Last things first- Today’s Rainy Round

The DeLa DGC got in the Sentinel again today, for the second time in a couple weeks. This time it was a mis-characterization of our position on paid parking during last night’s SC city council meeting. For a recap of the Sentinel story and our effort to set the record straight, click here: http://www.delaveagadiscgolf.com/index.php?option=com_joomlaboard&Itemid=153&func=view&id=3700&catid=12#3700.

So after dealing (as DDGC VP) with the fallout of the story, I was ready to hit the course for a reminder of why it’s all worth it. And although the rain fell steadily from beginning to end, DeLadidn’t disappoint. I forced my last round (-7 with only one bogey on I-5) out of my mind and took the approach from hole #1 that I’d play it safe, keep it in the big part of the fairway and simply try to par every hole. I try to be aware of my limitations, and today’s round was full of ’em:

  • Whether it’s raining or not, my reliance on firm footing for my drives means that wet teepads really changes what I’m able to do
  • Whenever it’s actually raining during a round, one must deal with a host of additional complications besides discs that can never be completely dry and clean. You’ve got the extra effort it takes to try to dry your discs, the whole umbrella thing, wet hands, bulky raingear, and even a different terrain (my disc skipped twice off the wet ground when I didn’t expect it, to my detriment).
  • Add to all that the fact that I played with half the amount of discs I normally carry. No rollers, and only one of the 4 putters normally in my bag. I wanted to go ‘light’.

It would be easy to do the woulda/coulda thing (and I will, a little) but all in all I’m pleased that I for the most part accomplished what I set out to do: I shot a +1 with two bogeys, and one birdie, and twenty-five pars. Most were routine, in fact so routine that I didn’t make one putt longer than 22 feet today. But a few times, I pulled out pars after drives slipped errantly from my hand and save shots were required. Like hole 7, when my drive went right and didn’t make it past the early trees on the right. My desperation forehand roller ended up 12 feet from the hole. And 18, where I slammed the early trees on the left and kicked right.

But in the woulda/coulda category, I had great chances for birdies that didn’t happen on 6, 12, 15, 20, 23, 24, 26a and 27 . . . and cashed in on none of ’em. Oh well, I can always fall back on he aesthetics. There were only two other cars in the lot, and I only saw one other group on the course. They played six in front of me, then headed back to the lot, and after that, I didn’t see a soul. Just me and the course, with the rain falling steadily and a heavy mist hanging on the surrounding slopes. Yeah, it’s all worth it. For sure.

Road trips MUST include disc golf

NOTE: This is one of several posts I started recently but didn’t post until now.

To me, among the many attractions of disc golf are the elements of unpredictability, informality, and unofficalness that put our sport’s courses in direct contrast with that of its ball-and-stick older cousin. And this is never more evident than when on a road trip. I mean, think about it: All you have to do is check the course directory on www.pdga.com or the course review site dgcoursereview.com to find courses along your route, pick the courses that mesh with your route and schedule, and check ’em out. You don’t have to book a tee time, you don’t have to start on hole 1, and usually you don’t have to pay anything either. Of course, quite often you get what you paid for (or didn’t), but that’s part of the fun. These courses range from silly wastes of chain-links in a flat, grassy park to awesome, quirky gems you can’t wait to share with your friends. And you definitely end up kissing a few pigs while searching for those gems. But to me, that’s part of the intrigue and the fun.

I recently drove in a small car with my wife and two little girls to Portland and back, so we could spend 1 and 1/2 days there with some in-laws. Needless to say, I required that disc golf be part of the looooong journey. By the time we returned home, I got to at least sample four courses I’d never played before. Of the four, only one really had me wanting to return and play again some day. Here’s a recap:

The first course I played along the route was Riverside Park in Roseburg, Oregon. Without time and family constraints I would have veered 10 miles off I-5 and played Whistlers Bend, which I’ve heard of before, but beggars can’t be choosers, as they say. Unfortunately, this beggar didn’t even get to play Riverside for more than 15 minutes, but hole 2 gave me the impression that I would have liked the tight fairways and forest-like scenery. Having a deep river lurking nearby also added to the intrigue.

Next came the course closest to my wife’s brother’s place in Hillsboro, OR. Orchard Park is the best course I’ve ever seen for first-timers and little kids. Although the holes are mostly short and harmless (you feel pretty wimpy if you shoot less than -7 on this 9-hole course), the baskets are Mach III’s, the teepads are concrete, and the teesigns and other signage are top-notch. Funny story: When we first arrived, we stopped by my brother-in-laws place of work to get his housekey to get into his place. After dropping off the ball-and-chain and the little pebbles, I headed for this course to decompress. The key worked its way through a hole in my back pocket and fell through during my quick 30-minute round, but, low and behold . . . the next afternoon when my wife joined me for a rare couples round, we found it! In the tall grass nonetheless.

On the way home, we drove for most of a day back through Oregon toward our halfway hotel in Medford. Thirty miles before getting there, we stopped in Grants Pass for what turned out to be the gem of the trip, disc golf-wise (and otherwise, if you ask me- but that’s another story). If you want to know more about this course, and see the numerous pics I snapped, for this is a rather picturesque course, click here.

Sorry to end on a bad note, but the lat course I sampled was also the biggest let-down. I stopped in Weed, CA (insert your joke here) because the course is listed in the PDGA directory as the University of OB. It says there that they have yellow tape on 10 of 18 holes, but I never found any of it Nor did I find hole 1, or 2, or . . . you get the point. I did find hole 11, and a cool elevated ‘pyramid’ green. But it was quite cold, very windy, poorly marked, and every hole seemed the same. Poke-and-hope through Pine trees with no defined fairways. For travelers, the only thing this course has going for it is the fact that it’s right off I-5. And the fact that it’s in Weed, CA, and those so inclined can get an ‘I Love Weed’ t-shirt in town.

