It’s almost here! The tournament director Jonathan Poole and his hardworking crew are really putting up a show as the most prestigious event in our sport, the United States Disc Golf Championships starts officially on Wednesday. This year the tournament form is a hybrid of two types of play: the Pro flight and Performance flight. This means that there are players competing in two different categories: roughly half of the field is playing for the lowest overall score, while the other half is playing for the best handicapped score, based on their PDGA-rating.
Team Discmania is naturally taking in on the action this year too. Our line-up for the USDGC2012 looks like this:
Make sure you tune in on the action throughout the tournament week! Here’s some handy links for following the USDGC:
Let’s face it – the sport of Disc Golf is changing fast. Probably never before in it’s lifespan has Disc Golf seen so many big changes in such a short time period in so many different aspects of the sport. Everything from the discs, the gear, the courses, the players and the professional tournaments has evolved very fast in the past few years. We here at Discmania are all about pushing the sport forward the best we can, and we take pride in saying we’ve not done such a bad job doing so.
What seems to be the most essential factor to the development of the sport is, quite unsurprisingly, the youth. After the “hippie years” Disc Golf has been seeking for a direction somewhere between a fun past time activity and serious professional sport. Of course the majority of Disc Golfers are still just playing for fun, but in the past few years we’ve seen a whole new generation of young athletes that spend their free time not just playing but really practicing for the big tournaments out there.
The youth is taking over.
We believe this generation is the real game changer that will push the sport to the level where we will see a healthy amount of professional disc golfers that will actually start making a good living out of being a Disc Golf Pro. The change of pace has been really fast. The PDGA ratings for example have jumped to a whole new level just this year, as we’ve seen a record amount of 1100-rated rounds. Winning the biggest tournaments these days requires an average of 1050-1060 rated rounds, which is something we wouldn’t have dreamed of not too long ago.
As the skill level of the top Pro’s keep climbing and the overall talent pool of the players of this sport gets bigger and bigger, there’s only one direction for the sport and it’s up. It’s the youth that is ensuring this sport’s bright future and we at Discmania want to do the best we can do to support this young generation of awesome discgolfers.
An Interview with Seppo Paju
We had the chance to do brief interview with Seppo Paju, who just played an amazing tournament in the scorching heat of North Carolina in 2012 Pro Worlds. Seppo left behind World Champions from the recent years like Nathan Doss, Dave Feldberg and Avery Jenkins by finishing at 6th place at the World Championships. Here are Seppo’s thoughts from after the tournament:
Q: First of all congratulations for a great finish at the Worlds! Your sixth place was the best placement ever for a Finnish player in the Pro Worlds. What was your pre-tournament goal and are you happy with your placement?
Seppo: When I finally made the decision that I will go to play Worlds, I started to prepare to weather, wooded holes, time difference and all different kinda thing I know I have to do well for playing my best tournament ever. My goal was that I want to play shot after shot and stay focused all the time and I knew that will give me the best result what I can get. I’m happy with my placement because I played better and better round after round and that made me win all the world champions from previous years.
Q: You competed in the Open division, even though considering your young age, you still would have been eligible to compete in the Juniors-19 division. Was it an easy choice to go play with the big boys?
Seppo: I won Juniors World Championships 2010 so I didn’t have thing I wanted from there anymore. Playing with ”big boys” is way more instructive and I have played a lot of rounds with them, so I already know what it’s like to play with best players. This time I did it well with them and actually won all other players I played with but Will Schusterick who was 2nd. I’m also playing with Pro status and can’t play in amateur divisions anymore.
Q: The Worlds is a long tournament and the weather this year was really hot. How do you prepare yourself for a hot round and how do you consider can one keep their game consistent throughout a 7-8 round tournament?
