Two Heads report through the eyes of a Sandgroper

Richard Sampson drives with Mount Wellington watching

Perth’s Kingsley Flett recalls his experiences from January’s Two Heads Open at Poimena Reserve.

Disc Golfers from WA who’ve already been to Poimena Reserve in Tasmania like to tell scary bed-time stories to frighten the others who haven’t yet. They’re just like fishing fables, so every year the hills get bigger, the drop-off behind the baskets more spatial and the slope around the basket on hole 8 so steep that you need crampons and an ice axe just to cling to it – ‘miss a putt there and you’ll have to walk down and get your disc out of the shopping centre car-park three k’s away’ etc.

WA’s Kim Holmes holes out on #5

But for all this yarn spinning, I’m yet to talk to any of the Perth boys who don’t get their expectations blown-away anyway. The place is almost impossible to exaggerate. A case in point? Kim Holmes this year. Now I must admit to having said to Leonie Slatter last year ‘Kim would never get around Poimena’. First struck by arthritis thirty two years ago, when he was 28; it’s evidence of his determination that he even gets around the dead flat Rob Hancock memorial in Perth. Yet here he was, slogging up the hill on hole-15, leaning on his trekking poles and with buggy in tow. It was our first practice round after arriving a few days early; we’d started at the bottom of the hill and were working our way up.

We got to tee-17 and we’d crested a bit of a rise. Kim looked up and said,

“So this is the top?”

“No” I replied. “This is just the top of the bottom. The top is up there.” I pointed up to tee-5.

He slumped for just a second. I think that, right then, he was in the middle of his personal Kokoda. Poimena is just that sort of place. But then arriving at the top of the hill half an hour later and looking at a view that includes Mount Wellington, and feeling the cool breeze coming up from Hobart, ruffling the surface of the winding Derwent River and changing its colour from bright blue, to deep grey and back again, every few minutes. ; I could sense that ‘our Sensei’, as we call him, was glad he’d arrived at this special place.

I figured that there were two ways of looking at travel to Tasmania this year. Some passed on coming to Two-Heads because they didn’t want to double up on trips to Tasmania – what with the nationals being held there in October and all. I viewed it the other way – two trips to play disc golf in the most beautiful setting one the most challenging course you can find. I barely needed an excuse.

Paul Arden, watched by Danielle Carson and Adrian Richardson

Nevertheless the numbers were a bit lower this year and it was a small field of twelve that wandered down the gravel track from the car park to Australia’s only disc golf club house on Saturday morning. Like last year, Lee Bird left everyone guessing as to whether he’d turn up or not and changed the script by not showing; which left new ADG tour champ Chris Finn without one of his major rivals. But as he was to find out – hard core Tassie locals like Harvey Yarnall and Richard Sampson are hard to beat on their home ground. Dr Greg Bowers made the trip down from Melbourne and met some good competition in the advanced, with Aussie Women’s champ Heidi Richardson’s husband Adrian coming out for the weekend. Kim Holmes and I made it three who’d travelled across from WA. Paul Arden had also travelled down from Victoria to round out the field.

The mornings play got underway with a round of 18 from the long tees and straight away Harvey gave the field something to chase with an excellent 56; opening up a 5 throw lead on Paul Arden, a 6 throw lead on Richard Sampson and a crippling 9 throw lead on Chris Finn. Heidi Richardson threw a nice 73 to be leading the women’s from Danielle Carson. Adrian Richardson, who was a tad sleep-deprived after arriving from a nights caving, shot a solid 63 to open up a 6 throw lead on Aussie Champ Greg Bowers. While myself (masters), Kim Holmes (grand masters) and Will Richardson (juniors) were all dominating our divisions over the rest of Australia who hadn’t turned up.

Chris had a forgettable round in the morning, hitting the ‘chastity belt’ with his putts at least a dozen times – and we all know what that means at Poimena – the downhill chicko-roll of death and a couple of extra strokes to your scorecard. Still, he kept his cool Chris – when many others would have been indulging in tantrums. He accepted his run of luck with dignity and humour.

 

Chris Finn in flight

After an excellent lunch provided by the Richardson family, including some awesome Tassie smoked salmon, we tackled the hills again for 18 holes from the short tees. Richard Sampson got into his groove in the afternoon with a smoking 55, to pull a couple of strokes back on Harvey. The rest of the top 5 men scored 56. Greg pulled a shot back on Adrian in the advanced and the rest of us continued to dominate our divisions. The scores at the end of the day were: Harvey 112, Kingsley 115, Richard and Paul 116, Chris 120, Adrian 123, Kim and Greg 128, Hiedi 143, Will 146 and Danielle 226.

