Tag Archives: Kalamazoo

I’m back!

Hi all!

I’m back from my National Guard training and ready to get back in my disc golf adventures.  It was a great experience and if anyone has any questions about joining the guard or about Basic Training/AIT post something in the comments section and I’ll try to answer it for you.

But this blog is not about the National Guard, it’s about disc golf.  I did not get a chance to play while I was at AIT, all we had were taxi’s to take us places and they really tried to cheat you on prices.

So I’ve been out of the loop for awhile.  Which is where you come in.  Hit me up and let me know what is going on in the world of disc golf.  Any new courses you want to talk about?  Anyone go on a cool disc golf tour they want to talk about?

I did check out the Kalamazoo Air Zoo course, which I will talk about soon.  And I plan on getting out weekly now, so you should see some more action on this blog.

Also, I’m looking for good pictures of courses in the Michigan area.  I can’t seem to find any and don’t have the time to roll around the state taking pictures.  So, if you have some, give me a holler and we can share them with everyone.

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Kalamazoo Air Zoo opens up a disc golf course!

I know, I know, I write this post saying I’m going to be gone and then I come back the next day and post something…but this is going to be quick and not a lot of writing from me.

The Kalamazoo Air Zoo on Portage Road has opened up a 9-hole disc golf course around the museum.  It’s free and according to the article it’s all par-3 holes.

Nice to see a new course in the area.  If you go out there and check it out, let me know.

Air Zoo opens 9-hole disc golf course

 

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Hey that looks familiar…

My father-in-law opened up the Kalamazoo Gazette yesterday (it was actually last Thursday the 15th, the power went out and I haven’t had a chance to get back to this post) and was flipping through it when he showed me their weekly kids section.  And what should be on the cover and the main focus of that kids section?  Disc Golf!

The whole pull-out kids section (I can’t remember what the name of that section is) is focused on what disc golf is and how to play it.  Basically talking about how great it is, how easy it is for kids to do it, and how it’s an easy way to get kids to go outside…wait this sounds familiar.  Didn’t I write about this, at least twice?   Yes.  Yes I did.  (Here and here)

I think it’s great that they are promoting disc golf and kids.  The section did a nice job covering the history of disc golf and making it look like a great time for you to take your kid out there.  I don’t think there is much more for me to say, except that if you are sitting there, with your kids running around driving you crazy, maybe you should take them out to the park and throw some discs!  It’ll be a couple of hours of your day, which isn’t bad, but you could be introducing your kid to a great sport and showing them there is something cheap and easy to do outside.

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Discovery of the forest dwelling basket

This was a great weekend for disc golf and it felt great to hit the course and toss some discs.  It’s been a while since I’ve been able to hit the course (I know I keep whining about it, but that’s the point of this blog, duh), but there wasn’t any rust on these throws and I think I actually saw some improvement this past Saturday.  Also, it was great checking out a new course, Lake Township Park over by Warren Dunes on Lake Michigan.  A nice course that I think you should check out if you are over that way.

Let’s talk about the course first, because it has an interesting hole and one hole that I guess is a premier hole.  Both of these holes are worth talking about in detail.  First, to start off, the course is in a nice sports park and was originally nine holes, but recently moved up to a normal 18 hole course.  Being part of a sports park, I think there is somebody there to take care of the course or nobody knows this course exists.  I didn’t see any garbage around any of the holes (a major pet peeve of mine that I’ll talk about soon), which was surprising because I didn’t see very many garbage cans around.  They had maps at hole one, which I liked because some of the pad placement was a little funky.  The majority of the holes were short, around the 200 foot mark, making you feel like a superstar with every drive.  Not saying that it was an easy course.  The first nine holes were in not quite a forest (you’ll here about that in a second) but some sort of hilly tree area.  So, they placed a lot of the baskets right on the other side of a tree, making you almost have to come around the back-end of the basket.  After that there were some open holes, those were the ones that had some length, hitting 400 feet.  And a couple of the holes were on the edge of the park, testing your fence climbing skills if you had a stray throw or the wind was deciding to be evil and wanted to grab your disc.

Now, the two  holes that I think need to be discussed at a bit of detail.  Hole 3 and hole 11.  Hole 3 for it’s apparent notoriety and hole 11 for it’s ridiculousness.

