Tag Archives: Grand Rapids

Wolverine Cup — Day One

The weekend of August 28-29 was the inaugural weekend for the Wolverine Cup.  The plan for the weekend was to get the family together and travel the west side of Michigan to play at different Disc Golf courses and try out some different Michigan brews.  Not knowing how this weekend was going to turn out, we decided on just three of us:  Mario (my brother-in-law), Win (my father-in-law) and myself.  And we planned on trying out three courses the first day:  Kalamazoo – Oshtemo Township Park, Grand Rapids – Old Farm Park, and Big Rapids – Northend Riverside Park.  Then four courses the second day: Ludington – Mason County Park, Whitehall – Whitehall Township, Fremont – Branstrom Park, and Holland – Winstrom Preserve.  In between these courses we were going to try hitting up some Michigan breweries and try out some local beers.

This was the plan, however the execution of the plan was a little different.  I think the problem was judging driving distances and playing new courses.  As most disc golfers know, when you are trying a new course there are going to be issues.  Issues of knowing where all of the pads and baskets are, issues of finding a disc when it was tossed into the underbrush, and issues of actually finding the course.  We ran into all of these, but we learned from our mistakes.  I think the plan for next year will be to start a day earlier and possibly picking courses that are closer together.  Because the driving time is what killed our second day, where we only got to play two of the four courses we planned.

I will now go over the first day and later this week give you the second day.

It was a great weekend for disc golf and we enjoyed every minute of it.  The weather was a bit on the warm side, but we missed any of the heat by being in the car. However, there was no chance of rain and their wasn’t much wind the whole weekend.  The night before our weekend was our cousin-in-law’s wedding, in which we played the important role of setting up and taking down, which meant that we had a late night and early morning.

And it begins…

Oshtemo Township Park

I have talked in detail about this course in the past and won’t give you any detailed description about it.  I will say that it’s a great warm up for the rest of the day.  Having varied baskets, you get to practice throwing in the woods as well as long holes.   Plus, going this early meant there wasn’t very many people on the course, saving us waiting time and allowing us the chance to finish up and be on our way.

 

Oshtemo Township Park Course

Mario and Win trying to get a disc out of a tree

 

I had a bit of a rough morning, making glaring mistakes and having obvious throwing problems.  Mario gave me an Innova Reaper to try out.  This disc will naturally go left if thrown backhand, but if you hold the disc right (kinda at a 45 degree angle from the ground) you can get it to go to the right and it helps you when the course dog legs to the right.

 

Osthemo Township Park Course

Win throwing his disc near the end of the course.

 

Plus the disc flies fast and floats, giving you great distance.  I wasn’t planning on doing anything new this weekend, I wanted to go with what I knew, so backhands and overhead throws were my norm.

We did discover that to save some time we would have a spotter.  Someone to run out and watch where our discs are going.  This was really helpful at Oshtemo because the trees were thick and we had some searching issues.  But, once we got the spotter out there he was able to save us some hunting time.  And in the end this saved us at least an half an hour.

 

Oshtemo Township Park Course

Mario sinking the putt at hole 18.

 

Old Farm Park

After Oshtemo we drove up to Grand Rapids to get lunch at Founders and then go to Old Farm Park.  Founders is a pretty amazing brewery up in Grand Rapids that I highly recommend.  The sandwiches were filling and the beer great for a summer day.  As we sat outside enjoying lunch our waiter noticed the shirts I made and we talked about the weekend.  He suggested going to a different course, saying that Old Farm Park wasn’t very good or difficult.  But, having already made the shirts, the plan was set.  Sorry waiter guy.  You can’t lie on a t-shirt, I think it’s a law.

The plan was actually to pick a course that wasn’t hard.  We wanted a somewhat easy one that we could breeze through before heading up to Big Rapids.  And according to the Disc Golf Michigan book, this course was exactly what we wanted.

After playing the course, I can say that the book and waiter were correct.  It wasn’t difficult.  Most baskets were around the 200 foot mark, though not all.  The nice thing was that they were clearly labeled and there wasn’t much underbrush to cause any searching issues.  However, there were some water hazards, including a really nasty looking pond that I think had the Swamp Thing in there, and he would steal your discs because he liked to play at night.

I had a better time at this course, though some stray moments of pain and stress.  I didn’t start out strong.  The first hole is deceptively easy, with a straight shot to the basket which is on a slight hill, a bump really.  However, my disc decided to go way to the right of the basket.  But, I didn’t let this slip ruin my game.  The rest of the holes were pretty uneventful.  They are laid out in this strip of trees in the park.  I hit par on the rest of the front nine holes.

The back nine had a little more challenge, with holes 10, 11, 12 and13 all in a field.  This is where you could pull out some fire and have your disc fly.  Which I did.  Only on hole 11 my disc decided to go a little further and to the right of the basket.  I was trying out the Reaper and I guess I held it at too much of an angle.  But, I was still proud of the distance of the disc and I was able to make it back up.

