The infamous water carry was the story of the MVP Open for Paul McBeth and Ricky Wysocki
September 15, 2020 by Darren LeMay in Analysis with comments
Hole 8 at Maple Hill has been the setting for many social media ace videos and Sportscenter’s Top 10, with two more aces this past weekend only adding to its lore.
It makes sense the most famous ace-run in disc golf was the story of the 2020 MVP Open, but it was for much more than just highlights.
Hole 8 is a doable 320 feet with over 300 of it being a water carry. A change for 2020 on the gold layout required any tee shot landing short1 in the pond water goes to the white tee pad as a drop zone. Per the stats, hole 8 went from being played very close to par, and being one of the less difficult holes at Maple Hill, to playing about middle difficulty of the holes and coming in with an average score of about a quarter stroke over par in 2020 with the longer initial drop zone.
There is not only out of bounds short in the water but also about 25 feet past the basket there is a miniature OB wall2 that separates the green from the fans who (usually) park themselves on the hill side to watch the countless ace runs. These fans, otherwise known as the 8-Holes, were an obvious exclusion from this year’s event due to the Covid-19 precautions.
This year the top two finishers at the tournament had their events defined by hole 8. Paul McBeth and Ricky Wysocki have finished first and second at the same event many times (32 times in the last 6 years) and as predetermined as it’s often felt to see these two battle, hole 8 was as far off script as we’ve seen.
Both McBeth and Wysocki played on the feature card for round 1 and both were under par through the first seven holes. After the group joked about the cardboard cutouts that replaced the previously mentioned fans, McBeth stepped up first to the tee and threw his putter about 30 feet higher than the basket, dropping it precisely, as if it were on a zip line, directly into the chains. Wysocki stepped up to the tee. He went forehand on what appeared to be the perfect line before his disc found a sudden wind drop and fell about three inches too short
Wysocki’s disc hit the top of the stone retaining wall of the pong and fell into the water. Per the new rules, Wysocki proceeded to the drop zone, where again his shot came up short and landed in the water. He proceeded to the second drop zone, which is the traditional drop zone located on the land bridge between the tee area and the basket. From here Wysocki gave it a decent run before eventually tapping in his triple-bogey six.
Five stroke advantage to McBeth.
Now Wysocki was on the chase card and playing hole 8 a few minutes before McBeth on the lead card. Wysocki threw a similar shot as round 1 but this time the sidearm came in a few feet higher and slid out to the edge of the circle long. He missed the 30-foot putt low off the cage and tapped in the par.
A few minutes later, McBeth threw his drive with the same exact putter (Tour Series Discraft Luna) as he threw-in for the ace the day prior. This time it flipped up and drifted long right, off a tree, and into the adjacent pond on the deep right of the hole. It was first unclear how McBeth should play out the hole — more on that later — so he played a provisional from the drop zone as well as from the spot where his disc crossed into the out of bounds water area on the backside of the hole. From the drop zone he threw his approach long past the basket into OB again. He was able to connect on the comeback putt for the double bogey. Now back to the out of bounds spot from the original drive. From here he pitched up, then putted, and carded the bogey.
The bogey ended up being the correct score, so Wysocki was able to steal a stick back.3
Going into the final round, Wysocki led and held a two stroke advantage over McBeth. Both players were 3-under par through the first seven holes. McBeth again was first on the tee for hole 8 and threw his putter. He split the difference between rounds 1 and 2 and landed softly by the basket, leaving him about 15 feet for the birdie putt he hit a few moments later. Wysocki threw a forehand shot again and landed in a very similar spot to round 2. Again, he missed a putt from around 30 feet low off the cage. This time, however, the disc slid on the compact ground just into the pond. Now Wysocki is tapping in his putt for bogey. Just like that they were tied for the lead after 43 holes.
The third round gave a two stroke advantage on hole 8 to McBeth bringing the total to six strokes gained on hole 8 alone over the three rounds. McBeth won by four over Wysocki, meaning Wysocki outscored McBeth by two strokes in the other 51 holes.
As stated above McBeth had some issues with the hole in round 2. His drive went OB long, and though it came to rest in water, he thought that the disc should be played where it went out of bounds, similar to how land OB was described in the caddy book, being that hole 8 is not defined as an island hole.
Basically his argument was that the pond in the out of bounds was irrelevant and that any shot in that area should be treated the same no matter if it was in water or not, and that the front pond was the area that was designated to the drop zone rule. On initial reaction of the drive, commentators Nate Doss (on the live coverage) and Jeremy Koling (on the post-produced) both thought the proper play would be for McBeth to play it from the place it went OB. Then both wavered back and forth.
In real time after McBeth threw his drive, he was immediately under the impression he was to play it from the green. He was already walking past the drop zone on his way to the green when he turned around to discuss it with his card, and eventually with tournament director Steve Dodge directly.
McBeth: “This isn’t an island hole.”
Dodge: “This is not an island hole, that’s correct.”
McBeth: “So, yeah I crossed in bounds up there.”
Dodge: “If you’re OB in the water, you go to this tee.”
[Dodge gestures to the drop zone/white tee they were standing on.]
McBeth: “I’ll play a provisional but that’s not how this should be, this isn’t an island.”
Dodge: “I’m good with a provisional.”
[McBeth throws his shot from the drop zone and the card, media, and Dodge all walked over to the green.]
McBeth to cardmates: “If I landed here [pointing at a dry spot on the OB side of the rope] I’d take it from right here, but since I landed there [pointing at his disc in the water] I take it way back there? That’s not the rules, Steve!”
Garrett Gurthie: “If you want to just play it both ways like you did, I’m not…”
McBeth, cutting Gurthie off: “Yeah, but Steve’s the TD.”
[McBeth walks over to find Dodge and waves him over and proceeds to show him his disc and ask what he asked the cardmates.]
McBeth: “It’s the same line.”
Dodge: “Right, that’s why we said at the beginning of the round that the rope defines the water on this side of the pond, because the same thing happens over there [pointing at the front pond].
McBeth: “Then why isn’t that defined in the rules. That is the spot where it ends [pointing at the corner of the OB line] It’s the exact same line.”
Dodge: “It is the exact same line.”
McBeth: “So, if I was right there [pointing at the corner].”
Dodge, cutting McBeth off: “If you were over there that’s on land and over here is on water.”
McBeth, puts mask on: “I don’t agree with that rule.”
According to a press release by the Disc Golf Pro Tour, McBeth was told after the round that his provisional play was incorrect, and that the drop zone shot and finish would determine his score for the hole. He then appealed the ruling to Dodge. After reviewing all material and caddy information, Dodge decided to overrule himself and award McBeth the land OB decision McBeth appealed for. McBeth was able to use his provisional score and save himself a stroke cutting Wysocki’s lead from three strokes down to two.
Here’s the entire statement on the matter from the Disc Golf Pro Tour: