Finding a begrudging appreciation of DDO
May 3, 2022 by Christopher Wiklund in Analysis, Opinion with comments
The Dynamic Discs Open, formerly known by the much cooler name of Glass Blown Open, is an event which I struggle with on an annual basis.
Every year, we hear about the great players pack, the atmosphere of the event, how Emporia is the Disc Golf Capital of the World, and how just really great everything is about it! And yet I hate it. Is it the cranky contrarian in me? Possibly.
I’ve got the routine down pretty well. I gripe and groan to myself and whoever will listen about having to watch four rounds of golf on courses which aren’t exactly my cup of tea. I dutifully fire up the coverage when it comes out and usually by around the midpoint of the third round, there has been some compelling storylines developing, some battles for the top spot, and some lesser known name making a run up the leaderboard to add some spice. I usually find myself swearing that next year I’ll be more open minded about what happens on the course, and that I won’t get as irritated by the on-course prospects when Emporia time, like a visit from an uncle whose stances on human rights you find despicable, comes around at Christmas time. I can usually find my way through to enjoying the golf, but this year was painful.
The 2021 Dynamic Discs Open was difficult to watch at times and did not inspire excitement for the 2022 World Championships which will return to the windswept plains of Emporia, Kansas, later this summer. Unless you’re Ricky Wysocki, Brodie Smith, Kristin Tattar, or Catrina Allen, the thought of playing another four round event in the wide open wind fields run through with spray painted and roped OB probably makes you a little queasy. As a spectator, I can’t say that I’m thrilled at the prospect of watching it either.
I will not be holding the team at DD personally responsible for the wind this year, of course, but the thing is, when the wind is down, the courses at Jones Park get absolutely shredded in the way you might expect to see a Silver Series caliber course get attacked. In 2021, the wind was a non-factor and Paul McBeth won in MPO with a final score of 42 under par; Hailey King won FPO with a 15 under par. You have to scroll down to 92nd place to find anyone who finished the weekend over par in MPO, and in 2020, over three rounds, the scores were similarly low. In 2019, the wind was up a bit relative to 2021 and 2020, and the scores reflected that, but it is also worth noting that the courses have changed quite a bit over the years, so it’s not an exact 1:1 comparison.
Now, of course, we’ve got a new track in Jones Supreme that played very hard — very few rounds in FPO went under par (7, to be exact) and the MPO hot round came in at 6-under — that’s a lot less scoring than we’ve seen on any course this season. The reason? Well, it’s hard to tell, exactly. It could be the course and all its OB, or it could be the wind.
One way to think about the wind at Emporia is as an element of course design. In the same way that DeLa or the Toboggan take elevation into the design of the course, and thus are known for the rollaways which the elevation can create, the wind in Emporia is a factor which should be taken into account whenever you step on to the tee at hole 1. But the wind is capricious, inconsistent, and nonstandardized. The wind can be wildly different for players even on the same card.
On the one hand, this is very cool. Players should be tested in the wind. There is always a chance that any given course will be windy, but it is almost always guaranteed to be windy in Emporia. Handling that wind is a skill which should be tested and, when done well, rewarded. Watching someone like Tattar or Wysocki navigating all that wide open, turbulent airspace and hopefully avoiding the one massive cedar in the middle of the fairway can be a compelling watch.
Beyond appreciating the skill of navigating the wind, it can also be fun to watch the disc get absolutely tossed about in the air. While I do not envy Follow Flight Mike’s work at tracing the often erratic flight paths, watching the line get all squiggly is indeed fun!
Those big ol’ cedars, too. Can we talk about those? Those are beautiful and generally well used to create challenges and aesthetics. With not a whole lot to work with, McCabe and co. do put together a solid course.
Watching Ricky separate himself over the third round and cruise on in for the win was good too. Wysocki went into this week, the anniversary of his sister’s death, on a mission for victory and he got it. Wysocki is one of the game’s most emotive and exciting players, and watching him win warmed the heart.
Watching Kristin Tattar take down her second win in a row, holding off a hard and really impressive charge from Catrina Allen, made for some really compelling golf in the final round!
See, it happened again. I got all wound up about DDO, and now I think I’m looking forward to seeing Worlds there. Just a little.
– Brodie Smith was one of nine MPO competitors to finish the event under par. That whole sentence is remarkable, but not as remarkable as the next one: Paul McBeth missed the cut for the first time in his career. As is right and good on the internet, we will stake out an absolutely absurd stance: Smith is better than McBeth, right now. Wink wink.
– For the second event in a row, Simon Lizotte showed up and balled out. He earned his second top 10 finish of the season, and his first DGPT podium finish since the 2020 Preserve. What if he replicates this form at Worlds? Could be a lot of fun.
– Hailey King has been relatively quiet this season. After a fourth place finish in Vegas, she skipped the Texas swing and then bagged an 11th place finish at Champions Cup and a 10th place finish at Jonesboro. A sixth place finish in Emporia is probably not what she would consider a successful outing, but it does signal movement in the right direction for her.
– Ella Hansen earned her second consecutive podium finish. Her best finishes this season have been at courses which allow her to let her big arm do its thing, and we are heading into the big arm portion of the season. Hansen had a somewhat limited tour schedule last season, so it will be interesting to see how well she handles road life and if she can continue to put together strong rounds week in and week out.