Disc Golf Stories, No. 12

It was 1998 and I was living in Scottsdale, Arizona, when a disc golfing friend – Ron Klein – informed me that he was driving to California to retrieve items from storage, and wondered if I wanted to take a disc golf road trip to the west coast?

We played several courses while visiting The Golden State, the most memorable of which was DeLaveaga, in Santa Cruz.

Upon arrival, we learned that a local monthly disc golf tournament was just about to begin, and so we both paid a nominal entry fee to enter the event.

It was a small field and there were only two divisions – Ron signed up for Pro, and I signed up for Amateur – scheduled to play one round of 27-holes.

I’d played here once before, and hoped that my performance during this particular event would be competitive. When finished, all of the scorecards were submitted and official results tallied.

Although several of the top players from the Santa Cruz area were absent – playing instead at a PDGA tournament held in San Diego – it was nevertheless very cool to hear the Tournament Director announce that the winners of both divisions were from Arizona!

In addition to receiving my payout for winning, I also sold a dozen t-shirts to the local club following the event – contributing to a fun disc golf road trip!

Disc Golf Stories, No. 11

In February of 1999, I traveled to Firefighters Park in Troy, Michigan, with friends John Mick, Steve Hultquist and Dan Dehaan, to compete in the Ice Age Open disc golf tournament. I played well, tying for 1st-place in the Am-1 division, though lost the playoff and finished in 2nd-place.

Between rounds temperatures dropped and the wind increased, sustaining at 30 mph throughout the entire second round. Also, the Tournament Director added a closest to the pin (CTP) prize – 2 discs to be awarded to whomever landed their drive closest to a specified basket.

When our group arrived to tee-off on that particular hole, I crushed my drive high & wide to the right, playing the wind for maximum carry. It’s often as much luck as it is skill when throwing during such extreme conditions, and so I was very pleased when my shot landed only 4-feet from the basket!

I later received my prize, which, fortunately, wasn’t contingent upon on making the putt – which I missed…D’Oh!

Disc Golf Stories, No. 10

In June of 1998, myself and three friends – Mike Milne, Jon Poole and Jeff Knudsen – traveled from Scottsdale, Arizona, to Sylmar, California, to compete in a weekend disc golf tournament called the “3rd Summertime Open”.

For some reason which I cannot recall, a makeshift course had been established at the Veterans Memorial Park. The event consisted of two 18-hole rounds on Saturday, and a final 24-hole round to be played on Sunday.

During the third round while playing on one of the added baskets, I birdied using my midrange Comet disc as a putter – a slightly downhill anhyzer putt around a tree, flattening to finish left. A somewhat unorthodox shot, though I did record the only birdie and took honors on the tee pad.

The next fairway was up the side of a hill, with the basket visible on the top and front edge. Also visible was a road (OB, penalty stroke) running across the fairway – situated at a distance, which, as we each discussed, may be within reach of a long drive?

I decided to put everything I had into my drive, believing that I could throw far enough to land safely beyond the road. I crushed it, with 4-feet to spare! However, my disc grabbed the hillside turf and spit backwards, finishing to rest barely in-bounds and teetering on the top edge of the curb. Seeing this, the following three competitors, as I would have, all played it safe with shorter drives.

I was last to play my second shot and first needed to spot my mark to the side, in order so that I was able to throw from within the fairway boundary. With approx. 150-feet remaining, I launched my Magnet putter uphill and into the chains for the only birdie in our group!

I played well in two of three rounds during the tournament. Not enough to win, but I nevertheless fondly recall my uphill deuce.

Disc Golf Stories, No. 9

I was competing in a PDGA sanctioned disc golf tournament on a warm day with mild winds during the summer of 1999. The event was held at Cold Brook Park, located in Climax, Michigan, between Kalamazoo and Battle Creek.

At that time, organizers commonly added six alternate baskets to the 18-hole layout, in order to accommodate a larger field of players. The first new basket in this expanded 24-hole format followed the 16th hole, and was a short birdie opportunity along the edge of Portage Lake.

