Attention All Santa Cruz Disc Golfers: This Is No Drill!

Greetings from DeLaveaga Disc Golf Course in Santa Cruz, California. And now, greetings from the DeLaveaga Disc Golf Club as well, as I am serving the club as vice president this year. I’ve decided to use this forum to report on club happenings in addition to my normal fare of general disc golf topics. I’ll try to keep you up-to-date on club happenings as things happen, and pass on stuff of interest I learn at club meetings and elsewhere. So what’s up lately? Plenty!

The day of the last meeting (Feb 13th 2008), we met with a City of Santa Cruz parks dept. official who informed us that the City is moving ahead with various improvement projects relate to the course. This despite the fact that Gov. Schwartzenegger vetoed the ‘landswap’ bill that transferred the land on which our course sits from the National Guard to the city. Obviously
the city is confident that they will get the land eventually. So confident, in fact, that they created elaborate drafting blueprints indicating the changes they plan to make to the parking lot and the
course. On the surface, most of the changes seemed positive to those of us that scanned through them, but changes to the course seem imminent. The good news is that we should have a paved parking lot by the middle of the Summer, and more importantly the city is openly asking for our
feedback to their plans.

Right now we get around 15 people at the club’s monthly meetings, and those of us that attend will discuss the pros and cons of the plans, and come to a consensus on how to reply to the city. I have to admit, it’s a tremendous responsibility to speak for thethousands of other disc golf enthusiasts that care what happens to our course- especially since we can’t be sure we know how the majority feels.

If we could get most of the people who play DeLaveaga to join the club and come to meetings, we’d be in a much better position to ensure that the course remains open and available for everyone to
enjoy. Not only is it extremely important to demonstrate to the city at
every opportunity that we have a large, organized body of city and
county residents (and people from out of town) that strongly support
DeLaveaga Disc Golf Course. If we can get a large body of disc
golfers either coming to the meetings or at least responding to e-mail
questionnaires about the future of the course, we’d be able to more
accurately represent the wishes of the Santa Cruz disc golf community.
THAT’S WHERE YOU COME IN.

DDGC Membership Drive 2008

If
everyone who reads this not only joins the club, but encourages the
other disc golfers they know to also join, we can easily get to where
we need to be numbers-wise. (Hint: One way to spread the word is to
e-mail a link to this blog to every disc golfer you know. Here it is: http://www.santacruzdisc.com/blogs/delablahg.php?title=attention_all_santa_cruz_disc_golfers&more=1&c=1&tb=1&pb=1)

We
think we’ve made membership pretty affordable this year, with the
option to get some cool club stuff while supporting a good
cause. Here are the membership options:

-Base Membership $10

-Base Membership plus club Bag-Tag $15

-Base Membership, plus club Bag-Tag and cotton membership shirt $25

-Base Membership, plus club Bag-Tag and dri-fit membership shirt $35

We’ll
be launching the Membership Drive at the DeLa Monthly on Saturday March
1st @ 9:00 AM. so, you can join the club/renew for 2008 then and get
your shirt, whether you play in the monthly or not. If you can’t make
it Saturday, we’ll soon have a link on the front page of www.delaveagadiscgolf.com
(look in the upper-left corner) that lets you pay with PayPal and
either pick up your shirt and/or tag at the course, or have it mailed
to you. You can also see pictures of the tags and shirts through that
link as well.

Even if I was not the VP of the club this year, I’d
be writing just as emphatically to you my fellow Santa Cruz disc
golfers to join the club this year and come to meetings. With the
city’s involvement and planned changes, 2008 will be the most important
year ever to the future of DeLaveaga Disc Golf course
. If you care
about the future of the course, and would also like a voice in that
future, now is the time to join the club and get involved. If you have questions, you can e-mail me directly at deladiscgolf@gmail.com.

Patience is a Disc Golf Virtue

In disc golf, self-control is paramount to success. This particular virtue comes in many forms, but the one I have in mind today is patience- with your own game, with others, and with everything else that pops up in the course of a round of golf.

Patience seems most important to me during the Winter months, because the weather is colder and the teepads and terrain are often slippery after it rains. When the air is cold discs don’t travel quite as far, which is due to a combination of the phyics of the air itself and our bodies not being quite as loose. And when we’re not properly warmed up and loose, we lose that fluid quality that is so important to throwing a disc accurately and far. Also, if the surface we’re trying to plant our feet on is wet and slick, it adds yet another element that makes executing the shots we have in mind more difficult. The natural result is a greater margin of error, and usually scores that trend upward. Because of this we must remember to be patient, and keep a few things in mind.

