During this winter’s long, sad layoff from GMDGC play I had the pleasure of competing in the Team Challenge series with the Borderland Bombers under captain Ira “WannabeVT” Divoll. Ira sold me pretty hard on Team Challenge when we were going head-to-head in GMPS events last year. More specifically he brought it up at the lunch break of the “Center Chains Classic” where he enjoyed a modest lead over myself and the rest of the MA1 field: “You should try Team Challenge. I think you would like it.” After edging me by a stroke to take the victory in round 2 he courted more aggressively: “Here’s my number. Its the most fun you’ll ever have playing disc golf.” It sounded like the back of a “coed naked” T-shirt but it turns out he wasn’t really exaggerating. For the uninitiated, Team Challenge is an “offseason” disc golf series that spans CT, NY, MA, NH, and ME (conspicuously – no VT). It has 34 teams (roughly 12-20 players and at least one female) across 3 pools (A, B, C) that play monthly matchups against another team in their pool. Each matchup between 2 teams (A and B) consists of 2 rounds:
- Match-play singles pitting one member from team A against one from B. Player to win the most holes earns 2 points for his team. In case of tie, each player takes 1 point.
- Stroke-play best-disc doubles (A/A players against B/B players). The winning pair earns 2 points for their team (ties settled in playoff).
The team that accumulates the most points at the end of the day wins. Sandwiched (pun intended) between the two rounds is a delicious lunch buffet put out by the host team. (My first TC event I could barely make it through round 2 I was so full from lunch.)
After battling all winter long our ragtag group finished the season 3-3 with losses to powerhouses from Maple Hill, Buffumville, and Devens (the 1, 2, and 3 seeds respectively) and earned the 4th and final seed in B-pool finals. Finals were held at the picturesque West Thompson Lake course on one of the first nice days of the year, if you consider consistent 30mph winds ‘nice.’ These 4 teams were playing for 2 coveted spots in the A-pool for the following season (Team Challenge borrows the one tolerable aspect of Premier League soccer: promotion and relegation). When play got started Ira and I (doubles partners for much of the season) drew Kevin Gardner (this Kevin Gardner) and Devon Labelle (this Devon Labelle) for our first round matchup vs Maple Hill. Kevin was the highest rated player in MA last year and Devon slings a Westside World wiiiiiicked faaaaah, a useful skill at the open but challenging West Thompson course. Ira and I are pretty strong ourselves – but more so at things like spreadsheets and email than disc golf. It was a fun round but Maple rolled us en route to a clean sweep (later beating Buffumville) and the first A-pool promotion. The Bombers found ourselves at 0-1 and facing Devens in round 2. We contemplated the need to win this matchup (and the next) to secure the other promotion while consuming a palette of black-and-white cookies at the lunch break.
At the start of round 2 Team Devens, coming off a measly 1-point loss to Buff, was angry and out for blood (metaphorically – they’re still really, really nice). This time I found myself opposite Taylor Maslowski (this Taylor Maslowski) and Alex Gula (I don’t have a cool link for him but I watched him park a 430′ hole with a forehand so that’s pretty good). Like a baseball manager faced with an under-performing lineup Ira shuffled our doubles pairings and my new (upgraded) partner was sidearm-specialist Pete Violet. Pete and I started with a regrettable bogey and spent the rest of the round scrambling to overcome it. Taylor and Alex complemented each other well and made it difficult to make up ground. We were one stroke behind them heading into the final hole (#11, a 222′ downhill tunnel). Our park-job put the pressure on them to convert a 40 footer to close the deal. They failed to hole out and Pete and I escaped with a push. Unfortunately for us when the rest of the cards came in Devens took the team match, handily. Devens then advanced to face Buffumville in round 3 for the final A-pool spot, eventually losing by a single point. Again.
So with the 2014-2015 season in the books the formidable teams from Maple Hill and Buff bought their tickets to A-pool and the gathered horde of players went home to somberly put their mittens, ribbons, gaiters and crock pots into storage ’til the snow flies next year. And in summary, dear reader, after my first Team Challenge season I RECOMMEND PLAYING:
- AT West Thompson. Its a beautiful, fun bomber course with great views.
- IN Team Challenge. A great opportunity for competitive disc golf in uncompetitive conditions. You’ll play with and against some really fun people. In other words, Ira was right. Which brings us to…
- WITH Ira Divoll. Who doesn’t like Ira? Nobody. Maybe you can start playing with Ira at Pinnacle! Its just 2 weeks away and you can register now.
Team Challenge season is dead, long live GMPS season! Hey that means the GMDGC homepage will be populated with actual GMDGC features! That will be a nice change.