Level 20 in disc golf is usually Hole 13

Is it just me, or do a disproportionate amount of disc golf courses feature a design that makes the thirteenth hole the most difficult? My home course is DeLaveaga, and number 13 there is the legendary I-5. It’s probably why I’ve always noticed this odd . . . phenomenon . . . coincidence . . . or maybe it’s the opposite of a coincidence. Maybe it’s part of the course designer credo.

At my little local short course, Black Mouse, the longest hole by far is number 13. But before the course was reconfigured to pacify a science teacher, number 13 was the trickiest**. An uphill 290-footer that forces you to throw way around a gnarly tangle of Redwoods and brush, it’s still the toughest par for me on the relatively easy course. Go figure. I know I’ve made the same observation at countless other courses, too, but one in particular is on my mind.

Hole 13 at Winthrop Gold – site of the United States Disc Golf Championship next week – is known as 888. Because of the length. But it’s a par five, and the course includes a par four that is 900 feet. So length isn’t what makes this hole the toughest of what is a parade of challenging holes. Much like 13 at Black Mouse, this hole is hard because it barely gives a disc room to breath, from tee to basket.

Without yet seeing it in person (that’ll change next week), but based on the caddie book and descriptions by numerous people that have (including current chap Nate Doss), here’s an idea of how it plays:

A narrow strip of tree-studded fairway bends slowly to the right, eventually running into a dead-end 800 feet away. At that point, the basket is about 150 feet away in the middle of an island green. The hazard on this hole is called bunkr, and landing on the wrong side of the red bunkr line incurs no penalty stroke. However, you must throw again from the original lie. So if there is a shot that really gives you problems, you might pile up some strokes.

Standing on the tee, you see a wall of low-hanging trees on the left and a parking lot on the right, divided by a 3-inch curb and the aforementioned bunkr.

  • The first task is to break through or go over that line of trees, without crossing over the bunkr line that defines the other side of the fairway.
  • You then need to keep between the two roughly parallel bunkr lines that are maybe 50 feet apart, while dodging trees strategically placed throughout
  • Depending on your power and your risk-taking personality, there are numerous opportunities to reach the island green from between the trees, starting from around 400 feet away from the basket, 500 feet from the tee. I’ll most likely have to cover 600 feet of that skinny fairway before I can take a shot at that green.

I have a feeling that my respect will grow for this hole after I’ve actually played it.

**NOTE: I just contacted the designer of both Black Mouse and DeLa, HOFer Tom Schot, to ask him if there was some secret course designer rule involved, and he said there was no such rule, so that’s that. But now he’ll begin seeing tough 13’s everywhere too.

USDGC- Be careful what you wish for

Since it debuted 11 years ago, playing in the USDGC has been first a wish, then a dream, then a goal, and finally an obsession of mine.

For the first few years, I wasn’t even cashing in Masters Cups and Faultlines regularly, and my scores were usually 20 strokes off what I’d need to qualify for USDGC. So it was kind of a ‘maybe someday’ kind of thing. Then I began to figure things out on the course, and eventually I’d make getting one of those five qualifier spots in the Masters Cup one of my objectives. By the time my player rating peaked at 999 (arg!), I had missed qualifying by either one spot or one stroke (or both) three years in a row. So last year, as my age hit 42 and my distance seemed to diminish a bit, I decided to bite the bullet and find another way to get in. I served as an assistant tournament director for the Masters Cup this year, and Daviar graciously gave me his spot.

Be careful what you wish for.

Tee off in Rock Hill, South Carolina is now nine days away, and my throwing arm is not just sore and feeble, like usual. It’s got something seriously wrong with it, and I don’t know what it is because I won’t see a doctor until after I return (because he/she might tell me not to play, and obsessed people always play).

So now I’m committed to playing this course that is long, exacting and, according to all the stories, potentially demoralizing- without my ‘A’ game. And everything being relative, my ‘A’ game in the USDGC is realistically a ‘B-minus’ game at best. But I do have a plan, and if I can pull it off I might even make the cut or even beat more than half the field. Hey, a guy can dream!

I’m going to try to post some entries in the coming week, but they’ll most likely be about things other than me and my game (we’ve heard that before, you say).

Wish me luck. Or better yet, wish me endorphins.