First of all, these tougher conditions are just a fact of playing disc golf in the Winter, so we need to adjust our expectations accordingly. For me, a -5 with the course soggy after a recent storm and a temperature? of 38 degrees at tee-off is better than a -8 with perfect sunny weather and dry teepads. Second, the conditions of the course are the same for everyone. No matter who you’re playing against, I guarantee that his or her average score goes up when it’s wet and cold.

I’ve learned to recoginize – either at the outset of a round or after a few hampered throws – when conditions will limit what I can accomplish that day. I then adjust my strategy and expectations accordingly, and try to do the best I can within the new framework of potential. If the teepads are slippery, I sacrifice some distance for the sake of more control since I’m more likely to slip if I go with 100 percent power. If my hands are cold and numb and my muscles feel stiff, I’ll be more conservative with my upshots and putts to make sure I don’t take extra strokes by giving myself unneccessarily long putts.

Maybe the weather is great, but you still start poorly. No problem! One of the great things about golf is the fact that each hole gives you a fresh chance to do something good. One of the biggest mistakes a golfer can make is to let the last shot influence the next shot (or hole). Don’t feel that you need to ‘make up for’ the bogey you took throwing OB on hole 6 by going for a risky birdie run on hole 7. Be patient, and evaluate the risk/reward of each shot based on its own merits.

Although it isn’t really what this article is about, patience with the other things you can’t control is also very important. If you find yourself getting antsy waiting for someone to make their shot, or the general pace of play on the course that day (this is especially common during tournaments, of course)? try to relax and enjoy the moment. A watched pot never boils, as they say, so let your eyes wander to something else on the course, like another group putting out, or even a bird in a tree. If you have a tricky shot coming up, use the extra time to give that shot more consideration. Most people don’t have as much trouble noticing and dealing with external issues, though. Much tougher is the ability to recognize and properly handle what’s going on in one’s own head. That’s the kind of patience that is harder to devlelop.

A good example of this was my experience at the DeLa monthly last weekend. I started on hole 1, and right away noticed that the cold weather combined with an injury I had to noticeably reduce my distance off the tee. I then realized it affected my putting touch as well. I told myself that par would be good enough as long as I felt so cold and stiff, and proceeded to get par on each of the first 11 holes. A couple birdies just sort of came to me on holes 11 and 12 (good things come to those who wait, after all), and after a double on 13 and a birdie on 15 my score was -1. I still didn’t feel right, so I remained patient and kept playing conservatively. Then my patience began to pay off.

With 18 in the long left position, I threw a great turnover drive (I ‘m a lefty) and based the hole. More importantly, though, I noticed that the temperature had risen a bit, and my stiff hip had loosened up as well. I ended up at -6, including birdies on 3 of the last 4 holes, and tied Jon Baldwin for first in the Open division. The thing I felt best about wasn’t the 1st place finish- it was the fact that I was able to recognize what I’d be able to accomplish that day, then maximize my potential within that box. That kind of round – a patient round with a happy ending – really feels good afterward. And it just happened to be good enough to win.

Course Configuration Update

Hole 1 Short

Hole 2 Top

Hole 3 —–

Hole 4 Short

Hole 5 Short

Hole 6 Short

Hole 7 Short

Hole 8 —–

Hole 8a Left

Hole 9 Short

Hole 10 Long

Hole 11 Short/Left

Hole 12 Ultra-Short (Island)

Hole 13 Short

Hole 14 Middle

Hole 15 Short

Hole 16 Right

Hole 17 This hole is closed

Hole 18 Short Left

Hole 19 Short

Hole 20 Right

Hole 21 —–

Hole 22 —–

Hole 23 Left

Hole 24 Short

Hole 25 Short

Hole 26 Short

Hole 26a Short

Hole 27 Short

Using a rating system where each hole is rated from 1 to 5 (with one being the easiest possible location at DeLa and 5 being the most difficult), this configuration rates a 3.11. So, while not being the longest layout, it’s far from the shortest. Also, according to my figuring, 10 holes are in short positions, 12 are in long positions, and six are neutral.

