Schaeffer Park, Santa Cruz, CA

I played the St. Francis Charity Cup event today at Schaeffer Park in Santa Cruz, and I didn’t score well. My +3 eighty-one left me out of the cash, and without hardware for the first time in tournaments at Schaeffer Park. Up until today, that tournament has been good to me. And the reason I’m writing this blog entry right now, with my possibly broken left big toe in a bucket of icewater, is I realized that it’s still good to me. At this stage of my competitive disc golf journey, it doesn’t get better than a round at Schaeffer Park followed by a barbecue lunch with a keg of a local, organic microbrew beer.

It’s easy to write Schaeffer Park off as a disc golf novelty, with the numerous different types of homemade catching devices which sometimes border on the humorous. But those ‘baskets’ serve a couple different important functions. First, and most memorable, they give Schaeffer Park the moniker of the ‘Disneyland of Disc Golf’. I guarantee you’ll not find a course as ‘out there’, anywhere. But some of those quirky baskets also make some short holes tougher, and actually present legitimate skill challenges in terms of getting a disc to obey your commands.

Another thing that I was painfully reminded of today is the fact that Schaeffer Park contains some of the roughest rough around. There are plenty of drop-offs that slope away from narrow fairways, gnarly thickets of thorny blackberry and poison oak, and even an OB creek for good measure, and on one hole I got to sample all of it. I took a triple-bogey on a hole less than 300 feet long, and didn’t get within 200 feet until my fourth throw. I estimated that the look I got on my 2nd and 3rd throws were among the 10 worst lies I’ve had . . . . ever. I’ve been playing since 1988, most of it at DeLaveaga, so rest assured it was a bad hole. The +3 on the hole wasn’t nearly as bad as what I had to go through to actually finish the hole (shudder). But it’s behind me now, and I didn’t break anything, so it’s all good.

Another thing I noticed today (maybe cuz I’m gettin’ older) is that the course has 26 holes, and most require you to throw drives at full power or close to it. There are very few pushover holes (the steep downhill holes all seem to have water lurking close behind), and the fact that you’re usually throwing with uneven footing adds to the challenge.

Our round took four hours, it kicked my !@#$%^&*, and I needed ropes to traverse parts of the course. ‘Nuff said. If you haven’t played this tournament yet, and it’s at all possible to for you to get to Santa Cruz in September, try to make it in 2009. Take it from a guy that didn’t win, didn’t cash, ended up covered with dirt, stickers and sweat and almost got killed . . .it was a blast. And of course I can’t blahg about the tourney at Schaeffer without applauding Mark Karlskind (and his daughters), Mark Farrar, Kirk Hatfield, and of course Wayne Schaeffer himself for giving so much of their time to raise money for the St. Francis Soup Kitchen.

The next entry of this blagh will include pictures and video from today’s round at Schaeffer Park, and Schaeffer is something you have to see to truly understand. Make sure to check it out!

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