March 10 & 11 .. Queenstown Gardens & Paradise, Glenorchy
Disc Golfing in the Heart of Paradise
TD James Jaguar Smithells shares with us his summary of yet another fabulous weekend in the Land of Paradise...
As the many helpful members of the Queenstown Disc Golf Club got into their stride preparing for the 2012 tournaments, I took a week off to tramp and frolic with old friends and kiwi on Stewart Island. Knowing that I'd have to hit the ground running on my return, with only six further days remaining to pull together the many threads of the fabled Wakatipu tournies, I was somewhat gobsmacked to arrive home and discover that an arborist’s report had recommended removing the disc golf course from the Queenstown Gardens; quelle horreur! Not only would I have to finish orchestrating the multifarious organisational tasks for the tournaments, but I'd also have to generate a "Save Queenstown Disc Golf'' campaign! Oh well, life wasn't meant to be easy.
Saturday dawned overcast and mild, but remarkably still, which gave perfect conditions for many course records to be equalled or broken. The course was in the best shape it had ever been, with the five "dodgy baskets" having been replaced with stylish Feasey Mark IVs, and Felipe having done an extensive sweeping job on the tees and the pine tree holes. Forty seven players arrived from around the country and the globe, with Jo's well oiled registration team doing such a great job that we had possibly our earliest start ever.
So off we teed in the 17th Annual The Helicopter Line Queenstown Classic. As players returned for lunch, a series of impressive scores emerged. Simon "Falcon'' Feasey had swooped on the course record yet again with an amazing 42, Alice Behan lowered the Women's record to 56, and Toby Gentil in the Under 18s had got a fine 60, knocking six strokes of his previous record. I managed a steady round, yielding a 48, which was not only a personal tournament best, but got me into the top group for the afternoon, whose esteemed company I had not been amongst for many years. Maybe the late nights and multi-organisational stress hadn't affected me...
I must proudly report that I then played the best 12 tournament holes of my lengthy disc golf life, making the turn on 21, one stroke ahead of not only Simon, but also local legends Eliott and Russ (what does pride come before?). Every putt went in, I couldn't miss … until Hole 13. A nine metre downhill shot sailed by, but I then missed the return putt! Little did I realise I'd hit the wall, however a four putt on the next hole confirmed that the TD's curse had struck again; uh oh! So I limped home with a 52, which unbelievably turned out to be just enough to give me the Grand Masters title; my first win since the inaugural tournament in 1996.
Simon pulled off an excellent 44, resulting in both an Open win and a new 36 hole record of 86. Martin ''Meerkat" Galley popped his head above the rest of the Masters field, with a total of 103. Hannah "Husky" Joynt just clawed her way past Alice in a closely fought Women's competition, to take out the title and equal the 36 hole record of 123. Hemi Te Awhitu shattered the Putters record with a brilliant 48, establishing a new 36 hole record of 104 in the process. Toby took another two strokes of his morning's record, as well as establishing a new 36 hole record of 118.
Eliott had assembled yet another fine collection of prizes, which were duly distributed, with Jymi Best winning the hole-in-one prize of a half-day training session for two with the world mountain bike champion, courtesy of Lower 45 Bike Camps.
So it was yo ho ho and off we go, to the delights of Paradise. Although the evening was slightly moist, it didn't dampen the high spirits as we sheltered on the deck in the Garden of Eden and shared a fine and humorous evening. Sunday morning dawned overcast and lightly drizzly, so it was on with the storm gear and off for a long wet round in the 14th Annual Dart River Jet Safaris doubles. Fortunately the wind held off.
Under the conditions this round took longer than usual, with rats in varying degrees of drownedness dribbling into Frisbee HQ, to find the much needed warmth of a raging log burner, courtesy of Jo. It eventuated that my occasional assistance of the very sharp (toothed) Craig "Mako" McNab had allowed us to win the doubles with a 43, which I'd also last won in 1996.
Several players elected not to play the singles in the afternoon, because of the late start time and/or the conditions, so the remainder squelched off to project plastic. Although the drizzle backed off a little, the wind got up a touch at times, so another challenging round took place. Simon livened up proceedings early by acing the basket on Hole 3, Stumphenge.
The Falcon continued on to play an absolute blinder, apart from inexplicably missing putts on the two biggest tree targets, and equalled his 2002 record of 40. Nigel "Honey badger" Hailstone and Craig tied for the Masters on 52, with Nigel shaking Craig off like a cobra in the play-off. Barry Dolman and I tied for the Grand Masters (1996 déjà vu all over again!), with Barry taking out the play-off. Hannah beat herself in the Women's with a 70, and Hemi did likewise in the Putters with a 59.
Sunday nights at Paradise are legendary, with no need to get up early the next morning, and this one was no exception. Martin and Hazen "The Rat'' Simson gathered a massive pile of firewood, with the Jaguar then doing his usual fireologist thing, as 12 of us drank, joked, percussioned, and tall storied into the wee small hours. Several new people joined the New Zealand Disc Golf Jungle of Fame, widened out from it's previous feline and canine base, and a goodly wild time was had by all. And so it came to an end for another year.
Thanks very much to our great team down here and we hope all you visitors will return in 2013 for more scenic southern golf and warm hospitality.
James " Jaguar " Smithells
Crouching Tiger, Leaping Muir - 'Shot of the weekend' .. and Len was there! Auckland golfer Brad Muir playing in his first Queenstown event does a 'dive putt' out of the duck pond..
Spruce at Bruce - Visiting Bruce caused a spot of trouble for Israeli golfer Erin Blumenthal.
Paradise - need we say more!
Listen to James - Another good sized field listen to James give his Welcoming words.
The Powers of Bowers - Melbourne Disc Golfer Greg Bowers came across the Tasman for a weekend Golfing in Queenstown.
Lord of the Rings - The GM at the office.
Local Knowledge - Local Queenstown golfer Aaron Miers hits a solid putt on number 9.
Junior Style - Toby Gentil (Kauri Point) on his way to taking out the Under 18 title yet again. I think the Helicopter Line pilot even knew his name!
Local Action - Aaron Miers (Queenstown) putts to the new basket on the re-configured 16.
Moving Marker Penalty - Sunday morning at Paradise was just a little wet as Nigel Hailstone (Orakei) putts from his floating marker.
Heaven at Eleven - The festive season in Queenstown seems to last all year!
Fits Like a Glove - Now I've seen everything!
Giving Prizes - Queenstown club members James Smithells and Elliot Menzies 'disc' out the trophies and an impressive array of prizes.
Proficient Efficiency - The Queenstown office get the paperwork done. Always much appreciated. Thank you!
Spike Mulligan - Matagouri spikes against the Paradise backdrop!
Looks Just Like Him - This hole seems to get a little bigger each year, and a little cheekier!
You and Me Mate - James congratulates World Cup winning All Black coach Graham Henry for a job well done.
And the winners are!
2012 Helicopter Line Queenstown Classic
2012 Dart River Safaris Paradise Plates Doubles
2012 Dart River Safaris Paradise Plates Singles
Roll'n roll'n roll'n .. Rawhide!