Disc golf pros review Slippery Rock’s redesigned course
Professional Disc Golf competitors Martin Handel (left) and Jamie Skiendziel, from Saint Thomas, Ontario, Canada, have earned invitations to compete in the World Championships Aug. 1-8. The duo recently stopped by Slippery Rock University to practice on the University's 18-hole course, which is the site for the championship finals.
July 21, 2015
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - In preparation for the upcoming 2015 Pro Disc Golf Association (PDGA) world championships at Slippery Rock University, the top disc golfers in the world are coming to SRU early to play practice rounds and gauge the course. So far reviews have been stellar.
A total of 421 athletes from 10 countries divided into 12 divisions begin preliminary round play for the world championships Aug. 4-7 at four local courses: Slippery Rock University, Deer Lakes Park, Knob Hill Park and Moraine State Park. The top four players in each division at the end of preliminary round play advance to take part in a final nine-hole round at SRU Aug. 8 to decide one champion per division.
According to several PDGA pros that will be competing at the championships, SRU's course has everything that an elite disc golf course should possess. Martin Hendel, who has 17 career wins on the PDGA Tour, noted that a quality disc golf course must encompass a variety of hole lengths, elevations and wooded areas.
Fellow tour pro Tony Inzana, who has won 10 PDGA events in his career, said that Slippery Rock's course has all of those traits and that its design sets it apart from the three other courses that will host preliminary round play during the week.
"The Slippery Rock course is a great one," said Inzana. "What is nice about Slippery Rock is that the course is vastly different from the other three courses we will play on. They are set in a different environment and there are many holes in tight wooded areas. It was refreshing to play a more open course at Slippery Rock. I feel that the course maximizes the available land very well. I played from the long tees and it is certainly a lengthy course and requires some physical stamina, especially on a couple of the uphill holes."
J. Gary Dropcho, the 2015 PDGA world championship tournament director, redesigned the par-66, 9,956-foot course from nine-holes to a full 18-hole course a year ago. SRU's course compares favorably to some of the best courses on the tour this season.
"The scenery at Slippery Rock rates higher than the other courses I've played this year," said Inzana. "Some holes are hard, but overall it's an average difficulty level due to lack of obstacles. The challenging par-4s and elevation changes are some of the main things I look for. Overall it's a great course."
Opinions on what the easiest and favorite holes were varied, but baskets six, seven and 18 were consensus picks for the most challenging.
"Seven is very difficult with the hill, but what a view it is as you turn the corner to take your second shot," said Handel. "Wow, talk about intimidating."
"I find six to be the toughest for me because it takes two very long precise drives to have a birdie opportunity," said Inzana. "The elevation provides an extra challenge."
Holes four, 14, 15 and 16 received multiple votes as favorites to play; four and 16 due to their eagle and birdie chances and 15 because of its overall design.
"I really liked hole 15," said Handel. "It's a well designed hole, especially where the basket is placed. It requires setting up your shot in order to navigate the turns at the end to get to the basket."
However, no course is perfect. Recommendations for tweaks to the course were focused mainly on the walking distance between holes.
"There might be talk of the extra walking because a lot of times it's in the sun with minimal shade, but for the most part everyone will like the course," said Inzana. "There are birdie opportunities, a few challenging holes and great scenery."
One thing that was a near consensus was that entrants into this year's championships would be impressed when they finally have the chance to compete at Slippery Rock.
"I believe that most are going to really enjoy the course," said Handel. "It's the perfect course for the finals partly because it has room for huge galleries that will be around to watch."
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