Notes on an A-Tier: Day 1 in Retrospect

18 holes down and still holding my own

James Bress. Photo: Local Route

Friday, 8/21/20, 8:05 pm – West Hartford, CT

Well well well, looks like everyone one who bet on “he’ll definitely crap the bed” needs to pay up! The short report is, I had one calamitous hole that included multiple execution errors and just a bit of mental panic, but otherwise, I’m really happy with how I played and, less importantly, how the score came in (+1).

Some stats, done my way:

  • I left-sided two putts from circle’s edge that, if they were a little more to the right, would have gone in. But the height was good.
  • I front rimmed two putts from inside Circle 1 that, if they were a little higher, would have gone in. But the aim was good.
  • I flopped back and forth like a fish on the line on hole 7, which…well I honestly just don’t know. I just don’t expect to be in that position moving forward. All I have to do is not miss the wide-as-Hartford fairway and stay out of the rough and it should go pretty smoothly. 
  • I hit a capital-B Beautiful putt to save par on hole 5. I was long of the pin, almost in the rough, facing the whole gallery…and it actually went in! You shoulda been there. It was so good. Straddle from about 45 feet, got myself ready, took a big breath, visualized the flight, and then matched it with the release. I’m talkin’ a heart-o’-the-chains type putt from yard. It was so good. I am, right now, grinning just thinking about it.
  • I threw a good forehand (hips activate the arm, NOT vice versa, just as I practiced) on hole 4 and hit the downhill, facing-OB putt for bird from about 30 feet. 
  • I cleared hole 1! Buuuuut front-rimmed the putt after an admittedly jittery approach to 25 feet. Whatever, I can give myself a break on that one; I could feel my hands shaking.
  • I got to the top of the hill on hole 3! Opted for the safer midrange (God love a Roc3, I’m tellin’ ya), flipped it just a touch too much into a late tree, and ended up missing the 45-footer for the bird. C’est la vie. 
  • I laced my forehand (hips activate the arm, not vice versa, just as I practiced) on hole 9, and then a second one that found some “not lucky” (Simon Lizotte’s words) OB for a tap-in par. Good vibes.
  • I laced my forehand (hips activate the arm, not vice versa, just as I practiced) on hole 14 and ended up with a long putt for birdie, which I missed badly, but it was a hard look so, whatever. 
  • I laced my forehand on hole 17 (hips activate the arm, not vice versa, just as I practiced) and barely left the putt short (not sweatin’ it, there is scary OB pretty close behind the basket).

Them’s the stats that I care about! Do you notice a pattern?

TL;DR: Positivity > Negativity. I’m not about to reinvent the wheel here, you know?

I am typing with vigor tonight!

Here’s my thinking going into Round 2 (tee time 2:10 pm):

  1. I made a total mess of a whole hole, and still shot at about my rating (to be clear, 7 on 7 is not a tasty mixed drink, it is a disaster; prepositions matter). This is good feedback because, as I think I have mentioned, I think the rating system is actually pretty accurate for people like me. This means that I am practiced and ready for this course. Also, I’m pretty sure I learned the main lesson of that fiasco (trust that my Champ Destroyer can handle a headwind and throw to a spot you can see when you’re scrambling) and won’t make that particular set of mistakes again. 
  2. I only “Made a Play” once, which was on that, forgive me for saying, gorgeous long putt on hole 5. I would cautiously venture that I usually “Make a Play” twice per round but, who knows, they come and go.
  3. I thought my mental game was really strong. No highs too high (Have you ever heard a gallery cheer for you? Now I have, and it is an absolute rush.) and no lows too low (Have you ever heard a gallery gasp and avert their eyes in courteous shame for you? I have, and it is an absolute rush.). I stayed true to my plan, I stayed true to my focus points. I think that the extra work on those six to eight shots I mentioned in the last piece actually bore out. I am extremely happy about that because I don’t now have to go out in search of new focus points.

But I know why you’re really here, and the answer is: it was SUPER fun to play with Steve Brinster (beat me by 10 strokes over 18 holes, crying/laughing emoji), Lizotte (beat me by 8), and Cam Messerschmidt (beat me by 4). They are all extremely chill, and nice, and funny. I feel privileged to have played with all of them. I recommend it if you get the chance. 

Honestly, the thing is…there’s not that much to say. Simon threw Simon Lines twice, and I have never seen a disc thrown that high while under control. It looks different in real life. It just…keeps going up. He also, as I predicted, kind of wandered into some long birdie-3s that I didn’t convert despite trying as hard as I could. Brinster has a downright incredible “Clear the Mechanism” ability to focus and made almost no mistakes that I, personally, would count as mistakes, despite finding a number of tough and unlucky lies (lays?). Cam had a tough start but still bagged multiple long putts down the stretch, totally relaxed, totally in stride, and even did a cool and familiar gallery-wave like he does it every day just brushing his teeth. They are all really, really good at disc golf. If you want to be as good as them you…need to get better.

My arrival/warmup/stretch plan worked well today, so I am repeating it tomorrow. I even have time to swing by Costco and buy another one of these $15 golf polos that I felt ridiculous buying on Wednesday, but totally debonair wearing today.

Now it’s time for some pizza and a movie with my wife, and then a good night’s sleep (hopefully no 12:00 am, 2:00 am, and 4:00 am excitement wake-ups tonight), and then off to Wickham after an early, light lunch.

Days like today are why I fucking love disc golf. 

Thank you for reading (I hope the “tips” in here are self-evident; send me questions if you have them, really), and for supporting me. See you tomorrow!

  1. James Bress
    James Bress

    James is a contributor at Ultiworld Disc Golf. He played Ultimate from 2000-2015 for the Amherst HS Hurricanes, UMass ZooDisc, New Noise, Capitol Punishment, and Dark or Light. Now he plays disc golf for Team Wick (4x NETC champs) out of Wickham Park in Manchester, CT. One time he hit a tournament ace on camera. Despite that, he has not quit his day job as a high school teacher. Send questions and comments to [email protected]. See what tournaments he's playing at his PDGA player page #84048.


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