Finally the morning had arrived that we had prepared for for many months. As predicted the weather was still and clear. At around 0700 when we got to where Stig was faithfully waiting to help us to set up, the dew was soaking the ground, but the sun sparkled over the wet grass and tiny flowers making it a very Spring like day. That early, the air was very still.
With Stig's help (which we are very grateful for) we carried the two semi-portable baskets to their positions on the field. The afternoon before we had marked out the positions of the tees and the two extra baskets with chalk, having designed the course weeks before. The two extra baskets were needed to replace the furtherest baskets on the course, so that everything was kept close and friendly.
After then flagging the tees and setting up the registration marquee and greeting Glen and Stewart who also came later to bring the bbq and a well appreciated bin and extra table, we set out with Stig to play our rounds of the competition which would leave us free during the main action to help with the desk, and most importantly, to take photographs.
This suited Stig as he needed to study later in the day. Glen and Stewart declined as they thought it would be far more fun to play in the thick of things - they're right, but duty called. At least we did get to play! We had a nice round, with Stig looking like a strong contender with Aces on 9 and 19 and Metals on 14 and 16. Leece was very pleased with her Ace on 16 and metals on 1 and 18. Rob's honour was saved by a metal on Hole 1.
We played our rounds without a break, and finished at around 0900, just as the first players started arriving. Leece's mum held the fort at the reception marquee for most of the day, keeping an eye on things and greeting people as they arrived.
Around about 0930 a steady trickle of players started arriving, and soon the not-carpark-any-more was full to the brim with vehicles. It was also a great relief to have the generously donated portaloo arrive, thank you GCS and Dave for bringing it!
And half an hour later the people just flooded in. Players were everywhere and we were kept very busy on the reception desk bringing people and their player packs together.
A few minutes after the official start time of 1030 players were summoned from talking and testing their shiny new plastic to the briefing.
Rob welcomed everyone, thanked GCS, Dude and Discraft and the players for coming, and then the President had a few words and finally Rob sorted people into their initial groups and sent them to their starting tees.
There were 6 groups of about 7 to 8 people each. From what we saw people's groups were friendly and animated and united in a cheerful disgust at the course designers. We had designed the course with beginners in mind, for the most part - with some challenges. Not too easy, and not freakin' impossible either. It was interesting to see how many holes that should have been easy for experienced players caused so much frustration in those same experienced players.
In the initial round we guided some groups to tees that were hiding, but during the second round everyone knew where they were going.
We received a phone call from reception about 10 minutes into the game that a couple of players had arrived late - Rob was near there at the time and linked them up with a group that had only completed 2 tees, so they wouldn't be far behind. This is the sort of thing that would be difficult to integrate if you were actually playing at the time.
Somewhat earlier than expected the groups started to trickle back and by 1130 everybody had completed the first round.
We had 43 competitors present - a good proportion of them women and newcomers - a great turnout and super to see many largish groups sauntering about the course with cries of outrage and delight alternately as discs did what discs do.
The discs themselves flew very interestingly and with an almost pyschopathically straight flight path with almost no fade at all. The soft plastic one has certainly earned a place in our bags and we look forward to them being approved.
During the break between rounds, we had two draws for players who had not scored Aces or Metals in the first round. This was met with great approval and we recommend that future TDs continue this practice. For those that, perhaps, need the encouragement or a little lift for a lousy round.
We then re-divided the groups so as to get a mix of players going and five minutes later set them off into the field again.
The second round seemed a lot brisker than the first, and the mulligans were also thick on the ground as people were now more familiar with the course and also running out of opportunity to use them.
One hole in particular deserves a special mention. Hole 14, the shortest hole in the Ace Race, at just over 10 metres. Smack bang between the hole and the tee was a very tall and broad grass tree, totally obscuring the hole, no matter how much you leaned or reached! This had mixed reactions - the young multicoloured coiffured ladies mentioned they did much better on these holes you couldn't see, while other players just growled whenever hole 14 was mentioned and changed the subject. It also attracted the most mulligans. It garnered 5 metals and 3 Aces in the end.
We were kept very busy, photographing and moving from group to group and tee to tee.
