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USADGC Round 1 - The Not-So-Brutal Toboggan Course

The first round of the United States Amateur Disc Golf Championship (USADGC) presented by Discraft has to come to an end here in Milford, MI on the formerly brutal Toboggan Championship course in Kensington Metropark. Over 140 of the best Ams from the United States and Canada were lucky enough to qualify for this prestigious event and they teed off, one-by-one, down the absurdly steep fairway of hole 1 to start their rounds.

It’s almost impossible to explain with words how different the Toboggan course is when comparing it to the way it’s looked for the last 12 years. The reason is simple. What used to be an unmanageable “rough” is now much more manageable. But let’s start from the beginning of this mega-makeover story.

Kensington Metropark, home of the Toboggan course, is nothing short of incredible. It’s part of the Huron-Clinton Metroparks system which includes 13 total parks in the area. The nearly 4900 acres that make up the park bring in 2.5 million visitors a year for activities including hiking, fishing, disc golf, ball golf, sledding (or tobogganing), skiing, picnicking, and much more. In the last few decades, one plant began to dominate the landscape, taking over everything in its path. That plant was the Elaeagnus angustifolia, known by many as the Russian olive.

The Russian olive is a thorny shrub that can grow 5-7 meters tall in even the barest of landscapes, as it is able to fix Nitrogen into its roots. When and where it does grow, or thrive in the case of Kensington Metropark, it’s generally detrimental to the local ecosystem. The plant took over the areas outside the fairways here at the Toboggan course, meaning one bad toss could turn what should be a par into a triple or quadruple bogey. It became so thick that more often than not, once your disc went in, there was no easy way out.

Huron-Clinton Metroparks began systematically removing the invasive plant from the park in the fall of 2013. Months and months later, the two tournaments that are played on the temporary Toboggan course, the Discraft Great Lakes Open (D-GLO) and the USADGC, have returning players in shock and awe. You can now throw into the woods, find your disc, and likely have some sort of approach back into the fairway or towards the basket. The rough is less punishing now, but the course is still what it always has been, extremely difficult. Even with this new change, the scores haven’t significantly been affected compared to previous years.

Finishing the round today with the hot rounds were George Beno #49225, Jordan Castro #49431, and Keith Tasker #48562, all throwing 55 on the par 62 layout. Keep in mind these are Ams, and they’re shooting a few strokes off what the best rounds were last weekend at the D-GLO, where top pros finished their best rounds at 52. These guys might be listed as amateurs, but that doesn’t mean they can’t play disc golf like the professionals.

There are still 36 more holes of disc golf to be played over the next two days. To even pretend like it’s not still anyone’s tournament to win would be laughable at best. Whether the rough is absurd or not, this is still Am Nationals, and it’s still on one of the most difficult courses in the country. The competition is fierce and the will to win that these guys radiate is immeasurable.

Starting tomorrow, we’ll have live scoring for the lead card on featuring throw-by-throw commentary via @PDGAlive that will include pictures and videos of the action of the day. Tune in and cheer on your favorite players for round two of the United States Amateur Disc Golf Championship!

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