At the Saturday night players party in Richard’s classic ‘men’s retreat’ in the hills above Hobart, I was having a yarn with Harvey; both of us commenting on how sweet it was to be so many strokes ahead of these young punks, how there must be something deeply flawed in the psyche of Gen-Y that they can’t keep up with a couple of silverbacks like us. At least that’s how I remember the conversation going. We both commented on how we’d played ‘boring’ disc golf, trying to get the drives in a good spot and go from there; taking the birdies when they came but not pushing for them. This is probably the secret to playing many courses but it’s doubly so at Poimena.

The smaller crew and absence of the Bandy boys made the players party a sober affair compared to last year and we all retired early in preparation for day -2.

Another round of the long-18 started on Sunday morning. Where Richard continued his excellent form from the previous afternoon and shot a tournament-best 53; to take another couple of strokes off Harvey who stayed solid with another 56. Chris Finn had a better morning with a 56, while Paul Arden and I dropped off the pace with 63 and 64 respectively.

Adrian stretched his lead by one more throw over Greg, to take out the advanced. Heidi took out the women’s and would have won easily even if Danielle had managed to make it for day 2; but 36 holes of Poimena is a pretty tough introduction for your first disc golf tournament and she decided to do some site seeing around Hobart instead.

The Two Heads line up for 2011 (well, almost everyone)

With the rest of the divisions already decided before play. It was now time watch the final four to play a specially designed ‘monster-9’ that included a huge up-hill par 7. Harvey was one throw ahead of Richard (168 and 169 respectively), with Chris 9 throws back on 176 and Paul most probably out of contention on 179.

A couple of birdies early-on gave Chris a crazy chance to catch the two locals. But on the signature hole of the monster nine – a huge downhill throw to a specially placed basket, where all but Paul Arden hung their drives right out over the bush before having them fade back in, Chris’s drive inexplicably turned right and sailed into oblivion, along with his faint chances. ‘That’s my most over-stable disc’ was all he could say in wonder. Following that with a six on the next hole cemented his fate and it was down to Harvey and Richard, level pegging with four holes to play.

 

Harvey Yarnall

Richard lined up an amazing long putt that had to be threaded through a picnic shelter to pull one shot back from Harvey on the second last hole and they went into the final playoff hole on level terms. Harvey threw a better drive and then an excellent up-shot to be facing a ten metre up-hill putt for the win. In fact he only had to lay-up and then drop in to guarantee the win but he went for it anyway, risking a bounce and roll that could have let Richard back in. The putt missed, but sat at the bottom of the basket obediently for him to drop in for a great, pillar to post victory. It’s not an easy thing to carve out an early lead and then spend the weekend defending it and Harvey played cool, steady golf all tournament. The final four put on quite a show for the small following gallery, with Chris and Paul, although out of contention, making some amazing shots in the increasingly tricky winds.

When accepting his trophy Harvey said ‘it’s a boutique tournament’ as part of his speech. As our sport grows, and especially after Poimena’s exposure to a wider international audience this October, I can’t help but feel Two Heads will be permanently marked out on the calendar of quite a few disc golfers around the world. For me it’s a great excuse for a week in Tassie to breathe the cool, fresh air, sample the fresh local produce and enjoy the rugged scenery. Now where’s my diary…..

Kingsley Flett

Kingsley Flett contemplates another sloping green

Results

Player
R1
R2
Total
R3
Total
Final
Total
Harvey Yarnall (open)
55
57
112
56
168
39
207
Richard Sampson (open)
61
55
116
53
169
39
208
Chris Finn (open)
64
56
120
56
176
42
218
Paul Arden (open)
60
56
116
63
179
45
223
Kingsley Flett (master)
59
56
115
64
179
Adrian Richardson (Mens Adv)
63
60
123
65
188
Greg Bowers (Mens Adv)
69
59
128
66
196
Kim Holmes (Grandmaster)
66
62
128
70
198
Heidi Richardson (Women Adv)
73
70
143
73
216
William Richardson (Junior
70
76
146
71
217
Danielle Carson (Womens Rec)
106
120
226
DNF
DNF
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