Everything seemed fine as our group approached the tee pad. The wind was calm and there weren’t any trees as obstacles, only a water hazard to avoid along the right edge of the fairway.

And then, it happened.

From out of nowhere, a small gaggle of geese flew closely overhead at a high rate of speed! They couldn’t have been more than 10-feet above the ground, riding the leading edge of a weather system. We all ducked, rising again only to be immediately greeted by headwinds of approx. 30 miles per hour, sustained for the remainder of the tournament.

So much for an easy shot – now, the water loomed large.

Disc Golf Stories, No. 8

The year was 1998 and I’d recently moved to Scottsdale, Arizona. Now, my home course for disc golf was at Vista del Camino park, where I played the Shelley Sharpe Memorial Disc Golf Course.

As is commonplace at many courses, there are oftentimes a few folks on hand who sell discs, either new or found. Here, “Johnny B.” was known for fishing discs out of the canal, a stagnant waterway which changed color to a deepening shade of green throughout the summer. Anyway, the deals were good and one day I purchased a Roc golf disc for a fair price.

Sometime later, my friend Mike Milne and I set out to play other courses in the area, winding up on this particular day at a (now closed) disc golf course in Chandler, Arizona, called Hoopes.

My drive on the first hole finished 35 feet short of the basket, with a slightly downhill putt remaining. I drew chains but missed the putt. Just for fun, I decided to take a second shot with the recently purchased Roc which I’d brought along.

I missed again (#@&!) – the shot hit the tray and immediately shattered into a dozen pieces! It was shocking to see, as that isn’t supposed to happen (I never miss twice, lol).

I later learned that that Roc wasn’t found in the canal. Rather, it was discovered on the rooftop of a building adjacent to Vista Del Camino, where it had likely baked in the Arizona sun for a couple of years. Hence, the brittle state.

Johnny and I had a good laugh, and he gave me a replacement golf disc for free.

Disc Golf Stories, No. 7

Although I had played frisbee golf at various times throughout the 1980’s, it wasn’t until 1993 when I learned about disc golf and purchased my first disc – a 181 gram Marauder by Discraft.

In 1994, I discovered that there were actual baskets used in the sport, and different discs had different flight characteristics. A variety of literature became available and oftentimes provided useful information.

Not always, however. I can recall on two occasions when descriptive text wasn’t quite up to par.

One particular disc, for instance, had the description; “it goes where you throw it”. Of course it does, I thought – how else could it get there?

Another disc sought to lend credibility to its performance in windy conditions, though fell woefully short by stating; “it handles the wind like a breeze”.

Disc Golf Stories, No. 6

It was roughly fifteen years ago on a sunny summer day at Hudson Mills Metropark. I was shooting a round of disc golf on the Original Course with a friend, Jim Daniels, and we had just completed the first of six alternate holes.

Walking to the tee pad on “Hole B”, we observed several novice players foraging about in the tall grass off of the fairway for an errant throw. Signaling that we’d like to play through, they waved us on.

At 330′, I was quite pleased when my sidearm drive landed only ten feet shy of the basket. So to was Jim, as his backhand drive bettered mine by two feet. Both great shots!

As we walked ahead, the other players could be heard talking amongst themselves, suggesting that we must be professional disc golfers. Not an unreasonable assumption, given our two drives. And, it sure sounded good at the time.

Nevertheless, when we arrived at our thrown discs, we each proceeded to miss short putts. At that moment, reality came crashing down and it sounded a lot like amateur

 

Disc Golf Stories, No. 5

I first met Juliana Bower (now, Juliana Korver PDGA #7438) in 1998 at the Fountain Hills Thrills disc golf tournament held at Fountain Hills, Arizona, directed by Dan Ginnelly.

Between rounds on the first day as lunch was being served, I spotted her and said hello. I knew who she was – the 1998 Women’s Disc Golf Professional World Champion (later, to win that title 5 times) – and she was kind enough to sit with myself and a friend, Mike Milne, to eat and talk.

Fast forward to the year 2000. I was at the ‘Toboggan’ disc golf course at Kensington Metro Park, in Milford, Michigan, a newly designed course created to accommodate a large field of players registered for the upcoming 2000 PDGA Disc Golf World Championships.

