Feb 25 & 26 Onetangi Sports Park Disc Golf Course
Summer on the beautiful Waitemata Harbour
It’s always good to have an ace up your sleeve
After 40 brave sporting bodies put their skills to the test in Taupo, the tour had now shifted up north to the scenic backdrop, beautiful ridgelines, oh and not to mention a spot of wind of Waiheke Island. After a year in obscurity “The Island” was back and putting on a landscape that was second to none. With the weather playing it’s part the scene was set for another fantastic tour event.
With Course designers Siep van Vliet and the ever trusty Paul Cohen doing a fantastic job in redesigning a new course layout for the tournament the two local lads were looking to cash in on course knowledge. While TD Brett Hailstone was hoping he could transfer his good from the stick version to the proper version of golf. With some new faces taking on the challenge it was great to see a new breed of Waiheke lads coming through with Jake Hailstone and Kip Hailstone competing for the Junior Division division. Also more international faces were to appear With American Mark Carney competing in his first disc golf event in this country while fellow countryman Nick Harrel IV was far more accustomed to the Kiwi ways of disc golf and knew what lay ahead. And for the orange shorts of Nicholas Mckay his hands were a little heavier with the new addition of his wedding ring being firmly wedged on his finger (ceremony at his local disc golf park Monte Cecilia!). Congratulations Nick from all the disc golf crew.
The first round saw a similar story starting to unfold with 2012 National Champion Simon Feasey taking the lead shooting a 50. Hot on his heels was course designer Siep van Vliet was on course to be in the lead only to be undone on the last two holes, which saw him shoot a very impressive 52 in the first round. TD Brett Hailstone (53) was enjoying the stigma that comes with leading the Grand Masters Division and it was left to Jenny Joynt to lead the field in the woman’s division with Nigel Hailstone (57) holding the lead over the pesky Mexican Juan Unda in the Masters Division.
The afternoon saw the sun really belt down on the course and start to take it’s effect on the golfers. While most were trying to better their scores the sun and wind were making sure that you had to work for every shot you picked up. After a poor showing at the Nationals by his standard David Keene got out the blocks early with 3 birdies in the first five holes of round two. Meanwhile Simon found a slow start to cut his lead to just one before a third of the round was gone. The battles of the locals was heating up with Siep and Brett going toe to toe on the scorecard too, while hunting them down at the top of the second group was the ever improving leftie Brad Muir with some very impressive golf. Firing himself into outright second and one shot behind after a hot front nine holes was 'Speedo' Keene, shooting a 23, while The Fease was also in hot form with a 25.
The back nine dished up a lot more carnage with the wind at it’s absolute best and Keene was unable to capitalise on the good from of the front nine. However shooting a birdie on the testing 17th saw him sneak to the front of the field while a lost disc on the same hole (only to be found within 5 minutes of finishing the round ) for Simon Feasey meant he would have to repeat his feats of the 2012 Nationals and come from behind. The skill of local Brett Hailstone came to the floor in the second round with some spectacular approach shots that shows he should spend more time on the tour than the stick course. Meanwhile Brad Muir had put some serious heat on the top four shooting a second round 52 to be tied with Siep van Vliet and needing a countback to see who would be in the top group come morning. Nigel Hailstone was still keeping the Mexican at arms length in the Masters (while the Mexican even resisted riding at the chance of getting one over the guy they call Waiheke). Course designer Paul Cohen was ruing a few flights into the rough and was going to need something special to stop the Grand Masters title going to good friend Brett.
The New Zealand Disc Golf Tour sees some wonderful festivities on the Saturday night and in this reporter’s opinion the Waiheke event takes the cake - or should it be the fish. With the Hailstone boys dishing up some of New Zealand’s best seafood on Onetangi Beach during a amazing sunset, some Frisbee throwing, a few beers and stories about the day's efforts and shots that were left out on the course. This was truly a chance for the American contingent of Mark Carney and Nicholas Horell to see just why New Zealand’s’ disc golf tour is one worth experiencing.
