Thanksgiving day at Barfield Crescent DGC

Barfield Crescent DGC is a great course in Murfreesboro, TN. Thanksgiving morning, I was lucky enough to play a few sunny, but frozen (18 degrees F), holes of disc golf there with James and Colin Tindall. We had fun skipping our approach shots off the frozen pond that normally guards the #3 basket. My drive on #4 landed near frost flowers – which was pretty awesome. Then Colin spanked a 30′ putt into the basket from atop some rocks on #5 with his MX-1 driver! The rest of our game was jolly fun – then we went home for cooking duties for the big feast, happier for some fun in the fresh air.

Colin putts this one down!

Colin putts this one down!

A frost flower! How cool is that??

A frost flower! How cool is that??

Lydle Gulch disc golf course

During the Western Disc Golf Trip I had the opportunity to play the Lydle Gulch disc golf course near Boise, ID. I am predisposed to like a course like this as I prefer courses that are in a more natural setting. This course is 20 holes in a foothill/mountain shrub community. The course has some serious noxious weed issues, so be sure to clean your shoes and equipment before going to another course. Even with the weed problems, the course is located in critical elk winter range and the course is closed when the elk come out of the mountains.

There are not many trees, so your shots are shaped by topography. You will become familiar with bitterbrush, a beautiful shrub in the rose family, because of its amazing ability to grab discs. You will not throw through bitterbrush, so it becomes a secondary shot shape consideration.

The course is fun. The tee boxes that have been installed are the largest I have ever seen. As you play you will find the ‘teen holes working you up a ridge, finally you top out at hole 20: a 792’ downhill shot that provides you the opportunity to have an amazing drive. Remember to throw down at the target or you will be disappointed when the wind makes your disc do strange things. I managed to throw a blizzard destroyer within 40′ of the pin (and I am not a big arm guy). It seemed the disc was in the air long enough that i could have made, eaten, digested, and excreted a sandwich before the disc hit the ground. Just this single throw is worth visiting this course – it is that cool.

Lydle Gulch has the Taj Mahal of tee pads.

Lydle Gulch has the Taj Mahal of tee pads.

The 792' drive from the #20 tee pad is truly a special throw!

The 792′ drive from the #20 tee pad is truly a special throw!

Ladera: a disc golf course

During my little tour of Western US disc golf courses, I got to play a course called Ladera 2013-11-09 11.34.10in Albuquerque, NM. This course is a non-maintained, very beat-up mess – but it is fun. Basically, the city of Albuquerque took  a problematic waste area and turned it into a very ugly, neglected, but well-designed disc golf course. Because the course is located in saltbush and weeds, posts have been put in the ground as mandos. A small grove of 4-5 cottonwood trees provides a challenging approach to one basket and the fact that the saltbush grows up to six feet tall means it can also shape shots. Tracking discs can be hard in this vegetation type – I actually lost Kelly’s flo-orange Lightning #1 driver on hole #9. (side note: Kelly had a phone call a week later from the disc finder/ new disc owner – the first time I’ve ever had a call on a lost disc!).

This land would be an ugly wasteland, but because the city of Albuquerque saw some potential, it is now an ugly wasteland that contains a neglected disc golf course that is fun to play. (PS – better bring a course map: you,ll need it)

Overview of the course - what this course lacks in beauty, it makes up for in scruffiness...

Overview of the course – what this course lacks in beauty, it makes up for in scruffiness…

2013-11-09 10.19.18

Nice drive!

Nice drive!

This course can get a bit sticky...

This course can get a bit sticky…

Bad course design

During my little peregrination/disc golf adventure I played some courses that suffered from extremely bad design. The worst offenders were in the Boise, ID area. I had never played courses in the Boise area before and was shocked by what I saw.

