Field notes and observations from the 2018 Konopiště Open
July 14, 2018 by Alex Williamson in Coverage with 0 comments
“The Czech-In” is Ultiworld Disc Golf’s daily update of all things Konopiště Open from European Beat Reporter Alex Williamson. A new entry for each day of the tournament will add to the scores and stats of our recaps and bring the entire tournament — on and off the course — to life.
McMahon, Paju, and McBeth on the Low, Low Scores in Open
FRANZ FERDINAND COURSE, Benešov, Czech Republic
As mentioned in my round two recap, the scoring in Open at the Konopiště Open this year is, to use a technical term, bananas. I chatted with three members of tomorrow’s lead card—Eagle McMahon, Seppo Paju, and Paul McBeth—about their thoughts on this phenomenon. Here’s what they had to say:
McMahon: “I don’t know…I’m starting to think it [the course] is a little bit easy. With a good drive, you really should be getting up and down—but they’re all demanding. Every hole you’re thinking, ‘I need to birdie this,’ but if you don’t birdie it, you’re not really too upset because it has a certain level of difficulty. I just think people are really determined this year because it’s the first Major of the year, and they’re really focused in and shooting hot rounds. Plus, the weather’s perfect.”
Paju: “The conditions have been basically perfect…not windy and the course is pretty open with no danger. It’s OB-free basically. The top 15 throw so far that they get opportunities on every hole.”
McBeth: “I don’t remember the course being this easy, at least not to score on…so many people are shooting well. I think the conditions are pretty favorable right now.”
If nothing else, these comments make one thing clear. One reason for these scores is that the weather this weekend has been the best thing it can be to most disc golfers: a non-factor. According to the forecast, we can expect wind to be low and though there may be rain, it will probably be light and brief. And, unlike the temperate temperatures, scoring will likely continue to be hot.
Are the Low Scores a Problem?
Paju definitely thinks so.
“I want the course to be harder,” he said. “That’s what everybody here has been talking about. A little bit of added OB could do the work, but there are several things that could change.”
Apparently Jeremy “Big Jerm” Koling—currently tied for eighth—isn’t included in the pronoun “everybody” because he sees the situation much differently.
“There isn’t much artificial out-of-bounds [at the Franz Ferdinand course], which is something that’s added to most professional, top-level courses to make things more difficult artificially,” he asserted. “It produces scoring variation and disallows aggressive play in certain situations whereas this place is built to be attacked. All too often we are expected to compare disc golf to golf in that scoring averages need to be close to par or just below to be a good round. In disc golf, it’s a sprint and an endurance race at the same time.”
“Just because people are shooting super amazing scores doesn’t mean that it’s bad for the sport or that the course is too easy,” Koling continued. “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it….It’s challenging in itself to have holes that are right there, that you must get, and if you don’t get it you’re losing strokes—that’s a very important part of the game.”
Wysocki Reacts to McBeth’s Comment About Quality of Respective Wins Last Weekend
In an interview for a PDGA article on last weekend’s Great Lakes Open (GLO), Paul McBeth made the following comment contrasting his win at that event with Wysocki’s at the Skellefteå Open in Sweden: “Me winning this one and Ricky getting that one – the feeling of winning this one is a lot bigger than the one he got over there because of the magnitude of the round I shot.”
I read this quote to Wysocki—who hadn’t seen it before—after his course-record tying 16-under par round yesterday, and Wysocki had an unsurprised and slightly amused reaction.
“[Mcbeth’s] round was a great round, and you can’t take anything away from it,” he preambled. “But we’re there to win, and we both won, so it’s no different. Shooting an amazing round, of course, it’s great, but we still got the same result. That round led him to win, and my consistent play [in Skellefteå] led me to win…the top three competitors weren’t even there [at the GLO]. It’s a lot easier to be in a mindset to shoot a perfect round when there’s no one on your tail like me and Eagle.”
Predictions for the Winning Score
KONOPISTE HOTEL NOVÁ MYSLIVNA RESTAURANT, Benešov, Czech Republic
I took guesses of the winning Open total from Paul McBeth, Avery Jenkins, Jussi Meresmaa, and Simon Lizotte at yesterday’s breakfast. And the numbers were…
Everyone laughed when Lizotte said his number, but I asked him after yesterday’s rounds if he stuck by it, and his answer was quick and to the point.
“Yes,” he said.
McMahon will need at least one 17-under par (or better) round to reach that mark, but the way he’s been playing, Lizotte’s estimate could even be a little low.
Nettles vs Poison Ivy and a More Serious Nettles Issue
KONOPISTE HOTEL NOVÁ MYSLIVNA, Benešov, Czech Republic
Though stinging nettles also grow in the United States, from my experience of playing disc golf in the Southeast U.S. and in Central Europe, they are by far more prominent in the latter. The U.S. pros have also noticed them, all having felt the results of the nettles’ chemical bite. When I heard a conversation comparing the effects of nettles with those of poison ivy or poison oak—the more renowned dangers on many U.S. courses that don’t exist naturally in Europe—I knew it was time to do some important reporting.
Devan Owens—like Koling, currently tied for eighth in the tournament—had his mind made up on the subject.
“I’d rather just go ahead and take the nettles,” he said. “They’re just like a 45-minute process of irritation. Poison ivy can last a week depending on where you get it.”
Lizotte and Gregg Barsby both went with nettles, as well.
Only Philo Brathwaite chose differently, opting to sacrifice his body for the sake of a new experience.
“I haven’t had poison oak yet, so I’ll go with it,” he said. “Well, I’ve been in poison oak before, but I just haven’t got it. I’ve been in the nettles—they hurt!”
While this discussion was all fun and games, nettles on the course have raised some questions. On hole 9, there is a large clump of them that trap players who come up short on—generally—their second shots.
PDGA Rule 803.01 B states the following: “A player may obtain relief only from the following obstacles that are on or behind the lie casual water, loose leaves or debris, broken branches no longer connected to a tree, motor vehicles, harmful insects or animals, players’ equipment, people, or any item or area specifically designated by the Director before the round.”
Notice that “harmful plants” aren’t mentioned, yet many players have been beating back nettles—sometimes in front of their lies—in order to avoid skin irritation. However, there has been no designation of nettles as a removable object by the Tournament Director. This grey area has caused some conflicts on cards and tough calls about whether to issue penalty strokes. It may be an issue that TD Přemysl Novák wants to look into and clarify.