Maple Hill is the most prestigious course in the country.
September 13, 2023 by Justin Westfall in Preview with 0 comments
The Disc Golf Pro Tour playoffs continue with the second and final event before the Tour Championship in October. Just four hours south of Smugglers’ Notch, Maple Hill is a favorite among pros and currently ranked as the #1 course in the world by UDisc. The MVP Open at Maple Hill, formerly called the Vibram Open, has been run by Disc Golf Pro Tour founder Steve Dodge since 2008. This week will also serve as the final points event for the United Series.
Maple Hill offers everything that you could want in a disc golf course from tight woods lines to elevation changes, water carries, and, of course, the beautiful scenery of the christmas tree farm that the course plays through. With grandstands behind hole 1 for spectators to watch big opening tee shots and the rowdy “8 holes” who sit and cheer for shots coming into hole 8’s island green, this event provides a fantastic venue to wrap-up the Elite Series. Spectators also have the chance to partake in an entire week of special events including disc dying clinics, flymarts, after dark glow rounds, and a new $20,000 CTP contest on Friday evening.
Last year, weather conditions on the opening day forced the MPO tournament to be cut from four rounds down to three. Going into the final round, Corey Ellis held a three shot lead over the field but struggled on the front 9. Ellis came to hole 18 tied with Linus Carlsson and Simon Lizotte for the lead. Carlsson quickly got into trouble off the tee and ended up carding a triple-bogey. Lizotte had just shot the hot round off the chase card and was waiting in the clubhouse to see if Ellis would make par to force a playoff. Corey’s approach shot — after an enormous drive — sailed wide left of the small green into OB, resulting in a bogey after a narrowly missed putt for par, and Lizotte won outright.
In FPO, Natalie Ryan took a one stroke lead over Missy Gannon and Kristin Tattar into the final round. Tattar was able to grab one stroke on Ryan and force a playoff. With Ryan parked for a birdie on the playoff hole, Tattar came up short on a circle 2 birdie putt, and Ryan was able to claim her 2nd career Elite Series win.
Four Things We’ll Be Watching
1. With his proximity to Maple Hill, Simon Lizotte likely has more reps on this course in recent years than any other player in the field. Simon shot 2-over par in terrible conditions during last year’s opening round, and even with one round being canceled due to weather, he fought all the way back to win from the chase card. This year, there will likely be a lot more on his plate as the new face of MVP. Currently in 10th in the DGPT standings, a win would likely push Lizotte up into the top 8, earning him one more free stroke to begin the Tour Championship. He would also sweep the playoffs, and tie Gannon Buhr with three Elite Series wins on the season.
2. Of course, this is the final event to earn points towards the DGPT standings and qualify for the Tour Championship. There are several players to watch very closely as the week progresses. A host of MPO players including Robert Burridge, Chandler Kramer, Paul Ulibarri, Garrett Gurthie, Eric Oakley, and Brodie Smith currently sit just outside the cut line. Väinö Mäkelä and Andrew Presnell are the last players in but are at risk of losing their spots without a solid performance at Maple Hill.
In FPO, Lisa Fajkus and Juliana Korver are the last two players in, with Sai Ananda sitting just outside. However, with Paige Pierce still recovering from injury, it’s unlikely she will play in the Tour Championship, and so Ananda would earn the final spot. Sitting just behind Ananda is Emily Beach, Holly Finley, Hannah Huynh, and Deann Carey. All of these players, including Fajkus and Korver, will need solid performances if they want a spot in the tour championship. Any MPO or FPO player currently outside the cut line would gain automatic entry if they were to win this week.
A few interesting notes ahead of the tournament:
- Missy Gannon could still grab the #1 spot in the DGPT standings ahead of Kristin Tattar, though Kristin’s ~70 point lead means that Gannon would likely need to win and have Tattar finish 10th or worst.
- Everyone inside the top 22 in MPO and top 11 in FPO have clinched spots in the Tour Championship.
- Some notable names who need an outright win to qualify for the TC: Jeremy Koling, Albert Tamm, Gregg Barsby, Paige Shue, Silva Saarinen, Keiti Tatte, Kona Montgomery
3. Instead of doing another Million Dollar Shot challenge, the MVP Open staff has decided to take the $20,000 they would have paid to the insurance company and give it away in a CTP contest on Friday night. Eight MPO and eight FPO players will be selected based on UDisc’s Precise Power Index metric and a fan vote to compete in a two-throw CTP bracket, with the winner advancing to the next round. If any player hits an ace, the contest is immediately over with all remaining money going to that player. Prize money will be given out for each round, including $4,000 to the final winners. Fans can also purchase raffle tickets for $20, where $5,000 will be split amongst 30 raffle ticket winners.
4. The MVP Open will mark the final event of the newly formed United Series (US). Missy Gannon currently leads the US points standings by a sizable margin, followed by Ella Hansen and Holyn Handley. The top 3 players in the US standings will receive bonus payouts, though the amounts have yet to be announced. Ohn Scoggins currently sits in 4th place after dropping out of the World Championships due to injury. Ohn was able to return to play and win an A-tier last weekend, averaging a 993 event rating. Scoggins has a great opportunity to move into the top 3 and collect a bonus payout with a solid performance at Maple Hill.
Just like the first playoff event at DGLO, the MVP Open will feature A and B pin positions for holes 1-3 in the MPO division, and holes 2-3 in the FPO division. Rather than using each position for two rounds, however, the B positions will only be used in round 3 — moving day in more ways than one.
In the FPO division, hole 7’s pin has been moved back 40 feet, and the mandatory off the 18th teepad has been replaced with a triple mando. For both divisions, hole 17 now has OB that stretches all the way to the pin, which should add a layer of difficulty to the upshots. The most significant change is to hole 9, where the MPO and FPO divisions used to play the same layout. This year, a new teepad has been added for the MPO division that makes the hole 250 feet longer and creates a new fairway that eventually intersects with the FPO fairway near the green.
2023 MPO A: 8,834 Feet Par 60
2023 MPO B: 8,724 Feet Par 60
2022 MPO: 8,584 Feet Par 60
2023 FPO A: 7,005 Feet Par 60
2023 FPO B: 6,935 Feet Par 60
2022 FPO: 6,995 Feet Par 60
Temperatures in Leicester should be mild with a chance of rain on Saturday from the fringes of Hurricane Lee, which is making its way north towards New England. Moderate winds should persist throughout the weekend.
Thursday: Partly cloudy with highs near 70. Winds 10 to 15 mph.
Friday: Cloudy with highs in the upper 60s. Winds 10 to 15 mph.
Saturday: Overcast with rain showers at times, highs in the mid 60s. Winds 15 to 20 mph. Chance of rain 40%.
Sunday: Mostly sunny with highs in the mid 70s. Winds 10 to 15 mph.