2018 Wisconsin Disc Golf Tour
Brad Wendt April 2019
The original four tournaments hosted their 26th annual stops on the WI Tour. Fox Valley Open, Greater Milwaukee Open, Mad City Open and Pickle at Vollrath Park in Sheboygan. They have gone through name changes, different TD’s and different courses, but this core survives. Total of 18 tournaments made up the 2018 WI Disc Golf Tour which ended with the Finale in Silver Creek Park, Manitowoc.
With the added Wilderness Open, the tour set records for attendance with 3039 individual players playing 6880 WI Tour tournament rounds. Individual tournament attendance was both up, down and consistent. Top attended stops were Greater Milwaukee Open 301, Standing Rocks Open 265, Silver Cup 261, Northwoods Open 226 and Prairie Open 203. Low attendance stops FVO 80, Finale 98, and Skyline 101. The newest stop, Wilderness Open, drew 123. All other stops were very close to or full rosters. Skyline Classic simply suffered very unsafe blizzard weather to drive a vehicle. Skyline introduced a new course “Silver Lake” in Silver Lake Park just a couple miles from the Fox River Sanctuary courses that have been used for Skylines’ entire history.
Speaking of weather, The Spring Opener at O Hauser Park was again for mudders, as while there was no or little snow because a ton of it had turned into water making very wet conditions. The WI Tour offers much variety in courses, venues and weather. The Opener has provided for the people that enjoy frolicking in the sloppy stuff. Prairie Open offers similar wetness but often with sun and wind at the same time. More of a flood in spots. Can we expect any different for the first two stops on tour in March and early April? What we did not expect was 10 fresh inches of snow starting at Skyline and filling the Wilderness Campground course for the Campgrounds first ever WI Disc Golf Tour stop. Most of that 10 inches was still on the course when the horn blew to start the Wilderness Open Saturday morning. It was a warm weekend and by the end on Sunday all the snow had disappeared. The land at the campground handled the melt very well, as long as you could keep your feet dry. This same storm nailed Standing Rocks Intermediate weekend which was the same Saturday as Wilderness Open which is a little over an hour south east of Standing Rocks Park. The following weekend when Pro and Advanced played Standing Rocks Open the snow was mostly gone but the lake flooded out one hole on the East Course.
Weather was much more cooperative the rest of the year. Those little biting bugs (the M word) were a bother at times. It did rain a bit at Lake Superior Open on Saturday but TD Bryan was ready for the forecast and had the courses set up for some wetness. The tournament went on in a timely manner. Bryan learned from the year before. I commend his judgement as the tournament proceeded very well. Sunday was a beautiful day. Bottom line …. Weather can’t stop disc golfers. In perfect weather the courses may be set in the most challenging layout.
Before we go any further I would love to thank anyone that helped with setting up or taking down the Innova Water Station canopy. This agreement still stands. John Terlap, Sergio Correa, Nathan Strand, Tom McManus, Brad Skrzypchak, Jason Blake, Zac Bays, Matt Brody, Craig Lokken and myself went out of the way to help us gain sponsorship of the Black Disc’s from Innova. Thank you all, including Innova. Our goal was to NOT have any of the TD’s handle the Innova Water Station. Thank you to the TD’s that saved our butts. Wind did break a canopy leg twice. This sponsorship is a labor intensive commitment and we can use help again in 2019.
My personal highlights on the ’18 WI Tour. I can only speak of the stops I attended.
The Opener …. I am a mudder, Ultimate in the bad weather was always a blast in my world. I am also a rail buff and enjoy the trains that blast through next to O’ Hauser Park. Somehow, I was able to tie the score on the second to last hole. The last hole when we both missed our putts on the raised basket near where the road crosses the railroad tracks, I heard a train coming. Right then I knew the Black disc was mine. He missed again and I hit my putt as the train was rolling past. WOO WOO. That was my only win last year.
Prairie Open is always fun to play and has the very best, least expensive, made to order cafeteria on tour. It is always great to see so many women playing that tournament. Skyline Classic was another wet day. We got to play the Silver Lake course for the first time, a very cool course and a geological gem too with a nice tavern for Tournament Central. It was exciting to get Wilderness Campround on the tour. When weather cooperates, unlike last year, camping on site is doable or cabin rental. They offered breakfast, lunch and beverage at Tournament Central. The Wiesses and staff were awesome. I think this stop is a keeper on a great real golfing course. Standing Rocks Open is always great. The only WI Tour Tournament I have attended every year of its history. That is most likely true for Mad City Open too.
Randy went special for the 20th SRO with a really fun band to go with the always yummy Central Waters brew. Is that why I didn’t even cash? Pickle always brings back memories of the first 10 years of the WI State Overall tournaments hosted at Vollrath Park. The first time I played the course it was chicken wire fence circles with a stake in the middle pounded into the ground. Many of the first NAS tournaments used these wire fence targets when there were no Pole Hole baskets. We teed off a concrete jetty out in Lake Michigan. A guy on my first round card slid under the fence and thought he got an ace. The TD said NOT you must end inside the fence by going over the top. Those late August days supplied big fogs some years that got the big fog horn moaning. For Freestyle a couple thousand people would come to watch, eat brats and listen to the monster speaker music system they had. As many as 20 freestyle teams would enter. Where are they now? In Europe. I find it truly mind boggling that the course still plays well for us old guys. It was designed for World Class plastic. Look it up young grass hoppers.
