By Jeff Nations
One shot, that's all -- no more, no less.
That's the idea behind the Third Annual Ace Race, a modified disc golf event set for Saturday at the Signal View Disc Golf Course in Maurertown. Players will have just one attempt per hole to throw an ace by landing their disc in each metal basket on the course.
It's not quite as hard as it sounds. The event, one of several hundred held annually across the United States and backed by disc golf manufacturer Discraft, is designed to encourage players of all abilities to come out and play in a unique format. There might be only one shot per hole, but the distances have been halved -- or more -- for the tournament.
"It's a lot shorter," said Shenandoah County Parks and Recreation Director Pam Sheets. "At the Signal View course in Maurertown, we have three tee pads -- beginner, intermediate and pros. For the Ace Race, they players will be in front of all those. Most of the holes will be 150 to 200 feet, some even shorter, and at the most 275. That's pretty short, considering some of our holes are 400 feet."
Sheets said the shortened course, along with the fast-paced format, has been a hit with area players in the two years the SCPRD has held the event at the Maurertown course. Last year, participation was up to 32 players after 26 came out for the first edition. This year, there are 40 spots reserved for players and more can sign up to play.
Players who pre-register for the tournament (up to 40) will receive a guaranteed players' pack consisting of two prototype Ace Race discs, a mini disc, a glass, score cards and more. Sheets said players who sign up late will still get a players' pack sometime after the event.
The Ace Race will feature three divisions -- youth, women's and open -- and players will have two rounds of 18 holes to race up as many aces as possible. Points will also be awarded for chains during play, and grand prizes will be awarded to event winners. In addition to the regular competition, the day will feature contests including Distance Driving and Ring of Fire to test players' skills. All players will use the same prototype disc during competition.
"The thought behind the Ace Race was just to encourage people to come out and play," Sheets said. "It's a little more of an informal format than a tournament."
This year's participants will also get a chance to play some holes on the not-yet-opened expansion to the Signal View course. Currently nine holes, Signal View should be up to 18 holes sometime next year. Sheets said the trail for the additional nine holes has already been cleared and the holes are in place. For Saturday's Ace Race, temporary baskets will be set up for the new holes and tees will be marked off with flags.
Sheets said the Ace Race has been a hit so far with area players.
"It's been very popular," Sheets said. "Every year that we've had an Ace Race we have our regular contingent of players, but we also get some newbies."
Entry fee for the Ace Race is $25. Players can pre-register in person, through the mail or online at the Shenandoah County Parks and Recreation website (www.scprd.org). Registration will also be held on Saturday starting at 9:45 a.m., and a players' meeting is set for 10:15 a.m. just before the competition opens.