Before going camping this weekend, I did a little research on if there were any disc golf courses around Warren Dunes, and Lake Township was the one.  Well, in everything I read, they said hole 3 was the hole to look out for.  According to Disc Golf Course Review and the PDGA website this is the trademark hole.  My question: why?  It’s a straight shot from the pad to basket, 492 feet, with a fence on your right and some trees around the basket.  Yes that fence could be a problem, but for most people who throw right handed and do a back hand throw, that disc is going to go left, away from the fence.  And yes 492 feet is a long hole, but not the longest one I’ve seen (that was a course in Illinois, the hole was over 900 feet I think and the longest in the state).  There is a little worry that your disc might go rogue and go deep in the woods that is on the other side of the fence, but it’s a very very tiny worry.  I guess if you are playing tournament rules, you might have a little trouble with this hole because there is a parking lot and sidewalk that you have to throw over, and if you land on them that is usually considered out-of-bounds.  But,  there were five of us out there and I don’t think anyone landed on the out-of-bounds area.  I hit par on that hole, and I would have gone one under if it wasn’t for a stray tree branch that was in my way.

If the disc golf sites are going to consider hole 3 the trademark hole, I wonder what they would consider hole 11?  The park is broken in half with a thick forest separating the soccer fields from the baseball diamond and pond.  This forest is actually labeled as a “Boy Scout Trail” and does have a couple of trails going through it.  However, hole 11 must of been created by someone that has never heard of the word “fairway” or “lawnmower.”  Trying to find the pad was a beast, and then trying to find the basket was like going on an expedition in a newly discovered jungle forest.  There was underbrush every where.  Nothing was cleared out.  And I don’t think anything had ever been cleared out.  You were throwing blind from the pad, definitely needing a spotter to help keep track of your disc.  I guess there were tiny bike paths along the sides of the woods, but nothing you could use to help you throw from a clear area.  I highly recommend using the overhand throw for this hole.  We had to hunt down the basket first, which again, didn’t have a “green,”  then we had to station a couple of people in the woods to help spot, and after we threw, we took over for the spotters to throw.  It was a big process to get to the basket.  I can’t imagine trying to do that hole either by yourself or after a rain.  It would be full of bugs and just plain nasty trying to go through it.  I have a picture on my phone that I’ll post to show you the insanity of the hole. The picture speaks for its-self.

Hole 11
This is at about the halfway point of the hole. As you can see, nothing was cleared.

I went to the course with my father-in-law and my nephews.  This course was perfect for my two youngest nephews because of the shortness of the holes.  They had a great time on the course, challenging each other, figuring out the yardage equivalent of each hole, and trying out our different discs.  It is funny to watch them come up with reasons for wanting to use different discs, usually having something to do with the color or how one of us older guys did with a disc.  Made me laugh and think about why I have so many discs.  Do I really need the ten discs I have in my bag?  Why do I switch to a Roc or Shark or Leopard on the fairway?  Is there really that big of a difference between my Pro Star and Pro Beast?  Could I do just as well with one or two discs?  I have gone into some detail on testing out my discs, so I guess I can say there is a difference between all of them.   I really think it has to do more with the golfer than the disc.  However, we gave them a new disc when they asked and it made them feel good and that’s all that really matters.

One thing that should have shocked me, but didn’t, again having talked about it, was that they were really good at the forehand throw.  It’s pretty sicking to see how easy it is for them to just whip a forehand throw like it’s nothing and have it go exactly where it should while my throw wobbles off into a bunch of trees way to close to count for any type of throw.  I’m glad they can do the throw and that they can get out on the course, they keep it up and they will be major competition for some of the guys that are pros.

As for me, like I said above, I did see some improvements on my game and I feel good about it.  My drives are going a lot further, cutting down my mid range drives usually by one whole throw.  On hole 17, which is a long hole, around 500 feet, I got within putting range in two throws.  It did go a little further right than I wanted, having to do with me letting go at the wrong time, but it was still easy to recover from.  My putting wasn’t too bad.  I got a couple of putts I didn’t think I could get and some that I thought I would get, I bombed.  I’m having a hard time hitting the chains on the right side of the basket, and I can tell it’s a problem because my putter keeps passing the basket on the left side.  So that is something I need to work on with the practice basket.  Another thing I noticed was that the type of basket can make a difference.  They have Innova baskets, which have this plastic ring around the top that your putter can use to bounce off of.  I’m use to the metal pieces that a lot of other baskets have, which usually just stops the putter and drops it into the basket.  The plastic ring however, gives your putter enough bounce to push it away from the basket and back to the ground.  I did try doing more forehand throws, but those still gave me results I didn’t want.  My overhand throw did come in handy for some of the holes(as mentioned above) and I do feel like it’s something that I want to pursue further.