A random draw doubles event was scheduled, which, to my surprise, was hosted by none other than Juliana Bower. As I recall, she had just switched sponsors from Innova to Discraft and was in the area to promote the tournament.

I drew Mark Ellis as a teammate and the two of us played well enough to win a prize disc each, as payout. I selected a chartreuse colored, maximum weight 176 gram Discraft “Cyclone”. It had a double-stamp, featuring the Discraft Doubles Series logo printed twice; once in blue sparkle, with a full-spectrum stamp offset on top

Given that this was a doubles event, and that my prize disc read “Discraft Doubles Series” – and was a double-stamp, I asked Juliana if she would sign it twice. She smiled, and laughed as she signed her second autograph on my souvenir.

Disc Golf Stories, No. 5

The disc remains in mint condition after nearly seventeen years of storage in a plastic bag.

Disc Golf Stories, No. 4

Following four hours in the car from Ann Arbor, myself and two disc golfing buddies stopped near Ludington to enjoy a relaxing swim in Lake Michigan. It was a sunny summer day on the Friday before the 1999 Michigan Disc Golf Organization (MDGO) Championships, and, after 45 restful minutes in the water, we made our way to the Mason County Park in time to participate in a late-afternoon Mace Man doubles event.

Many players had gathered to pay $10 for a chance to play in the random draw team competition. I’d personally been looking forward to this weekend for some time and was excited to be in Ludington, having played the courses only once before. Several folks were complaining, however, expressing concern that, with the newly crowned disc golf world champion, Ron Russell, in attendance, that the deck was stacked and that their entry fees were simply a donation.

That didn’t bother me at the time. If anything, I hoped that he might be part of our group so that I could watch and learn from his skillful play. He wasn’t, but his presence at the event was clearly a point of contention for my teammate. Nevertheless.

From the starting hole, I threw first for our team, launching a monster hyzer out to the right and back left again around the tree line. My shot drew metal, skipping off of the top of the basket. My teammate’s shot finished closer, though, and I made our putt for a birdie. It was a good sign of things to come.

When it was over, we finished at -13 through 18 holes and won the event! It was great to win, especially given that the caliber of competition was so formidable, and we each received a nice payout in merchandise.

The MDGO tournament itself was scheduled for two rounds on Saturday, with a final round on Sunday. I played in the Am-1 division, rather poorly as I recall.

Anyway. Following play on Sunday, it became apparent that no one had claimed the $160 ace pool. In making preparations to conclude the event, the Tournament Director (TD) announced that ace pool monies would be awarded to whomever could make a jumbo putt, to be held shortly on basket number 18 on the “Beast” course.

For those unfamiliar with the phrase jumbo putt, everyone basically lines up with their putter in a wide circle around the basket, and, when the signal is given, putts all at the same time.

Given that I wouldn’t be collecting any prizes at ‘tournament central’, I made my way up the hill to the basket where we’d be putting. For approximately 20 minutes, I set up at various points around the basket and putt my blue 174 gram Aviar small bead putter.

Occasionally, players would pass by the area, joking with me that it was pointless to spend so much time practicing from 80′, suggesting that only a lucky shot would win.

Though I understood this, I did manage to find the spot from which I was most comfortable shooting, given the direction of the prevailing breeze.

When the time came, everybody stormed up the hill and found a spot around the crudely formed circle established by the TD. I had my spot. When set, he called out, ‘On the count of 3, 2, 1, SHOOT!‘, and we all launched our putters to the center at the basket.

With colorful plastic all over the sky, it wasn’t easy to visually follow my shot, but I could see a blue disc in the air which I believed was mine, and it looked as if it was headed straight at the chains…if only it didn’t get knocked down in a mid-air collision with another putter.

As the shots came to rest, the TD and all of the players raced toward the basket to collect their missed putts from off of the grass. I did as well, though, along with another player from Indiana, had the pleasure of retrieving my putter from inside of the basket, and subsequently received my $80 share.

What a fun weekend! As a footnote, I added “80 bones” to the bottom side of my putter.

