WENATCHEE — Todd Saunders, Wenatchee, tossed a 168 in two rounds this past weekend to place second in the Advanced Masters division of Flippen Ze Disc 2, the final tournament in the Inland Northwest Series.
The weekend score gave him first place in the Advanced Masters division for the nine-tourney series, held over the summer and fall at various venues around the Northwest.
Other weekend winners from Flippen Ze Disc 2:
• Top Pro — Ed Dopplemayr, Kennewick, with a score of 154.
• Pro Grand Master (age 50 up) — Steve “Stimpy” Simmons, Spokane, 158.
• Women’s Pro — Jessie Westphal, Shoreline, 175.
• Juniors (age 13 up) — Seth Bates, Puyallup, 201.
• Advanced Men — Thad Gunther, Homer, Alaska, 154.
• Advanced Masters — Robert Brown, Seattle, 153, and Todd Saunders, Wenatchee, 168; Marshall Kirkland, Wenatchee, placed seventh in the division with a 173.
— Mike Irwin, World staff
WENATCHEE — Golf wussies on manicured fairways and trimmed greens don’t know the meaning of a tough course.
Instead, try playing through thick forest, over fallen trees, up brush-choked draws and down steep, 60-degree, rain-slick slopes.
“There’s golf and there’s disc golf,” said Kevin Prosser, Cashmere, president of the Apple Valley Disc Golf Club. He rested for a second, catching his breath after trudging through brush on a first toss to the second basket.
“It’s obvious,” he exhaled, gazing uphill toward dark forest, “that disc golf can sometimes veer towards the extreme.”
From around the Northwest, about 115 avid disc golfers — some amateurs, some pros, all serious — landed in Wenatchee on Saturday and Sunday for the final championship rounds of the Inland Northwest Series held at Squilchuck and Lincoln Rock state parks.
The tournament, called Flippen Ze Disc 2, offered one of the Northwest’s toughest courses — complete with fog, drizzle and muddy trails — to wrap up the official season of competitive play for many of the players. Others will head south to California, Texas, Georgia and other locales for tournaments in, maybe, sunnier climes.
Competition was held Saturday in the woods at Squilchuck and on Sunday moved to Lincoln Rock’s flatter, clearer but, said tournament officials, still-challenging course.
Disc golf, sometimes called Frisbee golf, works similarly to regular golf. Players toss a disc — a “driver,” a “putter” or other specialized discs — toward a basket that acts as a “hole.” The Squilchuck course (6,500 feet in length) and Lincoln Rock course (9,633 feet) had a series of par-3 holes that snaked over varying terrain with challenging conditions.
“Yeah, it’s getting a little foggy,” said Todd Saunders, Wenatchee, vice-president of the Apple Valley club, looking up at the wall of mist descending from the ridge above. “But believe me, this is better than 95-degree weather. We’re going to be hiking and climbing for the next few hours, shedding these jackets and sweatshirts, and we’ll be appreciating this cooler, damper air.”
A few minutes later, Saunders zinged a driver disc from the first tee halfway up a brush-filled hillside. He grabbed his bag of 27 carefully-chosen discs and began trudging up the slippery slope. He turned around and smiled, “It’s fun, but it can be hard work, too.”
Along the course, groups of golfers teased and cajoled competitors who’ve become good friends after years of face-to-face combat in tournaments around the country. Camaraderie, they admitted, is one of disc golf’s biggest attractions.
When Prosser flubbed an easy putt, his disc bouncing off the basket, Todd Bates of Puyallup chimed: “Oh, didn’t we mention that this is the tournament where we play to get it IN the basket? Did you get that memo?”
But when Prosser flung his driver disc downhill through a tight stand of evergreens, ricocheting it off an evergreen and skidding it close to the basket, Bates and buddies were the first to cheer Prosser for his skillful — and somewhat lucky — shot.
“Lucky?” joked Prosser, who’d been using a mix of overhand throws to slice through the dense stands of trees.
A tomahawk throw spins to the right, and something called a thumber throw (using special thumb placement) spins to the left. “This is nothing but skill, an accumulation of years of learning exactly how to …”
His buddies, knowing bull when they hear it, shouted him down.
Back at Squilchuck Lodge, one of the tournament’s coordinators Bob Perewe, Spokane, said the course through the woods was one of the most challenging he’d seen in the Pacific Northwest. “Maybe too challenging for me,” he laughed. “Maybe it’s best I sit here and do the registration.”
Volunteer organizer Kathy McCormack, Olympia, lamented that she wasn’t able to play because of a hurt arm. “Our whole family is involved in disc golf,” she said. “There’s very little we do — traveling, camping — that doesn’t involve a (golf) basket or two. So I’m broken-hearted not to play here today.”
She looked up at the dense forest veiled in fog where competition was taking place. “To diehard disc golfers, this course just calls to you. You want to get out there and play.”
Mike Irwin: 665-1179