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Duel at D.R. throws caution to the wind

July 9, 2019
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John Parcak, one of the best disc golfers in the country in his age group, will be taking to the course for the Duel at D.R. John Parcak, one of the best disc golfers in the country in his age group, will be taking to the course for the Duel at D.R. (photo courtesy of Jeremy White)

ORRINGTON – Some of the area’s disc golf fanatics are descending on a course in Orrington to play for fun, prizes and, of course, bragging rights.

The Duel at D.R. Tournament will be taking place at D.R. Disc Golf in Orrington on July 13. And it’s just one of many tournaments that will be taking place across the state over the course of the summer.

For those unfamiliar with the sport, disc golf is pretty much what it sounds like – golf, only with discs. The courses have somewhat similar layouts and the scoring is the same – throws instead of strokes, but all of it in relation to par. Players throw discs toward a basket that serves as the “hole.” The person who completes the course with the fewest throws wins.

Jeremy White is a longtime disc golfer and one of the tournament directors for the Duel at D.R. Putting something like this together is quite an undertaking.

“We start the planning for the tournament in the winter,” White said. “The hardest thing to do is to pick the date for the tournament. The biggest determining factor is what tournaments are being run on what days at other courses around the state.”

It’s quite a juggling act, because the statewide scene in Maine is incredibly active in the summertime.

“We do our best to schedule the tournament to run on a day that has little to no competition anywhere else in the state,” said White. “That's hard to do though, because most weekends in Maine are packed with tournaments.”

It’s true. While the Duel at D.R. is unaffiliated, there are two Maine-based tournament series – the Maine Players Tour (MPT) and the Maine Disc Golf Tour (MDGT) – that run events throughout the summer. All that, plus the sport’s national body – the Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA) – sanctions tournaments in Maine as well.

Once a date is chosen, the process of procuring sponsorships and prizes begins. In terms of marketing, White say they’re primarily social media-driven, focusing on the Facebook pages of D.R. and the Maine Disc Golf Scene, among others.

And then White – along with tournament co-directors Joe Mason and Cloud Forrest – must deal with the actual event itself. The logistics are complex, but there’s always room for more players.

“We could handle up to 180 players for the tournament,” White said. “That would be five people per hole doing a shotgun start on each of the 18 different holes over the two courses. We'd like to hit those kinds of numbers someday, but for now we expect to be able to start everybody in Round 1 on the same course before moving over to the second course after lunch.”

(It should be noted that those two courses – named Lynx and Bobcat – are among the best in the state. The Enmans – who designed and operate D.R. – could be considered the first family of Maine disc golf; they’ve created acclaimed courses all over the state. There’s even a new one in progress in Orono; rumor has it they’re aiming for a Labor Day opening.)

So now you’ve heard about the tournament and are interested in playing. What happens next?

“Players can only register for the tournament on the morning of the tournament,” said White. “Players have to be signed in and paid by 9:30 a.m. Going forward, our goal is to allow players to sign up ahead of time, but for now it can only be done on the day of.”

But rest assured – you won’t be thrown in against players whose skill and experience far outstrips your own. The tournament will offer the standard divisions prescribed by the PDGA. White offers up a breakdown.

“The idea behind the different divisions is that each golfer is only going up against players of a similar skill set,” he said. “Our highest level of competition is the Mixed Pro Open class (MPO). This class is open to men and women of any age. While an amateur player could enter this division, only the best players have a shot at winning in this class. 

“Right below the MPO division is the amateur class, which is broken down into several smaller subdivisions. The top division in the amateur class is ‘advanced’ division, commonly called the AM1 division. Below the advanced amateur division is the AM2 division and then the recreational division. 

“In addition, both the pro and amateur classes offer divisions specifically tailored for older golfers. There are subdivisions for golfers over 40, over 50, etc.  There are no men's only divisions in disc golf. However, there are female-only divisions. For example, the highest level of ladies-only competition is called the female pro open or FPO. While the PDGA offers dozens of different divisions not described here, almost all of the players coming to our tournament will sign up for one of these.”

These divisions allow for a wide range of skill levels to take to the course and enjoy the tournament.

“We'll have players of all skill levels at this tournament,” White said. “There will be people who only picked up the sport this year as well as seasoned professional players.”

In terms of format, it will be a two-round tourney, with the two 18-hole courses on site hosting a round each.

“Each course offers challenges the other course doesn't,” said White. “We think doing it this way offers up a better test of a disc golfer's complete skill set.  The lowest two-round score in each division wins.”

As for prizes, the payouts vary from division to division, with a higher percentage of players landing in the money in the lower divisions and a smaller group placing in the upper division. The tournament also features an optional ace pot and a number of closest-to-the-pin (CTP) prizes donated by sponsors.

The payouts are structured differently in each division with a higher percentage of players "making the money" in the lower divisions and a smaller percentage "making the money" in the upper divisions.

And the cost of participation is far from prohibitive. The registration costs range from $30 for the MPO down to just $15 for the lowest amateur division. According to White, it’s just one more way in which they try to make the event as widely accessible as possible.

“The idea behind this tournament is to grow the sport,” he said. “Those of us who are playing in the tournament already love the sport, but we want others to love it too. Southern Maine has some amazing disc golf courses; you could play a different course every weekend and not play them all. This part of Maine has just a few courses and they're few and far between.  The ones we do have access to in these parts are fantastic, but we'd like to see more. We're hoping this tournament is able to grow interest in the sport and ultimately drive land owners to allow courses to go in on their land or maybe even convince a local parks and rec department to install one in a public space.”

For White and the rest of the D.R. cohort., it’s all about the love of the game – and sharing that love with others.

Last modified on Thursday, 11 July 2019 16:29

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