Perhaps the worst designed course was the Settlers Park DGC in Meridian, ID. This 9-hole course is designed by the Gem State Disc Golfers, it is amazing they couldn’t see the problems with this course. Holes 1 and 3 have you driving into pedestrian areas. This activity can be done respectfully, but is it really necessary? Holes 4, 5, 6, and 7 ramp up the potential for conflict by actually using the concrete walking path as a fairway. Hole 8 uses a tree-lined route between two walking paths. Hole 9 brings the potential for conflict to a zenith by actually using the park restrooms as an obstacle! What is most disturbing is on line reviews of this course do not see problems with this course:

Pros: good use of fences, buildings, and other structures as an element of risk…”

Pros: …Holes make pretty good use of park features.”

Pros: … Enough obstacles to make it somewhat challenging. Overall enjoyable.  Cons: …The park is right next to a neighborhood, and hole 4 I believe it is, runs right next to a road with houses to your right so if you shank your shot you may end up in someones yard. Or worse, on their roof.”

Pros: …-Holes make good use of available terrain and park features, including the baseball fields…-Almost impossible to lose a disc, unless you throw it in someones yard or into traffic.                                                                                                                       Cons: …-You have to be careful of other park users, holes 8 and 9 especially. An errant throw on those two holes could hit somebody.                                                              Other Thoughts: This is a really cool park, with a cool course built around the perimeter.”

It seems obvious that when disc golfers put up courses that do not respect other park users, other park users do not respect disc golfers. In the Boise area, even other disc golfers do not respect each other. I was playing in a threesome on a crowded Sunday and we waited for a golfer throwing multiple drives, he did not acknowledge us and proceeded down the fairway to were his drives landed – where he then began playing with his dog in the middle of the fairway. It is not uncommon to have other disc golfers wandering through your shot for no apparent reason in Boise. Of course this is to be expected when the course design shows blatant disrespect for all other users. The photos below show some examples of bad holes in the Boise area:

Ann Morrison Park in Boise, ID - another drive down the walking path - 16 November 2013.

Ann Morrison Park in Boise, ID – another drive down the walking path – 16 November 2013.

Today this wasn't a problem, but is it really fun to throw at a BBQ grill? Earlier this course has you driving at cabins the park rents - why?

Today this wasn’t a problem, but is it really fun to throw at a BBQ grill? Earlier this course has you driving at cabins the park rents – why?

The goose-poop tee pad of Ann Morrison Park. You can hardly stand on this tee pad. The fairway is just as covered with goose poop. You and your disc will be poop covered when this hole is over (did I mention that you throw discs with your hands and there is no disc lavage station on course?). While there are no human user conflicts on this hole, there is an obvious wildlife conflict. This is a long hole with no real obstacles other than OB water to the right and beyond hole. That's right you get covered with poop and the only interest the hole offers is the risk of losing a disc. Did the designers have a bet on who could provide the worst disc golf experience? Did they think this hole was fun? Why?

The goose-poop tee pad of Ann Morrison Park. You can hardly stand on this tee pad. The fairway is just as covered with goose poop. You and your disc will be poop covered when this hole is over (did I mention that you throw discs with your hands and there is no disc lavage station on course?). While there are no human user conflicts on this hole, there is an obvious wildlife conflict. This is a long hole with no real obstacles other than OB water to the right and beyond hole. That’s right you get covered with poop and the only interest the hole offers is the risk of losing a disc. Did the designers have a bet on who could provide the worst disc golf experience? Did they think this hole was fun? Why?

Idaho has places that are not city parks (not that a city park can’t have an awesome course) or picnic areas where interesting and fun courses can be put up. The Bengal RIdge course in the Pocatello area is a perfect example of such a course. Courses that are disrespectful in their very design encourage poor behavior in the course users which causes other park users to see disc golf in a negative light which ultimately retards the growth of the sport.

High desert disc golfing

One of the things I enjoy about disc golf is that the game is often played in some very beautiful places. I simply love courses that celebrate native and natural vegetation. The Martin, TN home course is in an eastern hardwood forest remnant and the course derives its charm from trees that define our shots. I recently (18 Nov 2013) had the opportunity to play the Rock Springs DGC in Rock Springs, Wyoming, a course that celebrates a very challenging landscape: Wyoming high desert.

