we were throwing led me to stick with my original goal of cashing. Ceci and Becky both came on strong second round (and I did not help myself by fiving the first hole, which I had birdied during round one). The layout was a bit longer off the tee, so I was leaning into my Pekapekas, and my more beaten Kahu team (especially, my Star Lord Kahu, purchased from Garrett and Jacob as my first RPM disc in summer 2019); they were as reliably amazing as ever. With a few holes to go, Ceci passed me to take the lead. I got a couple of birdies to get the lead back, and despite both Ceci and me having trouble with hole 18, which is a beast to the long pin, I managed to hang on for the win (#264 in 414 events played). Which was amazing, and unexpected and a super amount of fun. Bonus fun was winning a Panda event, as Panda always runs fun events with creative trophies, and I am a Panda.
Winning the Beaver State Fling is my biggest disc gold accomplishment to date. It’s my 2nd A-tier win, but it means so much more to win a big tournament in my local area. Especially after losing in a playoff last year. Milo McIver is truly my favorite course to play. When I started playing tournaments there, I didn’t understand how people could possibly shoot under par. The course is so long and punishing if you get off the fairway. Over the past few years, I have really started to figure Milo McIver out. I have won a handful of tournaments there in the MPO division. In the last few tournaments I have played there, I have shot the lowest overall score from the MP40 division, beating all the MPO players. A few years back, when I was really starting to figure out Milo, I shot a course record 48 on Milo West during the Hab/Rec tournament. This year at the 2023 BSF, I started hot. Round 1 I made only a couple of mistakes and shot a 1051 rated 8 down on milo East. Round 2 and round 3 were just a grind. I didn’t feel 100%. I couldn’t control the driver as well, but the big putts started coming. I made so may circle 2 putts. Many to save par, and some for incredible birdies. I have fallen in love with my RPM Strata Tui. I made so many big putts down the stretch with it!
I’m starting to really fall in love with the RPM Discs. The Tui is probably my favorite disc I’ve ever thrown. It just holds any line I put it on. My main RPM driver is the Kahu. It’s just got enough stability for me. I’m starting to throw it a long way! I can’t leave out the Piwakawaka or the Kotuku. I have been throwing a glow piwakawaka that’s basically the next club up from my tui. I can make it just hold any line I put it on. The Kotuku has been great for any shot into headwind or a disc I really need to hyzer big time. It’s something I have been missing in my bag for years! Next stop is the world championships in Flagstaff, Arizona. I’m so excited to take all my new discs there. At 7000′ elevation I think that I’ll have just what I need. The pekapeka and the Kahu XG will really help. I’m so excited to see how they fly up there!
Our course here in Belding, MI has seen many improvements made by our club, Michigan Disc Golf Empire. June Smash Flex presented by Disc Golf Threads was the perfect opportunity to play the course in its new layout, but I was not sure what my scores would look like. The first 5 holes are very attackable from the tee ranging from 180 ft to 240 ft. In the front 9, I found myself scrambling more than I had hoped, but fought hard, until I missed a 15 ft putt for par on Hole 9 which was underwhelming. I knew at this point that I would have to turn the gears on if I wanted to compete with some of Michigan’s best. Hole 10 turned it all around for me. I hit an early tree and only made it half way down the 320 ft fairway. I was visibly frustrated and was off to the side of the fairway. I grabbed my Tui and that’s when it clicked. I threw it on anhyzer straight into the basket from 160 ft for my birdie! I continued to play well using my Kotare for the wood carving, Takapu for my putting, and the Kea for quick fade for the shorter shots. After parking the final hole and tapping in for my birdie, I finished with an 8 under par. I was very happy with my performance, and was waiting for the final card to finish.
Upon watching the final competitors finish their round, I knew that I punched in my first MPO sanctioned win! I ended up in a tie with none other than Michigan Pro, Nick Gill. We ended up sharing the glory and posing together for a photo, with nothing but smiles. I am very thankful to all of my sponsors, Disc Baron, Disc Golf Threads, and my first ever sponsor, RPM Discs. I have been with RPM Discs since I’ve started my life of disc golf, and I do not plan on turning away. They have been very supportive, understanding, and patient with me. I am excited to finish the year 2023 strong!