How ya goin’, mates? After two years of patiently waiting, we’ve finally made the trip to the other side of the world for the 2017 Aussie Open in beautiful Perth, Australia. Now that the jet lag has worn off, it’s time to kick off the disc golf season with the first PDGA Major of the year and the first event of the 2017 Disc Golf World Tour!
Making the trek to Down Under, for the non-local players anyway, means a journey into the southern hemisphere that gives way to an instant swapping of the seasons from winter to summer. And the summers here in Perth are no joke. The opening day of the Aussie Open has a forecasted high of 102°F (39°) and that days that follow won’t be much cooler. The dry heat and the absurdly high UV Index can be punishing for the players both physically and mentally. Staying properly hydrated and caked in sunblock are the first and foremost keys to success on the course.
The event takes place at the Mundaring Sporting Club, a complex that houses a traditional golf course, a disc golf course, and a large green for Bowls, a popular Australian game similar to bocce and petanque. The disc golf course was first installed in 2014 and was home to the first Aussie Open in 2015 as well. Playing on the same grounds as the traditional golf course and measuring in at 9875 feet (3010 meters), it’s fair to say that having a big arm certainly wouldn’t hurt, but controlling the high-speed skips on the dry short grass of the fairways is what will make or break a round.
At the 2015 Aussie Open, Paul McBeth took home the win with a comfortable lead of six over Simon Lizotte #8332, both of which set what is still the course record today during round 3 with scores of 52 (13 under par). Compared to Simon or someone like Eagle McMahon, the strategy used by Paul is a bit more conservative. “I only use a distance driver off the tee on five of the holes. Eagle uses [distance drivers] on 10,” said Paul as he flipped through the caddy book.
“It’s an aggressive approach in most peoples’ eyes, but not mine,” said Eagle, referring to his strategy for Mundaring DiscGolfPark. “I think this is definitely one of the courses where I can gain strokes. One example would be hole 6. I can get my drive past the OB green pretty easily and it leaves me with a jump putt, whereas most of the other players are gonna be laying up and will have to throw a mid.”
Just to put that in perspective, hole 6 is a par 4 at 623 feet (190 meters). Clearing the out-of-bounds green that Eagle referenced means throwing a very accurate drive to at least 525 feet (160 meters).
The course layout being played this week is nearly identical to that of 2015, as is the weather. With many of the best players in the world on site, including current World Champion Ricky Wysocki, a new course record is certainly a possibility, but it will be no simple task.
Current US Champion Jeremy Koling is here as well, but there’s a very good chance he won’t be competing tomorrow, unfortunately. As of Wednesday afternoon, the illness he’s been battling for the last few days, which the staff has been jokingly referring to as “Wombat Fever”, is still in full force. “I’m dying. Go on without me. Save yourselves!”, said a somehow still upbeat Big Jerm. “It’s very disappointing but taking care of my health comes first. I had so many fun things planned for this week!”
According to Koling, he’s 99% sure he will not be there to tee off on the feature card tomorrow; a feature card that he was voted onto by his fans via a poll that the DGWT Facebook page. If he does drop out, Finland’s Pasi Koivu will take his place.
With the US disc golf audience being in a time zone that is 13-16 hours behind AWST (Australian Western Standard Time), following the action as it happens will mean some very late nights. But worry not disc golf fans. The Disc Golf World Tour and PDGA media team will be working around the clock to bring you the best coverage possible. In addition to the always up-to-date content and the hole-by-hole Disc Golf Metrix on the DGWT website, next-day post-production videos will be coming in via The SpinTV on YouTube, filmed and edited by the super talented crew behind the Jomez Productions YouTube channel.
There are more ways to stay updated than we can fit in this article so be sure to bookmark the link below for quick links to anything and everything 2017 Aussie Open.
Story by Matt Gregoire / PDGA