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The Players’ Perspective – The Vibram Open at Maple Hill

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Welcome to The Players’ Perspective

​Before and after every event on the Pro Tour we will be interviewing the players in order to know what they’re thinking, feeling and planning.

We will ask how they plan to prepare for an event, which holes are their favorites and which holes scare them.  We hope to get a sense of their trials and share the successes that aren’t shown on videos. Our first event on the Pro Tour is a big one . Disc golf in New England centers around one event every summer. This year introduces one significant change as the Vibram Open at Maple Hill will now be the first stop on the Pro Tour.  Players from around the world have traveled to Leicester, Massachusetts and are getting in their practice rounds, exploring local eats (Hot Dog Annie’s mostly), taking in the northeast summer and preparing for what many players and spectators describe as the best event of the year.

Coming into this week we asked the players their thoughts on the course, their plans of attack and their goals.  Some common themes arose and anyone who’s played Maple Hill will recognize many of these feelings, aspirations and (often) frustrations.

Plans for practice leading to the first round. [ Watch Here ]“Get out and practice and prepare, I’ve been a bit off doing that this year. I’ll be prepared for this event unlike any other this year.”
“I like to play 2 practice rounds a day for the few days leading up to the event…I like to know exactly what I’m doing on every hole before an event like this starts.”
-Ricky Wysocki

“One practice round each day for 4 days.”
-Nate Sexton

“A couple of practice rounds with your bestest friends and a lot of putting.”
-Madison Walker

“In the weeks leading up to tournament week I studied as much of the video coverage as I could paying particular attention to the players whose game I am personally familiar with. Then I drew up a theoretical strategy for each hole, cross referencing with the tee signs and hole statistics provided by the tournament staff.”
-Dario Ré

“This is my first event coming off a shoulder injury, so I’ll be focusing on getting comfortable on the course in the heat of competition and staying mentally disciplined.”
-Sarah Hokom
Holes to WatchPro Tour courses have their share of notoriously difficult holes, but when asked which holes are particularly difficult for each player Dana Vicich best summed up the average response we received, “It starts with 1 and ends on 18. And then there is every hole in between. “

Many players listed hole 6 as a being especially devious…
“…that darn hole 6 gets me every year.”
-Don Smith

“I would have to say hole 6. It has a tight fairway with OB right and left and a split green that is tough.”
-Patrick Brown

“Hole #6, very tough tee shot to set up to get your three. ”
-JohnE McCray

“Hole 6. It’s such a make it or break it part of your round. Hopefully you have a few birdies going into that hole when you get there.”
-Dustin Keegan

Once players fight through hole 6, many find hole 7 to be just as demanding…
“…it is the most demanding tee shot and it is a shot that if you’re not careful you can throw yourself into a spot where bogey or worse is the best score possible! ”
-Ricky Wysocki

“Hole 7 has traditionally been the toughest for me. It’s a little too long and a tough angle for my sidearm and throwing a backhand far enough while avoiding excessive fade is tricky. I’m planning to try something new this year! ”
-Henry Childres

“Hole 7, so many trees and so few good lines to the pin. Who is the greens keeper out here?!?”
-Nate Sexton

“Hole 7… it’s so hard, yet so awesome. ”
-Hannah Leatherman

MemoriesThere have been many memorable shots at Maple Hill over the years, here are some of the favorites…

Jeremy ‘Big Jerm’ Koling remembers hole 1, from 2014
“My drive was crushed but it turned over into the pines off to the right. I tried pitching out backwards but hit a branch and dropped straight down, 15′ away. At this point I was in damage control mode. Bogey was likely best case scenario, but one bad shot OB could have lead to a triple in a heartbeat. From there I stretched out as far as I could and threw a miracle turnover approach to about 150′. I stepped up to my approach and noticed the camera crew that was filming on hole 6. I almost yelled to them that they should film this next shot but I decided that I should probably spend more energy on focusing on my next shot. From there, I launched the longest putt that I could possibly muster and it miraculously went in dead center. The rest is history. I went on to win my first National Tour by 1 stroke.”

“Favorite shot: I think a lot of people can agree with my favorite shot being the putt on 14 last year.”
-Ricky Wysocki

Player Spotlight: Will SchusterickAs part of this series, before each event we’ll take a look at a complete interview with one player. This year has been uncharacteristic for Will Schusterick and he shared some interesting thoughts with us. A perennial crowd favorite, Will is staying positive and knows a top-tier performance is around the corner.

Where are you mentally?
“This is the worst I have ever started a season going back to 2008. But whenever I hit my stride I’ll be better than I ever was.”

How do you plan to prepare for the Vibram?
“Practice my tight and accurate shots and really learn my discs in the woods.”

What hole challenges you the most?
“Right now it’s hole 8, for no reason. I’ve lost 3 discs in the water this week on it. That might mean I’ll ace it during the event.”

What hole is in your pocket?
“Hole 1 tee shot. I could close my eyes and get it over the water. ”

Everyone in the disc golf world (and most of the rest of the world) has now seen Philo Brathwaite’s albatross and no article would be complete without input from the reigning SportsCenter highlight-holder. Coming into the Vibram, Philo acknowledged that he’s “On a hot one trying to keep it rollin’” and that finishing in the “top 10 would be amazing due to difficulty of the course”. When someone that’s #sohotrightnow considers top 10 “amazing” you know they’re playing a tough course.

Just recently, long-time veteran and Vibram team member Mitch Sonderfan announced his retirement and wants fans to know that the Vibram Open is a celebration. This will be Mitch’s penultimate tournament, so if you see him be sure to wish him the best! …and he’s welcoming high-quality IPA donations as well!

We’ll wrap our first edition of The Players’ Perspective with a fitting response from a wise veteran. As a local, I have had the chance to see Cam Todd offering a booth with his artwork set up in the festival area for the week leading up to the event. When asked how Cam plans to spend the week at Maple Hill? His response was simple, yet perfect.

“Enjoy.”