90 days of disc golf: I broke his fist with my face.

“I don’t know how to say this, but I’m kinda of a big deal.” – Ron Burgundy. 

People love to bear witness to greatness almost as much as they love to bear witness to calamity. Often you can’t tell which one you’re witnessing until you’ve had time to reflect back on the events. Every now and then we like to shuffle up the way we remember the events to create greatness out of calamity, or calamity out of greatness. In disc golf, calamity can be measured by miscued drives, ten foot putts that sail fifty feet past a basket, or tricky upshots from impossible positions that have no chance of making it through some tiny gap 100 feet away… Well, you know the drill. Some people watch a great drive kiss the chains and fall out of the basket and think, “wow, I almost aced it.” While others see this and say, “I hope I left myself a putt.” A moment which will be seen as calamity or greatness?

HAHAMUNGA, PASADENA, CA
This the first disc golf course ever built. Ever. The original layout is gone, but the original hole 1 is still there as hole 10. It’s a short course, but that doesn’t make it a cream puff, push over. You will need a good variety of shots and some luck if you want to shoot this one well. 

As one of the original courses it’s not particularly long nor does it use elevation. It does use the craziest trees on the planet as obstacles and they do their job well. The limbs on these trees start near the ground and twist and turn in unnatural directions – like an etch-a-sketch image created by Picasso. You can find the lines here, and there are quite a few birdies, if you’re really lucky. Luck plays a big part in the success of this course as there are too many little intangibles here to overcome Come play it to see it. It is the fabled Garden Of Eden for disc golfers.

SUNSET, LAS VEGAS, NV
Hot is its own obstacle. I think it’s tougher than cold. Heat softens the plastic in your disc making them flex out with greater ease in the air. This comes in handy because again, we are at elevation. Back in the land of the always over-stable. This course needs obstacles like naked women, dragons, bears, people trying to sell you steaks out of the back of a truck, or those annoying casino slot machine noises to make this course interesting. It’s flat, open, and long. This is the first and only time I have ever played a course blind and shot an impressive -14 down. I’m not sure what the rating is on that, but it’s way above my rating. I also chained out of two more birdies. When you know you can hyzer every shot, just aim right and let it skip up to the basket. 

FOUNTAIN HILLS, PHOENIX, AZ
Hot is not just an obstacle it’s a rattlesnake that keeps on biting you. 115 degrees with no shade in sight. And to taunt us, the course is built around a huge lake. The only body of water for miles and miles. But before you grab your swim trunks and snorkel, remember this; the water is filled with poo. There are signs everywhere which state that the lake is made of reconstituted poo water, so you can’t touch it. Even if you’re getting heat stroke, it’s better to catch fire and die, than to jump into the cool sewage and have to live as the guy who swam in poo.

The course is exceptional. The land is perfectly undulated with extreme and modest rolling hills to play with. Most of the baskets are set against the edge of the lake and are only reachable by playing tricky annys or hyzers that tease the lake’s edge. Your mind is working here and no shot is safe. You will need a cavalier spirit to play this course to a sub par score. The few baskets which are off the edge of the lake are bombers. A bomber is a hard thing to muster when your body is as dry as a cracker and you’re seeing things Jim Morrison would find “uncomfortable.” It’s an exceptional course and the view is breathtaking. At the top of the hour – every hour – the middle of the lake spits up a fountain of poo water 500 feet into the air creating a foul smelling wind and matching mist that you must play in for 15 minutes. At these times, try not to do any gasping. I would assume they created the fountain to spread fertilizer in the park. 

CREEKSIDE, SALT LAKE CITY, UT
This course is tough. The park is carved out of a flood plain for a mountain creek in the middle of Salt Lake City. The park is filled with tall hardwood trees, poison oak and a lot of golfers. Elevation is an issue here, which is a factor with the number of hard tunnel shot annys that it requires of right-handed players. I play with a beat up roadrunner that flips like a corkscrew with the lightest toss. Here, it flies like a brand new teebird. You will also have to play OVER other players on other holes, but no one here seems to care about that and are used to the inconvenience. For out-of-towners, it might cause a stir, but “when in Rome…” There are a few great shots over, or next to the creek which are borderline SIGNATURE HOLES.

JOHNNY ROBERTS, DENVER, CO
It was hard to find a course in Denver to play. Everyone we talked to said Bird’s nest, or Conifer, or Red Rocks, or other courses that stress distance and tunnel shots, but we had seen enough elevation tunnel shots for one trip. Conifer rates highly among disc golfers as one of the world’s best courses. We choose Johnny Roberts because it looked fun and a touring pro had it listed as one of her favorite courses.

Bring your putter. No, bring two. Then bring some waterproof socks and have yourself a ball. It’s tiny, but it makes up for it’s size by being tough to play. Like Happyland in Winnipeg, it plays along a small creek in a tiny park using the few trees available as obstacles. I went in the creek 9 out of 18 holes. I was on fire. My memories of this course are not pleasant and I think the course knew I didn’t like it when I was there. Thus, my unfortunate score. 

The trip came home… for a week.

It’s been a few weeks since we played the bulk of these courses. I didn’t review them all, I could, but you should probably tell me which courses you want reviewed and I can recall them for you another time. It took some time to reflect on all those courses. It took some time to compare them to each other. Naturally, the first thing you do when you get home from a long trip is to play your home courses and see what’s different about your game. We’re blessed. There is no elevation sickness in Kansas City. There are also no bears or mountain lions roaming around with great regularity. We do have a premiere courses here. We have a club and there is information to share. There are leagues. There is a store (a major advantage over most areas) where you can find what you want. These are great advantages to living here. However, not every course is a winner and that goes for our courses too. Some are better than others, but no one person gets to decide which is which. There are so many variables that affect an opinion and the only real way to decide the merits of a course is to play it for yourself and you decide.

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