Back in 2006, I had the opportunity to play disc golf in Budapest while we were “home” visiting family. We try to go every couple years if possible. So, this was not my first time in BP; I lived there for four years during my twenties, and I was very active in freestyle Frisbee, ultimate, and tons of basketball during that time. I had tons of experience with the culture, extended family, had a business there, even spoke the language, but this was my first time to play disc golf in BP.
Beni met me at the station, and we boarded a northbound train to Hajogyari Island, which is a largely flat island north of central Pest and closer to the Buda side. We walked across the bridge and into the park, and met the other guys who had been waiting for us to arrive. They were Dani and Peter. We said hello and chatted about the U.S., Hungary, and disc golf. After a drink, it was time to get down to business. The baskets were stored in the same building as the snack shop, and the old ladies serving coffee and szalami sandwiches gave the guys access. We played a temp course on a gorgeous summer day. I learned it was an American guy who had gotten these guys into disc golf. I was stoked to play and meet new players, but I also saw disc golf starting in Hungary.
On December 29th, 2012 I had the opportunity to play an end-of-the-year tournament, called The Christmas Cup 2012, at Budapest’s first permanent disc golf course. Ten days earlier, upon arriving, I had contacted Dylan, Beni, and Dani via the Hungarian disc golf web page. All were great communicators via email, text, and phone and not only kept me in the loop, but also provided transportation via Beni from the banks of the Danube to the course up in the hills on the Buda side.
What a pleasure to see these guys again! As is typical for disc golf clubs everywhere, the guys who were playing golf then, are still playing golf now, and will most likely be for many years into the future. As Beni drove up to the course, I took in the beauty of the capital from the flat and industrial side of Pest and after crossing the Duna to the more pleasing and alluring green hills of Buda, and we chatted about disc golf and what’s happening with their club. The conversation covered the Austro- Hungarian Tour, of which there are about ten, and some of the initial obstacles establishing courses for temporary tournament use. Struggles with course maintenance, course improvements such as bridges and tee pads, and conflicts with land owners all reminded me of home.
We arrived at the course, Spiritus; it is on built on a series of rolling hills leading up to the Buda Hills, and as we pulled in, I spied many players practicing and warming up. There were ten or fifteen players airing out their drives and getting in some last minute putting practice. At first glance, I was excited by how many people I saw.
Beni and I arranged our bags before we left the car, I was pulling off my jacket as the sun was warming up fast, and he started to put on a Santa costume. He explained he was putting on the costume because he would get a point reduction from his score. I had a good laugh walking up with Beni-Santa only to discover another Santa as well as a Wizard turtle, an Arab, farmers, and others. As you can read via the link below the tournament had an exceptional rule. I can also see some teens and a mix of ultimate and canine disc enthusiasts who also enjoy disc golf. This was clearly a party and an opportunity to celebrate people and flying discs at the end of the year.
As we walked on to the course, I noticed it is a series of imposing terraced hills with broad and varied terrain. Clusters of trees and bushes pock mark the hill side. The course is played over three of these hills, each one rising over the city below. The terraced areas are sloping and the elevation on the hills affects each shot. Every time I looked up, I took in the vista below me. It was an unusually beautiful day, the frost was melting away where not in the shadows, the sun was shining, and I was excited to play. I might have been more excited than anyone there as I had every experience and a hundred more when I lived there. I went there knowing nothing and left smelling like roses. I was so glad to be there playing in a disc golf tournament.
A couple of lovely ladies offered foralt bor (mulled wine with cinnamon, clove, apple and orange) and homemadepalinka, the national drink made of distilled fruit (usually plum, apricot, or pear). Think very strong fruit brandy. With the fun of the costumes and the addition of libations before noon, there was a jolly mood. Yet, we were still there to play golf. The TD called us in and after a rundown of announcements, of which I missed, and rules for the day, we were sent out for a shotgun start at 11:15.
I was starting on hole twelve on a card with Dani, Krisztian, and Laszlo. Dani had been my primary contact, and I was stoked to play with him. We had played that round back in 2006. As we played, we talked about the course, how he got the land secured, baskets in the ground (locally made), and fund raising efforts. These guys are clearly the foundation of disc golf in BP. Traveling always gives me perspective and this was no exception. As a board member for the KCFDC, I am involved with a large volunteer organization with a thirty year history. It was a tremendous contrast appreciating the first permanent course in Budapest. What a pleasure it was.
Dani explained the hills are made of clay and some areas were back filled with the ruins of buildings from the Second World War. Thus, and luckily the area has little possibility for development. The area also incorporates limited BMX trail/track, and some pedestrian foot traffic on trails. The holes range from about 45 to 140 meters in length (145 to 450 feet) with a variety of uphill, downhill, and sloping shots on a variety of greens with some ace runs mixed with long accurate shots to tight greens. This is all done with seven baskets with two pads each making fourteen holes. There is plenty of land to expand the course into eighteen or more. The baskets are locally made and greatly reduce the costs for a small club. A few key members donated the funds to build their baskets, which are regulation size with two sets of chains.
As the sun and spirits warmed us, I felt the hills more and more. We were clearly having fun as much as competition and threw one of the “ace run” holes twice, just for fun. The views were incredible and the camaraderie even better. I felt that familiar Hungarian hospitality just as I had hoped.
– Eric Kolkmeier[galleria width=”600″ height=”400″ autoplay=”4000″ ] http://kcfdc.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/SN151215.jpg
Hungarian disc golf web pages
Results and description of the tourney
Hungarian Frisbee Association- no English link,sorry.