As Director of Scoring for every Pro Worlds and combined Pro/Am Worlds since 2007, I am extremely excited about returning to Lemon Lake Park and Crown Point, Indiana. My experience at PDGA Worlds is typically confined to processing scores in a "bunker" conference room at the host hotel for practically the entire week, making it out to the courses only during the Semifinals and Finals on the last day. In 2010 I had the very pleasant experience of working in close proximity with the Lemon Lake Park staff all week long and got an inside look at what goes into maintaining a large county park. This park service crew was practically at our disposal the entire week, and the great job they did and the level to which they were dedicated to make that Worlds a truly professional experience cannot be overstated. When all is said and done, what I almost always remember most about PDGA Worlds is the people, and while I worked with some great, great folks in Santa Cruz, Kansas City, Kalamazoo, and Highbridge, the 2010 tournament staff of TD Brian Cummings, assistant TD Jay Svitko, the course TDs, the local club members, and the entire park staff were all laid-back folks who took everything in stride and addressed the inevitable glitches which popped up with calm and cool responses, and were a great joy to work with!
We've been really spoiled with top-notch courses the last few years. The Highbridge Gold course is still my favorite of all time, and the other finished courses (Blueberry Hill, Granite Ridge) were excellent as well. Kalamazoo had Timber Ridge, which was a very good ski hill course and made for possibly one of the best Final 9 venues; the last hole playing down to the basket in front of the lodge and the gallery was surely the greatest finishing hole ever at a PDGA World Championships. KC had WaterWorks, Cliff Drive, WyCo, and the awesome Blue Valley course whose thrilling playoff I never wanted to see end, and last year we had the world reknowned DeLaveaga. In 2010 we had the Lemon Lake Gold course which instantly became one of my top 20 courses played lifetime, which is now 17 years and 200+ courses. I didn't get to play the Red Hawk course until late in the week, but I loved it as well - it's got tight but fair woods, some nice rolling elevation changes, and some teeth to finish the course - 3 out of the last 5 holes are pro par four holes where a birdie 3 requires both accuracy and distance. I was able to 3 the downhill hole#14 but never could put consecutive shots together to take better than a (par) 4 on holes#17 and 18. Feldberg said the Red course was his favorite at Worlds, and I am almost inclined to agree with him, as other than the curious 90 degree dogleg right 7th, I thought every other hole was a gem. I surely don't understand why some competitors thought this course was anything less than superb.
The Blue course on the other hand was imo the most "blah" one on the property, and I do hope that some revisions are made for next year's competition. It's hard to argue that Eric McCabe's Open title was won in large part by posting a 42 on this course in Round 6, and Steve Rico had a 41 on the par 58 layout. That shouldn't happen in a PDGA Pro Worlds competition.
Some other much needed improvements should be far, far more spotters on the Gold course starting at hole#3, and better communication with the course marshal who is sending off groups at the tee of hole#1. If backups start to occur, the marshal needs to delay sending off groups on hole#1 until the backup alleviates and subsides. We really need to avoid marathon 5+ hour rounds on the Gold course, which one former Open world champion blamed on 8-minute tee times and who confronted me in an extremely agitated state about. I was basically told "that I lost that year's Worlds" for him.
The Gold course should also be reserved for Open, Masters, and Grandmasters only - Senior Legends, Legends, and Senior Grandmasters really shouldn't be out on the Gold course at all, even in its Silver course configuration.
Chuck Kennedy also assured me that the cell tower infrastructure and cell phone coverage near the park has improved dramatically, which was a HUGE problem in 2010. Despite being less than one hour from Chicago, Lemon Lake was a dead zone for major cell phone carriers. It seemed like unless you had T-Mobile, you got next to zero coverage almost everywhere in the park. Early in the week, event staff attempted to provide live photos and live commentary but this activity usually just resulted in barely anything going thru and a cell phone battery that drained in record time. It's a relief to hear that things will be much improved in that department.
I'm definitely looking forward to returning to a familiar place and familiar faces. I can't wait to hit up that Mexican restaurant over in Cedar Lake again, Crown Brewing in Crown Point, and Three Floyds Brewing
over in Munster, which is one of the top craft brewers in the world