90 Days of Disc Golf: The Genesis
So it started in Tulsa…
90 days to discover the great courses in North America. The plan is simple; load up a car and go. Eat when you’re hungry; sleep where you can; play everyday, play them all! The rest of the details will work themselves out.
The genesis of the plan came from an idle comment made by a golfer playing a casual round with us at Blue Ribbon Pines in Minneapolis. When we said we were from Kansas City, he said, “that’s the best place in the world for disc golf.” I said I felt Des Moines or Minneapolis were more exciting locations, but he was pretty convinced and thought I was nuts. His opinion was filled with glowing reviews of Rosedale, Water Works, Swope and Blue Valley. He hadn’t played Cliff Drive or Wyco, but he had heard good things. He was stunned that I didn’t see it the same way he did. I tried to explain to him that being from Kansas City and having played the courses countless times, it was hard to feel the same way about those courses. I’m not alone in this opinion; I think many people feel that way about their home town, not just people from Kansas City specifically. If your exposure to disc golf is the same courses over and over – even if they’re challenging courses – they lose their charm. I know a few people from St Paul, Minnesota who think the courses there are boring. A great part of disc golf, which is rarely spoken of is the stimulation that comes from the challenge. Sure it’s fun. Sure it’s a great walk in the park, but there are other things about disc golf that turn other wheels. That pursuit of the next great challenge is what makes us drop a huge chunk of change for a much hyped-up tournaments halfway across the country. We want that rush and the cheesy little grin that comes from something new. Familiarity breeds contempt.
After the round, we thought more about what he said. “Does Kansas City have something we just don’t see?” How do you know if Kansas City is or isn’t the best? A plan was set in motion to find out. 90 days to travel as much as we could and play as many of the great courses we could encounter and decide if Kansas City was the epicenter of disc golf or not.
90 days is really more of a suggestive title as the pursuit of disc golf perfection began last October with a trip to Tulsa. Tulsa was often mentioned as a great disc golf town and the courses there didn’t disappoint. (I will review those later) It was in Tulsa that the review system was born. “What does a disc golf course need to be great?” and “what does a disc golf town need to be great?” These two questions are subjective but there are some basic qualities to look for. For most casual users: Ease of use, availability of courses, safety of the parks, and diversity. Simple things that inspire a new player to continue to come out and support the sport. The recreational player, or someone that likes to play often but doesn’t play tournaments: Variety and availability seem to be the most important qualities. The professional player, or someone who plays once or twice a day, an addict: Challenges, use of space, grooming of the course, reputation of the course. These things make the professional feel like the sport is taken seriously and that a great deal of thought went into something they care about. That makes you feel accepted in the world of endless soccer, volleyball and baseball complexes.
When deciding if a town was disc golf friendly, it takes more than just a few courses in close proximity to each other to be considered a disc golf town. Other things are important too – Is there a local club that is actively involved in course maintenance? Is the town itself, supportive of the sport, or are they combative? Is there a local disc golf supplier other than a big box store or the internet? Can, or will, the town support a tournament? Etc.
All of these questions and concepts we had to take into consideration when looking for the disc golf epicenter.
The list of courses and towns came fast and furious. Everyone we asked had a favorite course, a town we had to visit, a special secret course that was just “ridiculous.” Dgcoursereview.com has a list of top ten courses, all of which were rated by players, so they deserved some attention. The list got fat and the trip took shape.
Des Moines, Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Dallas, Austin, Los Angeles, Portland, Atlanta, Bowling Green, Pittsburgh, Michigan in general, St. Louis, Tulsa, San Fransisco, Seattle, Florida in general, Charlotte and Phoenix.
So it started with Tulsa…