We held the Flying Eye Team Challenge here in Athens this past weekend, it was the first tournament we've run and it was on a brand new (and brand new type of) course. The format of the competition was also brand new for disc golf in this area, so there was considerable ad-libbing. Anyway, I just want to share what I think about the format and the course with ya'.
I really like the 4 person team format. I wish we'd played more singles, but I really liked the idea of playing 9 holes of doubles with each of your partners and I got sort of blinded by that idea. In the future we'll play less (or no) doubles. I found the singles matches to be very exciting, both stroke play and match play. I think I liked stroke play a little bit better just because you kept hoping right up until the end, especially on a course where your opponent might take a double or triple bogey if they weren't careful.
The big thing to fix as far as the format is simply transportation. It's a very spread out course, the sort of course where half the people would drive to their holes in a normal tournament... except you can't drive to hole 14 when you'll finish on hole 4. So I'd like to shuttle people around next year. Either that or get the proper number of teams where I can flip-flop matchups. In other words, if I put players A, B, C, and D on hole 15 and A plays B and C plays D for the first 9 holes, they'd then flip and A would play C and B would play D for the next 9 holes. That way you get your 9 hole matches without the extra walking and downtime involved this past weekend.
Anyway, I came away liking the head to head matchups a lot. The last 2 rounds this year we combined into 1 19 hole round. I did this partly because I wanted to see some real entire-round scores for the course, but also because we had a clean rotation after 5 rounds in the pro division and I wanted a way for the competition to be fair and even. So I took the number of points available to all the teams combined in the last 2 rounds and dumped them into a pool. We had 20 points available for 20 players. Then I made a point-payout list where first place would get 4 points, second 3, and so on. I wish it had occurred to me to use 1/2 points there and make the curve more gradual (for instance, 2nd and 3rd both got 3 points, I would've rather done something like 4.5 for 1st, 4 for 2nd, 3.5 for 3rd, 3 for 4th, and so on). Anyway, but I liked the way that worked because it gave you a chance to make up a lot of room in that last round so it kept you feeling like you weren't quite eliminated. If you took the top 4 places you would've gotten 12 points whereas normally in 2 rounds you could only get 8. And in fact in the Advanced division one team did get the top 3 places.
I have a lot of thoughts about the course, only a few of which I'll post here (I'll post some numbers on how the course played on another page). First off, I was happy with how the course played and how people responded to it. There were very few negative comments and almost all of those had to do with hole 8 or hole 15.
Hole 8 is a 200 foot tight shot over a ravine. It may or may not be too tight (most people fell for the sucker's hyzer route instead of the relatively easy up the middle show) and it may or may not be interesting. I haven't really decided on either point yet. Thing is, the pad we played as our long pad was supposed to be the middle tee, with the long pad back in the field throwing into the woods. I'm interested in trying to make that work, which would mean making those gaps a bit bigger.
Hole 15 we simply never finished. It was supposed to be a short par 4, playing about 425 with a very cool protected green. Thing is, the tee we had out there played more like 310 and the creek dried up so the green wasn't protected. It played right between a par 3 and a par 4 (hole average for Pro and Adv the last round was 3.9 but there weren't any 2's... which I suppose makes it a par 4, but it really wasn't either). I probably should've made it a tough par 3 for the weekend but I didn't think it through clearly. In the future I would like to move the tee back and make it the par 4 it's supposed to be. I don't think the fairway's too tight at all (it doesn't even intimidate me and I ain't exactly Mr. Accurate) and I think it'll be a fun hole if we move the tee back.
I was very pleased to see the number of different routes people threw on most holes. My quick thoughts hole by hole:
Hole 1: (485 ft par 3, avg 3.1, is very downhill, plays more like 340 if you get the angle on your throw right) I was very surprised to see so many people throw the hyzer shot, which for me seems like the sucker's line. All the danger is on the right and you lose the anhyzer glide to get you down the hill. That said, there were some birdie's hyzer so who knows... I think the more people learn the course the less they'll throw that hyzer shot, though.
Hole 2: (About 500 ft par 4, avg 4.2) I saw or heard about birdies (3's) going 4 distinct routes during the course of the tournament. I love that. There were only 3 birdie's out of the 39 complete rounds I have here (so not counting anything during the first 5 tournament rounds), that stuns me. It ain't that hard. This hole was redesigned about 5 times, I was never quite happy with it, but I am now. I like it a lot. There are at least 4 reasonable pin placements we could use that would completely change the hole.
