By Steve Hill — Rattling Chains staff
Sandwiched between last weekend’s “Steady” Ed Masters Cup and next weekend’s Copenhagen Open, it seems that the Disc Golf Hall of Fame Classic is getting lost in the tournament shuffle.
Case in point: Only 65 players were pre-registered as of Thursday evening for the National Tour event taking place Friday through Sunday at the International Disc Golf Center in Appling, Georgia. That number is just shy of half of the participants in the Texas State Championship (116) and a mere third of those who played last week in Santa Cruz (171).
And while plenty of big names will attend this weekend’s festivities at the home of the PDGA — Ken Climo, Will Schusterick, Nikko Locastro, , Ricky Wysocki, Dave Feldberg, Paige Pierce, and Sarah Hokom headline the bill — the list of pros not making the trek is almost as impressive as those playing.
Current National Tour leader and reigning world champion Paul McBeth? Absent. Masters Cup runner-up Philo Brathwaite? Playing a tournament in Oceanside, California. Former world champion Eric McCabe? An upstate New York tourney. Perennial tour standouts Nate Doss, Val Jenkins and Avery Jenkins? Hanging out elsewhere.
So, as some players use Georgia as a layover on their way to Europe and others simply skip out, the Disc Golf Hall of Fame Classic may not feel like the big event that it is.
Don’t tell that to Schusterick or Locastro, though.
After a 13th place finish last weekend, Schusterick caught a red eye flight back to his home state of Tennessee and was already in Georgia by Wednesday, using the extra days to practice for this weekend’s tournament.
And while he said he felt like he played well in last weekend’s event, he noted that the courses at the IDGC fit his style better.
“I think they definitely play to my advantages more than disadvantages,” Schusterick said. “They’re really long and in the woods. I’ve played well here the last couple years, so hopefully I can do the same this weekend.”
Compared to DeLaveaga Park, Schusterick said the IDGC courses also can be a little more forgiving.
“If you’re on the wrong side or if you’re an inch or a foot off at DeLa, it can turn into crazy stuff,” he said. “There’s a lot less room for error at DeLa than there is in Georgia, is the best way to put it.”
When asked about some of the fellow professional golfers not attending the event, Schusterick disregarded the notion that the tournament might not feel as important.
“It really just comes down to going out there and playing the best that you can,” he said. “If you want to play really well, you should want to do that at every tournament, no matter who you’re playing against.”
And it isn’t like the competition won’t be stiff.
Locastro, for one, said he was motivated to try and take down his first NT win of the year after three consecutive top-four finishes.
“I’m thinking I’m due for a win,” Locastro said. “I just need to pull it out of me. Just do it.”
Locastro mentioned that he got some bad breaks last weekend but was still in contention on the final day, which gives him confidence for this week.
“The last round I still had a chance to win the tournament for sure, but I missed twelve putts a half an inch low,” he said. “So I figure all I need to do to win is just raise my hand into the chains, honestly. I was right there.”
As for the low turnout for this weekend, Locastro blamed it on the cross-country scheduling less than a week apart.
“People are almost boycotting it, because the way that the PDGA has it set up,” he said. “It’s really not that fair.”
Regardless of who is there — teammates or otherwise — Locastro only has one goal.
“I’m trying to get my number one spot back,” he said, “and I’m not stopping until I get there. So I don’t care who it is. I’m trying to beat everybody on Team Prodigy, I’m trying to beat people on Latitude 64/Dynamic Discs.”
“I care nothing about the politics involved with disc golf,” he continued. “All I want is the trophy and the paycheck.”
Four rounds, total. The first round is at 1 p.m. Friday, two rounds (9 a.m. and TBA) are scheduled for Saturday, and the final round is at 10:30 a.m. Sunday.
Live scoring can be followed on the PDGA scoring twitter account (@PDGAlive).
On the web:
Steve Hill is the associate editor for Rattling Chains. Email him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @OneMileMore.