The primary reason we were in Marion, Ohio, last week on our non-vacation was for my 15-year-old #2 son to compete in his second Amateur Disc Golf World Championships. #2 was anxious to see if he could build on the lessons learned from last year’s tournament in Kansas City (where he finished 14th out of 25 boys in the 16 and under age group)—specifically, his goal was to advance at least to the semifinals after the six rounds of 18 holes each.
#2 was right on track after the first three rounds, sitting in a comfortable tie for seventh place out of 20 boys. Then I showed up. The Mister and #2 had flown to Marion early, while my #1 son and I came in time to watch #2’s final three rounds (not that big bro watched any of the disc golf action).
The venue for round number four was Alum Creek State Park. Almost every hole was surrounded by lots and lots of trees. Our disc golf courses in Houston are wide open, almost the opposite of those #2 played on in Ohio. So he was ill-prepared for the conditions. And that meant he hit a lot of trees. Hitting trees usually isn’t a good way to keep your score low in disc golf.
Speaking of being ill-prepared, so was I photographically! I had no idea how dark the woods would be (didn’t even know there would be woods!) or how bright the non-woods conditions would be in contrast, which meant I was constantly fiddling with the settings on my Nikon D300 that I paired with my trusty Nikon 105mm macro lens.
Oops! Somehow this post is now about me and my photo problems. Mea culpa! Back to the disc golf action!
Long story short, my beloved #2 son did so poorly that he dropped back to tenth place and rode back to the motel with his face buried in a towel the entire way. Which made me cry, because he thinks I jinx him when I watch him play. My heart was breaking as I looked at him in the back seat of the rental car, towel not moving from his face.
Being a parent is not always easy!
Once #2 looked at the results online and saw that some other boys struggled, too, he felt a little better. But not much!
The next morning we moved on to round number five in the oddly named Delaware State Park (not that we were even in the state of Delaware). Once again, state park = more trees than you can possibly count. And all those trees, sadly, once again meant that my little guy struggled. In fact, by hole nine he was telling us that he was quitting the sport totally and wouldn’t play his final round that afternoon.
The Mister and I just looked at each other and rolled our eyes. . . we’ve been there before with him. This kid has retired from sports more often than Brett Favre!
Fortunately, when #2 was at his lowest point, our disc golf-playing pal from the Houston area, Eric (who was competing in the advanced division), showed up and walked the last few holes with him. That seemed to steady #2’s emotions. He still finished with what was a poor score for him, keeping him in the tenth spot, but he had rallied from the shortest retirement known to mankind. Soon he was making plans for next year’s Am Worlds in Rochester, New York!
With a better, uplifted attitude, #2 showed what he could do in his last round at Aumiller Park in Bucyrus. Even though there was, as usual, a plethora of trees, #2 made much-better shots and stayed out of trouble. He was rewarded with his best round of the tournament. No, it wasn’t good enough to move him up a couple spots to the semis, but it was a great way to end his Am Worlds competition. Plus he finished better (10 out of 20) than a year ago.
And I felt so relieved, because I walked every step of the way with him . . . and apparently broke loose of my jinx designation! Hooray!
Truly the “worlds”
What’s neat about Am Worlds is that players come from all over to compete. My #2 son played with Seppo, who hails from Finland, and Felix, who calls Normandy, France, home. Nate S. flew in from California, Colten from Colorado, and Stephen from Georgia, while Nate F. made the short drive with his dad from Dayton, Ohio. And now #2 is Facebook friends with some of them!
The competition in the boys’ 16 and under division came down to Seppo vs. North Carolina native Andrew, who had won the 13 and under division last year. After six tourney rounds, the 18-hole semifinal, and the nine-hole final, both boys were tied for first at 37 strokes under par. What an epic battle they waged!
But on the first sudden-death playoff hole, the Finn got the best of Andrew, winning the coveted title by a stroke. My #2 son watched and wondered what could have been for himself if he hadn’t experienced so much “tree love” in his early rounds.
There’s always next year in Rochester!