Hole 3: (990 ft par 5, avg 6.1) This is my favorite hole on the course. I was surprised at how poorly the pro's threw their first shots. It's a very wide fairway but because they were gunning up trying to crush their drives (in many cases) a lot of them went into the woods on either side. This is one of my favorite holes in the world.
Hole 4: (605 ft par 4, avg 4.2) I was amazed at how many people missed their second shot on this hole. It looks so consistently and easily makeable, but was consistently missed. I like that. I also liked the mix of people that went for the crush on their first shot and those that threw the roc shot. For those of you that didn't play, it's an eagle-able par 4, but I didn't see or hear about any 2's on it this weekend.
Hole 5: (240 ft par 3, avg 2.7) This hole worked great, I think. The previous hole 5 sucked. We replaced it with 2 holes, 5 and 5b, both of which are better than the original. This hole had the most birdies on the course, but also a nice number of bogies (or bogeys, if you prefer). It averaged 2.7 vs 2.8 for hole 5b, but the standard deviation was .64 against .49 for 5b. I'm pleased with it.
Hole 5b: (288 ft par 3, avg 2.8) For a last second addition it was nice. Even had some character with that pin placement. Still, this is not the hole you'll be telling people back home about (unless you're from the flatlands out there... this is on a hill).
Hole 6: (830 ft par 5, avg 5.4) We worked our asses off on this hole and it still has some much needed changes. That said, it took me a while to decide that I like it and then a bit longer, but I like it a lot. If you play it well a 3 isn't that ridiculous a score (there weren't any in the last round but there might have been earlier, I'm not sure). Once I take out one more tree I think it'll be an excellent hole.
Hole 7: (250 ft par 3, avg 3.0) I really like this hole. There's nothing to it, 250 foot downhill (plays more like 200), pretty tight, basket across the ravine so you're sort of looking down on the basket. I've still never birdied it but I saw plenty during the tournament.
Hole 8: (201 ft par 3, avg 3.2) See above.
Hole 9: (700 ft par 4, avg 5.0) I like this hole a lot, too. We need some trimming on the gap out of the woods, but not too much. The width is fine there are just some fingers sticking out in the way. We also need to trim the lowest branches on the big tree on the green some. A fun hole.
Hole 10: (500 ft par 4, avg 4.1) I was afraid this hole wouldn't work well, but I think it did. I saw more different routes on this hole than on any other, which was fun. I really liked the one round I saw where 3 guys went for power hyzer routes and got 5's and 6's while one guy went short, short, drop in 3. Neat.
Hole 11: (689 ft par 4, avg 4.7) This hole also ended up better than I thought. It has a great tee area and first half of the fairway but the last bit is pretty open. It turned out to work well because of the downhill at the end. This is one of the holes where if I hit my tee shot I feel great about it (but there's not really much pressure).
Hole 12: (240 ft par 3, avg 3.2) I'm happy with the opening gaps but the tunnel bit needs some trimming, then it'll be a good little par 3. I think I count 8 birdies that last round.
Hole 13: (500 ft par 4, avg 3.9) I was worried about this one but people seemed to like it a lot. With a good drive it's an easy 3, or even a 2, but you do need length and accuracy for that. If you're short or off to either side you'll have to work a bit more. This was one of the easiest holes on the course, relative to par.
Hole 14: (636 ft par 4, avg 4.1) I didn't get to put the basket where I wanted to so we lost one of my favorite throws on the course as well as making the hole about a half shot or so easier (maybe a 1/4 shot). I was amazed at how aggressive people were off the tee. Still people liked this hole, it was pretty. We just need to finish the green.
Hole 15: (320 ft par 3.5, avg 3.9) See above.
Hole 16: (250 ft par 3, avg 3.1) A nice, fair anhyzer birdie shot. There are 4 small trees near the green that need to come out, otherwise I'm very happy with it. This hole had just about the least thought put into it of anything out here.
Hole 17: (640 ft par 4, avg 5.2) This was the hardest hole on the course this weekend. The tee isn't where I want it, but where I want it is too dangerous. So then we had the choice of 2 others, one that plays how I want it and one with a nice, flat tee area. I asked a couple players (Vidal and Sassoon, so you know who to blame) and they chose the flatter area. I'm sure there was a lot of cursing on this one. Will play about 3/4 shot easier from the shorter tee pad just because far less people will fail to make it out of the woods. Were no 3's during the last round, but I heard of a few during the early rounds.
Hole 18: (545 ft par 4, avg 4.1) I thought this would be the easiest hole on the course but it ended up in the middle of the pack. A good finishing hole, I think.
Doug's thoughts on nothing in particular