Seppo: It’s long tournament and there was very hot this year. I’m happy I knew that before I went there. I did prepare my self playing with lot of clothes in Finland’s weather and playing like 5-8 hours per day. I tried to stay focused all these practice times and it made me to tolerate those long and hot days. I also took a lot of information from internet on how to get less affected by hot weather. I drank about 3 liters per round, stayed in shadow all the time, had a wet towel on my neck and used light and high quality Discmania T-shirts.
Staying consistent through 7 rounds is not easy. I’m not sure how the other players did it but for me it means a lot more than just throwing disc. I ate good food with not so much fat and calories, went to sleep early, drank water, didn’t use my energy for other things etc. For many people those things doesn’t mean anything, but I know that everything like that makes your performance better.
I also had good game plans and I knew what I do on every hole so I didn’t have to use any extra focus to that during my rounds. I just made everything to stay focused and when I noticed that I’m not in focus right now, I ate something, drank water and went to make my next shot with taking my time and relaxing. In my opinion my preparing to this tournament was great and I’ll use same methods in future.
Playing at the top level requires good physique and Seppo has it to spare.
Q: Which disc models did you use the most at the Worlds and why?
Seppo: My main disc was absolutely S-line MD2 Fiend. There was a lot of tight wooded holes where player wants to stay on fairway and make the shot through the first two trees. I know that MD2 holds any line I put it on and glides very well, so was also available to make pretty long shots with it too because of it’s great glide. S-line was my choice because in my opinion it has better grip and good grip was the key word in those hot weathers.
Q: Seems that the skill levels of European players are rising year after year, when do you think we will see an European World Champion? Additionally, when will Team Europe take home the Presidents Cup?
Seppo: Level in Europe is growing up very fast and well! We have to get more players from Europe to play in the US. I believe we’ll have European world champion in a couple of years. Team Europe is getting better and better fast and we will see a lot of tight matches between the two continents. If team Europe is not the President’s Cup champ next year, it will be the year after that!
Q: What tournaments are still in your schedule for 2012?
Seppo: I will play couple small tournaments but I still have the big one at Rock Hill South Carolina. The USDGC ! I will practice so well that it will be the best tournament ever for me !
An interview with Leo Piironen
Another Team Discmania young star Leo Piironen has played a great season so far and last weekend he took his first Finnish Championship title at the Nokia DiscGolfPark, bettter known by it’s nickname “The Beast”. Here are Leo’s thoughts after the tournament:
Q: Congrats for a great win at the Finnish Championships! At which point did it become clear to you that the victory would come home or was it clear all along?
Leo: Thank you! After my 3rd round I realized that I had a chance to take the title and I decided to do the best I can do to get it.
Q: You sealed the deal with a ~15m putt to an elevated basket with OB just behind the target. What was going through your mind before that putt? Did you ever consider laying up and leaving the pressure to Arttu, who was also looking at a difficult putt with one stroke behind?
Leo: Well, at first we had to decide who was going first. During that I thought that if it would had been Arttu’s turn I would have watched his solution. Arttu measured the distance between our discs and the basket and I had to putt first. I had seen how well Arttu had made his putts all week long so I decided to try mine. I didn’t worry about the OB because I felt so confident at the moment. One reason for me to go for it was also that I didn’t want to play sudden death play off.
Q: The skill level of players the Finnish Championships has arguably risen year by year. How can one keep up with the pace and how does a great player get even better?
Leo: That’s a difficult question. I think by playing at tough competitions with other great players you realize what do you have to do better to keep up with the pace and how to reinvent your game.
Q: Which discs did you use the most at the Beast and why?
Leo:PD’s and PD2′s are discs that I used the most of the time. Those discs were used the most because I use PD for long anhyzers, S-curve shots, hyzer flip shots and death straight control shots in tight fairways. PD2 is my disc for sidearms, for long hyzers and for distance drives. That kind of shots were needed at the Beast.
Leo's key to success was good disc selection. Here's another PD shot heading down the fairway.
Q: In an interview during the tournament you said you really enjoyed playing in the lead group since everyone there were your friends and practice partners. Which players would you prefer playing with in the lead group for a National or International event?
