Vibram presents the MAPLE HILL OPEN, JuNE 25-28, 2015
Worcester, Massachusetts is the birthplace of the father of modern rocketry, Robert Hutchings Goddard; and with a bang, Barry Schultz rocketed to the Pro Open lead in the first round of the 2006 Marshall Street Disc Golf Championships with a smoking round of 42 at the Maple Hill Elements (red) course. This record round shattered the previous record of 46. Barry would follow that up on the Pyramids Gold course with 52, the best score of the field, and go to sleep on Saturday night sitting on what seemed like a comfortable five-stroke lead. But by the end of the weekend, a costly error resulted in an unlikely turn of events and one of the biggest upsets in disc golf history. The 2006 Marshall Street Disc Golf Championships is the third annual tournament held at the homes of Jason & Tom Southwick on the outskirts of Leicester, MA. The annual event is New England’s largest and richest disc golf tournament, and has increased its sponsorship and overall purse in successive years. These cousins reside about 500 yards from each other and have built world class disc golf courses on their properties, which also serve as Christmas tree farms. With plenty of room for camping on site as well as the myriad of amenities provided by tournament staff, once you arrived, there was no reason to leave until heading home.
2006 MSDGC DVD Trailer
After the exciting finishes at the 2004 and 2005 MSDGCs, it was hard to believe that 2006 would be able to measure up. Not only did it measure up, it produced our first Cinderella story as Chris Sprague managed to stay close to Barry Schultz (no one else did) and he was there to capitalize when Barry finally stumbled on the 14th. Watch as Chris and Barry battle over the final four holes with the tournament on the line. Even more extras, an awesome list of players, and co-commentator Mike Swasey make this a DVD you do not want to miss.
And how about those amenities! More than just a disc golf tournament, at the MSDGC, competitors experience four rounds of disc golf on two world class caliber courses, receive an awesome player's package including personalized collared shirt, filming for an annual DVD, a pig roast / barbeque, a live band, a poker tournament, a pie-eating contest, 5 kegs of beer, (four different flavors) a swimming pool, hot tub, slushies, double disc court, and head-shaving.
In the Pro Women’s division, current PDGA World Champion Des Reading would go to sleep on Saturday night with a lead even more comfortable than Barry’s – she had built a six stroke lead over Angela Tschiggfrie after the first two rounds. After the third round on Sunday morning on the Pyramids Silver course, Des’ lead was still five strokes over Angela, with Courtney Peavy ten strokes back.
But everyone knew that anything could happen on the uber-long Maple Hill Airplanes layout (SSA 61), the longest of the tournament and took full advantage of the Maple Hill property, with massive elevation changes through heavy woods and several forced water carries. The layout also features a plethora of pro par four holes, and challenging par threes that require pinpoint accuracy, and focused determination; this layout simply never gives a competitor a chance to blink.
And then Mother Nature stepped in. After picture-perfect weather the entire weekend, the skies opened and the entire fourth round was played in a downpour, while the temperature dropped to a chilly 56 degrees. Competitors struggled to stay dry, but the constant rain made that proposition next to impossible.
In starting out the fourth round, by shooting par fours and birdie threes to the others’ bogeys, Courtney Peavy gained four strokes on Angela, and five strokes on Des in the first five holes of play. The par three fifth hole is left to right shot that carries water for almost its entire length (approx. 300 feet) The alternate route is a gauntlet shot through heavy woods along the shoreline, and Des took a 4, while Courtney deuced it. Through 8 holes,
Courtney had overtaken Angela and closed to two strokes behind Des! After a deuce on hole 14, Courtney was just one stroke behind Des and the 2006 MSDGC Women’s crown was in play.
On the next hole, the tight 15th, Des would gain back that lost stroke and the two women would match scores for the remainder of the round. The two stroke victory by Des Reading was her third consecutive MSDGC title, and part of a prolific 2006. In the sixteen PDGA-sanctioned events Des competed in this year, she won twelve of them and finished in second place twice and third place twice. She won the 2006 PDGA World Championships in Augusta, GA in early August, and has won three world titles in the last four years. As Dr. John G. Duesler commented recently, this “can officially be called the ‘Des Reading Era’ in our sport.”
Courtney’s heroic rally would fall just short. Making up eight strokes, Peavy’s stellar round of 65, which beat three quarters of the Open Men field, tied the Women's Maple Hill Airplanes Gold course record of 65, set last year by Des. Considering that Courtney's round was played in a constant heavy rain, it was all the more amazing.
Getting back to the Pro Open division, the top 5 cards would trickle start, allowing the tournament field to finish their round and be able to watch the lead cards finish their last few holes of the tournament. Oregonian Chris Sprague, who gained two strokes on Barry after the third round, reduced the deficit to a single stroke on the front nine holes. The back nine would decide the tournament.
Sprague would fall two strokes back after taking a five to Barry’s four on the 11th hole, a pro par four that plays 820 feet. It drives downhill from the highest point on the course and plays over the Christmas trees, then requires a long approach that finishes to a protected pin 120’ in the woods. After matching scores on the 12th and 13th holes, one of the most exciting turn of events in disc golf tournament history would occur on hole 14.
Hole 14, pictured below, is 355 feet long with water defining the right edge of the fairway. The more water you carry, the closer you’ll come to the pin. “Bailing out” too short leaves almost no shot at deuce. Barry launched his tee shot, a 175g Star Wraith, out over the water and the crowd waited for it to hyzer back onto the green. And we waited. And waited.
Was there a headwind? Should he have chosen a more overstable disc? Or did he just shank it? Whatever the case may be, Barry's shot hyzered back too late, he ended OB, and took a double bogey 5. Chris Sprague scored a deuce and after the three stroke swing, now led by one! He would play mistake-free golf and Barry would miss a couple shots at birdie on the final holes , leaving Chris Sprague to hang on and win the 2006 MSDGC by a single stroke over Barry Schultz.
On a final note, the Star Wraith that Barry Schultz threw into the pond on Hole 14 – the shot that cost him the lead – was auctioned off at the NEFA Charity Auction. It went for $65. A pretty good price for a piece of history.