On thursday, May the Fourth Be With You... I pointed the bow of the Zephyr Zap (a.k.a. the HukVan) south pre-dawn to make the 12 hour journey to Santa Cruz, CA for the 2017 Amateur Masters Cup. The air was crisp and it felt strange to be rolling on a solitary trip for the first time in a long time. With school and soccer in full swing, Ebee and the boys stayed in Portland to learn, run and kick it!
I made good time and managed to avoid the usual traffic snarls in the bay area. After zig-zagging HWY 17, I landed at Tacos Moreno for a burrito al pastor ahead of an afternoon round at DeLaVeaga with my friend Hyuma. DeLa never disappoints and Hyuma and I enjoyed the see-saw affair that accompanies most rounds on this legendary course. Santa Cruz had a historically rough winter and as we made our way through the course, I was awed by 25' diameter root balls standing vertical and tall old trees laying horizontal across several fairways. I suppose these changes are inevitable but the degree of windfall is both impressive and slightly sad to see as the aesthetic of this storied huck laboratory has been altered forever. Nature bats last I suppose.
After the round, I made my way to Aptos to meet my gracious host Jenna and catch up with her and her family. We visited for a bit and then I found quick slumber ahead of an early day at DeLa. The first day of the 2017 Masters Cup was strange for me... driving in and seeing Innova banners standing where DGA banners have stood for the last several years was surreal. Next to DGA, Huk Lab is one of the longest continual sponsors of the Masters Cup. On a personal level, I missed seeing the folks I had cultivated a relationship with the through the years. Scott Keasey and the DGA family did a remarkable job to build this event. It has been said, the only constant in life is change and whether or not Heraclitus was right, the Masters Cup Ams had new Tournament Directors, Tim Messer and Stan Pratt and a new presenting sponsor, Innova Champion discs. Along with the help of Russ Jacobson and Braden Coolidge, Tim and Stan followed in the footsteps of some of the more recent TDs I've had the pleasure to work with and get to know... Marty Hapner, Daviar Thomas and TJ Goodwin. Much like their predecessors, they worked hard to deliver a well run event for the players and sponsors alike. Innova put together some really impressive players packs and created these special pre-release Roc X3 as a fundraiser disc.
So, the Masters Cup begins anew and though some things have changed, it is important to remember that ultimately a successful event is about the disc golf community as a whole. The disc golf community in Santa Cruz is thriving. The present and future success of an event like this is built on the foundation of those who organized, volunteered and sponsored the Masters Cup before. Though I missed rekindling the connections I have made, I also enjoyed cultivating some new relationships with Rich from Chain Etakit and Mario in "The Shack". I also saw lots of new faces that came by to say hi and check out our products in the mobile store. Many thanks to all of you for your interest and support!
Not only were the winds of change blowing at this event but the forecast called for gusty breezes on Friday building to high winds on Saturday. Though we were not able to stake out in the parking lot, I was anchored down pretty well...or so I thought. A pretty fierce afternoon gust blew through tournament central and our makeshift parking lot anchoring system was no match. Our smaller canopy was quickly airborne and did a half somersault before coming to rest. Thankfully no one was hurt! The frame had a couple of arms bend but we should be able to repair them. I was in disbelief, this was the first time in 14 years of setting up at events that I've had a tent blown around. Nature bats last!
Saturdays set up looked a little different with our 10 x 10 canopy out of the picture so the 10 x 20 had to make due and I made doubly sure that we were ready to deal with another gusty day at DeLa. To all of the vendors surprise, the winds were not too bad. With my beloved Portland Timbers playing the San Jose Earthquakes at Avaya Stadium that evening, I decided to break down a little early and head over to the match. I made it in time to tailgate with the Green & Golden Gate Bay Area Timbers supporters. They were great hosts and our collective hopes were high for a Timbers victory.
The San Jose Earthquakes home field is Avaya Stadium. It is one of the newer soccer specific venues in Major League Soccer having opened it's doors in 2015 and quickly became known for it's swampy pitch and the "LOBINA" (longest outdoor bar in North America) which occupies the entire Northeastern end of the stadium.
Though everything leading up to kick off was sublime, the match was difficult to watch as the Timbers suffered their worst defeat of this young season falling 3 nil. I zig-zagged back over HWY 17 only partially satisfied with my away game experience. Thanks again to the Green & Golden Gate folks who made it a great tailgate!
Sunday morning was calmer and warmer as vendors erected their booths and players began to make the chains sing. It is always a great experience to be in Santa Cruz, to breathe the salt air and feel those "diablo" winds churning. What really makes it special are the people I've met through the years. I am thankful to Marty, Daviar, TJ, Scott and the DGA family for the foundation they have built and to Braden, Tim, Stan and Russ (and many others) and Innova for adding new layers to the tapestry. Perhaps the most interesting event of the weekend occurred on Sunday afternoon. One of the most common phrases heard at DeLa is "Parking Lot". A DeLa specific synonym to "fore" this phrase is heard when a player makes a errant throw from the infamous hole #27 Top of the World (TOTW). There was one errant throw on this Sunday that will long be remembered. One competitor hucked a forehand off of TOTW and all of us in vendor village heard the cry "parking lot". As we looked skyward to locate the disc it came whizzing down, skipped off of the parking lot and to everyone's amazement came to rest perfectly in the middle of the Innova disc racks. As if that was not miraculous enough, it was a gold DGA Rogue (See pic below)! Perhaps it was Steady Ed's spirit...? I think it was a great reminder that discs are discs and regardless of what name is stamped upon them. The disc golf community at large is what's important. Disc golf is not one person or one company, it is all of us who love this simple game of aim.
Aim True & Keep on Huckin'