Heading Home: The final Chapter of USDGC from Craig
"You'll remember me when the west wind moves
Upon the fields of Winthrop
You'll forget the sun in his jealous sky
As we walk in the fields of gold"
-sting (with a bit of a modification)
The opening banquet was my first clue that this week would be like, and end like no other. On Tuesday night, As the throngs of hungry Disc Golfers ate their last helpings of Sweet Potatoes and Nanner Pudding, I listened intently as the grizzled veteren Harold Duvall indulged us all to get some of the "gold" that comes from playing the USDGC at Winthrop. I recollect that the statement seemed somewhat trite. Granted, this is the finest and most difficult course in the world as well as one of the most prestigious events in our sport. Internally, I dismissed his offerings - After all, how could the USDGC experience could be anything more than challenging disc golf at an amazing venue? What I didn't realize at the time is how true Harold's enticements would soon become.
As my final putt rang the chains on 18, I reflected back on the week and realized that I was the most fortunate competitor at the USDGC. I didn't score particularly well, nor did I place nearly as high, or as well as I had anticipated, however, at the end of this week I had scored gold, lots of precious Winthrop Gold.
I was fortunate to be on the same card as the Legendary Ken Climo and played some of the best golf of my short DG career. I appreciated his easy demeanor and his reverence for a well executed golf shot, no matter who threw it. Not only is he an amazing golfer, but a genuinely nice person. Winthrop Gold
My bad fortune on 18, 2nd round landed me on a card with Mike Leslie and Barry Shultz on the 3rd round. I was amazed at Barry's skill and willingness to share his encyclopedic knowledge of disc golf. I learned several extremely valuable lessons from this top pro that I will carry forever.
I was able to witness unbelievable bravery as a injury crippled Mike on 18. Mike made it through with courage and returned to finish his final round on Saturday. Winthrop gold.
I want to reiterate the outpouring of respect for John Ollis. I was fortunate enough to witness his amazing disc golf abilities first hand. We owe John a great debt of gratitude for representing Oregon with integrity and skill. Congratulations John for bringing home some Winthrop Gold
All of the players, Volunteers and sponsors have made a lasting impression and I owe them my thanks.
The USDGC and Winthrop has made me realize that I have many lessons to learn, and many skills to yet master. As I suspected, I left the USDGC encouraged and humbled. I was definately over my head, but I was willing to take a chance and it has paid handsomly with Winthrop Gold
Finally, I want to share a personal story and I hope you will indulge me, even if it seems a bit sentimental. I may have mentioned to some of you that my eldest Brother, Mark Nielsen, passed away from a heart attack about 4 years ago. Mark introduced me to disc golf around 1980 and I remember his passion and keen disc skills as if it was yesterday. Although I had not played in the subsequent years, disc golf always had a place in my heart. In the last three years, I have pursued it with passion and intensity. As I have honed my Disc Golf Skills, Mark has always been at the back of my mind and seemingly shadowing my progress. It occured to me recently that I wanted to honor him in a special way. So, on October 7th, 2011, on what would have been my brother's 53rd Birthday, I putted a Disc that Mark bought for my nephew Erik Nielsen, into the 18th Basket. For just that short moment, I was able to share with Mark a bit of Winthrop gold.