My 2012 PDGA tournament season started like it usually does — with a trip south to Las Vegas for the Gentleman’s Club Challenge.
The event is considered a season opener as many of the top players come out to the desert in search of warm weather and some top-notch disc golf. Plus, it’s in the great city of Las Vegas. We’re always looking for an excuse to get back to Sin City as often as possible. We’re usually here in the spring for the GCC and in the fall for the Las Vegas Halloween Classic. Sometimes, we get the chance to come back if there’s the “Big D in the Desert,” the Distance World Championships in nearby Primm, Nev.
I arrived in Las Vegas three days early for the 2012 PDGA Spring Summit, an event to discuss issues and topics concerning the Professional Disc Golf Association. The sport continues to grow and expand with more people playing every year. We, as an association, try to put ourselves in position to adapt to the massive growth.
I’m a member of the PDGA Board of Directors and have been for the past two years. I do my best to increase the quality of standardized, competitive play, while representing the voice of our membership. We discussed many subjects and topics at this year’s Summit, including information technology, website advancements, social media integration, strategic planning, prioritizing the future of disc golf, the PDGA Women’s Committee, PDGA Leagues, and international disc golf relations.
Two of the biggest projects the PDGA has going on now are information technology and the Woman’s Committee. The implementation of these programs will help gain more exposure for disc golf in the future.
Many of us have been directly affected by the lack of performance from the PDGA website. This situation has been made a top priority by the PDGA and we have the man for the job. The website is crucial to the growth of the sport and it’s the hub for all our communications, course directory, player statistics, event schedule and tournament results. It’s a go-to website for people looking for more information about the sport and how to become more involved. More than 96,000 visitors account for 1.1 million page views each month.
Steve Ganz has been hired as the PDGA Technology Director and will help us resolve the situation and revive the website that many members utilize almost every day. Ganz was recently the principal web developer at LinkedIn and has worked for companies such as PayPal and McAfee. His immediate goal is to stabilize the current website and facilitate an upgraded version as soon as possible.
Besides the website improvements, technology consultants Mike Dietrich and Theo Pozzy are working to launch the Android version of the PDGA mobile application in the coming months. This will join the iPhone version, which had its release last summer.
These applications — and the mobile experience in general — is another top priority for the PDGA as more people get their information via their mobile devices. There will be some great enhancements to the mobile applications in the future, including the ability for PDGA members to upload their casual rounds to their player profile on PDGA.com.
The PDGA and the Women’s Committee has set out to introduce more women to the sport. They have made it a goal to recruit women that normally don’t compete in tournament play by creating more women’s events for all skill sets.
Only seven percent of PDGA members are female. This is one of the lowest female-to-male ratios in any co-ed sport. Getting help from its members, the PDGA is dedicating itself in 2012 to getting back to the mission of attracting, encouraging and retaining more female participation in organized disc golf events.
“This is a time for new beginnings and rejuvenation of past efforts,” said Val Jenkins. “Where are the female disc golfers and how do we recruit more of them?”
To support the mission of growth and attracting more women to the sport, the committee announced the Woman’s Global Event, which will be held May 12. This follows last year’s Global Event, created by Chuck Kennedy.
The PDGA and the Women’s Committee invite women from all over the world to take part in this groundbreaking event.
On May 12, women from all around the world will play two rounds of disc golf during their local global event. The scores for the two rounds will be submitted and rated by the PDGA. The round ratings will be added to determine the player’s “global score.” The tournaments will offer all professional and amateur divisions. Players do not have to be current PDGA members to play in the event, which is being coordinated to make it as accessible as possible to encourage more women to go out and play.
For women interested in joining local leagues or to become more involved in the sport as part of the growing committee, check out the PDGA’s women’s site and Disc Golf 4 Women.
Time to play
Following the nearly three-day PDGA Spring Summit, it was now time to play the Gentleman’s Club Challenge at Sunset Park, which was conveniently located a few blocks from the hotel.
I made sure to get a practice round in on Thursday afternoon so I could see the recent changes to the course. I had heard they had changed more than 80 percent of the course — and they most definitely did. The course was set up to be more challenging than last year. They installed a lot of out-of-bounds areas, a triple-mandatory, island shots and several long par 4s that could get tricky is the winds picked up, which often happens.
This year was different — there was virtually no wind. Not even a breath of wind to make you reconsider a shot during the first round. I still played conservative, shooting a 54 in my first PDGA-sanctioned event of the year. I had several birdies on the par 3s, but didn’t capitalize on the longer par 4s. Those are usually the strongest part of my game, with an obvious advantage on the long holes.
We went to the strip that night to enjoy the nightlife, hang out with friends and take in everything that is Las Vegas. We went to the Bellagio Buffet for dinner that night and I have to say it is the best buffet on the Las Vegas Strip! Especially if you like sushi, prime rib, crab legs, Kobe beef, smokes salmon, lamb chops and a mountain of shrimp! Don’t forget about the incredible desserts, including crème Brule, blueberry cheesecake and chocolate covered strawberries! A dinner like this makes an even better round the next day.
I played better the next two rounds, making up for my first-round mistakes. I really focused on getting the short hyzer par 3s and keeping the disc close to the basket. I really capitalized on the par 4s with some accurate upshots and solid putting to shoot back-to-back 49s to place seventh. I was satisfied with my play, despite knowing it was the flat first round that kept me from finishing in the top-3.
I look forward to better finishes in the year ahead as the season was off to a great start.
I stayed Sunday in Las Vegas to get some gambling out of my system, and, of course, enjoy another night on the strip. The roulette wheel and cards were not cooperating and I did my part to give back to the casinos. But gambling is all about entertainment for me and it was a great night in Vegas.
After that night, it was time to change focus again — this time to the National Tour, which held its first event a few days later. A six-hour trip was coming the next day and it was time to get back to disc golf.
Coming next Friday on Rattling Chains: Avery competes in the first National Tour Event of the season — The Memorial Championship.
Avery Jenkins (PDGA #7495) is on his 13th year as a disc golf touring professional. The 2009 World Champion, Jenkins is a three-time United States distance champion and considered one of the top players in the game. He’s also a member of the PDGA Board of Directors. You can see more from Jenkins at his website Avery Jenkins 7495.