Sunday saw an ever better day greet the golfers on the course without a cloud in the sky. Overnight leader David Keene once again started quickly out the blocks, birdying 3 of the first four holes, while Simon Feasey found himself in an unfamiliar position and slipping off the pace, until hole 6 that was. With Feasey on the tee doing only what he does best, he let rip with his favourite driver. Putting a good looking hyzer that flattened and started to take shaped towards the basket, while fading back to the left all eyes in the top group focused in too see just how good this drive was only to see the disc hit the bank 2 metres in front of the basket and smash full on into the chains for a 123 metre Ace!.
It was now game on between Feasey and Keene. With Feasey coming storming back to regain the lead by the 10th hole the question was to see if Keene could respond. While going stroke for stroke with Feasey in the back nine and at the end of the three rounds would see Feasey take a one shot lead into the super six after shooting a spectacular 48 while Keene was still within striking distance shooting a 50. While Brett Hailstone had the Grand Masters Title sown up with some solid golf over the weekend, he was more concerned about beating young up and comer Brad Muir who had fired a great 51 in the final round (including hitting the pole on the 6th just before Simon's ace on it), taking the battle for third place along with Siep van Vliet showing some supreme putting to put his name firmly in the mix.
Meanwhile the battle of the Americans was being hotly contested in the other group while eventual Woman’s Champion Jenny Joynt was not to be outdone making sure that she went shot for shot with the Americans shooting her best round of the tournament, for every person in their group scoring a 65 in their final round.
With Feasey and Keene battling it out for the stunning Two Taniwha trophy the eyes were firmly on the battle for third with Brett, Siep and Brad all within striking distance of each other and only 3 shots covering them for third place. Maybe it was the endurance factor, or the fact that they are both left handed, however the super six saw Brad Muir jump from 5th all the way up to third with some spectualr drives and impeccable putting. While in the battle for the trophie David Keene managed to pull the vital shot back after Simon Feasey missed a 5 metre putt on hole 2 of the Super Six which was a long par 4.
Playing the signature hole along the ridgeline and after following a stunning drive from Brad Muir, Keene put his drive in the hands of the Wind Gods and had looked to have given Feasey a reprieve flying well off the fairway. However a solid up shot meant that it would go to the last hole to determine a winner. While once again Muir’s impressive skill saw his upshot hit the basket both Feasey and Keene had found both of them in trouble. With both carding bogies on the last hole it meant they were to finish the tournament tied on 174 a piece and share the tour points. There was still the matter of the trophy though and so the top two pressed on to a Play Off.
With Keene parking his drive on the first playoff hole it took a Feasey like drive to put his shot even closer to the basket and both taking birdies. Both moving on to the second hole, which was again halved with Feasey missing a birdie and Keene unable to capitalise it was to other third extra playoff hole. With the wind playing it’s part, Keene found himself in thick gorse and opened the door for Feasey to play somewhat safe and guarantee himself of a three. What he wasn’t banking on was Keene managing to fire a recovery shot from 5 meters of gorse to give himself at least a chance of taking the playoff to another hole. However unable to convert it meant that once again Simon Feasey would get to engrave his name on the famous Two Taniwha trophy for 2012.
Congratulations to all winners of all divisions Simon Feasey (Open), Jenny Joynt (Womans), Jacob Hailstone (Junior Boys ), Nigel Hailstone (Masters), Brett Hailstone (Grand Masters). It was a fantastic tournament and brilliant to see some new faces on the tour, not to mention all the juniors that are being introduced to the sport. Many thanks to Siep and Paul for the course design. Also to the TD Brett & brother Nigel Hailstone for their amazing hospitality.
Valley of Life - Texan golfer Nick Harrel IV (Kingsville, TX) has climbed above the sports complex in an attempt for a welcome birdie on the steep uphill 2nd hole. Puff puff!
Finishing Strong - The final hole of the three rounds for Grand Master & Course Designer Paul Cohen (Waiheke Island) and he finishes strong with a great birdie 2 on hole 3.
Feild of Dreams. And Nightmares - American golfer Nick Harrel IV (Kingsville, TX) admired the drive of international traveller Woody on hole 5 which saw players toss over a line of native bush (that was to eat up a few discs on hole 4) to a basket delicately poised at the top of a slope..
Reap the Rewards - Many thanks to local winery Passage Rock Wines for some magnificent prizes..
Nice to Meet You - Nicknamed 'Waiheke', Nigel Hailstone (Orakei) is master of visualisationalism, completing his putt with a respectful handshake for the basket.