Finally, a bit after 1230 players started trickling back again. We didn't observe many cases of players having to wait for others to finish, so we think we got the spacings right. We'd appreciate any feedback from actual players, though, on anything about the Ace Race, so things can be improved for the next one.
We also arranged the starting positions so that no one would finish on the three furtherest holes, so that there would be no long hikes back at the end of the rounds, something we felt very keen to avoid for everyone after experiences at the Nationals last year.
By 1300 everyone was back and the bbq was sizzling being ably manned by Stewart and Glen and people were happily eating and drinking.
After a few minutes tallying the winner became very obvious. Other placing positions required a bit more attention. We felt that there should be recognition for the minorities attending - ladies and children so we'd donated prizes for them. Having being startled at the realisation that she'd won the Ladies' division Leece decided to re-donate the prize back to the next player in line for it, and we decided to have a ladies runner up to encourage women in the sport.
In the end, the Juniors (under 18) was taken out by Rodi, Women's as we mentioned by Leece with the prizes going to Lulu and the runner up to Michelle.
We also had a second round of draws to those who'd been unlucky, once again greatly appreciated by the recipients. Especially the one who won the glowy ultimate disc.
And the grand prize at 3 Aces and 5 Metals went to Chris Finn - his two closest competitors Il Presidente' Kris with 2 Aces and 3 Metals and the Early Morning Stig with 2 Aces and 2 Metals.
News of Stig's prowess gave some players concern, as they did not realise that that was for his entire game, not just the first round.
Our final tally as it stands (our records are slightly incomplete) are 57 Metals and 14 Aces.
Most people chatted for a bit afterwards, and quite a few new and experienced players took to the field again to have a try of the actual golf course or to play the Ace Race course again. A few hardy souls went off for a game of Grunty!
There was lots of enthusiastic talk about the game and the discs. Everyone was impressed with the bags, a key drawcard for this event, we think.
As people drifted off, we started packing things up with help from various people, and we were surprised by a couple of friends who dropped by - and purchased our last two packs! They then went on to buy some additional discs from the DUDE stall, and some lunch as well! They even helped us pack up.
We dropped the club gear that we had borrowed back off, gathered the flags that had been kindly centralised by Kim, and made our rather weary way back home. We had been on our feet many hours, but we were happy with the way things turned out.
Finally, we must again thank our helpers - thank you so much, it would've been a slog carrying the baskets around, and getting set up without you, it really would. It made it so much easier. Also we must again thank our sponsors, Discraft, GCS, and Down Under Disc Evolution. Thank you, everyone had a superb time from what we can see.
Two excellent putters and a cool minidisc and bag...er...yes...but OTHER things...
1) Bring more pens for the registration desk. Two is not enough when people have to sign things. 2) Pre-writing players' names for known attendees could be helpful for registration speed up - then they'd just have to sign and date the forms. 3) Why the heck didn't we take our two-ways, that would have been incredibly useful?! 4) Should have asked who had first aid training. Not that we needed it, but still. Of course we had two first aid kits in the cars. Perhaps a number to call if someone got hurt, so the kit could be got to them. Bears thinking about. 5) Preparation is King. And Queen. And several Barons, Dukes and Earls as well. Plan everything ahead. Double check with people you are relying on. 6) Walk your planned course several times for timing and planning purposes. Bear in mind there are several people in a group. And they may have mulligans. This worked really well for us, and it enabled us to time things really well. 7) Ask for feedback. We're asking for feedback. Hi! 8) Don't plan your course around your best players if you're wanting to encourage newcomers. Leece cheerfully recognises that she is not a best player, but she's a great gauge if you want to test your you beaut Ace Race course. 9) With the lead time on Ace Race kits it is better to over order than under order. We have no kits left now and people still want them. We will be making another order tonight and that's it, so contact us urgently if you want one and don't think we know that or aren't sure if we do.
Today, we went to the Rob Hancock course in the late afternoon. It was deserted - and yesterday seemed like a dream, but as we finished our round, we saw one of the participants from the day before at tee 1. He had his Ace Race bag and his discs, and he said "It is great! I have my own bag and discs now - I don't have to borrow my mate's! I can play any time I want!"