First Ace of 2008

I witnessed what I’m guessing was DeLa’s – and who knows, maybe the world’s – first ace of 2008. We were on hole 26, and he threw a heavy Cobra. In fact, it was the collectors disc Tom Schot sold before the Masters Cup last year for the spectators of the ‘Showcase Skins’ round to get the autographs of Climo, Nate, Des Reading and Stevie Rico. Gregory didn’t get the sigs, but he got the ace. In my book, that’s better. I especially appreciated it because when the disc hit the chains, it was ending it’s natural flight anyway, meaning it was more skill than luck. The sound was more like a that made by a disc thrown 50 feet as opposed to 250 feet. It turned out to be a close-to-personal best round for Gregory, too, so all the better.

A nice surprise

Nearly a year ago I accepted Josh Barnett’s invitation to check out the unofficial Santa’s Village course in Scotts Valley that he and Jammer designed. We tried to have a tourney, but the Scotts Valley police chased us outta there. Before that happened, though, I managed to lose a prized disc- a yellow Champion Cobra that was my go-to midrange disc. Out of the blue, a couple days ago, Josh called me and said he found it, in a hollow log, right where it disappeared. I saw him at the course the next day on hole 5, cleaned the weird fungus off of it, and threw it as my drive on hole7. Birdie! Look out world . . . I gots my yellow Cobra back!

The Tortoise vs. The Hares

At the course recently for a round with Assaf. It was a gorgeous blue-sky day, and the course wasn’t too crowded. We had reasons to want to play a quick round, and just ahead of us on hole 1 a solo player teed off. This guy was a big lug kinda guy, and he moved slower than I think I’ve ever seen anyone move on the course. I made the comment to Assaf that it seemed that a person would have to consciously slow themselves down to go that slow. Needless to say, we were trying to finish our round in under two hours and figured we’d have to get past this guy to have a chance at that kind of pace. However, we didn’t get the chance to pass him until hole 6, as he waited on the bench with one shoe off for some reason.

We seized the opportunity to ask to play through, and he was nice enough to agree even though we were a twosome. This is when it began to get wierd. I had already referred to him as the ‘Turtle’ due to his almost perternaturally slow movement, but it soon became apparent that he was in fact a tortoise, and we were on this day hares. I thought we were playing pretty briskly, but looking back from the fairway of hole 8, there was the turtle, moving as slowly as before but right behind us anyway. The scene repeated itself? time and again as we spotted him on the tee for 13 as we finished the hole, driving on 15 as we walked away from the basket. Each time he was walking at the same languid pace, yet he remained right there with us. I remember one time in particular that Assaf went down into a canyon a little ways, and I thought that hares would go astray like that, while the tortoise stays on the fairway and plods ahead.

Unlike the story, these hares didn’t get passed by the tortoise, but I can’t help but think that maybe he was pulling a great practical joke on us. Walking ridiculously slowly whenever we could see him, and jogging when he was out of our site. If it was a joke, he got us good. We were really perplexed by the whole thing- or maybe amused is a better word. If you see the Tortoise out there, tell him the hares said ‘Hi’.

Who in Santa Cruz Doesn’t play Disc Golf?!

The only bummer about disc golf in Santa Cruz is the fact that we only have one course. DeLaveaga Disc Golf Course is so crowded these days, the parking lot is mostly full even at supposedly non-peak times. For instance, on a recent Wednesday at 10:30 AM many holes seemed occupied as I drove in, and by the time I finished my round the parking lot was mostly full. Another example: I used to start weekend morning rounds at 7:30 and was almost assured of an empty course in front of – and usually behind – me. These days there are usually 10 or more cars in the lot by 7:30 (1/2 hour after sunrise right now), and 30 or more by 9:00. It’s great news that so many people in the area have discovered our great sport, but there is also nothing like a round of golf with DeLa all to oneself. The really great news? Hopefully by this time next year we’ll have new courses at Aptos High School and Pinto Lake in Watsonville. When you see flyers requesting support for these new courses, please help in any way you can. Remember, the more people that play these new courses, the less traffic (and wear-and-tear) at DeLa.

