DES MOINES CHALLENGE
This past weekend I didn’t have to wander far to enjoy Des Moines’ largest disc golf tournament, the Des Moines Challenge. The tournament was played in my hometown and the finale on my home course Walnut Ridge. It was my first time vending at an event and I’d like to share my experiences vending and thoughts on the tournament as a whole.
We vended on Friday during registration and Sunday before the final Open field round. We had several people come up to our table and share their interest in our company. It was wonderful meeting new people and explaining our concept. I couldn’t have asked for a better reception to our company and designs. We shared stories and met new people from the Dakota’s, Kansas City, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Ohio, Illinois, and all over Iowa. They were all wanders last weekend, traveling to our great city to experience an action-packed weekend of demanding disc golf.
Everything went exceptionally well on our end. It was extremely rewarding seeing a large amount of people wearing our gear during the final round. I am extremely grateful that people believe in our company enough to purchase an item and share their love of the sport.
Our ambassadors who played in the tournament did a fantastic job as well. Gannon Buhr won his first ever A-tier event as he took down the MA1 division by three strokes averaging 1008 rated golf! Gannon is an exceptional talent and his love of the game is contagious. He’s always working on his putting and going over his strategy when not on the course playing. I played in MA1 and got to see first-hand how solid his physical and mental game are. It was very exciting to see him win his first A-tier and feel like he finally got that monkey off his back (he’s only 14 btw).
Not to be outdone, Jacob Sanders stepped up to his hometown A-tier and took down 3rd place in MPO! My favorite experience of the weekend was caddying for him during the final round. It was my first time caddying and I got to do it on the final card of an A-tier. The experience was filled with its ups and downs just like any round, but this time I wasn’t the one in control. My experience was from a very different perspective. I’m not a dad yet, but I would compare it to a dad watching their son or a brother watching their brother in a stressful environment. I definitely had to be as level-headed as ever and keep up positive reinforcement. Which is something I personally struggle with when I am the one playing. However, it seems to come a lot more naturally when I am the observer and not the participant. I would assume this is similar for most people, but I really enjoyed the experience of caddying for Jacob.
I felt like a coach/mentor without really helping his decision making or game play at all. I merely tried to keep things positive and light and make sure he knew that he was doing a fantastic job and that he should be proud of himself for, not only this tournament but, how far he has come in such a short time. At one point during the round he had made up 6 strokes on first place and was only down 2. We were really riding a high wave there and I could feel he had all the momentum in the world. That ride ended 2 holes later when he threw a great looking drive that clipped a tree down the fairway and left him with a fairly routine upshot from around 125-150ft away. Jacob is a confident, fast player. He stepped right up to his lie, already knowing exactly what he was going to do. He threw his shot and it just didn’t have quite enough mustard on it leaving him with a 35-40ft putt through trees. He ended up just missing and took a 4 on a hole that everyone else on the card got a 3 or less. That hole was definitely the low of the round and really stalled the momentum he had built. 2 holes later he lost another stroke to the leader and was down 4 strokes with 6 holes to go basically ending his chances at obtaining that first ever A-tier win.
The reason I wanted to share this is because I’ve never seen momentum as prevalent as I did in that 6 hole run. It was so easy to tell Jacob had captured it and was running wild. At one point during the middle of his run he threw a ridiculous 350ft backhand flex shot through trees which resulted in a running fist pump and large applause from the gallery. He was on top of the world, yet smart enough to realize he needed to calm himself and focus on the next shot. And then it was all too easy and disheartening to see him lose it when he took that 4, 2 holes later. He tried so hard to get the momentum back. Repeating positive messages too himself and thinking about ways he could make up strokes. He never gave up and continued to hope until that last hole. It was just a really fun experience for me to see a top-level player fighting so hard. Jacob should be extremely proud of this past weekend and can definitely use this experience down the road.
The weekend came and went by so fast. It’s always a treat to get a large A-tier tournament in your backyard and see hundreds of people enjoyed their time. Titan Disc Golf put on an exceptional tournament (as always) and delivered yet another outstanding Des Moines Challenge. I’m off to the KC Wide in a few weeks to vend and play in another A-tier tournament. Looking forward to meeting some more new people and seeing some new friends from KC. I hope you enjoy your travels and continue to #beawanderer with us.