Photo: Alyssa Van Lanen – DGPT

Before the Great Lakes Open kicked off last Friday, there were reports of the Toboggan course not being ready while players were practicing on Thursday, July 4th.

As the event progressed, more issues were brought to light, both by players and the Disc Golf Pro Tour.

Organization and preparation issues are not uncommon at disc golf events, large or small. Tournament Directors often have full-time jobs outside of the sport and it is, unfortunately, normal to operate events at a monetary loss. For an event of its stature on tour, however, the complaints coming out of GLO seemed louder and more worrisome.

This was the second season GLO has been on the DGPT, and prior to that was a PDGA National Tour stop in 2013. John Minicuci, who also TDs the United States Amateur Disc Golf Championship on the same course, has been the TD of GLO since 2013. When players were beginning to voice concerns of the course, such as missing tee signs and OB markings, it did not appear as if Minicuci was present at the course. Minicuci has not responded to Ultiworld Disc Golf requests for comment.

Even with its DGPT affiliation, the tour still shares responsibilities with and relies heavily on the event TD in relation to course set-up, not unlike the PDGA’s relationship with NT TDs.

“The DGPT sets standards for its events. Some of those standards in regards to course preparation and set up, tee sign/caddy book submission, and general player communication were not met by the event,” said Seth Fendley, DGPT VP of Communication. “The Pro Tour does have course assets — OB Walls, truss, and water stations — which were all set up by Pro Tour staff by Tuesday of the event, but outside of those assets, course design, layout, and information for the caddy books and tee signs are all provided by the event. As soon as the DGPT became aware that the event was behind, it worked with the event to get things prepared ASAP.”

Players and other stakeholders also began helping out with course preparation on Thursday when it appeared it would not be finished without intervention. Brian Earhart was said to have put out tee signs, and Paul McBeth, the eventual event champion, could be seen putting out OB rope.

Nothing like a little course work from the 4X World Champ. The Discraft Great Lakes Open starts tomorrow! #discraft #dgpt

Posted by Ledgestone Insurance Open on Thursday, July 4, 2019

 

Players volunteering at events is also not uncommon, but the degree to which it was occurring was higher than we are often used to seeing, especially at an elite series tournament. Most of the players at GLO were also putting in the extra effort after practicing the course, staying longer than anticipated on the grounds to help out.

On day one of GLO, players were still disappointed in the product being presented to them. Andrew Fish noted some basic problems with arriving at the course and checking-in. His whole Twitter thread on the event is worth a read.

On the course, tee pad quality on the temporary track was a major talking point, as noted by Chris Clemons on Reddit, as well as Matt Dollar on Facebook.

I tee off later today for RD 1 of the DGLO event. I’m excited to compete with some of the best professionals in the…

Posted by Matt Dollar on Friday, July 5, 2019

 

On-course conditions weren’t the only concern. DGPT Tour Director Steve Dodge announced on Facebook that payout would not be immediately available on Sunday, promising to transfer winnings immediately upon receipt of the funds from the GLO organizers, who did not make the necessary bank transfers in time in the week leading up to the event.

“Payout is normally handled by the Pro Tour,” Fendley said. “In this case, it was decided the event would do it themselves.”

For people watching and following along at home, most of this would have been missed. It could have also been missed by spectators at the event. But there were some people that had attempted to volunteer their own time to work GLO and were turned away, like one user who chimed in on the tournament Reddit thread.

While the DGPT said there were no plans to impose any sanctions on the GLO organizer, Fendley did say the tour reviews each event after completion. Tournament sponsor Discraft’s Bob Julio had stronger words in a response to the video of McBeth roping lines on Facebook.


It’s hard to tell if we would have heard as many complaints from the Great Lakes Open without Hannah McBeth’s1 signal boosting of the early issues. Putting fault squarely in one person’s hands, in this case GLO TD Minicuci, is also not always fair.

However, with increased exposure to big events in terms of sponsors, more players making a living on the road, and an increase in the number of events wishing to be elevated to elite status, it’s fair to question what should be expected of TDs at large tournaments.


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