 

Old Farm Park Course

Here is the "deceptive" Hole 15...

 

I should mention that through out all of this Mario and my father-in-law were doing great.  We all stayed pretty even through out the whole course.  They only had a couple of funny issues with the back nine.  On hole 14 a stream was on the left and the hole was on an incline.  Well, Mario had a nice throw, except  his disc decided to be a roller and just couldn’t make it up the hill, and rolled right back down and into the deepest part of the stream.  And then both Mario and Win had a perception problem with hole 15.  It seemed like a simple hole, the pad was on the top of a hill, the Swamp Thing’s pond was to the right and the basket was kinda on the incline of the other side of the valley.  But, from this angle you could see the basket for hole 17 on the other side of the pond.  I guess they both didn’t see the basket on the hill, but they did see the basket on the other side of the pond.  Both were freaking out on getting it over there.  I didn’t quite understand the issue and assumed they were worried the wind would push their discs into the pond.  I believe I was the first to throw and I was on target for the correct basket.  Mario and Win threw, and were on the right track for the correct one, but didn’t realize it.

 

Old Farm Park Course

Mario letting loose on hole 15, though aiming for the wrong basket...

 

They got up to do their second throws and both threw the disc at a really funny angle.  I was totally lost at this point and asked what they were doing.  I then pointed to the correct basket, which caused them to laugh and try to decide if they wanted to start that basket over again.  I guess that’s what you get for looking for a challenge and not paying attention.

Hole 17 did offer a bit of a problem, mainly because you were throwing to a basket that was in front of the pond (the one they thought you were suppose to throw to on the earlier basket).  But, no one went into the pond.  There was a couple in front of us that did make it in the pond and were trying to bargain with Swamp Thing while we finished up the course.  The whole course maybe took us two hours, if that.

Northend Riverside Park

Now we were on our way up to Big Rapids and to Northend Riverside Park.  Which is about a hour north of Grand Rapids.  We were making good time.  We would be up to Big Rapids around five, get our hotel room, find the course, play the course and do dinner around eight.  But, the heat and drive of the day was starting to wear on us.  We looked pretty tired once we got to the hotel and I could feel a headache coming on.  Probably not drinking enough water.  After dropping our stuff off at the hotel and sitting for a minute researching where the course was and where dinner was we got back on the trail.

This was Mario’s favorite course of the weekend, and I would find it difficult to disagree.  Mason County Park was pretty amazing, but the one in Big Rapids had everything you could ask for and gave you just enough challenge to make it interesting the entire time.  And the park ran along the Muskegon River, a beautiful river that a lot of the Ferris State University students use to go tubing.

Our first problem though was finding the start of the course.  The Disc Golf Michigan book pointed us to what we thought was the park that held the course.  But, after walking a mile on a path that ran parallel to the river we discovered a different park, the correct park.  So, after an all day marathon of disc golf  we walked an extra mile to try out a challenging new course.  Great way to start…

Northend River Park’s disc golf course is supposedly kept up by a disc golf pro.  And it shows.  Easily marked signs, clean baskets and pads, and some challenging baskets prove that somebody loves this course and uses it to prepare for big events.  The front nine were in mostly open spaces with some woods around the baskets, the back nine, or  what a wooden sign showed as “Anhyzer Country” was in the forest.  But in a neat forest with tall tress that really only had branches in the way.

 

Northend Riverside Park course

Here I am lining up a putt

 

We didn’t run into very many people at this course, which was fine because we did need to concentrate.  The day was catching up with us and near the end of the course we were sitting on the benches waiting our turn, instead of standing watching the others throw.  There was a nice breeze coming off the river and the sun was going down, keeping the temperature cool.

Each basket had a unique challenge, either going up a hill or going around trees.  Most of the fairways were clear.  But narrow.  You really wanted to throw straight on the majority of the baskets.

I actually did my best game of the day here.  I think it just took me a long time to warm up and knowing the day was almost done also helped.  I had some powerful throws and didn’t hit many trees.  Not saying that I didn’t hit any tree,  I definitely left my mark on a couple of trees.  But I only had one real issue, and that was overthrowing and having the disc curve the wrong way.  I think I was still getting use to the Reaper and its tendency to curve.  This caused a problem with the last basket.

The last basket of the day was challenging because it had two huge garbage trees in the way of you and the basket.  And then on the left side of the trees and basket was the road and a lot of rough.  The correct way would have been to go low and easy to the right and sink a par.  However, my disc decided to discover what the road was like.  And it was a beautiful road, so that was nice.  But, not where you want to be when you all decided to make a bet on who was going to get the car.

 

Northend Riverside Park course

A neat peace sign on the path to the end of the disc golf course

 

End of Day One

We were soaked from sweat.

And after much discussion, we decided on taking showers before going to eat.  Well, I didn’t really plan on that and only packed the bare minimum.  So, I had to wear some sweat boxers to dinner.  But, it’s cool.  I can’t smell so I was fine.

