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Disc Golfing Up North

This weekend was Memorial Day weekend, and while it was a bit cold, we went up to Petoskey for some camping and….some disc golf!  And a great course was found and played while up there, Kiwanis Park in Harbor Springs.

At the top of a hill Arbor Springs dead ends into the park.  And that hill is a precursor to the hills you’ll find through the course.  It looks like the park is used for sledding in the winter, and maybe other park-like activities, but for the most part I imagine it is used for the great course there.  According to the Harbor Springs website, the course is taken care off by the city as well as local disc golfers, and you can tell.  The course is really clean, which is great because I don’t understand why people assume it’s okay to throw their trash anywhere while they play, and the signs for each hole are great.  I mean look at this…

 

You get an aerial view of the hole, out of bounds marked, a flight path (sometimes two…), and even an arrow pointing to where the other hole is.  They also had clear paths between each hole, some lined with tree limbs.

Having been about nine months since I’ve gone disc golfing, it was a good day for me.  The majority of the holes were in the woods, and were less than 200 feet, keeping us on a short game that focused on putting.  I was usually able to get up to the putting area within one or two, depending on the placement of trees and the choice of disc.

I found myself overthrowing my target and having to backtrack to get to the basket.  This came from misjudging my disc choice.  I have a Discraft Avenger driver, which is great for a long distance throw, I can cover a lot of ground with it and it flies extremely straight.  However, this can be bad when assuming that you won’t be able to make it to the basket because of trees.  Yet, when you throw, the disc whistles past the trees and the basket and ends up landing at the pad for a hole you’ve already done.

This happened a couple of times.  I need to not always assume I’m going to hit a tree.  I also need to know what my discs do.  I need to know that the Avenger flies straight, and the Starfire will turn toward the left.  I also need to be confident in my choice when I get the disc out of my bag.

Overall, I was pretty happy with my performance.  I only had one hole that I really screwed up, hitting multiple trees and letting go of the disc way too soon.  But, I was able to recover on the next hole with a score of two.  I ended up being only one behind my father-in-law, which I was pretty proud of.  I kept myself as close to par as I could.

There were only a couple of people at the course when we played.  There was a large group ahead of us, but we quickly overcame them by hole 11.  We did have to wait for this couple that randomly started at 10 and then jumped over to hole two.  I guess I could see getting confused because hole 10 is right next to the parking lot, and hole one is somewhat hidden.  It took us a couple of minutes to see that it was near the clubhouse but off in the shadow of some trees.  However, the holes are really obvious.  There is a pretty big sign stating what hole you are on.  So, I’m not sure if they just wanted to change up the course or felt like it would be too much to search for hole one(oh, there was a big map near the parking lot as well…), but we had to watch them.  It’s not a big deal except that the guy decided to be cool and throw a couple of discs.  And then we had to watch his girlfriend whiff a disc into the woods.

It’s great to be back outside disc golfing again, I’m hoping to get out more often.  There are some new courses around Kalamazoo I need to check out, and there are some great ones up in Grand Rapids I need to get back to.  Thanks for suffering through an extremely long drought of posts, but I’m going to try to get back on here more often.

Aim for the Chains

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A little of my disc golf history, part 1

I believe now would be a good time to share with you my humble beginnings as a disc golfer and maybe a little of why I do it.  I think it’s good to discuss how you started out, that way you know where the start is and maybe figure out the path you are taking.

I do remember my first time out on a course, it was in the fall of 2006.  My now brother-in-law, Mario, had been talking about disc golfing for a while, at the time he had been doing for a long time.

My leopard disc

This is my Leopard disc, as you can see it's pretty well worn, but that just makes it better.

I think he use to go all the time during the summer, but I’m not sure and since this is my blog we w

on’t go into his disc golf history.  (Maybe I’ll interview him sometime, just to give this blog a different voice)  Anyway, the point is that he is good at it, likes doing it, and wanted to share the experience with us.  So, Mario, my father-in-law, me, and maybe my other brother-in-law, Win, all got up early and drove over to Oshtemo.  Mario had a lot of discs so he shared them with us, I think we each grabbed two discs, a driver and a putter.  And started to tough our way through a challenging course.  Probably three hours later we walked out of the forest, muddy and in love with the sport.

It didn’t take long for my father-in-law and myself to go to Dunham’s  Sports and pick up a disc golf starter pack.  The pack came with a driver, mid-range, and putter.  In fact I still have them: Leopard, Shark, and Aviar.  (Actually, I don’t have the Aviar, I think that one disappeared in Grand Rapids)  We then started going to the Oshtemo course on the weekends.  I loved those three discs and it probably took another year before I bought any new ones.

My Shark Disc

This is my Shark Disc, again, a little worn, but can't go wrong with that. As of late, it's been my favorite.

The course has changed a bit since then.  It used to have a lot more trees, and if you go out there now you’ll see the stumps where they used to be.  They must have gotten a lot of complaints, because those trees where in some really hard spots, forcing you to throw low or really high to get around them.

I remember watching Mario throw some amazing throws, the type of throws that amaze and anger you at the same time.  It was like he had a remote or a string to guide them around the trees.  He made them look easy, and watching the way those discs flew was beautiful.  I still get amazed by how the discs float in the air, it’s like art.  Anyway, the important thing was that he gave us pointers and helped us figure out how to do those throws.  Not saying that we did anywhere as good as he did, but at least we hobbled our way through the course.

I discovered that my friend Paul liked to disc golf, so I would go with him every once in a while, and I even brought my then fiance with me.  It just got into my bones and spirit.  Maybe it’s why people hike or hunt, to be out in nature, away from the computers and traffic and daily grind of life, but whatever it is, you do feel really peaceful out there.  It was that place in my head I would go to when working at a retail bookstore or going to college started bringing me down.  I’m not saying that I didn’t get frustrated out there, trust me, when you think you have thrown an awesome throw only to have it slam into a tree truck, you are as far from peace as you can get.  But, you just have to let that stuff go.

We only went to Osthemo that first year getting into disc golf.  I don’t know if it was because we were familiar with it or if it was the only one we knew of, but either way that was the course we used until my fiance and I graduated from Western Michigan and we moved to Crystal Lake, Illinois (not the camp that Jason haunted), but a northwest suburb of Chicago.

That is the end of part 1.  Part 2 shows how my love progressed for the sport and how I was able to watch a competition and meet some great athletes.

Until tomorrow, I ask, what is your first disc golf memory?

My two babies

What is that saying? You always remember your first. Well my first was triplets, yet the two stuck around. I must be doing something right...

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