Team Ace Recap

Max Humphries & The Autumn Open

We are debriefing the last UK Disc Golf Tournament, The Quarry Park Autumn Open, from the eye’s of Team Ace’s very own Max Humphries. Max picked up disc golf early on in 2020, he’s managed to play a small handful of competitions in the last 10 months and his attitude, enthusiasm and passion towards the sport and his fellow disc golfers is the reason why we gave him the opportunity to join the Ace Grass Roots Team for 2021 and grow his game and reach his disc golf goals.

The QP Autumn Open took place on Sunday the 13th of December, it saw 47 players come to the crowning jewel of UK disc golf. It marks the first tournament for new QP tournament director Ali Orr, Ali battled delays, conflicts with COVID spikes, the weather and course flooding but the tournament took place and ran very smoothly. Congratulations to Ali and all the hard work behind the scenes that a tournament demands.

The course layout was a modified black course layout of 15 holes. This was necessary due to the bottom part of the course being flooded due to the Avon bursting its banks and helping mitigate bottle necks on the course. Which was proven to how smoothly the day ran despite the weather trying it’s best to ruin spirits.

We are now going to pass over to Max, he’ll be running us through his day, successes, failures and all:

Arriving slightly later than we’d (Max Humphries and his Fiance, Amanda Bryant) have hoped for, we didn’t throw any practice putts or drives meaning our first throws of the day were the ones we threw on the tee-pad after starting our round. I don’t think this had too much of an effect at my level, but it is something I want to change going forward, so I can feel a little more comfortable and confident when throwing my first  few shots.

Disc selection for the entire day felt pretty good, apart from the one occasion that I walk through below but I didn’t feel as though my bag was lacking too badly and I know what's in my bag well. I thought I wanted a more overstable driver but quickly found out that my Kastaplast Glow KAXE was the disc I was looking for. It didn’t turn over in the wind and stayed straight! For me, the fact it’s a 6 speed over an 8 speed or higher suits my arm speed much better and I’m finding I am getting more of the proper flight from it than the disc dumping early left. 

My only OB of the day was due to a bad disc selection on Hole 14 (Roc or Rolla). My drive came out late and I was stuck on the far right of the fairway, facing the OB left fence, I had an awkward lie and an awkward next shot. I would usually use my GOTE (a straight to understable midrange) and give it some height and anny to let it turn right for me. In my head at the time, I talked myself out of it and instead chose the Genius, hoping that it would just turn if I threw it flat. Silly move. As soon as it left my hand, it went dead straight towards the OB without any indication of it wanting to turn. It cleared the fence by about 4” and got stuck in the hedge. Leaving me not much further up the fairway with a penalty for out of bounds.

In practice, I had the same shot where I had chosen the Gote and it worked out, so why I chose the Genius over the Gote is still a bit of a mystery, but it’s teaching me to use practice rounds to see what works, and then use what works in the tournament rounds, rather than second guessing in my actual tournament round.

Currently in my game, I am aiming to keep my x-step to a minimum as it often doesn’t add anything for me taking all three steps and taking it out removes any unnecessary form hiccups from the first few steps. I kept to my minimal x-step and didn’t get carried away. Maybe 5 holes out of 30 I went full x step and they were ok. This was exclusively on the more open holes and I had a lot more room to play with if it was a bad drive.

My putting was my biggest let down of my tournament performance. A genuine embarrassment at times. I had a couple of really nice and long putts which gave me a big boost. On the other side of this, I had about 8 or 9 cage hits and another 7 or 8 either airballs or short. We are talking about putts that are in between 3 to 5m range, it’s unacceptable, as those are just lost shots I should be canning. I can be positive about the band or basket hits at 6 to circles edge, but these errors hurt the most.

Something that really stuck with me was round 2, hole 3, par 3. I had a nice clean drive, it stayed straight and on the fairway, it went far, it was in no danger, I was very pleased. I then followed up with a great upshot, I threw my pierce fierce and got within 5m of the basket, the perfect chance for par! My par putt, I pulled it left with an airball and thought ok fine, I missed par, it’ll be a tap in bogey, this sucks, but fine. 3m from the basket, gimmie bogey putt, I then hit the cage. A double bogey that should’ve been a par, just because of my putting!! Three shots to make 8m.

