On Saturday, the day of what was scheduled to be the final round of the 2016 US Disc Golf Championship (USDGC), the last PDGA Major of the year and the finale event of the inaugural Disc Golf World Tour, some very, very difficult decisions had to be made. Several inches of rain on Saturday turned the incredibly beautiful and challenging Winthrop University Gold course into a swamp, with fairways and tee pads plagued by pools of water, all while the lake that comes into play on many of the holes was steadily on the rise.
Friday’s Downpour Created Serious Course Issues
After careful consideration, the USDGC, PDGA, and Disc Golf World Tour staff announced changes to the course on Friday evening that would’ve meant a final round of 17 holes with some changes to a few of the pin and tee positions. Everyone kept their fingers crossed throughout the evening, as the only chance we’d have at a smooth final round would come with an enormous amount of good luck.
When we arrived at the course in the morning it was clear that no amount of crossed fingers would have made a difference. On top of getting more rain, the wind was whipping and gusting, causing branches from trees on and around the course to come crashing down. The initial response was to delay the tee times by one hour, which was in fact put into place. All that could be done from there was wait, hoping once again for a lucky turn in the weather.
The hour went by quickly as all eyes were on a course that was slowly but surely being flooded and torn apart by the severe weather conditions. A new decision had to be made, and quickly. The gut reaction was to postpone the event until tomorrow, but that quickly created more complicated issues that were affecting a majority of the competitors in the field.
Suspension of Play, Explained
Section 1.7 of the PDGA Competition Manual for Disc Golf Events covers in extensive detail “Suspension of Play”. The subsection that applies specifically to the decision that was made to completely cancel the fourth and final round of the event comes from the following:
If a total of 72 holes are scheduled. All players must complete a minimum of 36 holes for the event to be considered official.
Based upon course availability, and if less than one half of the field needs to complete a round necessary to declare the event official, the tournament may be completed the day after the final round was scheduled. All suspended rounds shall be completed, unless conditions exist that make it impossible. If such conditions exist, the results shall be final as of the last completed round as long as the necessary hole requirements are met.
The USDGC was scheduled to be four rounds of 18 holes for a total of 72 holes, 54 of which were completed without issue during the first three rounds. And since the required amount of holes were completed (54), the results can be considered final as of the last completed round. The decision to cancel the round was an extremely disheartening one, but it had to be done.
To quote Adrian Southern, the representative from Innova Champion Discs that broke the news to all of the registered players by email this morning, “Round 4 of the 2016 USDGC has officially been cancelled. This was not an easy decision to make. Postponing the round would have caused many logistical problems for both our players and staff. Since many of you have traveled to get here, rescheduling hotel and flight accommodations on such short notice would have proved to be very difficult and in many cases not possible. This has been made more difficult due to the influx of evacuees from the coast.”
Story: Marty Gregwah / PDGA