A good bag-tag match

I played a great back-and forth match for tags against Gregory Friday. Our scores were nothing special, but the match was close the whole way and the lead changed hands three times, with the better tag (my #10) in play right up until the last shot on hole 27. The first movement came when I double-bogey’d hole 5, getting my upshot stuck in one of the smaller trees that guards the basket. Then, on holes 8 and 8a, two bogies for Gregory and a birdie for me flipped the script and gave me the lead. Fast-forward to hole 19, where Gregory began a hot streak that turned a two-stroke deficit into a one-stroke lead after birdies on 19, 20, 21, 23, 24, and 25. We both had long birdie looks on 26, with G going first. But he fell hard out of ‘The Zone’ inexplicably throwing his disc into a tree right in front of him. He bogey’d to fall back into a tie, meaning he needed one more stroke to take the tag. On 26a, I threw first and threw within 25 feet to the right of the basket. He put the pressure right back on me by basing his drive, making me sweat out my birdie putt (it went in, but shakily). On 27, his desperation super-long birdie attempt failed (but it wasn’t short) and my tag was safe for another round. We tied at -3.

Good bag-tag match II

Two days later, Gregory and I played for tags again. It seemed like it would be another down-to-the-wire affair, and for most of the round it was. The thing I really liked about this round was the clean-ness. Until Gregory bogey’d 11, we were both bogey-free. In fact, I finished bogey-free (unless you count my double on 13). He built a two-stroke lead with birdies on 3 and 6, and I continued a recent trend of no birdies on the front holes (none until a nice one on 10, in fact). We both picked up birdies here and there, and after his on 19 we were tied. I jokingly referred to the holes to follow as the ‘Gregory Holes’ since he’s been hot on the finishing stretch. But it was my turn this round, as I nailed birdies on 20, 21, 23, 25, 26, and 26a to finish -7. Gregory didn’t keep pace, and ended up -1. Still, for most of the round he had me looking over my shoulder.

Pin Placements

This section of DeLaBlahg will eventually contain detailed descriptions and multiple photos of every hole at DeLaveaga Disc Golf Course, but for now I’ve at least listed the current basket locations as of 5-26-2008.

Hole 1 Short

Hole 2 Long- Cliff

Hole 3 —–

Hole 4 Long

Hole 5 Short

Hole 6 Long

Hole 7 Short

Hole 8 —–

Hole 8a Right

Hole 9 Short

Hole 10 Long

Hole 11 Short/Left

Hole 12 Canyon

Hole 13 Long

Hole 14 Middle

Hole 15 Long Right

Hole 16 Long Right

Hole 17 This hole is closed

Hole 18 Short Left

Hole 19 Long

Hole 20 Right

Hole 21 —–

Hole 22 —–

Hole 23 Right

Hole 24 Long

Hole 25 Long

Hole 26 Short

Hole 26a Short

Hole 27 Long

Big Sur Royale

I finally got the chance to play the Big Sur course I’d heard others rave about for several years now. Surprise, surprise . . . they were right!

The Course: It’s almost a given that when you take a landscape that includes Redwood trees, soaring mountains, and a bubbling river, then add baskets, the experience will at least be visually stimulating. But I want to give the Monterey Disc Golf Club credit for designing a course that had a great variety of shots and was really fun to play. Of course, I may be a little biased considering the course is quite lefty-friendly, but I heard nothing but positive comments from the other players as well. We played flat holes, downhill holes, uphill holes, and holes that were mostly wooded and also mostly open. The river came into play on maybe 4 or 5 holes, and even on the water holes discs could be retrieved. The teepads were pretty solid, all in all, considering they were natural and temporary.

The campground: A little pricey, but waddya expect? It’s Big Sur, and the facilities and ammenities matched the gorgeous natural surroundings, so I thought it was worth it with or without the disc golf. The place also has a good restaurant, tavern, and store, so if you want a quasi-camping experience this is a good fit.

The tournament: I came back with several general impressions when this tourney was over, but the most prominent was that Fun really did seem to rule. My best explanation for this was the fact that, with nearly 60 of the 74 participants in Amateur divisions, this was for the most part an Am tourney with a small Pro contingent. I’ve been playing in the Open divisions for so long now, I forgot how different the atmosphere is when Am players get together. These are people that are here more for the experience, fellowship, and partying than for the rush of competition. I think people still have a good time at Open tourneys, but their primary focus is on playing well- even before and between the actual rounds of golf. I experienced a little nostalgia for those more innocent Am days, even though back then I was one of those players that was more into winning than anything else.

My personal experience was limitied to the 4-person Open Master group of Marty Hapner, Mike Brown, Steve Thomas, and Mike’s ever-present dog Skippy. Merle Witvoet, who used to live with Mike, nicknamed Skippy ‘Two-Stroke,’ and I can understand why. Skippy didn’t dart around like some dogs do when discs are thrown, but he didn’t stay out of the way, either. Even though the dog didn’t really bother me too much (I was enjoying the laid-back atmosphere too much to be uptight) he really should not have been on the course during a PDGA-sanctioned event.

