While it’s true that there are roughly eight months remaining in the race for NHC Tour Champion, the handwriting is on the wall for me, even at this early stage. It is undeniable that if I hope to make a serious, profitable run at the big money awards handed out to positions one through four, I am going to need to register some impressive finishes in on-track contests that offer cash prizes. Short of that, I’m playing for nothing but expensive bragging rights.
Thanks to a run of bad luck avoidance in late March where my contest selections experienced a grand total of three bad trips over the course of two full contest slates, I already have two seats at NHC 2021. And thanks to a couple of bombs that I chose to play in cash online contests, I had a nice bankroll to fund about six weeks of points-chasing in NHC qualifiers. That chasing yielded me a few additional decent finishes which have led to me being ranked in the Top 25 on the NHC Tour leaderboard as of this writing. But perhaps more importantly, the last six weeks have demonstrated to me that a shift in strategy is required immediately, if for no other reason than the fact that the money I won in cash contests during my hot streak is now mostly gone.
The top of the NHC Tour leaderboard looks something like this at the moment, with last weekend’s scores not entered yet…
And here is a breakdown of how current leader Sally Goodall amassed her point total…..
Given that scores are calculated by taking a player’s top seven scores and adding in participation points, you can see that it’s only a matter of time before Sally Goodall replaces some of those lower scores with better ones and grows her total well above 20,000 and probably within shouting distance of 23,000 before all is said and done. It’s easy to see a final total above 20,000 being needed for a Top 4 finish. Dylan Donnelly is nearly 2,000 points ahead of Kevin Cox, and both of them and Alexa Zepp all have ample opportunity to add to their scores and exceed 20,000 points by Tour end.
If my use of the NHC scoring calculator is correct (not a small “if”) then the maximum number of points that can be earned in an online contest is 3,300, and this is only achievable with a 1st place finish in a contest of more than 400 entries, where an 8th place finish would earn you more than 2,500 points. Winning an online contest with 200 entries earns you 2,750 points, while finishing 5th is only worth 2,050.
See what I’m getting at?
Mad props to Sally for wining three big online contests. She proved it can be done. That said, I don’t see myself pulling off that same feat over the next eight months. And based on my current scores, I’d need to do it at least three times and probably four. Not happening. And that’s not me expressing self-doubt. That’s just me being realistic given the amount of time I can devote to proper preparation.
Now, let’s talk about on-track NHC qualifiers for a moment if we may.
If you win an on-track NHC qualifier with 250 entries, you are awarded 3,781 points. Running 4th in that same contest is worth 3,066 points. Bump up the entries to 400, and a win is worth 4,125 points to your Tour total.
Understandably, the statuses of some of the bigger on-track contests scheduled for the next several months are very much in doubt. It’s hard to imagine that contest players who planned to focus their efforts on the on-track contest slate will have anywhere near the number of opportunities they were projected to have at the start of the year. The NTRA has removed the on-track requirement from the scoring system due to Covid-19, so a player can earn all seven scores online.
Given the likelihood of multiple cancellations in the 2020 on-track schedule, I think the NTRA should find a way to offer contest players NHC seats, on-track points, and cash prizes in an online format. For example, with the Spa and Surf Showdown on HorseTourneys currently carrying a $150,000 guaranteed prize pool, might the NTRA find it in its heart to sell HorseTourneys two NHC seats at the on-track price and offer on-track points as well? There is going to be a lot of cash floating around this event. I’m sure the folks in charge can find a way to make everyone happy. And if not in this event, maybe the NTRA can offer on-track points and cash in one online event per month to make up for the lost opportunities related to Covid-19. This would definitely make it easier for me to dream about catching Sally and Dylan, which at the moment seems costly and unlikely.