90 days of disc golf: Iron Leaves rust in the fall

It’s cold in Seattle. While all of our friends and family are baking in the hot Kansas sun back home, we are freezing to death in the Emerald City. The weather has been perfect for us up to this point. As we crossed from Iowa to Oregon there wasn’t a single drop of rain or a dark cloud to ruin a single day. It’s a good thing the bad weather held off, most of the courses we played on the way up here would have been miserable if they were wet. 

West Lake turned out to be one of the hardest courses we have ever played and easily one of the top five hardest courses in America (for us anyway). We decided it would be best not to overwhelm ourselves with too many courses before the Fling so we spaced them out to one course per state. Iowa – West Lake in Davenport. Nebraska – Cottonmill in Kearney. Wyoming – some 9 hole course in Rawlins. Utah – Riverdale in Ogden. Idaho – College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls. All of these came at a point in the trip when a round of golf was needed. Long drives are mentally draining and a round of golf sort of recharges our batteries.

It’s a great feeling to find a new course. One of our favorite moments is when we know we’re close to a course and we start staring in the woods desperately trying to find a basket. It’s like an Easter Egg hunt and when you finally see that first basket you jump around like a little kid. Finding a basket after a 6 hour drive is like finding water in a desert, it’s like God is sparing you from a horrible death. We’re so excited about finding a new course that we often grab our discs and run up to hole one and throw without stretching, looking for a map or making sure we’re wearing the right shoes (that would be me). 

West Lake was tough. If you can’t throw 350 with confidence, you can’t play this course. Period. Stay away. It’s a Championship level course. 

Cottonmill was closed when we got there at 6 AM and we parked outside the park and hiked in. Not a bad course at all. Very scenic, and well worth the mile walk it took us to get to the first tee. 

The course in Rawlins was a tiny nine holer in a city park. There were kids everywhere but we still drove down on them. Road fatigue and the elevation rotted our minds and we weren’t thinking clearly.

Riverdale was overrun with mormon families out playing disc golf together. Mothers carrying babies as they tee off. It was crazy. We wanted to throw at them but it was easier to press on and just chalk up Riverdale as a bust. It was a bit underdeveloped anyway.

College of Southern Idaho was immaculate. Beautiful campus course with a tiny creek running through it that eats discs. The sprinklers were on and we just played through them. It was an interesting twist to the game to have rain coming up from the ground. 

All of this was enough to get us to Estacada…

We drove across America in three long days and arrived two days early for the Fling with the thinking that we would need the practice if we wanted to do well. It seemed like a good idea at the time. We camped at the course – four nights for 34 bucks – the course was only twenty feet from our tent, super nice. They even had warm showers on site. But if you are not into sleeping in 40 degree weather, which we are not, then camping is not a good option. Thankfully, we had these pink hoodies we could wear while we slept.

The Beaver State Fling is one of the larger tournaments on the tour. It packs out every year and there is a waiting list of over 500 people waiting to get in. So it came as quite a shock to us that when we played our warm up round on Thursday, the day before the tournament, the course was horribly ungroomed and unmarked. In fact, it wasn’t until 6 PM that the course was ready for Friday. It looked as if nothing had been done to prepare for the big event. The fairways were mowed but the grass on the sides was almost three feet high. It looked like Blue Valley when it doesn’t get mowed. It was the only thing anyone warming up on the course wanted to talk about. “This place looks like sh1t.” “I’m shocked it’s not mowed, or marked.” “This sucks.” And it did. It did suck. But the reasoning behind the look was explained as this. “We wanted the fairways to be distinctive and for all errant shots to be punished.” In my opinion it looked like horse sh1t. 

The player’s pack was a laminated caddy book with each hole broken down into parts. I guess they spent all their money on that. We also picked up a beer glass. A patch. A dry towel. And some tickets for free food (I’m telling you… free food is the best way to lock me in!!!!). 

The tournament was rough. It’s two huge courses and if you don’t know the shots you’re going to suffer. Minna and I both played badly in our opening rounds but we were both able to come back and cash. I finally get to take the money!

I’m standing in line to enter a tent to get paid. Des Reading is behind me. Climo behind her. Barsby is in front of me and Feldberg is wandering around trying to cut in line. If you are not familiar with Barsby, he has the combined energy and personality of six circus performers in the body of a 13 year old. Given a moment of silence he is going to fill it. 

If you are not familiar with the IRON LEAF story, I suggest you look it up on YOUTUBE and then come back to this point in the story…

Greg leans over to Ken, “Hey, you know if you look up your name on YOUTUBE, I’m the third video you see? I get all that free press.” 

Ken grins. Ken likes to grin a lot. 

Greg continues, “I have this whole idea for the Iron Leaf and I have this design…”

Des interrupts, “I finally figured that whole thing out. I was shocked.” 

Ken looks at his feet and shows some a toothy smile.

Greg says laughing, “I can’t believe how all that worked out.”

The rest of this story is a secret but it involves the true meaning behind the Iron Leaf. Let’s just say the story is deeper than a bad hole at Worlds.

It’s nice to be in this tent. It’s nice to get a check with money on it. It was nice to finish strong and drive away from this beautiful place with a smile on my face. 

We drove to Horning’s hideout and saw another one of the dgcoursereviews top ten courses. It was, again, a disappointment. The baskets are homemade. I rest my case.

We slept next to the ocean and watched the sun go down. We are headed to Seattle, then home. We have ten days at home and then we are headed East for six weeks. 

Then it started to rain.

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