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Last weekend I noticed a couple trends while acting as the Starter at the Amateur National Championships.

Held at the Toboggan course, the first hole is a long, blind, sharply downhill, dog leg right (so a righty anhyzer). The course itself is long with steep hills and thick, nasty rough. This was my 8th year with this assignment at this tournament (dang, you would have thought I would have been promoted by now :) ) and I took note of a couple trends.

The first is that a lot more players are driving forehand. As a Starter I stay at #1's teepad all day and don't see the other holes. But for a righty, #1 is a natural forehand shot (or a backhand anhyzer). In the first years the tournament was held only a couple players threw forehand drives on this hole. I kept track in the final round and 20% of the players threw forehand drives.

When I started driving forehand many years ago the only forehand shots I typically witnessed from other players were the lean-out-of-a-bush, desperation forehands. I could go for weeks or months of tournaments without seeing any other player drive off a teepad forehand.

The other trend I noticed was long socks (knee highs). One of my early teachers was Gary Laura and Gary commonly wore long socks on any course with thick rough. I did too, understanding it was a clear violation of fashion rules.

In the Summer I cannot handle long pants due to the heat. I also dislike the feel of long grasses on my lower legs. Long, WET grasses are worse. Brambles and thickets are even worse. Mosquitoes are the very worst and they seem to prefer lower leg meat. So for years I have collected tickets from the Fashion Police as well as ribbing and insults for my choice of hoisery (not that I really care :) ).

I'm not sure if fashion trends are changing and long socks are less of a faux paus or if an increasing number of players are more concerned with conserving the skin on their legs than their appearance.

I didn't count the number of players wearing long socks but Brain Graham (PDGA Executive Director) noted that he was not used to seeing long socks in his part of the country (Georgia).

The other trend I noticed was that Am Nats filled at 144 players and we had to turn a few away. I think that was because of the superior promotional efforts of our new TD, Phil Shelton. I hope the players had a good time and congrats to our new National Champion, Blaine Kinkel of South Carolina.

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Mark, I've never noticed your socks. Poked fun at your shirts a few times (the Hulk shirt is a classic!) but left the socks out of the discussion. I'll pay more attention in the future. When it comes to socks, Burl is far and away our national champion and you've got a ways to go to catch her.

Phil did some fine pimping for this event, I'm glad it filled. I'd thought a lot of players slipped in using the 940+ gateway into the tourney, but I may be wrong. With low turnout for pros at a lot of events regionally, its good to see at least one segment of the player base traveling. I'm wondering what the criteria will be for next year. Seems to me the qualifying event system is undermined severely by an "open door" policy for the top rated Ams.

Didn't make it out to Am Nats this year myself, couldn't drum up any interest for coverage of the event on my show. Missed my yearly dose of breakfast pizza and chance to visit with Haaksma and the other staff, aaaarrrrgh.

Every player who has played at the Amateur National Championships at the Toboggan has earned his or her spots ( 2 women have competed so far). There are no exemptions, there are no freebies. For an Amateur player to earn a 940+ rating is no small thing. 940+ puts the player in the top echelon of the Am ranks. Ask all the players below 940 how easy that is.

Obviously the goal is to bring in the best Amateurs. This year we had players from 24 States and Switzerland.
I think the forehand driving is just evolution of the sport.
Although i have not been playing for long i think that people that throw backhand just think that they should try to turn over a disc.
I believe throwing sidearm used to be something that everyone was against, almost a sign of weakness as a lot of casuals throw like that.
Thanks to players like Geoff and you Mr.Ellis i think people realize that both backhand and forehand can be equally balanced into a round.
I have only been playing for about half a year, but tall socks have been with me the whole time, after i tournament i may turn heads walking into the gas station with tall socks and hiking boots, but with the "in" people, they know whats going on.
I've been playing for just three years and everything I tried to pick up about the sport. Be it video or text. Most stated you need both forehand and backhand. To bad I can't throw a forehand, but that's another story :( As for the tall socks...I'll stick with Gators!
gotta love tall waterproof socks!
Burl has the Best Custom Tall Socks !!!
I've noticed guys rockin the "knee highs" lately also! I figure that they do this cause everything is dead here in San Antonio and shoes get filled with dead grass... What are those sock/shoe cover things that I am seeing now? They go over your shoe so stuff doesn't get in you shoe? 'Splain!
The forehand drives have really become easier to control with the advent of all these ultra high speed and overstable discs.. A lot of the newer up and coming players in my area throw forehand and they barely drive with anything short of an orc, on any distance.

That said I'm backhand and starting to get to the point where I would like to add a forehand to my game.. Thanks for the sweet youtube video, Mark.

The shoe/ankle covers are "gators". In texas you have to wear long socks or gators because everything here can defend itself. Ever thrown a disc in a cactus patch?
I just got back from a trip from Texas and while there unfortunately encountered something which is justly known as "spear grass."
Here in South Louisiana there are so many mosquitos that after being here outdoors for a few years, you develope gill like a fish that allow you to breathe them and extract oxygen. With 94 degrees in 100% humidy, pants lose the vote fast. This was my friends and I first spring playing the game and I will say this, sometimes the Deet just isn't enough or burns like heck in the sun and sweat. Not to mention the worst things of all...poison freakin ivy and thousands of sticker bushes wich seem to grow around my disc. This was my first ever encounter with poison ivy and after a couple of weeks of itching (still itchin now) I went out and bought soccer socks. I got laughed at .pretty heavily but I have no new outbreaks of poison anything...no mangles leg flesh from stickers...and no firey burn of deet on sunburned skin and in eyes from sweat. We have 3 courses within 15 minutes od where we live and one is 36 holes of freakin straight bush. Walk up to most of the teepads with a shaking head and discouragement. I'm with you on the socks man, now if there was only soemthing the heat and GIANT SPIDERS couldn't penetrate.

In responce to the forehand...It seems most, newer players for sure, get more D with little effort with the forehand. Also most newer players can't throw an annie naturaly and the forehand is the ticket. I like the backhand more myself...seems more traditional. If the pros back then can ring 'em up all backhand then thats what i want to do. My newbie goals follow a line of wanting to correct driving form, grip, run up, wrist position, pull-through, release time, all backhand. Then try to stop relying so much on the discs types to do the majority of the flite and have more of myself control the disc myself and make one disc do several things. I do see alot of people who play courses alot have a certain disc and throw for each hole. No doubt that when you're practicing before a tourney and see others doing the forehand on a hole, after a few failed annie attempts you say heck with it, that must be the good throw for the hole. Besides, I think alot of these new age Mac user Starbucks kids have power issues due to only pushing keyboard keys and and whipped cream off Frapps. HAHA
Only kidding, please no fights about computer preference....but I bet I'm half right...;)

About the socks...I think there is a scattered brotherhood out there, us guys who have all the girls already and no crazy socks can mess that up! Or just rather look like a goof then scratch or apply ointment to our legs every living day of our lives!!

Wear the socks proud Mark!!!!! Your part of the brotherhood!! We'll figure out a secret handshake later.
haha, this reminds me of the episode of Family Guy where the guys at the coffee shop having the following conversation.

"Hey, getting some writing done there buddy?"
"Yep, setting up in public so everyone can watch me type up my big screenplay."
"Me too! All real writers need to be seen writing. Otherwise, what's the point, right?"
"You should totally write that down!"
"Alright, will you watch me?"

God I love that show.


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