Archive for category: Tournament & Events

The 2017 Crane Hill Open (Pro Side)

By Pete Charron

Woo! What a fun weekend. Jeff, Carli and I are officially through this year’s open and it feels amazing. What a great display of disc golf at our favorite course. As predicted in the previous post, Bobby C, Craig Cutler and Matt Berube were logjammed at the top of the leaderboard through two rounds. They were able to weather a charge from a couple of Maine boys, Cooper Legee and Tyler Grady. Cooper was consistent on the day shooting a 993 first round and a 1011 second. It took Grady a full round to warm up, shooting a 935 first round but came on HOT with a 1048, course record round of 49 on the B layout.

This was our 6th year hosting the Crane Hill Open and it was the third time(!) that the MPO division was decided by playoff. This year, unlike the epic playoff between Jason Dore and Chris Scofield in 2014, it took only one hole for Bobby C to best both Cuts and Berube for the top prize. Cutler led off the playoff with a drive to Hole 1 (B) and turned his drive over towards the A pin. Clearly upset with his effort, Cutler had to look on as two premier talents had an opportunity to park the hole and end it. Bobby was up next and just as he thwarted Team Crane’s hopes in a 2015 playoff, he put himself inside the circle to the B basket standing 370 feet away. The bar had been set and although Matt shows poise and incredible talent for somebody just getting out of high school he was unable to match Bobby’s effort. Matt’s drive sailed long past the A basket, leaving a difficult approach through rough. Bobby canned his 25′ putt and the playoff was over just minutes after it started.

In the FPO division Erica Johnson earned her third Crane Hill Open Championship. She is the first professional player to do that. Erica was propelled primarily by her 945 rated 52 first round. The second round found Erica shooting a 66 along with 2nd place finisher Carli Bennett, putting up a solid 892 rated round.

2005 Masters World Champion Dean Tannock graced the Crane Hill Open this year. He is the second World Champion to play the Open, next to Sarah Cunningham who came out in 2013. Dean, however, was usurped by Scott Howard’s strong second round. Scoward took the division by one stroke earning a solid paycheck for his day’s work.

The Grandmaster division was won by Karl Molitoris who showed up the morning of the tournament with hopes of getting in. Karl has been a dominant force in the sport for years now although he has come under fire by some for his division hopping. Karl has a unique perspective on the sport, not believing in playing for money, so he only competes for merchandise and likely always will only compete for that. Kevin Lane was the runner up and Paul Sullivan took third place in a division that saw some true legends of disc golf. Davis Johnson and Steve Hartwell were long time innovators of this sport and it was our pleasure to play host to them.

Another year up and another year down. We can’t wait to see you at next year’s Crane Hill Open!

Crane Hill Open on the Horizon

By Pete Charron

We’re only days away from the 6th Annual Crane Hill Open! 6 years! It blows my mind sometimes thinking of the amount of time that has elapsed since we started Pure Flight. The Crane Hill Open has always been a fun event to run and each Open has raised significant money for the course which has allowed Crane Hill to grow each year. That reward is secondary to hosting some of the best peeps in disc golf for a weekend at our home course. This year signifies something a little more special though as Team Crane can take extra pride in the showcase of their course, being the home of the 2016-17 Team Challenge Champions.

Here’s the stories we’re most interested in this weekend. Craig Cutler has played the Crane Hill Open twice and each time he’s walked away the champion. He attended the first event in 2012 and the fifth annual last year. He will be making another appearance again and if he wins, we might know what our custom stamp disc is for next year (a bust of Cuts). Craig is the only 2 time winner of the event in Open and if the registration stays as it is, he may still be the only multiple year winner as past champions, Jay Bayer, Jason Dore and Kyle Moriarty are not currently registered.