Big Rapids Brewing Company is in a restaurant called the Blue Cow.  The Blue Cow is a sort of a fancy restaurant.  Not a required dress place, but the food was upscale.  Perfect for the end of a long day.  We each tried a different beer, mine was the Strong Ale, and ate some amazing chicken.

After that was back to the hotel for a really tired game of Hearts and sleep.

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First game down

Sitting outside on the porch at Founders in Grand Rapids after are first round of disc. We played a great game at Oshtemo this morning. Well…almost a great game. I hit seven on one too many baskets to justify great. But, I am trying a new disc the Mario gave me, and it worked really well on one basket.

Our next course is Old Farm Park in Grand Rapids.  Are server here at Founders said this course is a short one.  But, this is good because we are still going up to Big Rapids to play a course and go to a brewpub. So this short course should save us from playing in the dark.

Keep following this blog to see what happen next!

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Nine holes of fun

I think I like a nine hole game of disc golf for a family event.  It’s not so long that you miss the actual event (a reunion in this case), but it is a great practice and taste for people new to the sport.  I got to experience this perfect mix the other week in Grand Rapids at Lamar Park.

The course is a nice little course with not much of a challenge, besides some water hazards, picnic areas, and baseball fields.  The majority of the holes are short, except for one, which makes up for the others.  The other hazard that you will run into is the that this park has a lot of picnic benches and picnic areas around, with some really close to the holes.  So, you have to look out for the people in these areas.  That part is annoying, considering hole number three has a creek on your left and a giant picnic area to the right of the basket.  When we were there, that area was full of people enjoying a birthday party with lots of kids.  Meaning that you had to make sure you had control of your disc.  You didn’t want to go fishing or piss off a bunch of parents.  The baseball fields also present a challenge, though not as bad as the moving hazard of children.  The baseball fields only presented you with the trouble of having to hop fences if your disc went over them.  Obviously not a problem if a game is not going on, but…you don’t really want to mess up a game by stopping the outfielder from catching a pop-fly.  Plus, if you are doing disc golf right, that is out-of-bounds.

Overall, it’s a great little place that I do recommend you checking out if you have some time up in the Grand Rapids area.  Just be prepared for the one hazard that really shouldn’t be a hazard, yet seems to be for my brother-in-law, Mario.

The pond.

This pond seems be a storm run-off, that just happens to always have water in it.  I guess there are fish, because there are usually people on the edges of it with fishing poles.  Well, this pond is on the far left of the ninth hole.  The way the hole is laid out, the pond really doesn’t seem to be in the way of anything.  You wouldn’t even really want to try to cut over it with a big throw, because the basket isn’t in place where it would make sense.  I could see it being a problem, because it is in your line of sight when you are getting ready to throw your disc.  And if you let the disc go too late when you are doing a backhand, it could fly in there.  But, for the most part it shouldn’t be an issue.

However, both times we have gone to this course, Mario has had to take a swim.  The first time was pretty bad, because the disc went into the middle of the pond.  The second time I didn’t get to see it, because he went around the course one more time than I did.  The funny thing was that as we stood around the pad for for the first round, we had joked about him doing it.  He said he had no idea why his disc went in the water.  So, he must have cursed himself, because sure enough, as we were sitting around the picnic area for the reunion he came back with wet shorts.  Moral of the story: be prepared for anything, and don’t mind getting wet.

Now on to my game…

I think I did a decent job.  The only hole I really had an issue with was hole number seven, which was the long one of the course.  My drive was good, as well as my second throw, however the third one that was suppose to get me to putting range bombed.  There is a step hill that follow the fairway on the right, and at the top of the hill is a street.  Well, my third throw took my way off course and almost on that street.

Otherwise, I actually kept on or just over par on the holes.  Now, I am starting to count par as three and not four.  Four is a safe bet, which is fine for me, but three makes me pretty happy.  I did this with my backhand and overhead throws.  These drives usually got me close enough that my next throw put me on top of the basket.  And I never really had to worry about my putts.

I’m feeling better for the Wolverine Cup 2010, not perfect, I need to practice a bit more.  I didn’t mention the dreaded forehand throw, because I didn’t even give it a thought.  I guess I chickened out a bit on that one.  I’m focusing on one thing a time, and that is definitely not it.  My putting and other drives have become priority right now.  I know those are my strong suits and I want to strengthen them up even more before the tour happens.

Have you been to this course?  Any thoughts on it that I missed?

GOAL

Hit par on more holes.  Increase my putting range

GOAL ACCOMPLISHED?

Yes on both!  It was a shorter course and that might have been the reason, but hey I’ll take a win.

PROBLEM

Biggest problem is the length of the drives.  I know most people say putting is the name of the game, but you need to be able to get to the basket to make those putts.  I want to do it in a shorter number of throws.

SOLUTION

Practice, practice, practice!  I should try to go back to the park and throw some more discs, work the arm muscle a bit.  Also, should probably go to the courses a bit more.  Since the move has been delayed, this might be possible.

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