So as I endlessly posted on Facebook, my awesome superfriend Indigo Brude was in town last weekend for the St. Patrick's Classic professional disc golf tournament at the Shady Oaks Disc Golf Course in Orangevale, just northeast of where I'm at in Sacto. Indigo turned pro this year, which means that she is qualified by the Professional Disc Golf Association to compete for puny-ass cash prizes. As a new pro, she hasn't won any of them yet, but she is continuing to improve and battle the nerves that come with the territory.
On Friday, we went out to the park and she introduced me to the sport while she scouted the course for the weekend's competition. Everything about this was fascinating to me. The concrete "tee pads," the layout of the holes (baskets on poles, actually), the rules, and the fact that golf discs come in all kinds of flavors, from long drivers to putters, and bear little resemblance to the Frisbee of yore. I used to huck a 140 in my recreational tossing, and a 160 in my occasional Ultimate games. (That's grams.) Golf discs are made by Innova or Discraft, they're smaller, and they're not really designed for catching.
I'm probably going to have to do several posts about how fun and odd it was to play golf with flying discs. More odd stuff: there are at least 3 different manufacturers of specialized bags to carry your discs and accoutrements. Indigo showed me how to drive the disc with a fancy combo of left-right-left footwork (for a lefty), level arm whip, and crisp wrist snap, and I promptly heaved the thing into the parking lot and under a car. Excellent start. But I got a bit better as we went along. About halfway through I got what Indi was saying about a tighter grip just before release imparting greater spin, and therefore greater stability, to the throw.
Indigo, as one might expect, was rippin' it. Her drives sailed straight and true and almost out of sight. Mostly. And she had a deadly "up" shot (akin to an approach shot in "ball golf"). She could almost always get near the hole in two shots; after that it all came down to putting. The Shady Oaks course was gorgeous - grasslands, the eponymous trees, a little creek that ran everywhere along the course, some shadier bits, some wide open bits, green grass everywhere, woodpeckers squabbling above. It was an unseasonably warm day, around 80 degrees, and it was awesome to have a day off and be outside. I was still feeling a bit draggy from a week of neurological (?) oddness, but I was basically well and enjoying learning something new.
Indigo was scouting the course and trying to figure out where each shot should go when she came back the next morning to play for real. It was interesting because I wrote about Indigo in Shape Up with the Slow Fat Triathlete as my prime example of a noncompetitive person, and her husband Mike is like, HAH! Because she has become a fiend for disc golf and has won all the amateur tournaments in her area. Well, nearly. So, you know, people change. And they are inconsistent, which I like.
Two more things, and then I'm going to take a break and go do some gardening :(
- You can hurt yourself throwing a disc. Of course, I can hurt myself doing almost anything. After just a few holes, I could feel my shoulder twang and my elbow tweak. I had to consciously relax my whole body and also take advil. Oops. But it didn't last. I heard horror stories of disc golf injuries the next day: torn rotator cuffs, sprained ankles, torn ACLs, even a broken leg. But mostly you'll hurt your arm, shoulder or back if you don't stretch, relax, and maintain good form.
- Coolest thing: I was on hole 18, which has a central path going by the basket. I had a pretty nice little drive, short but straight, and I was about 100 feet from the basket. I decided to just toss it in the general direction of said basket and try and get close enough to putt in. Took aim, fired... and the damn disc sank gently into the basket, barely even touching the guiding chains. A 100 foot putt! This is pretty incredible, even for disc golf. And the women's world champ, Val Jenkins, was walking right by at that very moment, along with about 10 other pros! They cheered and hollered, and I thrust my arms skyward in celebration. That was probably the best shot I'll ever make, even if I play for 20 more years. Still, it was a rush. So I bought a driver and a Skeeter utility disc at the pro shop (yes, the pro shop!), and as soon as I finish gardening, I'm gonna practice. The pic above is where I made that amazing putt.