Will this be the year for Berube to eclipse Cuts and the field and take home the win? He narrowly missed this title last year, posting 1017 and 1040 rated rounds to fall one stroke short. His Latitude sponsored brother, Sam Henderson, has grown into a top New England pro and should be in the thick of it for the title. Of course the polarizing Mcbeth killer, Bobby C, has a great chance to earn his first Crane Hill Open title. It may just be extra sweet for Bobby to win and exact some revenge on Crane Hill after this past year of Team Challenge.

My favorite to win though is of course the local boys. I’ll be looking for any number of Team Crane guys to be at the top of the leaderboard. It would be something special for one of these guys to be crowned the Open Champ. Look out for Howie and Cam at the top although it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if Pure Flight’s own Jeff Fleury or Tous, Phaneuf, Nate, Micah, Pennington, any of these guys and more gave a run at the title.

On the women’s side we have two 2x chammpions in Erica Johnson and Wendy Boutin. Both are registered and ready to stake their claim as the first 3x champion. Can Carli or Cheneille prevent either of these two top New England pros or will we indeed crown a 3x ladies’ champ?

I’m as excited as ever to play host to this event. I will see you out on the course 🙂

Workday at Northampton DGC

Tomorrow from 9am-12pm there will be a workday at the disc golf course in Northampton. If you enjoy playing the course please come out with a pair of work gloves and any hand tools you might have, to lend a hand! Our local public courses get installed and are maintained by a fantastic network of volunteers (most times) so pay back your love for disc golf in the form of some service!

We will all likely be playing a random doubles round after the workday. We hope to see you there!

2015 Edition of Crane Hill Open goes smooth

Crane Hill Putting
The 2015 edition of the Crane Hill Open featured the most players it has ever seen with 130 people competing over the weekend. There are a number of reasons for the increase in participants, first and foremost is the growing popularity of disc golf in the area. Everyone collectively pat yourselves on the back if you continue to expose this sport to new people-because it’s working! There was also a switch from a Pro only day and Am only day to a Pro/Am1 day and all other Am day. This helped enormously but also drew the ire of a number of disc golf die hards who were shut out of the event due to it selling out in 12 hours! As a tournament director, these are the types of decisions that are very hard to make but that you ultimately must stand behind and learn from, whether they were good or bad. In this instance, I would make the same decision again although as the DG landscape in New England shifts towards bigger pro fields the decision may not be as simple next year.
This year’s Crane Hill Open saw it’s first Massachusetts’ resident winner in the MPO field. Kyle Moriarty needed one playoff hole to knock off the other titan from Team Crane, Chris Howard. The duo have found themselves battling all year on the tournament scene and this chapter went to Kyle. Moriarty joins Craig Cutler, Jasin Bayer and Jason Dore as Crane Hill Open champions. For those that don’t know all these guys, that’s 4 states represented by 4 winners of the 4 Crane Hill tournaments – New Jersey, Connecticut, Maine and Massachusetts. Will New York, Vermont, New Hampshire or Rhode Island continue the trend next year? Kyle was joined by fellow Champions, Wendy Boutin (FPO), Mike Zorovich (MPM), Mike Phaneuf (MA1), Mich Guerin (FA1), Brian Kynard (MM1), Karl Molitoris (MG1), Evan Marcyoniak (MA2), Mimi Herrick (FA2), Adam Morrison (MA3) and Kim Ricciardone (FA3).
I would feel remiss if I didn’t mention more exciting happenings. One of those things is the 15 person MPM field. This should be a trend in the coming years and will be something for tournament directors to consider moving forward. There is a plethora of feelings surrounding age protected divisions at 40+ since many can still compete at a very high level (at least in New England) and large MPM fields can detract from bigger MPO payouts. Bigger MPO payouts not only reward the happy winner and those immediately behind him but it increases the sex value of the sport. I’ve always believed that both bottom up and top down development is necessary for disc golf at and the former point is a top down model for the sport’s development. Put like this, if Kyle takes home $500+ for his win instetad of $350, that money registers that much more in the minds of amateurs aspiring to continue their DG development. One only needs to listen to a few pop songs to recognize the importance that money has in shaping the adolescent’s mind of what is cool. Disc golf has long operated outside of those confines but will not and can not gain commercial success if grassroot scenes continue to neglect the importance of growing payouts. That’s a small tangent and I’m plenty prone to go down a wormhole or two.
Another exciting event at this year’s Open was the new putting competition unveiled. The competition spotlighted the brand new two basket putting area at Crane Hill. It featured a 4 minute time clock and 8 stations where two putts were to be taken from each. Each station had a point value assigned to it and the qualifying rounds went all day long. The best eight qualifying scores proceeded to a bracket style competition where the 1 and 8 seed battled to see who would play the winner of the 4 and 5 match. After all the dust settled it was the 7th seeded Assistant Tournament Director, Jeff Fleury, who beat out the upstart 1st seed Jason Lasasso in a hard fought championship bout. Sunday’s event was less high scoring due to the natural fall off in talent level between the two days but the drama was no less. 12 year old Michael Thompson defeated New Hampshire resident, Brian Betit, in the championship to earn himself a share of the Crane Hill Open Putting Champion.
I should not write more, but I definitely can. I will spare those reading and leave you with this. I continuously feel rejuvenated with the disc golf “bug” after the Crane Hill Open. It’s a blessing to call this course “home” and the community that has embraced it is more amazing than the course itself. Thank yous are not enough but are undoubtedly due. Thank you to Davis Johnson, Dan Hale and Jason Johnson for their contributions as the creators of the Crane Hill DGC. Thank you to Steve Merrill, Ken Wagner and countless others for their hard work and commitment to the course. Without the effort from the community the scene surrounding Crane would not be what it is today. Last, but of course not least, thank you to the players. Thanks for coming, competing, smiling and contributing to what keeps me smiling, the furtherance of this beautiful sport.

