If you ask many of the touring disc golfers, the Maple Hill Open is truly a majority favorite on the national tour. Maple Hill in Leicester, MA presents an array of challenges that aren’t quite like anything else seen on the tour. Avery Jenkins commented on the difficulty of Maple Golds in a Smashboxx interview, saying that although there are some holes where distance is essential, it is equally (if not more) important to be crisp, clean and accurate with your shots on the tightly wooded sections of the course. And, of course, there are some dangerously wooded trouble spots and plenty of water to get even the best pros considering safer shots.
After a brutal four rounds, someone had to come out on top in the men’s and women’s divisions. While the men’s open division essentially panned out to be a 3-horse race between Paul McBeth, Ricky Wysocki, and Gregg Barsby, the women’s division saw big swings between classic foes, Catrina Allen and Paige Pierce. Weather was beautiful Thursday through Saturday, but championship Sunday brought chilling gusts of wind and more rain than any disc golfer would want to play in. Despite it all, Ricky Wysocki and Paige Pierce were diving into the Hole 1 pond to celebrate their victories. Let’s see how it all went down.
For three days, it seemed like Paul McBeth was in control yet again
All we’ve been writing about for weeks is how Paul McBeth keeps winning. It seems like no matter how the weekend plays out, McBeth finds himself taking home the top honors. It’s not like it’s dumb luck, either. We’ve seen plenty of videos of his practice regimen (remember the 50+1 video?), so it’s no wonder that McBeth plays at such a high level every week.
McBeth came out on fire on the champion’s card Thursday afternoon. He birdied the first 3 holes and went on two birdie two more before finally making a mistake on Hole 9. Hole 9 was one of few holes to give McBeth trouble throughout the weekend, and in the first round he took a bogey to finish 4-down through 9. This may not sound so hot by the standards of many courses, but let’s think of Maple Golds in terms of a course like DeLaveaga. At the Masters Cup (although the course is 27 holes), par is often rated around 1000, which is unusual for many disc golf courses. At Maple Golds, an even 60 was 1011-rated. So, to be 4 down through the front 9 was no small feat.
Naturally, McBeth would only outdo himself on the back 9. After play consistently to go 2-down through 4 holes, McBeth finished the round by birdying Holes 15 through Hole 18. At 10-under par, McBeth put himself in the best position possible heading into the next few days. Despite McBeth’s hot start, there were other competitors who were right on his heels. Eventual winner Ricky Wysocki shot nearly an equally hot round with a 51, Paul Ulibarri shot a 52, Dan Hastings shot a 53, and multiple pros shot 54s (Dave Feldberg, Nate Sexton, Nikko Locastro and Will Schusterick).
After the first round, there were only a few disc golfers who could maintain consistency. Two rounds later, McBeth maintained his one stroke lead over Wysocki. Joining the tight race for MHO champion was Gregg Barsby, who came back to the lead card despite a 56 in the first round. Barsby shot a 52 and a 54 in rounds 2 and 3, still leaving him with a sizable 6 stroke deficit to overcome. Steve Dodge was quick to remind everyone of an early MSDGC in which Chris Sprague overcame Barry Schultz’s 6 stroke lead in the final round to take victory. With the weather the way it was on Sunday, it was going to be crazy.
Wysocki outlasts Barsby’s surge, takes the Maple Hill Open victory
It’s difficult to picture this, but McBeth did not dominate on Championship Sunday. In fact, he really struggled (at least by his own standards). His 1014-rated 63 was a decent round overall, compared to a field of 70 players that struggled to break under par for the most part. To put this in perspective, Paul McBeth only bogied 5 holes throughout the first 54 holes. In the final round, he bogied 6 holes. The conditions were tough, and it was time for either Wysocki or Barsby to get the spotlight.
Gregg Barsby was 6 strokes back of the lead to start, but he played the cleanest 14 holes of disc golf that you could possibly play in those conditions. Barsby was 8-under par through 14 holes, and he took a 1 stroke lead over Wysocki with just 4 holes to go. At that point, McBeth seemed to be out of the race for first and it was down to a two-horse race. How much more drama can you ask for?
Well, Hole 14 was a momentum shift. The leaderboard might have shown birdies for both Wysocki and Barsby, but that doesn’t tell the hole story. Barsby’s drive came in a bit hot and skipped up around the circles edge, giving him a big death putt looking at the water. Wysocki, on the other hand, came up short and skipped off into the woods. There was almost no hope of a birdie for him. And then out of no where, he nails the putt, the crowd erupts and Wysocki was ready to be a champion. Barsby still hit his putt, but that seemed to be all he could muster for the round.
After Hole 14, Barsby bogied 3 of the last 4 holes and Wysocki was able to build up a lead. You may remember two recent Maple Hill Open tournaments (one Vibram Open) in which Wysocki essentially lost the tournament on the 18th hole by going for the island green and catching unlucky breaks, landing out of bounds. This year, Wysocki learned his lesson, laid up, and took a par. Wysocki slammed in his putt, and was crowned the 2015 Maple Hill Open champion.
Check out the SmashboxxTV live coverage for all of the Maple Hill Open excitement:
Paige Pierce wins in a roller coaster battle with Catrina Allen
The women’s division didn’t come down to such a tight finish like the men’s division, but that doesn’t mean the weekend was an easy win for anyone. Early in the event, the race was tight.
Through the first round, Catrina Allen was the only woman to shoot under the course par. However, she only gained a 1 stroke lead over Jessica Weese and 2 strokes over Pierce. The second round is where the battle dropped to just Allen and Pierce. Weese struggled, leaving Allen to gain 1 more stroke on Pierce for a 2 stroke leading heading into Saturday’s round.
The third round is when Pierce really pulled away. Even though Allen and Pierce went shot for shot for most of the round, Allen struggled a bit on Holes 14 and Hole 15, allowing Pierce to leap 4 strokes ahead and never look back. She finished the round with a 4 stroke lead and needed to maintain throughout the tough weather on Sunday. Despite the conditions, Pierce gained another stroke over Allen and won the tournament for the second year in a row.
The way the national tour and major schedule works this year, many of the best players jumped straight in their cars and headed off for a trip to Europe. The Scandinavian Open in Skelleftea, Sweden kicks off on July 8th, and then just one week later we have the European Open at “The Beast” in Nokia, Finland. These are going to be some of the best tournaments of the year, and it’ll be interesting to see how things play out following the Maple Hill Open drama.