Mike is a fantastic tournament director. He’s been running disc golf tournaments for some 25 years and they’ve ranged in size from a few people to hundreds. His ability to run a smooth, fun event is one of the reasons why the Northwoods Open is arguably the most popular disc golf event in the state of Wisconsin. He credits all the support he gets from the disc golf community, which includes a staff of experienced tournament directors and statisticians; however, I happen to know his success comes not only from his experience, but also from his personality.
First of all, he’s a golfer and has been since 1974. He loves the sport, loves the discs, and loves most of the people who play. He’s got a strong voice, with stock-market-trained diaphragm projection, and he has created an amazing 27-hole course, literally carved out of the forest. Maintaining it is a top priority. It’s impossible not to notice all the thought and care that goes into the course at Sandy Point Disc Golf Ranch.
Also, he gives everyone who participates in the Northwoods Open a player package, Pros and Ams alike.
THE SUBJECT OF PRO PLAYERS vs. Amateur players came up today in a phone conversation I had with a person who called to ask about the tournament. He wanted to participate, but hasn’t had any tournament experience—even though he insisted he and “his partner” were phenomenal players. I suggest he enter the “Intermediate” Division for men, as it’s the competitive division for players just getting started with PDGA competition. The entry fee for this division is $35, which is $70 less than the Open Pro Division. Also, because this is a PDGA-sanctioned event and players must be current dues-paying members to participate (or in the case of amateur and recreational divisions, pay a PDGA tax of $10), his total fee would be $45 for two days of competition.
After asking several questions about the format, scoring, the check-in procedure (which would be “impossible” for him because he works two jobs—blah-blah-blah—) he wanted to know about payout.
“Now, I don’t mean to be modest (?), dear, but I noticed there’s nothing on your website about payout,” he said.
“Well that’s because we have no way of knowing what the payout will be until we have a final figure on the number of competitors. But the payout will be in line for the requirements of a PDGA A-tier event for the pros and B-tier event for the amateurs.”
“What kind of cash are we talking?”
“Amateurs don’t receive cash awards in PDGA events. It would compromise their amateur status. Instead they receive merchandise vouchers that are redeemable in our pro shop.”
“Well, that’s not right,” he said.
What came out of his mouth next was a combination of an incredulous reaction to this ridiculous practice, and a lecture of how it wasn’t right to contribute $45 to an event and expect to get no cash in return. “Let me put it to you this way, dear, how would you like to go to a competition, pay for it, win it and get nothing but a voucher in return?”
Sigh. I looked at the clock and remained calm. “If you want to play for money,” I said, “then you should play in the Open Pro Division.” I wanted to add: “But it’ll cost you even more, DEAR!” But I didn’t.
As he blathered on with his complaints and his lecture, my cell phone rang with my husband’s personalized urgent-sounding ring, and I knew I had to end my call with the incredulous lecturer disguising himself as a disc golfer. I had already spent far too much time explaining things like foursomes, saying your score out loud after each hole, turning in your card and being responsible for the math. . . . I’m happy to take entry fees over the phone and give lodging and local campground information, but I can’t conduct a player’s meeting on my dime when my other phone is ringing and I have a list of five other calls to return.
“I can’t have this conversation,” I said. “I have to go.” CLICK.
ANY SEASONED TOURNAMENT DIRECTOR will tell you that there can be 200 wonderful people participating in a tournament, who help make the experience fun and exciting. But he’ll also tell you that there’s ALWAYS one a$$hole, who threatens to mar your positive efforts.
The trick is to not let him get to you. Mike learned that a long time ago. I, on the other hand, crave an a$$hole-free existence and simply won’t tolerate a bully on any front. (Especially one that calls me “Dear” in every sentence he utters). This is why I’ll be back in Tucson during the 15th Annual Northwoods Open and Mike will be here, running what I’m sure will be another highly successful disc golf tournament.
Best of luck to all the great players who grace our Northwoods home each year. Have fun, and remember to LOOK UP!