This course may not look like much, but a ton of thought, care, and dollars went into this course. From my experience doing restoration work in the gas fields surrounding Rock Springs, I know how fragile this landscape is. For this course to look as undisturbed as it does shows the great skill and gentle hands that installed the baskets, tee pads, and signage. The course looks like it has always been there – even though the course was only built in 2009.

The golf is fun. The main challenge is from the wind, but elevation is nicely used. The property is small and can only hold nine holes, but I don’t think that the course is cramped. When I was there, the antelope were absent – but their poo was fairly abundant. Again based on my experiences working in this part of the world, if you played quietly you would be able to share a round with antelope on the course. I would not travel to Rock Springs just to play this course, but if I find myself driving on I-80 through Rock Springs, I will definitely stop and throw this course again. It is a nice break: throwing discs with desert plants, desert rocks, desert sun, and that cleansing desert wind.

2013-11-18 14.38.29 2013-11-18 14.58.54 2013-11-18 14.55.22 2013-11-18 14.51.09

Why the Martin DIsc Golf Club exists

This morning (25 Nov 2013) I went out to Harrison Road to play a couple rounds. As usual, I picked up someones beverage container, a sunflower package, and a snack wrapper. The main reason  the club formed is that we want the Harrison Road course to be a nice place, picking up trash helps the course look nicer. Taking care of our course, makes it more likely others will respect our course. Well last night someone really disrespected our course by dumping trash on it, 6 large trash bags, 2 armfuls, and 1 hour later the beverage containers, cigarette butts, tampon delivery devices, bottle caps, and general household refuse were picked up. I left the food garbage on site that I expect will get eaten: 2 turkey carcasses, a ham, rice krispies treats, corn bread, etc.There was a cable bill and an Amazon shipping label in all this mess and I gave this information to the Martin Police. Hopefully, we won’t have trashing our course become a regular thing and we can keep our course a pleasant place to play a round of disc golf.

ALSO – Charlie Jahr, as usual, was part of this adventure. If you really want to know why this club exists you need look no further than Charlie. Thank you Charlie for being there.

on the way to the #18 tee pad.

on the way to the #18 tee pad.

View of second garbage pile from #12 tee pad. This pile required two 55-gallon trash bags to contain the non-food items.

View of second garbage pile from #12 tee pad. This pile required two 55-gallon trash bags to contain the non-food items.

Throwing big plastic!

Yesterday (23 November 2013), the Martin Disc Golf Club had its first one disc 2013-11-23 07.55.46-1tournament. The disc chosen for this tournament was the Innova condor. My condor was a 168 gram disc. Just like my vintage, 186 gram, Lightning B-17 this disc was understable at high speeds. The condor is slightly larger than the B-17. The B-17 fits in my disc bag, the condor does not. The B-17 is fun to throw because it is slow and stately in the air. The condor is even slower and has more glide – the condor is simply a cool disc to watch in the air. The tournament was played in winds gusting up to 20 mph and the condors sometimes surprised us with how they reacted to the wind, but they are still fun to watch. The condor does not give me the same distance as my B-17, but it spends more time in the air. The beauty of a big disc floating towards the target is something that really should be experienced by all disc golfers.

Big discs are also easier to find. The flight pattern is less likely to bury itself in leaves and the larger size is simply easier to spot.

The larger size seems to change power transfer during throwing. I feel I am less likely to grip lock a larger disc.

The B-17 has been renamed the #2 roller. The condor also has a strong following as roller disc (bigger wheels = better distance). I do not like to throw rollers, and cannot vouch for this aspect of either disc.

A downside of the larger discs is they are not choice discs for throwing out of tight brush. It also seems that they have problems going into a standard basket because of their size. If part of your disc golf enjoyment comes from simply watching discs fly, add a condor or B-17 to your bag – you won’t regret it!