It was a great time and I do recommend you try out the course.  For the five of us, including three children, it took just about two hours.  I can imagine it taking a lot less time for people who disc on a regular basis.  So, if you are driving to Chicago from Kalamazoo, or the other way around, stretch your legs and go to Lake Township park (it’s like two minutes from the highway, but doesn’t feel like it when you are actually at the park).  It’s possibly going to be our starting point on our trip of  Lake Michigan courses, being an ideal meeting point for my brother-in-law in Chicago.

What course did you go to this weekend?  Have you been to Lake Township park before?  Disagree with my assessment of hole three?  Let me know.

GOAL

Reach Par

Improve Overhand Throw

Improve Forehand Throw

Beat nephews

GOAL ACCOMPLISHED?

I reached par on probably 60% of the holes, which isn’t too bad, but I don’t think it’s worthy of goal accomplished.

My overhand throw did me well.  I think if I keep it up it could do even better.

I think I did beat my nephews, though the 15 year old was really close to my score.  That’s what they get for being young, losing!!!!

PROBLEM

Forehand throw still needs a lot of work.  It’s really wobbly and goes right way too early.   I’m sure this just goes back to me letting go to early.

SOLUTION

Do not be afraid to try the forehand throw.  I think my biggest problem is that I’m a bit too competitive and am scared to waste a throw that might not go anywhere.  But this causes me to not practice a throw that needs to be practiced before it gets better.  So, I need to just force myself to do one whole disc golf game  forehand.  Eighteen holes in a row of forehand throwing should be good practice.

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A little of my disc golf history, part 2

When I last left you on my personal history of Disc Golf, (click here for part 1) I was leaving to go to Crystal Lake, IL.  It was there that I really got to experience disc golf and all it haves to offer.  I got to try out many different courses in the area, see how the pros do it, and watch my disc collection grow.  I think that time in Crystal Lake helped make disc golf more than just a passing thing and grow it into something I want to do for the rest of my life.  I’ll try to take you through that time and share some of the highlights that got me where I am today.

Working the third shift in a new town makes it kinda rough to meet people or spend time with your new wife.  With my wife working a normal 9-5, my mornings and afternoons were free to do what I pleased.  At first it was mostly just video game playing.  My last year at school was intense, so I took this newly free time to catch up on what was important to me, my Playstation 2 and a stack of games needing to be finished.  However, it was the summer time and the sun was out, so after a bit it seemed weird to stay indoors.  I had to do something outside….then I looked around my office and saw my stack of discs, and it dawned on me, “There’s gotta be a course around here somewhere.”  A quick search through the PDGA website showed that there were two course within a mile of my place.  One was a 9-hole course and the other 18.  Perfect.

Lippold Park and Hanna Beardsley Middle School were the two course I found, and I soon became really familiar with both of them.  I think once you hit the point of knowing in your sleep where the trees, baskets, wind, and pads of a course are  you’ve gone to the course a bit much.  That’s the way it was for Lippold Park.  I went to that one quite a bit.  It was an awesome course, with open fields, forest, and some long holes to make the course challenging enough to keep you coming back for more.  The Middle School was the 9-hole course, with each hold under 200 feet.  Fun place to go when you only have half an hour, because you should be able to whip right through that one with no problem.  It was around a school, so some of the issues came in with either hitting the school, or dealing with the students.  I also think it was a good place to take new people, because they could get a feel for the game, and not get overwhelmed by 18 holes.

I tried hitting Lippold Park once a week, similar to what I am trying to do now.  Going by yourself is a little different than with a group, and I think I’ll talk about that more later, but for now just know that for me at that time, I tried to hit the course when no one else was there.  I didn’t want to embarrass myself too much in front of the other people out there.  And I also wanted to take a little time with my drives and mid range throws.  Just for the sake of getting it right.  I couldn’t always do that, because it was a great course.  But, it was fun by myself, I have some good memories of that course.  Once, right after I picked up my Roc I went to Lippold to try it out, and I think on hole 10 I threw my Roc right into a tree and almost lost it.  I was digging through that tree for 30 minutes and was just about ready to give it up.  As I was ready to walk away from that brand new disc, I decided to take one last look around and decided to look a little more up in the trees this time.  Sure enough, that disc was stuck up in some branches.  It’s always the way.  My advice to you, just keep looking and cover every inch of the space, it’s gotta be there.

That wasn’t the only time the Roc gave me grief at Lippold.

