McBeth Redux: Does Par Matter?

Hole 18 at WACO is the perfect example of a "tweener"

Paul McBeth threw 49 shots on Friday at the Waco Annual Charity Open. Forty-nine! He beat the old course record by three strokes.

Wait, 49? Don’t you mean that he shot 18-under par? The perfect round?!?

Well…yes. And no.

In light of McBeast’s taming of the bEast, we need to recognize the elephant in the room: par at Brazos East is soft. Call me a hater, but if the pursuit of perfection matters to us — obviously, it does — we need to talk about par.

Let’s look at the most obvious example: hole 18.

This past weekend the par 4 18th hole at Brazos East played the easiest relative to par in the Open Division, averaging 3.5 strokes per round over three rounds. The dreaded tweener. Seeing as this is a Disc Golf Pro Tour stop with a significantly deeper field than your run-of-the-mill regional A-tier, I thought it would be pertinent to assess the performance of players rated 1000 or better; the touring field, that is.

Of the 120 players in the Open division, 56 were rated 1000 or better entering the weekend. This group averaged 3.14 strokes on hole 18 — fitting for a tournament that began on Pi Day — 0.36 strokes better than the field at large, which included 39 players rated below 975.

Of the 56 1000+ rated players, 51 posted cumulative scores of 1-under par or better on hole 18 over the three-day tournament. Paul McBeth and Adam Hammes captured the elusive turkey-eagle chimera — is it a “turgle” or a “teagle?” — a.k.a. three deuces apiece. Four players finished even par. Only Dutch Napier finished over par for the tournament at +1. Sorry, Dutch.

Paul McBeth Hole 18 Waco

On Thursday, hole 18 averaged 0.77 strokes below par for the four-digit crew. On Friday and Saturday, 0.91 strokes below par! Only two 1000+ rated players carded bogey 5s on the final day; there were no double bogeys or greater.

To me, these numbers tip the scale in favor of reclassifying the final hole as a par 3. A final 1000+ comparison to illustrate this point. Played as a par 4, the under/even/over par distribution for the weekend tallies 128/28/12 (76%/17%/7%). Played as a par 3, we get 31/97/40 (18%/58%/24%). Isn’t the second set of numbers just more satisfying?

Furthermore, the risk/reward aspect of hole 18 comes into sharper focus when players need to shoot the green to score a birdie 2. Conversely, playing for the safe par 3 might yield a bogey or worse if you don’t stick the upshot. Calling this hole a par 3 ratchets up the mental pressure to score low.

It is worth noting that hole 18 averaged 4.38 strokes in FPO. Champion Catrina Allen went bogey-birdie-par (E), and runner-up Paige Bjerkaas went birdie-par-birdie (-2). The longest thrower in the field, Paige Piece, carded three pars. On Thursday, the top 11 finishers played the hole 1-over par collectively (1 birdie, 8 pars, 2 bogeys); Friday: 5-under par (6 birdies, 4 pars, 1 bogey); Saturday: even par (3 birdies, 6 pars, 1 bogey, 1 double bogey). This evidence suggests that the hole is weighted appropriately for this division.

All of this is not meant to discount McBeth’s historic round. That 49 is definitely one for the record books. How you feel about his score relative to par depends on how you value par philosophically. McBeth may not have shot the perfect round last Friday in its truest sense, but he was perfect on hole 18.

  1. Patrick Aubyrn
    Patrick Aubyrn

    Patrick Aubyrn is a writer at Ultiworld Disc Golf, and a double bassist, musicologist, and educator living in Oak Park, IL with his wife and young son. He is A.B.D. at the University of Washington and is writing his dissertation on the 19th-century German composer Johannes Brahms. As a disc golfer, he occasionally threw 1000-rated rounds back in 2007 and holds the distinction of hitting two holes-in-one in the same tournament round but not paying into the ace pool.

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