Following four hours in the car from Ann Arbor, myself and two disc golfing buddies stopped near Ludington to enjoy a relaxing swim in Lake Michigan. It was a sunny summer day on the Friday before the 1999 Michigan Disc Golf Organization (MDGO) Championships, and, after 45 restful minutes in the water, we made our way to the Mason County Park in time to participate in a late-afternoon Mace Man doubles event.
Many players had gathered to pay $10 for a chance to play in the random draw team competition. I’d personally been looking forward to this weekend for some time and was excited to be in Ludington, having played the courses only once before. Several folks were complaining, however, expressing concern that, with the newly crowned disc golf world champion, Ron Russell, in attendance, that the deck was stacked and that their entry fees were simply a donation.
That didn’t bother me at the time. If anything, I hoped that he might be part of our group so that I could watch and learn from his skillful play. He wasn’t, but his presence at the event was clearly a point of contention for my teammate. Nevertheless.
From the starting hole, I threw first for our team, launching a monster hyzer out to the right and back left again around the tree line. My shot drew metal, skipping off of the top of the basket. My teammate’s shot finished closer, though, and I made our putt for a birdie. It was a good sign of things to come.
When it was over, we finished at -13 through 18 holes and won the event! It was great to win, especially given that the caliber of competition was so formidable, and we each received a nice payout in merchandise.
The MDGO tournament itself was scheduled for two rounds on Saturday, with a final round on Sunday. I played in the Am-1 division, rather poorly as I recall.
Anyway. Following play on Sunday, it became apparent that no one had claimed the $160 ace pool. In making preparations to conclude the event, the Tournament Director (TD) announced that ace pool monies would be awarded to whomever could make a jumbo putt, to be held shortly on basket number 18 on the “Beast” course.
For those unfamiliar with the phrase jumbo putt, everyone basically lines up with their putter in a wide circle around the basket, and, when the signal is given, putts all at the same time.
Given that I wouldn’t be collecting any prizes at ‘tournament central’, I made my way up the hill to the basket where we’d be putting. For approximately 20 minutes, I set up at various points around the basket and putt my blue 174 gram Aviar small bead putter.
Occasionally, players would pass by the area, joking with me that it was pointless to spend so much time practicing from 80′, suggesting that only a lucky shot would win.
Though I understood this, I did manage to find the spot from which I was most comfortable shooting, given the direction of the prevailing breeze.
When the time came, everybody stormed up the hill and found a spot around the crudely formed circle established by the TD. I had my spot. When set, he called out, ‘On the count of 3, 2, 1, SHOOT!‘, and we all launched our putters to the center at the basket.
With colorful plastic all over the sky, it wasn’t easy to visually follow my shot, but I could see a blue disc in the air which I believed was mine, and it looked as if it was headed straight at the chains…if only it didn’t get knocked down in a mid-air collision with another putter.
As the shots came to rest, the TD and all of the players raced toward the basket to collect their missed putts from off of the grass. I did as well, though, along with another player from Indiana, had the pleasure of retrieving my putter from inside of the basket, and subsequently received my $80 share.