Team member Nigel Hailstone tells the story...
Perth, a city of cranes. The headlong rush of the Chinese for a share of modernity has made this a wealthy and growing metropolis. Like Auckland, Perth doesn’t apparently produce anything in particular but scratch the land in the endless desert of WA and the earth yields vast deposits of the industrial minerals China craves. Perth used to be a wheat exporting port but is now more a mining service town where the mines can be a 1000 ks inland. The money to be made in the mines is staggering (and the living cost free) but is apparently only fair compensation for the isolation and physical hardship. One mine camp service worker told us of temperatures reaching 60 degrees allied with gale force winds. The miners are less than affectionately known as rock monkeys. Perth is a quarter the size of Sydney but is said to have 5 times as many working ladies to unburden the monkeys of their new found wealth.
Inland from the sprawling metropolis is a range of hills beyond which is land so sunburned and barren it’s hard to pick from desert. At some point it’s not worth trying and the map calls it as it is. To the west of the city is an endless white sand beach bordering a brilliant azure Indian Ocean. Beyond that is Madagascar.
The body surfing was awesome. The GM as far west as you can go in Australia.
Meandering through the city is its raison-d’être, the Swan River. The Swan broadens into wide bays and inlets forming an inland waterfront of impressive dimensions and providing a playground for this parched city. It was to a mid-stream island across from the CBD maintained as a park complete with kangaroos that the international field of golfers gathered on the Thursday pre-tournament to participate in a driving clinic by world No 1 Dave Feldberg. Pete Boyle took it all in his stride, flicking away the incessant flies and lifting the occasional foot to offer a less accessible target to the fire ants. Alas this was a backhander’s clinic and Pete’s side arm was not to be enhanced by the Feldberg method.
The Feldberg clinic. “You all know me as the world’s best golfer, but I’m also a teacher so stand straight and listen up!”.
The following day the doubles of the Australian Disc Golf Championship were held on a freshly mown strip of land beside the Swan. The promise of permanent courses was in the air but not the ground so recently acquired portable baskets were installed on an all but flat park. Play took part amidst fire ant superhighways. These 100mm wide lanes stretched many meters, emanating from the bald mounds of their underground nests. The exotic bird calls raucous and rasping filled the air the flies didn’t. It was pleasantly warm. Despite the lucky draw pairings rendering the competition more a matter of chance than ability, competitiveness was on display. Before the finals, Mr Feldberg complained that his pairing’s three shot lead should be reinstated after the organisers had declared the three playoff pairs would go out on even. Just as well for the great man’s reputation as the aforementioned Mr Boyle’s pairing closed to two shots in the final tally.
Runners up in the Australian ‘lucky-dip’ doubles competition, Taumarunuian Pete Boyle and North American Bryan Motley .
It is easy to be geographically confused in a flat city. The organisers called the venue of our day one course Lake Claremont and to be fair this early in the summer there was some unevaporated water to nourish the numerous birds (and probably snakes) in the park. The problem for yours truly, Grand Master Bob and our driver, Freaky Stylist Pistol Pete, was that the map called this suburb Mt Claremont. Looking for a mountain didn't help as this particular sandhill was no higher than the surrounding gum trees. (How the trees grow is a mystery as this is a city built on sand). Our special navigation skills were called into question by a frantic call enquiring as to our whereabouts. The problem with being lost is that you can’t tell someone where you are. We stopped to consult a dog walker and then a map. Just as we were about to call our quest futile somebody noticed a sign hoisted between two trees on the other side of the road. Welcome to the Australian Disc Golf Championships it read.
The course had a par of 68. This was murdered by the three visiting pros with 54s with Simon Feasey making top group for the seeded round two on 59. The pleasant warmth was offset by the appearance around the course of a drinks cart complete with an ice box of energy drinks. Well done the organizers. The event organisation didn’t extend to on site snake serum as we learned in response to a non-Aussie question. We were advised not to put our hands in holes and relax and sit down in the event the local slithering fauna took umbrage at our presence. A feature of the day one course was a 60 metre hole forming a virtual island. Miss the island green and you had a 12 metre putt to make three but miss that and a second visit to the OB point was on the cards. Sounds easy until you factor in the wind at 20+ kph.
By the end of round two the Kiwis (with the exception of Blair who bettered his morning score) had revealed their soft underbelly and the first round feats that had us in contention were not repeated. In a tournament where the top 5 Aussies were counted against the top 5 Kiwi’s we were conceding a 15 shot lead.
The good citizens of Perth have recently proven that democracy is no guarantor of wise thinking and voted against daylight saving so in a city of parks and beaches the sun set on our endeavours at 6.30 in the evening. After a shower stop the players gathered for a casual dinner and were treated to kangaroo and cream cheese stuffed focaccia and all manner of agreeable nibbles. Then the house band struck up and we were treated to the four songs the band knew and an encore of their crowd pleasing Stacy’s Mom (has got it going on). Nate Doss and Valerie Jenkins found that most pleasing and jumped around like the youth we wished we were.
Stacy’s Mom has got it going on. The young band that played at the players’ party on the Saturday evening..
So it was with a deficit to make up that we found ourselves playing divisional golf on day two. As Masters, Blair, Simon and Bob vied for the title while I had to fend of the Ozzie challenge for the fourth finals spot. Mission accomplished and the afternoon saw a totally Kiwi foursome play out the finals over 9 holes.
The Men’s Open then concluded with a further 9 with the possibility that the diminutive Japanese player Kajiyama Manabu would reel in Dave Feldberg. Nate Doss was having a great time but some shots back with the Swede/Aussie Kurt Karlsson reduced to a display of disappointment then high drama low odd 360 pivot drives. Regrettably the challenge fizzled after an errant drive saw Kajiyama Manabu score a 5 against a regulation 3 from Dave Feldberg on the sixth hole and it was a procession from there.
It was of course great to see players of this calibre at work. All three pros had distance and accuracy beyond what I have seen before. Golf of course is also about vision. On the fifth hole of that final the players were confronted with a 70 m channel 10 metres wide walled by trees on the left with scrub on the right defining the edge of the Swan. Dave Feldberg threw a hyzer bomb that sailed 30 metres out over the Swan looking for all the world like it was aimed at the top of the light towers overlooking the WACA on the other side. Then as such bombs do it tacked, and on going about headed back to dry land, apparently impervious of the gusting wind. Momentary dismay was replaced by exclamation and the applause of the 50 strong gallery as the disc lifted sand and dust and stuck 3 metres from the basket.
The tournament wrap up was something of a low light of the tournament with the ANZAC trophy an accidental afterthought for the organizers. Simon received the splendid Masters trophy and mention was made of the dominance of the Kiwis in the Masters division but ANZAC glory was what we went for but couldn’t reach.
The organisation was for the most part impressive and the role call of internationals made over a third of the field from 10 nations.
It was disappointing to arrive back in New Zealand without being able to claim the ANZAC title. What was achieved however was the reinvigoration of what will hopefully become an ongoing feature of our game. Given the growing strength of Aussie disc golf and the fact that (Perth aside) they are the cheapest and easiest place to get to to compete, we should look forward to some great competition. We should also look to relieve them of their trophy burden when they travel here and we field our strongest team.
For the results click here.