My approach game was ok. Generally they are short of the basket because I didn’t want to put too much on it and go long. I think I am still getting a feel for approaches, they are very touchy and need a lot of feel in them which takes time. Typically, my upshots were fairly accurate, just not enough power which wouldn’t be an issue if I had a good putting game. 

My drives were a real mixed bag. Some of them, I couldn’t believe I got the distance and the control combined. It was awesome to see my drives come out clean. I just felt like my drive was coming together. My biggest drive killer though was my nose angles and releasing on hyzer. I can’t seem to consistently correct it but that’s the joy and curse of progression. 

The mood for our first round was awesome, lots of chatter and laughs. After a very wet last few holes and a wet lunch the mood on the card came back a bit cold cold and soggy. It is hard to keep up the energy for the card when it’s cold, wet and trying to stay positive about my game. I had checked the PDGA page and had seen that I played R1 below my rating which was a blow to me because I felt pretty good about R1 after I played it. After seeing my rating be lower it just threw me off and I felt so down about it, it was really hard to shake off as I felt like I played to my ability. I somewhat expected this to be the case (ratings to get in my head, not playing below my rating) but I didn’t have a method in my head for coping with it and it really put a lot of extra pressure in my game (I know it shouldn’t have, but it’s a battle) 

Lastly, this is a small thing I’ve never thought about before but my base layers were both wet and sticking to me for my second round and my beautiful Team Ace polo was soaked but there was no way I was going to be playing without it. For future tournaments, I’m going to get another set of base layers so at Lunch I can strip off, get warm, get dry clothes on again and aim to dry my team kit out so I don’t have to struggle with that wet damp feeling on the second round. I can feel fresh and return with the same positive mental attitude that I started Round 1 with!! I shot an additional 4 strokes on the second round, and it was definitely a combination of the wet and damp mood and the battle I was playing in my head, those small things had their effect.

So it wasn’t my finest weekend, but there are positives I will be taking from this weekend and there are things I will be working on improving on for the next tournament in February, the Wembley open.

In conclusion:

Easy Wins
- Extra dry clothes to hot swap at lunch to make sure I stay comfortable and bring my mood up

- My disc selection was on point
- My minimal x-step worked great
- My approach game got me inside the circle
- My drives were, on occasions, accurate with distance

Aspects to work on
- Make time to warm up prior to teeing off
- Putting between 3-5m, these need to be gimmies

It’s not easy to do what Max has done and analyse tournament performance like that. We are all determined to get better and this is a great exercise to break down the biggest gaps in your game, so you can work on them before you play your next tournament. Our next tournament is the Wembley Open in February 2021, both Adam and Max will be working together to improve their warm up routines and looking into putting improvements ready for the 2021 WO!

A big shout out to the other Team Ace players that played the QP Autumn Open, Jamie Matthews shooting the joint hot round (48) of the day with Jon Tweed who ended up winning MPO. Josh Birmingham for shooting only one shot behind the hot round with a 49. Michael Sharkey for battling the conditions and securing a solid 5th in MA2. Max secured 15th out of 18 in MA4 which is a victory in my book.

Go give Rachel Turton some love for becoming 2020 Scottish Player of the Year!!! What an achievement, keep an eye on Rachel for the up and coming 2021 season #makingmoves!!

Another shout out to great friends of Ace. A HUGE congratulations to the first of many wins for Amanda Bryant, you are crushing!! A good showing from Dennis Jones, securing 6th in MA4. Congratulations to Andrew Malcolm for getting the MA4 win and finally, Harry Messenger of Don’t Shoot Podcast fame, keep up the great work by competing at the top in MA2.

Guys and Gals, how do you break down your last tournament? Do you file it away never to look at it again? Do you blame most of the bad things on that one disc in your bag that you shouldn’t throw but always do? Or do you have a mega spreadsheet tracking all the stats and aspects you should be improving on?


The Ace Disc Golf Team

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