174 Gram Aviar Putter

Disc Golf Stories, No. 3

I was living in Scottsdale, Arizona during the year 1998, and had on four occasions the opportunity to travel to California to play disc golf. On the first road trip, my friend Jon Poole and I drove all over the state playing as many courses as we could discover. This particular disc golf story took place at the DeLaveaga disc golf course in Santa Cruz.

Prior to leaving, some locals at the Shelly Sharpe Memorial disc golf course at Vista del Camino Park had suggested that we visit Delaveaga while in California. Taking their advice, it was a challenging course with a diverse variety of hole layouts and elevation changes, and to this day remains one of my favorite courses ever played.

After arriving, we played more than 2 rounds before it became too dark to continue, and also played another round the following morning.

During our first round, my friend and I were each tied at a score of 4 over par heading into the last hole, referred to as the “Top of the World” for its elevated mountain view. We approached the tee area, encountering a local player who asked if he could join us to throw the 27th hole. As we looked over the fairway below with the basket set at a distance of 550 feet, he remarked that this hole was renowned for its difficulty, and, as my friend and I had never seen this course before, such sentiment seemed reasonable.

As a side note, the world distance record in disc golf had been broken earlier that year by professional disc golfer Scott Stokely, using a Discraft 167 gram XL to throw 693.3 feet.

I had honors to throw first and aimed my 169 gram XL to the right, released slightly downward with an anhyzer angle. The shot drifted to the right so much that, for a moment, I wasn’t sure if I’d ever see my disc again. But then it dipped back, turning left and floating for what seemed like forever.

When the disc finally landed, it was roughly 25 feet from the basket and almost out of bounds near the road. Jon put his approach shot near the basket, and I sank my putt to finish 3 over par.

Disc Golf Stories, No. 2

It was the summer of 2000 when Hudson Mills Metro Park hosted the PDGA World Disc Golf Championships near Ann Arbor, Michigan. To accommodate a deep field of competitors traveling to the area, six different courses were utilized, including Cass Benton Hills (Northville) and Kensington Metro Park (Milford).

Various side activities were also available during that week, where players and spectators alike could participate. One such event included a disc golf basket to be given away on the last day. To qualify for a chance to win the basket (worth several hundred dollars), preliminaries were held each day at every course, where people were charged $1 per shot. With any luck, their name would be added to a final list.

I thought I’d give it a try, but realized that day that I’d already spent my money on lunch. However, after rummaging through my car for a while, I found $1 in change and handed it over to Gunars Nollendorfs, the person conducting the activity. He chuckled as I counted out the coins, informing me that many people where paying $20 at a time for a chance to qualify.

Nevertheless. Starring at the basket roughly 80’ away, I tossed my one and only shot…and made it! It was a moral victory of sorts, though I never did win the basket in the end.

Disc Golf Stories, No. 1

It was summer in the year 1999 and I was visiting a friend, John Mick, in Kalamazoo, with plans to travel north to a disc golf tournament in Grand Rapids, at Earl Brewer Park. We made the trek, but I didn’t play due to a recent injury I’d sustained. Instead, I followed a few groups during the two rounds, watching as a spectator.

When the last round had concluded, players were milling about as the tournament director prepared to close the competition. An announcement was made informing folks that a disc golf cart was being given away to the winner of a long putt contest, as part of a local fundraising event.

Just as everybody turned and began to move with interest toward the designated area, a second announcement was made: nobody had made a hole in one during the tournament, so money in the ace pool remained unclaimed and a shoot-off was getting underway. Not surprisingly, most everyone turned to head in that direction.

So, there I was, standing approximately 100’ from the basket, ready to take my shot. Aside from the guy in charge of the contest, I was the only participant on hand. I placed my folded $1 bill through a cutout slit in the lid of an empty coffee can, assessed the moderately strong right-to-left tailwind, took several steps and launched my running putt out to the right. My 172 gm KC Aviar was airborne…

Wouldn’t you know it, I canned the putt! A few other people were in route to take a shot, but saw that I had already made it, and walked away. No one else tried, and I won the disc golf cart for $1.