Zobal Park is just plain a great golfing course with pretty drives and challenging golf. Silver Cup is the only time I have ever been sponsored as Jim paid my entry. Mike Newhouse has been kind at some team tournaments too. Rollin Ridge is simply one of those special places. They somehow created a championship course that works, into a finite area. Kudos to Kat and Steve Pisaro for that achievement. They love the sport and are wonderful folks to boot. And you can get a beverage and warm and dry if you wish. You can camp on site too AND play any version of course that you want. Then to top it off, Jim comes and runs as classy of an event as there is. This is still the only tournament with high quality fireworks that I have ever attended. Thank you, Dave Van De Loo. Add the labor of love course at Silver Creek with the “super course layout” making this pro weekend the best WI has to offer these years. The strongest roster comes for a reason.
Smackdown is the number one camping tournament the WI Tour has to offer. A huge green space of manicured grass with plenty of mature trees for cover right at Tournament Central surrounded by a large lake. I took our dog Moose on a road trip. Just me and Moose. He is one of those little tiny dogs that fit in my hoody. Moose and I showed up at the group campfire, he was hiding in my shirt until he got curious and stuck his head out surprising those at the fire. His bark is enough to want to punt him, his teeth are quite large for an ity-bity doggie, but when he does bark his tail is wagging like crazy. He is a sweet heart with a big personality. Anyway, Hoovie found an organic bock keg of beer. We drank a ton with no driving and just steps to the tent and zero hangover. Oh yah, the Big Eau Pleine course is for real and challenging and sometime in the future will be 27 holes. And for giggles an extra game is a basket way up high in a tree for putting. Plus, there was a 12-hole mini disc golf course.
Lake Superior Open is an exceptional venue. A bar full of beverages and food made to order with a beautiful grassy play area right outside the bar. Camping and cabins complete the all you need weekend plus three courses that are all different. A flat course with tight lanes and big open spaces opened for the tournament. The White Cedar in a gorgeous forest with huge hills, small hills, huge trees, a stream and lots of challenge and a yeti or two. You really think you are way out in the wilderness. Then the capper Mountain course with giant throws, unbelievable views and a pond to deal with. This is as extreme of golf as you will find in the state. When the weather is perfect the White Cedar course is as spectacular as the mountain course.
Then there is Northwoods Open which is one of the most fun courses on the planet. I did not throw under the dock this year. And no snowmen! Rooming with a good friend is a bonus and I just love the north woods. The four of us in our division have been playing together since 1978. One of them, Oller, was the guy that was denied the under the chicken wire fence ace in Sheboygan. Knowing people that long is something special. Sammy is an 80’s Madison homie and former partner that I always enjoy being around. Hoovie is the new guy, I have known him for only 20+ years. But I like him anyway. When his feelers go out he can be a pretty good player. Northwoods Open, has the perfect mix of competition and vacation. Mike and Michelle make sure of both. We play half a day and heckle the other half. What more can you ask for? Getting on a raft to throw an ace contest?
Mad City Open has maintained a special relationship with Glass Nickel Pizza and Ale Asylum. Always more beer than we need, you players need to bring friends to help drink it. We have a very nice collection of courses in Madison. As for staff, I did paint putting circles at Birds and VA as well as supply a bunch of tables and coolers. Plus, spending half of Friday picking up beer, chips and salsa, ice and stuff like that. If I could, “butt”… It is tough to cash in the master 40 division now that there is a 60 with my name. They got me by 20 years at least. I missed cash by a place here and at LSO. Dough!!!!
Justin Trails is another one of those special places. Two contrasting courses with one full of birdies hopefully, and one that saps the energy right out of you. Camping or room rental on site is hard to beat. Don and Donna Justin are wonderful wholesome people and obviously great supporters of disc golf. The event is always very well sponsored and the golf side is tremendous. This event has become a getaway for my wife Karen and our granddaughters. We either camp or room. This time we roomed in the first cabin by Tournament Central. The girls follow in the morning for a number of holes then they just hang around the cabin barn area or go touring in the driftless area and on Sunday we explore.
This brings us to the Finale. A reason I stick with directing events involvement is because I enjoy being part of something that people seem to enjoy. Helping to supply an outlet for many people to be a part of or throw their energy into competing makes me happy. Even those players that always have a complaint or problem with how we run something, I see as supplying them an outlet to get rid of the nastiness they might show us TDs. Very few of those folks. Maybe they get rid of nasty and go home and treat their people better. I try to treat everyone with respect. When I do TD or run something, I often do not see the face, just complete the task unless the face is very familiar. So please understand my focus may overtake my personal part. The Finale is supposed to be a fun different type of golf we do not get to play in a tournament setting. And be a place where a community of every different level of players can mingle. A place where we can award tour champions in front of their friends. A kick and giggle day where you do get to compete in a different mindset.
We lucked out with the weather as it was forecast to be rain most of the day and 5 players cancelled. It misted for a fist full of holes and turned fairly warm without rain. We even had no problem holding the Awards Ceremony outside. Congratulations to the award winners. The plaques were made by Chris Brylski and are very beautiful. The champion and runner up received a plaque this year. As of this writing, I will still track down 9 people who own one. The first round was no push skins format. Every player except two or three at least earned their entry fee back on the day. These players are used to payouts and all of them made payouts. The second round was a combo partner best shot format. I was on a card of three players and I played 6 holes with partner Hunkel, 6 holes with partner Troy and 6 holes on my own. It was quite entertaining. John Terlap fine tuned the formats and figured out how the payouts would work and how to combine the two rounds so a winner from each division, which we had twelve, could win the other colored Black Discs. John could not really finalize what the formats would end up being until he had the final real numbers to work with. So we rely on you players to show up and handle what we throw at you and it seemed to work just fine.
We will do a WI Tour again in 2019.