In some ways this event was excruciating, because I didn’t feel like I was playing good golf, and yet I was always within a few strokes of the lead. I guess I was aware that I was right there with a chance to win, but didn’t deserve to be. Finally, with three holes left to play, I birdied to take the lead over Mike and Marty. But Mike was not to be outdone, and he matched my birdie on the next hole, then reeled off another on the hole after that to tie it up. Then, on the last hole of regulation, he stepped up on a difficult river hole and drove to within 20 feet. I had to do likewise to force a playoff, and I did . . . whew! We basically traded mediocre throws for the first couple playoff holes, and I won it on the third with a nice long jump putt for birdie.

If you haven’t played in this event, I suggest you do. If you’ve never played in a PDGA tourney, this one would make a great first tourney experience.

Twist and Shoot

How to shave strokes off your score by opening your mind and twisting your body (and I’m not talking about meditation or yoga).

I know it?s a stretch (that was truly an accidental pun), but whenever I have a shot that is difficult and requires me to throw through and around things, I purposefully think of the old game Twister. You see, I?m willing to contort myself any which way to get the best chance at the best shot for the situation. Otherwise, I might get lazy and sometimes try to execute a slightly lower-percentage shot just because it?s ?easier? to get to. But more to the point, lazy or not, I think we often don?t see all of the options on each shot. Ours brains tend to focus in on the most obvious choice and settle for that. You can save strokes simply by opening your mind enough as you size up each shot to see all the options in front of you. For me, this is where the game Twister comes in.

When I have a tough lie, I picture myself keeping one foot behind the marker and stretching the other foot out in different directions. Then I check out the possible routes from each position, from the skip-shot I release barely inches off the ground to the floater aimed at an opening between branches. Switch foot, repeat. Often just by doing that, or even picturing myself doing it, I see a route or and/or an angle I didn?t see at first. Obviously, it takes practice to the point of intuition to be able to do this in 30 seconds or less. But if you, like me, are not gifted with scary skills or distance, it’s worth it.

Angles
If you’re not yet open to opening your mind when considering all the different openings for your throw (whew!), consider the following about how much difference a few inches can make:

One of the great and unique challenges of disc golf – as opposed to stick golf – is the amount of potential obstructions between you and the target. Even when you?re close enough to putt (and especially at DeLa) you?ll find yourself with low hanging branches, tree trunks, bushes, etc., close to where you want to throw.

When this happens, try to imagine the line your disc typically follows on the throw you plan. Hint: putts almost always have more arc than you think, so keep that in mind. If it seems likely it will hit something, try to change the line by stretching out left or right, or moving up or down. Especially consider going down to a knee or even sitting down to putt (if the putt/throw isn’t too long). Changing your release point by even a few inches will change the angle and line of your shot significantly, maybe allowing a legitimate run where before there was none. And if you’re good at geometry (I’m not) you’ll know that the two inches difference at the point of release can become two feet of difference after the disc has travelled for 20 feet or so. You may have a low ceiling that forces you to throw the disc on a lazer beam-like line in order to keep it high enough to get in the basket, and those shots tend to be ‘do-or-die’ attempts that zoom their way into 30-plus foot comeback putts. By getting down on one knee, both knees, or even into some kind of sitting position, you’ve bought yourself the few inches necessary to go for that putt without risking an extra stroke if you miss.

If you compete in tournaments or just enjoy besting your friends, employing this advice is an easy way to save a couple strokes per round. Just remember: Twist and shoot!?

Originally Blahged Friday, July 28, 2006- Updated October 25th, 2007

DeLa Sunrise

This morning I experienced the very essence of the type of round I enjoy most at DeLaveaga. Teeing off just after sunrise , we played a completely-devoid-of-other-humans round, in perfect conditions. It was a nice bonus that I shot at least average (-4 and clean), and Assaf came within one stroke of his personal best of zero par. He noted that for the second round in a row he avoided any double-bogies or worse, an objective I always tell Am players to focus on.

We took some pics in addition to the one above, and they can be seen (maybe) in my santacruzdisc.com gallery.

I’ll be playing in the Big Sur Royale event this weekend, and will hopefully have some Blahg materials and photos to post. I wonder if my broadband card or wireless will work there??