Crane Hill (2-0) vs. Borderland (0-2) Recap

Team Crane Hill made a statement to the rest of the league last weekend when they went on the road to hand Borderland a good old fashioned beat down. Crane moved to 2-0 with both wins coming on the road, a rare feat, while Borderland dropped to 0-2, losing both matches at home. The boys from B-Land have definitely dug themselves a deep hole to start the year, one that may be insurmountable in the end, as they will need to steal at least one road win against Cranbury, Burgess or Maine. Road victories are always difficult and it seems like the Easton team is an early favorite to be relegated to the B pool this year. On the flip side, Crane Hill joins NASA (North and South Shore Alliance) and Maine atop the A pool standings at 2-0.

The match between Crane Hill and Borderland started early on Sunday morning as the teams needed to get out on the course before the disc golf hungry hordes descended upon the park. Team captains, Pete Charron and Kyle Moriarty worked the best match-ups they could and left for their starting holes feeling confident. There were a few marquee matches that could have swung more momentum towards Borderland but Crane was fully committed and ready. Kelly Conroy had the difficult task of taking on the ex-Craner and great player, Nick Gross. It was a challenge for Kelly but he showed his true grit as he shared with Crane newcomer, Jeremy Binley, the biggest margin of victory that day at 5 & 4. Perhaps the best win of the day came from a name NEFA land doesn’t hear much anymore, Juano Flores. Juano walked into the fire pit against one of the friendliest and best players in NEFA, the long time pro and current New England Disc Golf Champion, Tim Walsh. Just about anybody who plays or has played competitive disc golf at a high level in the Northeast region, knows Tim Walsh-he is a fantastic player. Juano may be lesser known, but is one of Western Mass’ best and he proved every bit of it in his beat down of Timmy to the tune of 4 & 2. There were three more “heavyweight” battles on the docket. These six matches featured some of New England’s best talent and all wound up in Crane Hill’s favor. Kyle Moriarty took on Dylan Dunne, Pete Charron scrapped with Sam Henderson and Julie Ferdella battled Ashley Toomey. Kyle had a late round surge versus Dylan to win handily at 3 & 1. Pete and Sam exchanged blows back and forth early but it was consistent play from Pete that bested the accomplished, New England player of the year, Henderson 4 & 2. Julie and Ashley was probably the biggest match up of all, as both women had fantastic years of disc golf. Both surged, jumping up around 30 points each in ratings and both had a number of wins in the Advanced field this year. It would be hard to imagine both not taking the jump and playing pro exclusively next year, although that decision will of course be on them. Just like the previous matches, this big league battle went Crane’s way as a jubilant Julie avenged her 1 stroke loss to Toomey at the Maple Hill WGE event, winning convincingly 5 & 3.

