Saturday, October 30, 2010

Express Lane to Happiness: Disc Golf and Disney

Things have been nutty on the day job front for the last few weeks, made nuttier by my previously scheduled weekends at Sea Ranch for Tim's birthday trip and then to beautiful La Habra, Orange County, CA. The reasons for this latter trip were (1) to hang out with my wonderful friends Indigo and Mike and (2) to participate in the Lady LaMa (La Mirada) Pro-Am disc golf tournament, which would represent my fourth and fifth rounds of disc golf ever as well as my first ever disc golf tournament and first ever scored rounds. These two reasons were inextricably linked since Indigo is the founder and director of the two-year-old Lady LaMa and Michael is its most loyal volunteer. Indigo got tired of playing in tournaments with only one or two other women and playing rounds with guys whose girlfriends walked the course with them but didn't play. So she founded the Lady LaMa, and I was a tee sponsor in its inaugural year.

This year, since I had played three rounds of disc golf, I considered myself qualified to fly down and participate, so I did. Indigo picked me up at the airport with adrenaline oozing from every pore as Manoush the printer had failed to print this year's tee signs or player handbooks at tee-time minus 18 hours, and Manoush-closing-time minus 3 hours. Stress was in the air. But fortunately, Manoush pulled it together and we were able to spend the evening folding handbooks, stuffing prize packs, and packing the cars, rather than printing signs.

The one downside of staying with the tournament director was that we were off to La Mirada park at 6:45 or so for a 9 am tee-off. It was overcast and drizzling, and I had not really prepared for moisture in the air. But when I got a look at my player pack, sunshine lit up my world. Wow - a handmade shot counter made of pretty beads; two golf towels, a custom-embroidered visor, mini discs (shot markers), mini carabiners, little LED lights for your zipper pull - it was SwagTastic! I grabbed my entire cache of discs (2) and went to practice my putting into the 18th hole basket.

In the first round, pros played together, but players from Rec, Intermediate, and Advanced levels were mixed up on the cards so the more experienced golfers could introduce the novices to tournament rules. Kari was the Yoda on our card; Stephanie and I were both in our first tournaments, though Stephanie clearly had a lot more rounds under her belt than I. And she had a caddy and a moving gallery (her dude and her dad).

It was a shotgun start, and we were teeing off on the 18th hole, so we made our way down there in plenty of time. Fortunately it was really close to the tournament tent since that was where I had placed my discs and forgotten them. D'oh. As the whistle sounded for the start, I was running up the hill to look for my discs. Mike said I got the Bonehead of the Day award. He meant it in a good way, I'm sure.

I played a surprisingly decent first round. Some early drives were kind of feeble, and I wasn't putting quite as well as I had in my purely recreational rounds, but I thought that was to be expected. My feet got soaked early on from the wet grass, but high tech socks minimized the discomfort. Indigo had set up snack stations at two spots on the course, staffed by Mike's entire extended family, who were everywhere, all day. Indi's sister Chris took hundreds of photos. I fell down on one muddy hillside, and stepped into a hidden pothole at one point, tweaking my knee, but at least I managed not to fall off the tee at any of the holes, despite the wet conditions

On the plus side, I made one glorious shot which was seen by about three groups and even applauded! So goes disc golf. Fall in the mud, make a killer shot, doink a putt off the basket.

Lunch (fetched and served by the ubiquitous Hole family) was tasty, and I needed some time to rest up and dry my feet off. A dry pair of SmartWool socks and a bunch of paper towels improved the foot situation considerably. I was super thirsty and downed several sodas, including a couple of cokes. This did not help my second round. Nor did anything else.

I had never played two rounds in a day before and was totally unprepared for how physically and mentally demanding it was. Plus the back course was a lot, a lot harder than the lake course. All kinds of crazy out of bounds, like baseball fields, parking lots, the street, and areas "beyond" an undulating gutter.

The 6th hole was particularly demanding, surrounded by imaginary water and the aforementioned undulating out of bounds area. Our entire group misunderstood it and then misplayed it, meanwhile backing up like four groups behind us. It was the least fun part of my embryonic disc golf career.

It got a little better after that, especially with the afternoon snack stations, Gatorade, candy, granola bars, and cookies. But along the road from holes about 10 to 13, we had to avoid the road, parking lots, trees, and all kinds of hazards. So I shot like an 88 for the second 18. And I was exhausted. My tweaked knee hurt, my feet and back hurt, my toenails hurt, my arm hurt. I just wanted to lie down. While Indigo and Mike and other people who knew what they were doing tabulated the scores and figured out the prizes (8 deep!), we had a Ring of Fire. The idea was that everyone got in a circle about 30 feet away from a basket and all threw for it at once when the signal was given. Get in in the basket, win a prize. Very fun, but I didn't win.

That evening, the Giants beat the Phillies to earn a trip to the World Series, which was VERY COOL!!!!, and I took a bunch of Advil. But I still had to use the bunk bed slat above me to turn over all night. (Indi got the bunk beds for her nephews; she is not *yet* running a hostel for itinerant disc golfers.)

I almost bailed on the planned trip to Disneyland the next day, seeing as how I could hardly walk, but skip Disneyland? I couldn't see it. We took the Express Lane to the giant parking garage that guards the Magic Kingdom and then the weird tram over to the main gate. It was Halloween in Mouseland, so there were fake pumpkins and Nightmare Before Christmas stuff everywhere. And there were ecstatic Giants fans everywhere too - more than I could imagined would show their colors in SoCal, even if it was Halloween.

I looked enviously at the elderly and disabled in their motorized scooter thingies, and at the little kids in strollers. It hurt to walk, it hurt to move, and my knee was killing me. But I stuck it out and had an awesome time despite the pain.

It's three weeks on and my knee is still messed up a little, but as soon as it gets good again, I'll go play a little winter golf. Need to do better than 11th at Lady LaMa III.


  1. 11th out of how many? That still sounds good to me!

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  3. 11th out of 16 in my category. I was reasonably pleased but I wish Indigo (or US PDGA?) had kept the "novice" category. :)