By Chris Mayone
With puffy clouds in a sunny sky the 2008 Green Mountain Open DiscGolf Championships got underway August 1 at the 18-hole North Calais DiscGolf club. There was a $500 bounty being offered for any sub-50 round posted during the tournament from the gold tees and there were some big names after the booty.
Competitors Avery Jenkins, Jay Reading, Steve Brinster, Adam Olsen and Geoff Bennett were all after a share of Vermont's biggest-paying tournament to date. While no sub-50s were carded, there were some amazing scores and shots from Friday's opening rounds. Jenkins finished the first round with a field-best 56 on the par-62 course with Reading, Bennett, and Olsen right behind at 58.
In the second round only youngster Nate Krahn was able to match Jenkins' 56 and the field tightened in behind Avery, 1 shot off the pace of 105 at the close of play Friday. Reading capped his 4-under 58 with a 90-foot deuce on the treacherous #6. In the master's division California's Floyd Henke aced the 246-foot #8 with his Buzz. Des Reading led the women's field with an extremely solid 65/66.
From there, the tournament moved on to Sugarbush. At Sugarbush the weather was threatening but never got much bluster behind it. Playing Sugarbush's Peak Course (9,235) from the blue tees the pros were put to the ultimate test on Saturday, August 2. Course designer Steve Brinster led the field with a smoking 54 and just missed the course record (set by him one year prior) by a stroke. Both Paul Ulibarri and Cale Leviska aced the 300-foot uphill #1 on consecutive cards.
Markus Kallstrom also sliced and diced his way to a 55 on the mountain course to finish a respectable four shots behind third round leader Adam Olsen. Oleson led Reading (55) and Avery (56) by just one stroke and the field was tightening behind him with Brinster, Ulibarri, and both Solengs within striking distance. Des Reading continued her customary stranglehold on first place in the FPO and Juano Flores began to show why he has become a dominant factor in men's pro-masters of late with a very un-troublesome 3-under 60 on the peak to lead the men's pro-masters by three shots.
Play ended Saturday just as the rain clouds gave way and began the deluge that had held off the whole day. Rain fell in waves and forced the downhill throwing competition to head inside and become miniaturized. World putting champion Reading showed why he should not be allowed to compete against regular human beings in a putting contest, sweeping both contests (inside and outside) and winning a couple of baskets for his troubles.
The final day of tournament play brought some very ominous skies to the mountains of Sugarbush. Rain began to fall in earnest at the two-minute horn. By the start it was openly pouring in large vertical sheets. Players braved the most severe of conditions to make their way against the championship layout of Sugarbush's base course with its three uphill devastators of 600 feet or better. Sjur Soleng played the round of the weekend and carded a tournament-best 53 on the base.
It was just two off the record set in the best of conditions last year by Markus Kallstrom, who managed another base ace to his credit; this one on the 246-foot hole 3. A ridiculous -9 put Sjur into fourth place for the start of the final nine. Female pro-masters and men's pro masters divisions finished and dried themselves at lunchtime in the pub. They were happily finished for the weekend.
In an ironic twist of events the weather turned from horrid to okay pretty quickly at lunchtime on Sunday and the decision was made to play the final nine as scheduled on the Peak Safari 9 Layout. The Safari 9 began on hole # 6 and then played from #7 tee to #8 basket. The rest of the course was played down to #14 and then 15 was skipped and 16, the 810-foot Annhyzer Beast became the finishing hole.
Once the players loaded the chairlift it was a fait accompli that the round was played barring electrical interference from above. No such interference was forthcoming so the round continued despite the downturn in conditions. Reading entered the finals with a three-stroke lead over Avery and a two-stroke lead over Olson. The lead card lost a couple of discs on Safari 7/8 and that hole alone took them 33 minutes to get through. The afternoon slogged on and down poured the rain.
The conditions worsened as the day grew older, darkness became a possibility. At last the groups began to emerge from the course. Brinster led the final groups with a final 9 of 34 but it was not enough to catch Reading for the win. Brinster finished in a tie for fourth with the surging Soleng at -14 , Geoff Bennett in third at -16, Jenkins holding on to second with a -19 and Jay Reading capped his Vermont weekend winning streak (two putting contests in a row) by topping the pedestal with a hard-earned, well-deserved -22 over the 41/2 rounds.