Maple Hill has several buildings on-site, including a house, a garage, and at least one barn.
Plus, the “sap house.”
If you’ve been to the grounds, or if you’ve ever watched coverage of the DGPT – MVP Open at Maple Hill, you’ve seen the sap house.
On the 18th hole, the sap house looms large. And on the final day of the tournament, you’ll see it ringed with people, especially on the deck that surrounds the second floor.
Upstairs, there’s a game room – a favorite hangout area for players. Downstairs, patrons will find the pro shop filled with discs, accessories and souvenirs. Visitors can even take a bit of Maple Hill home with them, in the form of Maple Hill-branded maple syrup.
If the syrup, which comes from trees on the property, is as sweet as the competition that goes on around and through those same trees, few bottles make it all the way home without being tasted again and again.
And, after Sunday’s final rounds, patrons will only want more. More syrup, and especially, more of the championship disc golf that can only be consumed at the same venue.
FPO: Eighteen isn’t Enough
At Maple Hill, the FPO field faced some of the most challenging conditions it has seen all season. On day one, storm delays and rain. On days two and three, a chilling, blustery wind gusting as high as 30 mph.
The conditions kept scoring tight, and going into the final day, players knew it would come down to the wire.
Ten players began the day within five throws of the lead, and throughout the course of a beautiful morning, players slowly dropped out of contention until three remained at the top – Paige Pierce, on the chase card, and Kristin Tattar and Natalie Ryan in the final grouping.
For a brief moment, all were tied at 2-over-par. After Pierce’s bogey at the 17th and crowd-thrilling birdie at the 18th were recorded, 2-over-par became the clubhouse lead.
But Kristin Tattar and Natalie Ryan each birdied the 17th hole, and each was out of position to go for the green on the par-4 18th. Their pars would keep them ahead of Pierce, but would also keep them tied.
They would have to play the 18th again – a playoff to determine a champion.
Both players threw perfect drives. Tattar, playing first, went for the daunting rock wall-encircled, island green with a forehand that barely held onto the mulch that surrounds the basket. Then Ryan stepped to her lie.
Exclaiming, “Yes!” immediately upon releasing the disc, Ryan and hundreds of fans watch her approach glide over the gap and settle next to the basket like a butterfly with sore feet.
Tattar would have a putt from the edge of the 10-meter circle to push the playoff to another hole, but when that putt, in front of a hushed crowd, clanked off the front of the basket, Natalie Ryan became a two-time winner on the 2022 Disc Golf Pro Tour.
MPO: Drama on the Biggest Stage
Corey Ellis began the day with a three-throw lead at 12-under-par. Eight players, each between six and nine under par for the tournament, sat poised to make a run.
By the end of the day, at least four players would claim the solo lead, at least for a moment, and several more jumped into a tie for the top spot.
Most of the players in the field shot their best rounds of the championship on Sunday, but in the end, just one would hoist the iconic wooden MVP maple leaf trophy.
From the third card, Paul McBeth and Ricky Wysocki would battle, not only for Maple Hill supremacy, but also for the season long DGPT championship. Each made a bid for the lead, but they were also battling with players several holes behind them on the course.
Those players simply had more birdie opportunities as the round came to a close. When McBeth posted a clubhouse lead at 14-under-par, the final two foursomes had multiple holes remaining.
Simon Lizotte – the international-disc-golf-star-turned-Massachusetts-hometown-hero – was the first to surpass McBeth thanks to two birdies in his final three holes. Lizotte closed out a hot round of 10-under to finish at 16-under for the event.
Then, he waited.
On the lead card, Gannon Buhr had closed in, before a devastating double bogey at the 16th ended his championship run. Then Linus Carlsson and Corey Ellis approached the 18th, each tied with Lizotte, and each with one final chance to change the outcome.
Carlsson threw a wayward drive which thwarted any opportunity to go for the green in two on the par four. When his approach – already his third throw – missed the island, Carlsson bowed out of the race.
Only Ellis remained.
A stellar drive placed Ellis with well-under 200 feet remaining to the wood chips surrounding the basket – which itself sits surrounded by an out-of-bounds rock wall and, on Sunday, hundreds of spectators.
The visual – in person or on the Disc Golf Network – describes the pressure better than words.
Ellis elected to settle the score by going for the green, the birdie, and the win. He measured the distance, selected his disc, and unleashed a forehand approach designed to sail out over the fans and bank rightward into the island.
Lizotte, tucked into the shadows at the back corner of the green, watched Ellis’ disc arc over the crowd… but it continued, long and left to the mixed reaction of the fans, both heartbroken for Ellis and ecstatic for Lizotte.
Ellis did have a par-saving putt to throw, and when that circle-two look missed, deflecting off the basket by inches, Lizotte sat down on the rocks and buried his face in his hands.
After a day-one rainout, and an opening round of two-over on Friday, Lizotte had clawed his way back to win, in regulation, at his home course.
Time for a victory lap.
The Tour Championship
Tattar’s runner up finish was more than enough to secure the season-long points title, the tallest DGPT trophy, and the first round bye in the upcoming DGPT Tour Championship in North Carolina.
Pierce, Catrina Allen and Ohn Scoggins also earned byes.
Those just making it into the play-in round of the championship on the last day of the last playoff event include Jennifer Allen and Macie Velediaz.
In the MPO field, the season-long championship came down to a single finishing position. McBeth needed to finish higher than Wysocki by several places to pass Wysocki in the points race.
And, while McBeth finished in a tie for third, while Wysock finished in a three-way tie for sixth, Wysocki’s points lead proved just large enough to survive the day. By just five points, Wysocki is the 2022 DGPT season champion.
McBeth, Calvin Heimburg, and Buhr make up the top four. They, along with several others including Lizotte, will enjoy byes during the two opening rounds of the tour championship tournament.