Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Some Moments Are Best Shared With Scraggly Haired Strangers

One of the benefits of having my friends Matt and Jenny move into town is that Matt and I are old disk golf buddies.  On Saturday we decided to hit the links at a local course in town while Jenny took the kids to the local playground to wear themselves out.

If you have never played disk golf (also known as frisbee golf for the uninitiated who don't realize that the hard plastic disks are similar to frisbees but smaller and much harder, and are never used to play catch with a border collie) allow me to give a brief introduction.  This sport is played much like traditional golf, with a concrete pad to "tee off" of, various hazards (mostly trees, bushes and ravines) and instead of hitting a ball into a hole your objective is to throw a disk into a basket.  To make it easier the basket is mounted on the middle of a pole, with chains hanging from the top of the pole down into the basket.  If you hit the chains squarely the disk generally will fall into the basket.

Matt and I began playing disk golf while stationed in Minot North Dakota, where there are not many options for entertainment, unless you enjoy pushing round bales of hay through a farmer's field with your truck.  Since neither Matt nor I own trucks, we had to find something else to pass the time.  (In fact archaelogists, upon finding remains of some of the earliest indiginous peoples in the region, at first believed they had frozen during the harsh winter, but upon closer forensic examination realized they had been bored to death, don't you know.)  Needless to say, a relatively easy to learn but difficult to master sport that requires no fees other than buying a couple drivers and a putter (yes, there are different disks made to use in different situations) is an opportunity hard to ignore.  So Matt and I played a lot of disk golf in North Dakota.

But on to the present. Unlike our small 9 hole course from ND the course we played on Saturday has 18 holes, many of which are deep amongst a grove of trees, making it difficult to find the basket you're shooting for from the tee.  When we ran into a couple of old-timers (who as it turns out have been playing since the 70's) who offered to let us play with them on the premise that they would take us along since they knew the locations of all the holes, we jumped at the opportunity to tag along.

In addition to guiding us through the forested playing field, these kindly men also gave us some helpful pointers.  After I missed an easy putt, they gave me a couple tips on how to focus my aim on a single chain above the basket and how to hold the disk upon release. 

On my next hole I was about 50 feet from the basket (more of a chip shot than putting range) and tried out my newly received advice.   I focused in and released the disk.  There was nothing between myself and the basket but distance, although a tree on the right 2/3rds of the way down threatened my disk, as I tend to have to aim right due to a natural hook.  In this instance my throw sailed straight for the basket, rising some 15 feet into the air, avoiding the tree on the right, and sank down into the chains hanging above the basket with a successfully resonating “ching!” Throwing my arms in the air with an exuberant “Yes!” I turn to Matt, who is behind me, and he has his back turned looking back on where we started playing the hole. He was trying to remember how many throws he had made! I told him he was as bad as my dad, who missed my one triple in little league because he had gone to get a cheeseburger at McDonalds.  I'm just glad the two strangers we had just met were there to witness my feat and celebrate with me.