When the dust settled after the singles round, Crane Hill boasted its best ever scoring spread and lead Borderland 14.5-3.5. In order to stave off defeat Borderland would have had to win every last doubles match. Of course that was not how the day ended. Crane went on to win 7 of the 9 doubles matches for a 14-4 doubles victory and a conclusive win of 28.5 to 7.5. It’s going to be hard to knock Crane down this year but there biggest and baddest challenge to date will be against their rivals from the south, Team Wickham, who travel to Crane Hill on December 13th. Crane’s roster is chock full of the same faces as year’s past but the additions of Jordan Leckey, Jake Landeck, Chris Howard and Jeremy Binley have these cranes soaring higher than ever before.

A New Lesson

Last weekend I played the best three consecutive tournament rounds of my life. On Saturday, I played West Thompson at 15 under for the event, posting a 1001 rated -7 first round and a 1016 rated -8 second round. I was able to fend off a great competitor and even greater player in Bobby Cowperthwait to take the West Thompson win. To date, it’s my best win as a professional disc golfer.

I went into Sunday’s Newton Hill Open feeling full of confidence but very tired. I couldn’t believe just how big of an impact the stressful ending of the West T tournament had on my body. My hip, lower and upper back and my calves were extremely sore. I’m no super athlete but I never get that sore from disc golf. There’s something about throwing while under great pressure that can impact your body in a serious way. Despite the soreness, I managed to put up the hot round in the morning at Newton Hill. I came out of the gates with a 1024 rated 48 which according to course par is -10 but what most people would more appropriately call a 7 under (due to some soft par fours). I was a little surprised that I had put together such a great round but the way in which it happened didn’t seem so great. I started on hole 17 which I was a little disappointed to miss the birdie on but from there I went hot. My scores from hole 18 to hole 6 went: 2, 2, 2, 3, 2, 2, 2. Seeing as how I’m no Kyle Moriarty I didn’t park hole 3 and had to live with a 3 on it. I maintained throughout the rest of the course, missing two inside the circle putts to land at a 48. I say it didn’t feel great because after 8 holes I was already at the 6 under (everything as threes) 48 mark. Towards the end of the 1st round I started growing fatigued and had some grip issues. I was scrambled well though and avoided any harm.

Enter the second round. Can we say Jekyll and Hyde? Oof. If I thought I was sore in the morning, I felt like an OLD man. The 3+ hour 1st round had taken so much out of me and I didn’t properly reestablish my composure for the second round. Mentally I was worn very thin from the battle the day before, from the 1st round grind and from the heat. I rather not go into detail about just how awful I played in the 2nd round but I wound up with an atrocious, embarrassing, 855 rated 65. OUCH! I will very briefly explain my major in-round mistake. I broke down my stretch from 18-6 in the 1st round, in the second I started on 1 and scored like this: 4, 3, 3, 4, 3, 4. Three over as opposed to 5 under on the same stretch in the 1st round. I couldn’t help but compare my two rounds (TERRIBLE) and know that I was a whopping 8 strokes off my first round pace. Not only was I physically beat but I began to beat myself down mentally as well. There was no way I could maintain and it wasn’t long before I had lost all confidence in my throws and couldn’t gain any traction despite great support from my card mates.

