A-Tier Trifecta – Corpus Christi Open, Oklahoma Open and Veterans Park Open


After a long trip across the country following the USDGC, Steve Mills and I made a trip down to the great state of Texas to play some late season tournaments throughout the south. We stayed with our good friend Robbie Bratten at his apartment in Houston. We planned on staying there throughout the week and traveling to the tournaments on the weekends. I had planned to play a few Supertour events in the coming weeks such as The Corpus Christi Open, The Oklahoma Open and The Veterans Park Open. I had been looking forward to this trip for a long time, it was set to be an amazing time, I would not expect anything less.

The first tournament was the Corpus Christi Open in Corpus Christi, Texas, way down south – maybe the furthest south I have ever played Disc Golf – almost an hour from Mexico. Robbie, Steve and I rolled into town on Thursday night to be prepared to play all day on Friday. We stayed with Robbie’s cousin John Cook who plays Fullback for the Corpus Christi Arena Football Team, quite impressive but very understandable by his size and strength. He could probably play Pro Football in the NFL. We practiced the longer course in the morning and planned on playing doubles with Robbie on the shorter Ingleside course during the afternoon round. When I mean short, I mean really short – 12 of the 18 holes were short, spike hyzers over these small trees with one hole over 400 over water. Needless to say, we scorched the course with a 40 (-14) to tie for first place with Matt Hall and Erik Soete.

On the first day of the tournament, we played the shorter course for the first round. I shot a 47 (-7) that remained 3 strokes off the lead of Michael Olse, who shot a 44 (-10). We then played the longer course for the second round. I came out on fire and needed to make a move being that this was only a 3-round tournament. I played really solid and shot a 53 (-10) on 21 holes to best the next best score by 5 strokes to gain the lead by 3 strokes over Bratten going into Sunday. The third and final round on Sunday was held at the longer course consisting of the original 18 holes. I played really consistent but not great, missing some pretty routine, easy birdies on the back 9 to shoot a 45 (-9) to win by 6 strokes. Eric McCabe made a late surge the last round shooting a 43 (-11) to finish in a tie for 2nd with Devan Owens. Michael Olse finished 4th and Robbie Bratten finished with a strong 5th to round out the top 5 places.



We then headed back to Robbie’s place in Houston to rest up and play a few of the local courses throughout the week. Mills and I started a routine of working out in the morning and making use of the hot tub while Robbie was away during the day at school. It was great disc golf training and we dedicated an hour a day to putting in preparation for the next upcoming event in Oklahoma.

Robbie, Mills, Soete and I packed up the truck and left Houston Thursday afternoon. We arrived in Tulsa, OK really late Thursday night and made plans to stay at Mike Conner’s house located across from hole #17 at McClure Park. It was one of the best host locations on tour and couldn’t be any more convenient with the players meetings, the last round Sunday afternoon and the awards ceremony all in the same place right across the street. The Oklahoma Open consisted of 4 rounds on 4 courses: Blackhawk, Redhawk, Devillio, and McClure. I had played both Blackhawk and Redhawk during the Greater Tulsa Open National Tour event earlier in the year. We practiced 2 of the 4 courses (Blackhawk and McClure) on Friday and left the other 2 course for warm-up practice before each of the remaining rounds.

On Saturday morning we had a players meeting unlike any other as “Big Dave” played the national anthem on electric guitar. I would expect no less from a Twisted Flyer event. The tournament rounds started on Blackhawk where I played really solid coming into the last couple of holes, then sitting at -7 coming into the last 4 holes (16 thru 1). I scored a par 4 on the long, difficult hole 16 and then proceeded to miss birdie on the short hole 17. So I was still sitting good going into holes 18 and 1, which were great birdies and pretty routine par 3’s if the drives are off. My drives were just that, and I ended up with bogeys on both of those holes to finish 50 (-4) instead of -8 if I would have birdied the final 2 holes. So after 1 round I had a 2 stroke lead which kept the competition closer than I wanted. We then went on to play the easier Redhawk course that offered many more birdies and chances to go real low. I shot a mediocre 50 (-4) while Hatfield and McCabe each made up a stroke with 49’s (-5) and Robbie Bratten came in with the hot round at 47 (-7). Sunday was shaping up for quite the battle until the end.



The 3rd round started out at Devillio and Coda Hatfield was within 2 strokes heading into his other home course aside from McClure. All I had to do was remain in the lead going into the final round and see what happened down the stretch. I came out of the gates on fire, scoring -6 on the first 13 holes before cooling off. That’s when Coda took the opportunity to put the pressure on, shooting -4 on the last 5 holes and taking 6 strokes on me in the last 6 holes. He finished like I started and closed the gap to 1 stroke off the lead going into the last round. Like I knew it from the beginning, it was all going to go down during the final round at McClure.

So going into Coda’s home course leading by a stroke about to enter into the windiest rounds of golf that I have played all year long, it was going to take some great play to hold off Oklahoma’s best disc golfer. I could see that he liked his chances and like I said, it was going to be a battle. We both came out scoring birdie on the first 2 holes and I took advantage on hole 3 with another birdie as Coda took an unlikely bogey. I maintained the lead throughout the front 9 and played consistent on the back as Coda continued to display his great ability to make long putts. He kept it close going into the final hole, still 1 stroke back. He then threw an unfortunate drive off the tee that clipped a light post and carried across a park driveway and safely down the fairway in bounds. I sensed the chance to close the door on this tournament and played aggressively down the middle setting up a great chance at birdie to finish it out. Coda had a tough approach and could not get it close enough. He was then forced to run a 60 footer to put the pressure on, but came up short. I had an easy lay-up shot to the pin for the win. Hatfield retained 2nd place with McCabe finishing 3rd, Devan Owens 4th and Robbie Bratten holding on to 5th. With this tournament I remained undefeated this year in Oklahoma with a previous win at the Greater Tulsa Open. Thanks to Joe Rotan for running a premier Supertour event and I plan on coming back to defend my title. We all stopped for dinner and made the long trek back to Houston that night.

