Safari Story

by Neil Bondy

The 2005 San Francisco Safari greeted a vast crowd of 201 visitors to beautiful Golden Gate Park with Mother Nature’s signature natural air conditioning, a nice, thick blanket of fog that stayed with us all weekend long. The shorts and t-shirts were quickly replaced with pants and jackets on a typical San Francisco August day. Although it was a bit of an adjustment for those coming from the Central Valley and down South, I think most people would take foggy and 65 over a scorching 100+ any time. The players managed to raise temperatures themselves with some hot scoring.

Leading the fire brigade was our re-elected Chief of the Department, Gregg Barsby, extinguishing the competition for the grand $1,000 prize in the Pro Men’s division. He led another strong campaign, going to the banque de Safari, just like he did last year, for another $1,000 as the Open Champion. Having walked away with the CTP DFL Full Sail Snowboard at last year’s Safari, Brad Armstrong decided to buy some lift tickets this year, with a 2nd place and $500. The reigning World Champion Nate Doss graced us with his presence, and we were happy to award him 3rd place and $350, while John Child rolled to an 18 under finish for $270. Matt Scott carded the hot shot round for the tournament with a 9 under on the West course, gaining him $220 for his long awaited coming out party in the Open division. Chris Archer also carded a 9 under 45 at Marx Meadow, but Marx played to a 51.14 average for the pros, compared to a 52.90 on the tougher West course, so Matt still claims the Open hot shot. However, Matt and Chris have nothing on Marty Hapner in the Pro Masters division, winning the prestigious Jeckyl and Hyde award. He managed to card the tournament’s best score of 10 under 44 at Marx Meadow, followed by a 61, the highest score in all pro divisions, all weekend long. Personally, I liked it much better when I saw Marty’s name at the top of the list.

Speaking of the Pro Masters, Peter Sontag comes fresh off his marriage to Heather last weekend, honeymooning to $510 in 1st place. Donny Olow stormed from the 2nd Master’s card the last round into a tie for 2nd, with a final round 48, 4 strokes better than all other Masters. However, Donny lost the playoff for the trophy, yielding to Billy “Pain” Lane for the 2nd place trophy, splitting $500. Scott Riley’s 11 under on the weekend is good for $140 in 4th, while Rich Koski and Bob Montes clean up the remaining Pro Master cash.

In Grandmasters, Dave Malolepszy skates to an even par weekend, earning $180 in 1st, followed by Michael Travers at $90 in 2nd and Dave Melton in 3rd.

The Pro Women’s division was a tight, exciting race all weekend. Alyssa Densen started out with a one stroke lead and maintained that over Ruth Steele and Anni Kreml all weekend, until the last round when she increased her lead to 2 for 1st place and $130. Ruth edges Anni for $72 in 2nd.

Scott Aaron lives up to the name of his home town in the Advanced division, Rough and Ready (for the Open division), outpacing the field by 6 strokes, with a 16 under on the weekend, taking home $170 in script in 1st. Desmond Knibbs was a solid 10 down on the weekend for a nice 2nd place finish, while Matt Kelly represents team EBDGC with a tie for 3rd with Gabriel Cota. Things were getting a little fuzzy there towards the end, but I’m pretty sure Matt won the playoff for the trophy. While the EBDGC can’t technically claim a single participant in the Pro Men’s division this year :-( the future is still bright with George Ross and Greywing Cooper in a tie for 5th with Stan Pratt.

The trend in the Advanced Women’s division over the past 4 years is nothing but positive with a field of 3 in 2002, 5 in 2003, 8 in 2004, and a voluptuous 12 this year. Many thanks to all the Goddesses participating, especially Eva Schmidt with her considerable skills in tank-top sales. Jennifer Smith took home the top prize, winning $80 in script, followed by Kristine King, and Gayle Baker.

The Advanced Masters also had a healthy field of 33 for the weekend. However, the outcome wasn’t exactly surprising as the top finisher had a player rating of 968, 32 points higher than the anyone else in the division. This makes it 6 wins in 7 recorded tournaments for Doug Werner this year, winning $140 in script at the top spot. Its either time to go pro for Doug, or at least beat up on the kiddies in Advanced for a while. Stephen Jackson was 6 strokes off the lead in 2nd, followed by Dave Thomas, Bob Diamond, and Steve Gillett.

The Intermediate Men’s division had a similar, yet less clear-cut situation as the Am Masters at the top. Adam Minkus had played a total of 3 tournaments prior to the Safari, a 4th and 11th place finish in Intermediate, and a 16th out of 20 in one Advanced appearance, earning a 919 rating. Unlike the infinite ceiling that the PDGA has created for going pro in terms of ratings, they actually have rules that force Intermediates to play Advanced if their rating is above 915. Its not at all surprising that one slips through the cracks with the un-ending duties of a tournament director before the event, leaving the TD in a tough situation he doesn’t deserve to be in. It really makes me miss the days of the Norcal bump rule, when you knew the people who had been bumped that year. Instead the TD’s load of work is added to by having to check ratings on 150+ players, which is practically impossible when you’ve got a line of 50+ players waiting to check-in/sign-up Saturday morning. I understand the logic of not-enforcing a ratings cut-off for the pro divisions, but hope the PDGA changes that policy, and would also like to see some refinement in the bump policy for Am2’s and Am3’s. Perhaps a minimum number of tournaments played before the bump, official notice by the PDGA to players that have been bumped, and a list sent to tournament directors of players recently bumped. Rumor has it that Mike Ruzicka may be running for competition director, and if so, I say vote Ruzicka all the way. Anyways, I’ll get off my soap box now, and report the rest of the up-and-comers in Intermediate.