If you read all that to get to the lesson, kudos. I learned this weekend that although lunch break is a break, you NEED to be realistic about what you need. After the 1st round I needed two things, energy and to work out the grip/confidence issues I could forecast for the second round. What did I do? I got food (smart move) drank a beer (no problem there) and laid down. TERRIBLE. I was exhausted and I embraced the exhaustion, letting it take control as opposed to wiping it out with a chemical ridden, evil, 5 hour energy or by going and doing 100 jumping jacks. I also neglected to get out on the course and throw. I needed to work on my grip going into the second round and I didn’t. Guess what? It showed. I learned that you need to be honest with yourself. If I was in good shape during break, I easily could have taken it easy, shmoozed, etc.. I wasn’t though and I didn’t act like a professional by doing what I needed to. I also had never been in that position before, never before had I shot three consecutive 1000+ rated rounds, so I’m being easy on myself despite the stupidity I displayed. Next time I plan to stay mentally acute, put together 4 in a row and hopefully have two titles to show for a weekend of work. Next time…

Testing, Testing, Pure Flight is Investing

Well, we’ve already invested pretty heavily in the disc golf world. For starters, we opened up a business solely based on disc sports and primarily all on disc golf. Whew! Talk about an investment. Lots of money, time, blood, tears and sweat have been poured into this business. A major component of our business model, as backwards as it may be, is to excessively donate to the disc golf community. We have taken on a huge role of sponsoring events, players, clubs and courses. Since opening up for business, Pure Flight has committed to buying 9 baskets for the Umass Amherst DG course, bought two baskets for the Crane Hill DGC, sponsored a bevvy of regional players and became a title sponsor for the Greater Hartford Disc Golf Open A-tier.

That’s money coming straight from our pockets going to the disc golf community. Why have we chosen to invest so heavily in this game? Well, sure, we own a business and as the game grows we should as well. That’s just the benefit though, why we really are spending so much money in disc golf is for the total love and passion for it. We watch every live broadcast on DGPtv, we study every result from PDGA A-Tiers and National Tour events and we play in as many tournaments as possible. It’s heartbreaking to see the best our game has to offer making just enough money to stay on the road and compete in the next event. We aim to grow the sport for the sport. These top tier professional players are doing things we could only dream to be doing. They are highly talented and like any other professional, deserve to be rewarded for it. By pumping money into the game we hope to build the pot of money these professionals are competing for. As the money grows and players become more stable on tour, there will be more high level amateurs ready and willing to take the next step in their disc golf careers. These amateurs are growing daily through the efforts of entities like Pure Flight, but also through the tireless volunteers who build courses, run tournaments and clinics and the gym teachers who introduce disc golf into their curriculum. By having the incentive of making a decent living in disc golf, these amateurs will stick with it and continue to contribute to the meteoric rise of the talent pool.

Pure Flight has in no way ignored the amateur on its quest to become a powerful disc golf brand. On the contrary, much of the money we pump into the community is targeted at amateurs in the form of CTP’s for leagues and tournaments and certainly with our efforts to get new courses in the ground. We also are transforming ourselves into a reliable source for tournament vending as well as directing. In our first year of business we ran two tournaments both of which filled at 72 people. One of these was also a PDGA B-Tier, so we’re committed to working with the PDGA to grow the SPORT of disc golf. This year we intend on running a minimum of two events, both PDGA sanctioned. We’re still in the process of working out the details but we will run the 2nd annual Crane Hill Open on the weekend of 06/22-06/23 and we will be hosting the first PDGA event ever at Bousquet Ski Range in Pittsfield, MA. Two years in business and twice Pure Flight has brought PDGA events to courses that have never seen them. There is more at work this year and we may find ourselves hosting closer to five events once all is said and done.

In closing this first blog post, disc golf is a difficult sport to form a business around. Namely because it’s still in its infancy and as a result offers roughly 3 million different avenues to pursue its growth. Pure Flight has embraced a number of these roads and as we grow we will continue to work our hardest to bring disc golf in New England to the next level.