Vibram presents the MAPLE HILL OPEN, JuNE 25-28, 2015
It was nearing midnight on August 28, 2004, and Greg Crenshaw said the next time we had a head-shaving party he was in. Jason Ballard and I looked at each other with raised eyebrows, as if to say, “Where ARE those doggy shears?”
The scene was our garage at Pyramids, a few steps from the pro shop and next to the now empty kegs of Wachusett Ale. It was the survivors’ party following the Saturday night party of the very first Marshall Street Disc Golf Championship, New England’s largest and richest disc golf tournament ever. The 40 some-odd campers scattered about Pyramids and Maple Hill included three former Pro World Champions: Des Reading, Cameron Todd and Ron Russell. Most of the 121 professional and amateur players registered for the tournament had retired for the evening long ago. Even most of the campers were sleeping near the cooling embers of their fires. Sunday would be another big day of golf.
2004 MSDGC DVD Trailer
The 2004 MSDGC DVD was a special moment in the history of the Vibram Open. This was the first tournament DVD that Steve Dodge had ever put together and it helped cement our tournament's place in history. Enjoy the trailer. We have repressed the DVD and it is available in the Vibram Open Store.
Two of four rounds, one of two days, and the last scheduled poolball race were over. A few raucous voices impaled the darkness. The Frizzaks were tormenting the residents of the Discraft RV parked on the DDC court with a barrage of Flashflight discs. And then there were the rest of us in the garage. We had the inkling of a plan; someone had fetched a chair and a towel, and someone else was spraying the doggy shears with WD40. “Hey wait,” said Greg Crenshaw in protest. “I didn’t mean right NOW.” Already Ballard was buzzing Vinny’s head. Fluffy rhomboids of hair fell silently to the floor like so many missed putts. A line of guys psyched to be bald began to form. Lick was next. Or was it Wilson? “One at a time, dammit!” yelled Ballard in mock impatience, steering the sheers across a whitening scalp.
A Year’s Worth of Changes The 2004 MSDGC succeeded Dam Pyramids as New England’s most ambitious tournament. Some time ago, Kelley and I and a core group of volunteers set out to hold one first-rate event each year. Moving the tournament from the ice bowl conditions of March to the sweltering end of August proved to be a good move. The addition of a dozen or so key people to the staff was also fortuitous. Then there was the arrival of Steve Dodge, followed by the rapid rise of a new course up the street called Maple Hill. This meant that although two courses would be used, once you arrived at the tournament there was no compelling reason to drive again until you said your goodbyes. Steve – his wife Misty calls him the unstoppable force -- created a tournament website (msdgc.com), designed the sponsor signs on our 36 tees, put together an event program, convinced me we should buy the PDGA Members list, mailed a nice postcard to said list, and generally brought the pace of tournament preparation up to frenetic speed. Lick, Kelley and I held secret meetings focusing on ways to slow him down. We were quick to admit there was no way to control him, and since we had used all our rope for OB lines, we had no way to contain him, either.
Hairballs in the Brainpan By now Rick Belhumeur’s head was buzzed clean. Vincent Steele, Lick, Pete Johnson, Wilson, Ballard and I also sported sheared crowns. Gill, no slouch when it comes to silly antics, elected to have about half his head shaved, a look that Dave Boliver would later describe as “just plain wrong.” It’s hard to say what happened next. A few hours later, in the middle of the night, Poolball would be spontaneously revived, about which Jay Reading, our Spirit Award Winner and ever the diplomat, would admit the next day, “I heard a little of that.” What exactly we were doing and why would be unanswerable questions by morning, as the wildest night of the funnest weekend of the best summer in memory would slowly begin to fade like hairballs sinking into our brainpans. I can remember one thing that didn’t happen that night, though: Greg Crenshaw didn’t get his head shaved.
Life Goes On By Sunday afternoon, the trickle-finish of the top pro groups would allow most players to witness Ron Russell win the tournament in a one-hole playoff over Steve Brinster at Maple Hill’s oft-photographed Hole 1. Des would take the Pro Women’s division over another world-class player, Leslie Herndon. The golf that amazed us most, though, was Cam’s 54 on the Maple Hill yellows, a new course record by seven strokes. The awards ceremony remains the highlight of my career as a tournament director. Winner after winner came up to praise our event with no small measure of hyperbole, and although we didn’t believe every word, it made it all worth it. So if you enjoyed this year’s msdgc, there’s only one thing left to say. Just wait till next year!
As a footnote to Jason's remembrances, Ron Russell beat Steve Brinster in a one hole playoff. Brinster fought and clawed his way back into contention after being four strokes down with eight holes to play, completing the comeback with a 30 foot putt on hole 17 to tie for the lead. The beautiful finishing hole, Hole 18 at Maple Hill, would be the site of some of the most memorable, painful, and exciting disc golf ever seen in New England. I won't spoil it all here, but while you are watching the DVD, just remember who won, and enjoy the fireworks. A great show by great golfers indeed.