So there you have it: One awesome course, one good beginner course, one missed opportunity, and one stinker. Even the pigs know how to kiss.

changes at DeLa, obsessed disc golfer antecdotes, and (gulp) politics

DeLaveaga is undergoing significant changes, and I’m not sure how the course will look a year – or even six months – from now. And coming from someone who is a current DDGC club officer and close to the latest developments as they happen, that’s saying something. Right now, the parking lot is graded and paved (good), but with the capacity for half as many cars (not good). Hole 27 – the famous ‘Top of the World’ hole, is in its neutered short position, but that should change in a month or two as we find a new long placement hopefully close to the classic spot where it’s always been. Similarly, hole six is removed altogether right now, as is hole 22, and 19 is in the short with the long placement paritally blocked by a felled dead tree. So far, the club is going along with the city’s plans to mitigate erosion issues, but I have to wonder: Will we be able to muster the political clout to stand up to them if they go too far? I know we have the popular support to do it, but do we have the organization?

Two Examples of Disc Golf Obsession

In the past week, I’ve had a couple personal experiences that, upon reflection, symbolize the grip that the game of golf played with a flying disc can have on a person. And I might add that most likely only a person similarly obsessed will be able to relate.

Last Saturday, as the rain storm that pummeled Santa Cruz all weekend was just beginning, my friend Assaf and I met at the Black Mouse course to play a ‘rain or shine’ round. Neither of us had time (family stuff) to play the DeLa monthly, but we HAD to play disc golf. From the first hole, it was apparent that the round would be all about endurance rather than score. Anyone who has played Black Mouse knows that the track is mostly steep and wooded, and when wet quite slippery in spots. We had made it to hole 7 with more bogeys than pars or birdies, when we both heard a sound like a gunshot. We looked at eachother, and as we did, the sound repeated itself, multiple times, causing us both to look uphill in the direction of the sound. We looked in time to see a large, dead oak tree falling across the fairway of the next hole.

I’m guessing that normal people on a rainy hike in the woods woulda said ‘let’s get outta here’ and split pronto, but we didn’t even discuss that option. Instead, we played the next hole, and threw and then walked directly underneath the just-fallen tree, which was propped precariously at an angle against some of its still-living counterparts. This, to me, embodies the sport of disc golf. It combines the obession of the game of golf with the spirit of the outdoorsman, or woman, or ‘person,’ or whatever. We live to throw discs over the river, through the woods, and into the chains- at all costs.

Example Number Two

As I sit here writing in a hotel room in Sherman Oaks, Ca, I can recall vividly the need I felt to get a round in before I embarked on this short but stressful business trip. Unable to coax a playing partner to join me Monday morning, I headed for DeLa for a ‘quickie’ by myself (no, not that). The teepads were wet, I planned a ‘running’ round since I had little time, and I carried far fewer discs than normal (6) since I planned on running between most throws. In my mind, that’s three reasons why I shouldn’t expect my best score. So I didn’t.

I’ll summarize the first 24 holes quickly: Bogeyed 1, bogeyed 4, birdied 8, doubled 9 (and lucky to find my disc), and doubled 13. At this point I’m +5, but I had a strange optimism and self-confidence that I would get back to or below par, and it was butressed by birdies on holes 14, 15 and 18. So now I’m down to +2 and roaring back but on hole 20 my birdie run went a bit too far downhill and resulted in a momentum-stopping bogey. But I still had that feeling that I’d finish the last seven holes in 15 minutes in somehow get under par as well.

Holes 21 and 22 (to the practice basket) went by quickly without incident, and a birdie on 23, par on 24, and birdie on 25 left me at hole 26 long with three to play. This is where it really got memorable. Hole 26 is steeply sloped from left to right, and uphill no matter how you play it. I chose to try to stay left, as high as possible, but on this day my drive hit something at the end of it’s flight, rolled in circles for – literally – 25 seconds or so, then succumbed to gravity and trickled down, down, down the slope in a tragic, drunken wobble. My optimism, even at this bleak point, didn’t abandon me- although at this point I was talking to myself out loud. I said “this is going to be an epic par save!” I basically had no realistic shot at getting close to the basket on my second shot, but I was able to see the one possible route to get there, a forehand, high-flung, turnover shot through dense tree-trunks. So I let it fly, and the mere fact that I didn’t hear the sound of a disc hitting wood sent me flitting happily back up the slope. When I saw that I had an open 35-footer for par, I was ecstatic. Then I tried my best to get backto the moment, singing (out loud again) “it don’t mean a thing, if you don’t hear that ching, do-wop, do-wop, do-wop . . .” And then, glory of glories, I hit the putt for one of the most improbable pars of my life. I whooped in celebration (which I don’t do much anymore, alone or not) and explained my exuberance to a couple passing joggers.

I birdied the comparably simple 26a to get back to par, but couldn’t master the wind on 27, and so finished at even par, in an hour and six minutes. Nowhere close to my best score at DeLa, but man, it felt awesome!

Politics . . .

It’s election night as I write, so I gotta share my two cents.

I’m a Libertarian, but also a silver-lining kinda guy, so I see two great things coming out of Barack Obama’s election. First, I feel great that we as a country have evolved to the point that we’ve elected our first black president. Second, I’m really, really happy that Hillary Clinton is no doubt brooding somewhere, ignored by everyone including her husband, and nowhere near the White House.