Santa Cruz locals could give top dogs a run at 2013 Masters Cup

By Jack Trageser — Rattling Chains staff

Every year in April, Santa Cruz, Calif., is not only the Epicenter of Disc Golf — the self-imposed label given in 1989 after the nearby Loma Prieta earthquake — but the center of the PDGA professional disc golf tour as well.

DeLaveaga Disc Golf Course has hosted a National Tour event every year since the tour was established, and the 28th annual “Steady” Ed Memorial Masters Cup has drawn the sport’s best talent for about 20 years before that.

Paul McBeth, shown at the Texas State Championships, is leading the National Tour through two events. (photo courtesy PDGA Media)

This year’s event runs April 26-28 with one 24-hole round each day.

If you follow the tour, you’re familiar with many of this weekend’s competitors. Young guns such as Ricky Wysocki, Paul McBeth, Will Schusterick and Nikko Locastro will all be there, as will veteran champions Ken Climo, Dave Feldberg, Nate Doss and Avery Jenkins. And there are plenty of other names you’ll recognize as well, such as Philo Braithwaite, Paul Ulibarri, and Josh Anthon.

You know all about these guys already, and they’ve proven that any one of them can step up and win on any given week. Josh Anthon is a Northern California player who knows DeLaveaga well. Nate Doss grew up and honed his craft here, and Wysocki and Schusterick are always good bets.

This is the third stop in the eight-event National Tour. Schusterick and Wysocki each have wins in the first two events. Despite that, McBeth is leading the tour with second-place finishes in each. Wysocki is second, followed by Locastro, Schusterick and Feldberg.

On Saturday, after the first round is in the books, and even Sunday, when it’s down to the last 24 holes, there are bound to be some names you might not recognize on the top cards.

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In their words: Nine secrets of the women of disc golf

The ladies who played in the advanced division at the Masters Cup this past weekend. Pictured are: Front -- Anna Caudle. Second row, from left, Victoria McCoy, Michelle Chambless, Lacey Kimbell, Cyndi Baker; and third row, from left, Christine Hernlund, Jenny Umstead, and Crissy White. (Photo by Alex Hegyi).

OK, maybe the title is a little misleading. Calling them “secrets” is overdoing it a bit, and this is about much more than that.

I spent some time last weekend talking to female competitors at the Amateur Masters Cup presented by DGA in Santa Cruz, Calif., and some of their answers might be new and useful information to the guys who play disc golf.

But are they secrets?

What’s definitely not a secret is the fact that disc golf is, and always has been, a sport played predominately by males. The breakdown of competitors in this A-Tier PDGA sanctioned event illustrates this point perfectly, as only 11 of the 158 registered participants were in female divisions. That’s less than 10 percent.

The eyeball test anytime you’re playing a recreational round on your local course will tell you that that ratio holds true in non-tournament settings as well.

So what’s the deal?

After watching the sport grow and develop over the past 25 years, I’ve got my own theories. For instance, in the early days of DeLaveaga — back in the late 1980s and early 1990s — seeing a woman on the course was rare enough to stop a guy mid-throw to ask a playing partner if he saw her, too. They had to make sure she wasn’t a mirage (or an hallucination, depending on the player). I later learned from the first female DeLa pioneers that a main deterrent was the lack of a restroom on site at the time — not even a porta-potty. Not a big deal for the average guy, but enough to keep many women away.

While not all courses are as remote and facility-less as DeLa, back then plenty of them were similarly in open spaces. And besides the lack of basic facilities, there was also an non-policed “Wild West” feel to many courses. I have a notion that many women felt these courses were just unsafe enough — or at least could be — to discourage them from giving disc golf a try.

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