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.
*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.