Adam did indeed turn in the best Intermediate score at 3 under on the weekend, so we decided to give him first place cash in merchandise worth $110, but not the 1st place trophy. The 1st place trophy was instead awarded to the 2nd place finisher, Les Swift, which was certainly well deserved. Les helped out big-time with the tournament, and has generally been a key SFDGC volunteer over the last couple years. His enthusiasm is reflected in his tournament finishes this year, as he just keeps getting better with respective finishes of 31st, 23rd, 17th, 5th, and a quasi-1st/2nd at the Safari. Keep up the good work Les. Scott Miller nets 3rd place and $104, while John Rawdon claims 4th.

For those of you that have been involved with this tournament, you should know the San Francisco Safari is a very challenging, time consuming, expensive tournament to run. I’d wager to say that at its current level, its close to the top in hardest tournaments to run, excluding perhaps a few NT/A tier events and Worlds. Where else do you have to set up and take down 43 temporary holes Saturday and Sunday, in order to host 200+ players? I have been involved with the tournament for the last six years, and have seen nothing but improvements in tournament organization every year. Rob and Marybeth Byers have been the key ingredient for Safari success over the last few years, in combination with Stick’s enthusiasm, but with Stick moving to Texas this year, Rob thankfully volunteered to step up to the plate and run the show. He did an incredible job, in his first time as an official TD, running a tight ship in getting the course setup, players checked in, and rounds started and finished faster, than any year previous that I’ve been a part of, even sending smiling players on their way home after the awards ceremony with plenty of light to spare.

The key was Rob taking care of pretty much every conceivable detail himself prior to the tournament, a laptop, printer, trailer, and generator on-site, having around 10 non-playing volunteers helping out, and probably 30+ playing volunteers on basket crew. Many thanks to our strong tournament support crew Marybeth, Pete D’Agostino, Neal Hoellwarth, Steve Ganz, Lynn Costa, Laura, Michelle, Chris, Scott Shambron, and the other key people I’m forgetting. Basket crew handled set-up and take-down in record time. Many thanks to all the members of the crew as led by D’Agostino and Rob, and the rest of you who should give yourselves a big pat-on-the-back for lugging baskets. They had 3 courses set-up and ready to go by 8:30, whereas we’ve been lucky to have 2 courses set-up by 9:30 in years past.

Driven by his remarkable desire to volunteer his time to the disc golf community and efficiently report tournament scores, Steve Ganz also decided to follow the Frisbee mantra of Play Frisbee, Invent Games, with a new game I thankfully haven’t seen before, Disc Golf Frogger. With 50 or so golfers lined up, across a 100 feet wide teeing zone, all throwing at a target 200 feet away at the same time in the mid-round, ace race competition, Steve Ganz decided the time he could save running through the target zone was well worth the extra 30-45 seconds it would have taken to run around everybody, in order to get those scores taken care of in a timely fashion. He made it past level 4, dodging drivers left and right, but then he got to the level where the slow 18-wheeler makes you wait and then jump through quickly to avoid both the semi and the speeding race car in the next lane of traffic. He made it past the semi, but the speeding race car caught up with him in a head on collision, right between the eyes. The driver, still near top speed upon impact, took him down, but Steve got right back up after a hazy minute or so, blood streaming from the face. He goes to the emergency room, get 4 stitches in short order by doctors and nurses who either had played ultimate, disc golf, or where at least familiar with the game, and is back to enter scores and get them posted on the internet before most players even make it home. Then he comes back the next day, and does it again. The man is simply incredible.

When Rob busted out his 2 custom-made pull charts for the raffle, me and D’Agostino’s eye’s lit up, and wallets immediately opened. Knowing my history in raffles I wasn’t optimistic, with probably my best raffle winnings ever a Juliana autographed XL, followed by a plastic basket I had donated that I was trying to remove from my studio apartment. I was absolutely ecstatic when my name was called for one of Rob’s beautiful pull-carts. As we wrapped things up and pulled the final ticket for the basket, official raffle bagger status was achieved when my name was called for the basket. Don’t worry, you’ll have another shot at it in 6 months when the Berzerkeley Best Pairs Bash rolls around, and it will go towards a more worthy cause in the food bank.

According to the PDGA records on the internet, the Safari purse has gone from $2500 in 2002, $3500 in 2003, $8500 in 2004, to $11,000+ this year. We couldn’t have done it without our wonderful sponsors. One of my favorite moments of the tournament was when the screaming I had heard earlier was confirmed as Arek Whitmyer, Mr. Full Sail, getting his first ever ace on the short water hole on the East course. Full Sail Brewing Company kicked in a generous $2000+ in cash & prizes. Many thanks to Full Sail, Discraft, the DGA, Innova, and all the others. Hats off to all involved, Rob, the volunteers, players, and sponsors. See you again next year.

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