Driving on Hole #18 – Veterans Park Open

Mills and I spent another week in Houston playing some other local courses and preparing for another weekend of disc golf in Arlington, Texas at the Veterans Park Open. We played a really nice course in downtown Houston with some great views of the city skyline from almost every hole on the course. A definite must-see on disc golf travels through Houston. We left for Arlington on Friday morning and with a slight detour on waiting to pick up Matt Hall on the way through, we arrived at Veterans Park with enough time to get in a practice round before heading Brian Mace’s apartment for the night.

The tournament started on Saturday morning on the shorter of the 24-hole layouts. I played great shooting a 60 (-12) to lead the tournament by 2 strokes over Eric McCabe and Miles Seaborn, and Steve Mills shot one of his best rounds of the season with a 63 (-9) that was rated at 1013. The 2nd round the course remained in the same layout but for some reason I didn’t play as well due to the wind picking up for the afternoon round or the 48 golf holes that we ended up playing in one day. I shot a 62 (-10) to remain in the lead by 2 strokes over McCabe while Coda Hatfield shot a 60 (-12) to move up to within 3 strokes of the lead. So it would be another “Texas Shootout” heading into the 3rd and final round on Sunday.

Final Round Lead Card – Nolan Grider, Eric McCabe, Coda Hatfield, Robbie Bratten and myself

On Sunday morning they moved all the pins to their longest locations to make for the VPO Championship layout. I was more than ready for the challenge. The final round lead card consisted of Eric McCabe, Coda Hatfield, Nolan Grider, Robbie Bratten and myself, setting the stage for some great competition on a really challenging course. I played really aggressively on the front 12 holes and remained in the lead by a single stroke over McCabe. He made some clutch birdies to gain 2 strokes down the stretch to force me to turn it on the remaining 5 holes as I got a few strokes back to still hold the lead by a single throw.

It all came down to the final hole (yet again back to back weeks). It was a unique hole out to the corner of the park at 420′ with a small Out of Bounds rock wall surrounding the entire backside of the green within 20′ of the basket. The preferred shot is a roller and McCabe had this shot dialed. I have had trouble with this hole throughout the weekend carding pars both times; McCabe had the definite advantage coming into this hole and had a chance to tie it up if I failed to birdie. I decided to throw a roller this time, to trust it to stay in bounds for the closer and the win. The shot came out hot and headed right for the pin, within 3 feet to the left cruising right past and heading for the small raised wall separating the green from the OB. It hit the wall with great force, shot into the air, hitting the wall on the way down to fall back in bounds by a foot. McCabe had to chance the same shot and put pressure on me to make that putt. His shot did the very same thing, rolling by even closer to the basket, hitting the rock wall and barely staying in bounds. McCabe stepped up to his 20′ and made it, forcing me to hit my putt. I stepped up to an 18′ putt with a consistent head/cross wind that caused me to take a little more time on the putt. I went through the motion and knocked it down for the one stroke win to cap off the A-tier Trifecta in the 3 consecutive tournament weekends throughout the South. It was a hard-fought battle until the end, and McCabe played great to force the win on the final hole of competition.

It was an amazing 3 week tour all made possible by lots of people along the way. Special thanks first and foremost to Robbie Bratten for everything from a place to stay throughout the tour, travel to all 3 tournaments and for all the great times that we shared day in and day out enjoying what Texas had to offer. Thanks to John Cook in Corpus Christi, Mike Conners in Tulsa and Brian Mace for providing us with a place to stay throughout the tournament weekends, it saved us a lot of money and made for a great time. Thanks to Steve Mills for being a great travel partner throughout the 2 month tour from USDGC Doubles through the VPO, you played well and had multiple finishes in the top 10 for the first time at some good Supertours. He learned some valuable lessons along the way and now understands that being a Professional Touring Disc Golfer is not easy. And last but not least, thanks for all the tournament directors of those events that made arrangements for me to be able to attend their great Supertour events. I had a blast the entire time, played some great golf over the 3 week span to an average round rating of 1033 and made $3520 for the 3 Supertour victories for the A-Tier Trifecta.

2008 VPO Champion

Next Tournament: Tupelo Bay Open – Myrtle Beach, SC


3 Comments on "A-Tier Trifecta – Corpus Christi Open, Oklahoma Open and Veterans Park Open"

  1. Patrick says:

    Thanks for heading down and gracing our courses, and letting some of us watch. I was in the purple cast chasing you around the Largo. Congrats on a great run of tourneys and the website looks great.

  2. It was great to be invited by Neal Dambra to play such a course, and nothing compares to having a gallery of spectators for a practice round. That is some really nice property out there on the “Links at Largo”, they are well on their way to having a really solid course.

    Thanks. It was a great stretch of tournaments to end the season properly.

    -Avery Jenkins #7495-

  3. Greg Browning says:

    I still owe you a lot of thanks for putting up with a rank amateur co-TD who just wanted the chance to be on a card like that one in the first round. You really are a great champion, and I can’t wait for you and everyone else to see what we have in store for the 2009 VPO!