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 un–offical–ness 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.