Balls of Steel - There was no holding back here as Paul Cohen (Waiheke) ignores the possible consequences of an overshoot on 16 to give himself a chance of applause - he was rewarded with a hit to the basket that sat down for a vital gimme par.
Set Up - There was much mirth after Woody offered Brett some of his special sunscreen. After liberal application, Brett was being referred to as the Clown of the Tour and had to endure this overnight as the look stuck.
Sunet, Seafood and Stories - As gracious host Brett prepares mussell fritters, leading golfers Speedo and The Fease compare notes..
Tournament Dinner - Golfers were treated to fresh seafood with Snapper, Mussells, Fritters and Kowhai filling the bellies of the Frisbee Freaks.
Woody's Mate - A native Wood Pigeon guarded Nigel H's disc overnight on the 17th until he was able to get his nimble nephews to climb and retrieve (some lollies will do thanks Uncle).
"Very good mate!" - Nicholas praises Nick for a putting stance that he would be proud to be able to replicate himself.
Great Android App - From discgolf.co.nz photografite Len Skap: "Moe showed me how the standard Android camera (on Samsung) has a great panorama setting where it helps you scroll a full 180 degrees with ease." This is an example as Paul Cohen (Waiheke Island) enjoys some shade whilst watching the Top group way up in the middle of the shot about to drive the 13th. Pan further right and we see most of the course including the Sports Complex pavilion. Click here to see a larger version of this pic (opens in new window, 300kb).
Where's Woody? - At the tee for the Super Six is local golfer and co-course designer Seip van Vliet (Waiheke) who entertained with accurate drives and stunning long putt saves. But where's Woody?
Needed that One - The shot that sealed the top spot. After a fading forehand drive that went deep into the gorse, Dave 'Speedo' Keene (Remuera) made a great recovery but was unable to land this long putt to take it to yet another hole.
Flaxitive - Master of controlling a tight disc golf battle, favourite Simon Feasey (Oratia) backhands his second on the final Super Six hole to simply cover Dave Keene, taking it to a Play Off.
Triumphant - The Feasey reign continues for the Two Taniwha trophy. Simon states this as one of his favourite trophies, both for the experience and for the wicked design. Well done!
Long Way to Go - On the final Super Six hole, Brett Hailstone (Onetangi) sends his favourite driver off towards the almost hidden mini basket in the distance.
Legends of the Game - TD Brett was pleased to hand Jenny Joynt (Tokoroa) the Womens trophy, especially as Jenny travelled all the way from the Waikato to The Island.
Hailstone Dynasty - Dad Brett was stoked to hear of son Jacob Hailstone's personal best 62 on the 'normal' Waiheke course that saw him take out the Junior Division. Jacob, whilst equally stoked was also looking forward to Dad shrugging off the TD duties and getting around to fixing his trolley for him.
Shattered but Still Happy - These three youngsters rode their bikes to the ferry, rode across the island to the event, played 2 rounds, rode the MTB trails, rode to Onetangi for the Saturday feast, rode to the park Sunday, played more golf, rode more trails and then across the island to the ferry to return to Auckland. And they still had the energy to smile!
Final Putt - After his effort to keep the play off alive, Keene had a tough return putt to finish off.
Rejected - As the Top Group line up for Hole 14 in the background, Paul Cohen's disc is rejected by the basket on the ninth.
Leaping Lizards Batman! - Super Six contestant Seip van Vleit (Waiheke) is all style as he releases on the lengthy final hole.
Little Big Leftie - He's now a regular face in the Super Six - Brad Muir (Auckland) with his massive leftie drive and great shot selection is now getting a reputation for his calm easy-looking play, nicknamed Brad n Butter.
Little Guy - The lowdown baskets on a few holes had Nick Harrel IV (Kingsville, TX) chuckling, reminding him of the Low Rider pickup truck he once had in LA.
Putt and Ride - We have seen several dsic golf courses on mountain bike trail areas. In this case, we see mountain bike trails around the disc golf course as these trails are pretty new to the area. Italian golfer and MTB rider Elvis Zaskarelli checked them out and gave a big thumbs up to the Waiheke MTB Club for their efforts. Now you have yet another reason for visiting this venue!
* Simon Feasey wins Two Taniwha trophy on 4th playoff hole.