Leo: I prefer people that I know and who I can cheer up and who cheer me up, but playing with strangers is fun too since it’s a great way to make new friends.
Q: In the past couple of years we’ve seen an emergence of big fields in AM-level tournaments. Do you have any advice for an AM players considering going Pro?
Leo: Going Pro means a lot of new experiences. Playing with skilled players is a good chance to get to know something new and useful. My advice is that don’t be afraid of going Pro because if you decide to stay AM you risk to miss out on a lot of great experiences.
Q: What tournaments are still in your schedule for 2012?
Leo: I think the USDGC is the only competition that is worth of mentioning. It will be my first time there and I’m really looking forward to it!
Here’s a recap video from the Final day of Finnish Championships, featuring the title-winning putt mentioned above. Just in Finnish, sorry:
The traditional EuroTour A-tier event, Copenhagen Open will be competed this weekend at the beautiful Valbyparken Disc Golf course. Discmania is the main sponsor of this event and the players are in for treat, as some spanking new Discmania plastic will be featured at the players pack this year. Many Team Discmania players will also be fighting for spots at the podium along with a very competitive field consisting of 135 players around Europe and beyond. The Team Discmania line-up for CPH Open looks like this:
We got a word with the Tournament Director of the event, Sinus Frank. Read his thoughts about the upcoming tournament:
Q: It’s already the seventh edition of CPH Open. For how long have you been involved with the tournament and which year is the most memorable for yourself?
SF: I have been TD of Copenhagen Open since we started in 2006, and it is a great privilige to be able still to host one of the most popular EuroTours. 2008 has probably been the most exciting year, since we back then got a 30.000 DKK cash sponsorship. We had David Feldberg come for the first time, and he hosted a “VIP clinic” for the sponsoring company on Friday before the tournament. We also had a VIP tent for the sponsoring company and their business relations during the weekend, with wine, tapas, disc golf DVDs on big screen etc. This year will probably be memorable too, since we have upgraded to 27 holes, 135 players, great tournament center, etc.
Q: What is your favorite hole in this 27-hole layout?
SF: There are many favorite holes on the course, since I designed almost all of them myself ;). But if I should pick one, I guess it should be hole 10. Although hole 24 is just really pretty, simple and still nerve wrecking ;).
Copenhagen Open 2012 course map. Click to enlarge.
Q: Which hole do you consider the toughest?
SF: The ones, that will be talked most about, will probably be 14 and 22. They seem difficult and maybe even tight/unfair, but it’s all in your mind – they can be played relatively safe. I think the most difficult hole would be #7. There are so many precise shots needed to make the par here – even though an eagle is in principle possible! Hole 17 is also difficult, compared to the par. Not many birdies will be made here.
Q: Who do you think will take the victory home this year in each division?
SF: I think David Feldberg will be hard to beat in Open division. Dave is always playing good in Europe and his form seem to be coming back. In Women division, I think Camilla Jernberg will win again like in 2011, but Ragna Bygde could be a hard competitor with her long drives. I see Master division very open this year, but if I should pick a winner, it would be Kari Vesala. He has been here many times and now some of the course and the environment. But top rated Dan Johansson has also been here many times, and if he can find his game, he can score very low. In Grandmaster I don’t think the legendary Derek Robins can be beat, and in Juniors I really don’t now – those guys are all new to me ;).
Q: What would you like to say to US players considering taking the trip next summer?
SF: US players can expect a tournament held with very high quality on all levels. The field is always the best in Europe, the course is challenging and we have some nice overall details not seen elsewhere. Just ask David Feldberg, who will play here for the third time in 2012.
We really hope to be able to host a Major in 2013, but it still depends on a few things to be settled. Here we hope to plan other tournaments close to Copenhagen Open, to make overseas players trip worthwhile with lots of disc golf in Europe to travel for.
CPH Open 2011 Winner KJ Nybo nailing a long birdie putt. Copyright: Discen.dk