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.

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