With my first PDGA-sanctioned tournament of the year behind me, it was time to leave Las Vegas behind and make the six-hour ride to Phoenix, Ariz..
Nate Doss, Val Jenkins and I set out early in the morning to travel the six hours to Phoenix, Ariz., for the Memorial Championship, an event on the National Tour. In the back of the Sprinter Van, I took naps and watched movies. That’s how you travel!
The Memorial is a four-round, four-day event, beginning on Wednesday and ending on Saturday. That gives players two days to practice. It really only gives one day to practice if you stay the night in Vegas and use Monday as a travel day.
Arriving at Fountain Hills at about 4:30 p.m., we met with Discmania stars Jussi Meresmaa and Seppo Paju. I looked forward to rooming with them for the rest of the week.
The Holiday Inn were stayed at was conveniently located across the street from the course. It’s one of the main reasons we have stayed here the past two years. That means we only have to travel to the Vista Del Camino course twice and the other days we just have to walk across the street. We were less than 400 feet from the basket on hole 15. The final round and awards were also held at this course.
I grabbed my bag as Val, Nate, Seppo and I headed out for a quick practice round in limited daylight. It was less than two hours until sundown. This is a course I have played for the past 10-plus years. They have altered some of the holes throughout the years, but it’s basically the same layout that we play each year.
With winds gusting at more than 35 mph, it made for an interesting round. We avoided many of the approach shots to the baskets near the water as it wasn’t worth it to lose a good upshot disc a few days before the event. I still ended up losing a Star Teebird and a Power Driver 2 on hole 17, which is one of the longer downhill holes. The wind came from the right and carried them left and sent them into the water. I didn’t want to lose those crucial discs before the tournament, but I always carry backups for each of my go-to discs.
The Fountain Hills course is gorgeous and it’s in my top-10 list for courses. It has a great layout with rolling hills surrounding a lake. In the center of the lake is a huge water fountain. It’s the fourth-tallest fountain in the world. It can reach heights of 560 feet, which it does on select holidays and celebrations.
The course is challenging because there’s a chance to throw out-of-bounds in the water on nearly every hole. It’s especially difficult when the winds are ripping. On the other hand, nearly every hole is reachable in one shot, so when the wind is down, the scores can go really low on this par-56 course.