Years ago when whitewater kayaks were our thing, there was a question amongst our small and damp group as to what to do with the weekends when we WEREN’T on the rivers. Hmm. Tough.
One suggestion that went over very well indeed was: Disc Golf!
You can SAY ‘Frizbee Golf’ if you like, but don’t write it in an official document nor nothin’. It’s technically not correct, as Frizbee is not the name of all flying discs, but only the ones made by, surprise surprise, the Frizbee company, or Wham-O, or whoever the heck now owns the word ‘Frizbee’. Don’tcha know that was a fun corporate meeting, negotiating the price of the word ‘Frizbee’. Guh.
So. Disc Golf. There were TWO disc golf courses north of where I lived. It takes pretty much a solid half-hour to get to the good one. It’s actually in another town, and on the edge of a large park where a local hunter managed to keep himself lost for four days. It’s full of the most prolific poison ivy vines and plants I’ve ever seen and more trees than you can crack a disc against. Did I mention that’s the GOOD disc golf course? The Not-As-Good one is surrounded by neighborhoods where most of the businesses have hand-lettered signs and not all of them have complete roofs. The sort of neighborhood where, if you’re watching the news and they announce a horrific murder that alarms you, you calm down slightly when you hear the name of this neighborhood because that’s the context you USUALLY hear this area’s name in. Otherwise? Not a peep. I’ve never heard this place referred to as “Where that other disc golf course is.” Or, come to think of it, in any other context at all.
Oddly enough, I’ve never played that course.
(To be only slightly more fair to the people who do, in fact, live around that other disc golf course- I have exaggerated in the above description. Don’t come after me. If you recognize the description of the neighborhood, but don’t know about disc golf- it’s because they tore out that course a while back. People were using the holes for trashbaskets.)
These days, there’s another brand new course and it’s closer, but it’s not full of trees that obscure the holes, and there’s no poison ivy. I don’t know how they stand it.
So we used to go to this disc golf course and play its 18 holes. Sometimes twice. It was exhausting and fun.
For those of you who have never played and are now saying “Yeah, sure. How much fun could it be? You throw the frizbee at a hole. What the heck?” I will explain.
The first hole (The holes are metal baskets with bright yellow markers, and hanging chains to bounce your disc against.) you can’t see from the tee box. You have to throw the disc forward some distance and curve it in a hard right hand turn at the proper angle to keep it in the air long enough to get close enough to the hole to make the exercise worthwhile. If it goes straight, you’ll be alright, but there’s at least one more long throw coming. If you cut it to the left, your disc will likely cross a road and you’re in for some very long throws indeed. And jeering. That’s the fun part- the jeering and hilarity, and expressions of people who have either 1) just seen themselves make a spectacularly bad throw and seen their score go to one of the nastier pits of hell OR 2) just made a hole-in-one. Either expression is worth seeing.
This is a 'hole' or basket from Huron-Manistee Nat'l Park, and looks exactly like our park here..
Back to the original point. There were a bunch of us, and we learned to play, and we bought a few discs (Mostly INNOVA brand. We found some other discs that were other brands, but the local store sold mostly INNOVA.) And, as the years rolled by, we somehow stopped getting together to play, and sadly enough, we try to kayak together but mostly don’t.
But now? My kids are playing. We took my little bag of seven ancient discs to the old park. There are now TWO complete 18-hole courses! What I thought of as the ‘Front Nine’ and the ‘Back Nine’ have each had ANOTHER nine added to them. We’ve bought a couple more discs, and the young’ns are having fits trying to figure out how their throws are going so wrong.
And they’re at the age when advice is the same as a slap in the face. You can tell them “Don’t look at the ground when you let go of the disc”, but the only response you get is “Dad, let ME do this, alright?”
And me? At the end of our big run, before the course was two courses, and before we all had kids, I was playing every hole as a Par 3. And I could keep track of my score pretty easily- “One under par on the front nine…” “Thirteen over par for the game. What? Fine! FOURTEEN.” Very nice. These days of rediscovering my own skills and what all those different discs do differently, I have to play everything as a par 4 to make the scorekeeping easier. But the grins are the same.
Go play some disc golf. If you’re very lucky, you’ll play until you can call your shots and you’ll use more than one disc per hole on purpose. It’s a good day to be spent with good friends. And hey, if you’re around here? Call me up. Let’s go play.