My father-in-law and I were there during the winter, and when we started it was still light out, but the sun went down really fast that day and added another challenge to the game, playing in the dark.  Well, the Roc is a white disc, and when it’s snowy and dark, it can be a pain to try to find a white disc.  Hole 14 or 15 is a hole that starts in the woods, goes through some sort of garbage-y meadow and ends with the basket on the opposite side of a line of trees.  It’s a great hole, but that meadow is a pain, because it either becomes swamp-like in the summer, or just collects snow in the winter.  And this night was no different.  My Roc went straight into the meadow and must have buried itself under the snow, because we could not find it.  We covered that ground like we were looking for a body.  We did a shuffle through that meadow, going from one side to the other, one line at a time trying to find it.  In the dark, it was impossible.  Deciding to finish up the course and come back the next day, I had to trust that no one else would find it and get a free disc.  The rest of the course was a blur.  Early the next morning, with the sun shinning down, it was really easy to find the disc.  The snow was covered in our footsteps, except for the one tiny patch where the disc had landed.

Another great memory at Lippold was the tournament that I covered for the newspaper.

http://ssm.nwherald.com/northwest-herald/video/20070703discgolf/disc-golf/

*That’s a link to the video I shot while attending the tournament.  (For some reason I couldn’t embed it in the blog, but the link should work, let me know if it doesn’t)

I think the video speaks for the fun I had there.  It was an amazing time and that is a goal of mine for the future, to participate in a tournament.  While following around the different golfers, I was able to get some good advice on how they got as good as they were, I got to observe the different throws, and see all the different levels of player.

After shooting this video, I was really inspired to step up my game.  It was right after that I picked up my disc golf bag, bought the Roc and tried new things with my putts and drives.  They were the ones that told me the Roc was the best disc to have in your bag, and that they use it for everything.

I think it was around that point, that I really wanted to take my game up to the next level.  Before that, it was just something fun to do outside with friends and family.  It’s cheaper than golf, easier to get people together, and I could find a course relatively easy.  But, seeing these guys on the course and what they could do, showed me that I could do it.  I could throw my disc that far, I could get amazing putts, I could even get an ace.  I was on top of the world staring down at a basket.

Then I moved to New York City.

No disc golf there.

After two years of emptiness, I moved back to Kalamazoo and picked up my discs the next weekend, and that pretty much leads you back to the beginning of this blog.

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Disc Golfing with the family

So this weekend I have plans on disc golfing with my brothers and sister.  I’ve never gone with them before, which doesn’t seem like a big thing, but they all go.  I think this might be the first time to get us all together out on the course.  I know that my brother has been going for a long time, and we have always talked about hitting the course together, but never seemed to find the time.  And I think the group he goes with is a pretty hardcore group, so I don’t know if I would be able to keep up with them.  I am interested to see how I do now, knowing that he hasn’t been on a course for at least eight months.  As for my other brother and sister, I don’t know how often they go, but they are much younger, so I am hoping that I can at least be a little better than them (can’t help the sibling rivalry, it’s just the way it is, besides they are like ten years younger, so if I can’t hold this over them, I’m in trouble 🙂 )

But, this could be a great bonding experience and something that we might like to repeat.  Gotta like the sentimental stuff, right?

I’ll let you know if this becomes a repeat event, or if this is the last time I will speak of it…

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Monday: A crazy time for Disc Golfing in K’zoo!

Who knew that a Monday evening in Kalamazoo would be a busy time to go disc golfing?

Well guess what?  It is.

Maybe it had to do with it being a the first nice day in a while.  Or it could be the fact that it  didn’t get dark until after nine.  Or it could just be that it’s fun to go disc golfing and so people try to find time to when they can.

I found this out because I went to Oshtemo with a group of my friends Monday evening and we seemed to have to wait at every pad.  Not that it was bad waiting, we still got through each hole pretty quick (we must be getting better…) but it brings up a good question: who should you let go ahead of you when the course is busy? I think a good rule is if there are less people in their group than in yours, let them go.  Or if you are stuck searching for a disc in the woods, let the group standing at the pad looking really bored pass.  But, at some point I do think you need to draw a line in letting people pass, or you will be stuck at hole 2 letting everyone go by you and you’ll never get to disc.  I think you’ll probably have a good idea of who to let pass.  Just watch them throw.  The group might have four people and you have two, but the bigger group can get to the basket in two throws while it takes you guys four or five, let that group pass.  Because they might be waiting at the pad every time you are half way down the fairway.  That isn’t fair to that group, and it will probably only cost you five minutes.  Overall, it’s just common courtesy to not be a dick and try to hog the course.

I went with a group of five, Andy, Paul, Paul’s fiance, and Josh.   This was Josh’s second time out, and I think Paul’s fiance has only gone a couple of times.  So, it was a good mix and a fun mix.  Andy still showed us all up with his crazy left handed throw.  When he let a disc go, it would just keep going.  It was pretty impressive to watch.  Josh is getting better, understanding that the way you angle the disc before the throw controls if it’s going to go up in the sky and get pushed around by the wind or if it’s going to fly close to the ground.  Paul cracks me up with his throws.  Every time he threw the disc, he chased it like a dog after a stick.  It was helpful to have a spotter, but it was pretty funny to watch.  Plus, he throws his disc like he doesn’t care what it does.  But, amazingly enough it usually does something good.  I’ve seen that from other disc golfers.  They have no routine or steps they follow, they just get on the pad and throw.  Those guys usually have the furthest throw, so maybe that is something I should try to emulate.  Maybe not concentrating on how you hold it, how you stand, what steps to take, when to let the disc go, did you grab the right disc, are you aiming where you want, did I take enough steps, is everyone watching me, am I doing this right?!!! Maybe if you just get up there and throw it, your body will figure out all of that stuff and the disc will take care of the rest.  I’ll have to think about that, just after I line up my feet with the basket and make sure that my arm is straight.

I feel like I did a pretty good job out there.  It’s been a little while since I’ve gone out ( it was April 26, see, less than a month), but it’s not like it’s been a month or anything so I wasn’t expecting a complete loss on what I’ve gained.  It is still taking me about four or five baskets before I’m finally warmed up enough to see my improvements.  My disc is getting a little further from the pad, and a little straighter, but I am still having a hard time on the control of it.  The disc still seems to want to go up higher and get out of my hand at the wrong time.  But, I did have a nice release I think at the 6th or 7th basket.  Right before I let the disc go when I was at the pad, I thought about aiming down, and that thought helped keep the disc flat and straight for a long distance.  So, I’m pretty happy about that.  My putting has greatly improved since practicing with the practice basket.  Now, I haven’t really had a chance to get out and practice with it in the last two weeks (damn job!), but I think I did gain some experience and knowledge from the practicing I did do.  I found that I didn’t need to be right on the basket to use my putter.  In fact, I was using my putter from a further distance to the basket than I have ever done in the past.  I that really helped.  The putter is a great approach disc, so I think if you are close enough to the basket to see the links on the chains, try tossing your putter.  You might not sink the putt, but you might get right on top of the basket giving you an extremely easy putt.

One thing that I did discover that I really liked was the overhand throw.  When I was out on Monday, I did have quite a few instances of my disc finding its way into the woods.  And this being Spring after a bunch of rain, the leaves were out in force.  Hence my love of the overhand throw.  It was much much easier to just huck the disc over my head and through the top part of the trees, than trying to toss it through the trunks.  The great thing about this was that the throw usually gave me a bit of distance too.  I used my Roc for these throws.  It would cut right through the leaves, go a bit further, and then flatten out and land.  But the distance gained was enough that I never felt bad about getting in the woods.  I also tried it on the 7th or 8th hole at Oshtemo, which ever one has basically a tight shoot to go through when you are on the pad.  It wasn’t something I would try to do to replace my normal drive throw, but maybe with enough practice, it could do some damage.

I also continued my practice with my forehand throw.  Getting a little better, but nothing to really report with that one.  It still cuts way too early to the right for it to be worth anything.  But, I am still trying it and not giving it up.

Overall, it was an excellent day to be out on the course, as seen by all of the others out there too.  I still saw everyone starting from the easier pad.  I don’t know why people do that, but it can be kinda dangerous there at Oshtemo, because the harder pad is usually directly behind the easy one and can make it a challenge to a.) not hit someone up there and b.) have people try to skip you when you are twenty feet behind them standing on the pad and c.) make it hard for you on the back pad to know if anyone is up on the easy pad.  So, I’m still trying to fight that battle.

Also, I’m going to try my best to keep posting regular updates at a more timely fashion (not like posting a story on Thursday about disc golfing done on a Monday *cough* *cough*), but starting a new job and getting back into my online college courses, may make it a little tough.  But, with the summer fast approaching, I’m definitely going to be out on the course more and hopefully seeing bigger improvements, so continue to watch this blog to see how I do.

GOAL

Better Putting

Further distance with my drives

GOAL ACCOMPLISHED?

Kinda.  I did see an improvement in my putting.  Didn’t miss easy putts.  And I am getting closer to the basket in less throws, hence the easy putts.

PROBLEM

Still letting discs go at weird times.

SOLUTION

Try to hit the park again and throw my drivers.  That really seemed to help me, even if I was out there for only a half hour.

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