Hot on the heels of our successful family canoe/paddle board outing (I left with two kids, returned with the same two kids) we headed out on another family favorite summer fun activity: disc golfing.
Disc golf, for the un-initiated, is an ancient Greek term that means “exercise in futility.” It is also a modern Collegiate-Greek term that means “drink beer in the woods.”
Disc golf is similar to traditional golf in that you start at one point (“tee off”) and count your strokes/throws as you make your way to a goal (cup/basket). The difference is that instead of chasing a little white ball hundreds of yards towards a hole in the ground with a skinny metal club, you try to throw a flying disc (similar to a “Frisbee” but not trademarked and twice as expensive) hundreds of yards towards a metal basket without beating yourself senseless with a wooden club (also known as a tree).
Between the “tee” and the “hole” the challenge is to keep your throws on the “fareway,” or cleared, semi-maintained and designated area. It is in your best interest to avoid natural hazards such as trees, oceans of deep grass, creeks, deer, giant rabid squirrels, drunk college students, ticks, chiggers, mosquitos, gnats, poison ivy, and stinging nettles, all of which produce force fields that suck your disc into the “rough,” also known on Eastern Iowa area disc golf courses as “ravines” or “gorges.”
The biggest advantage to disc golf is that is is less formal than traditional golf. Which is not to say that disc golf players don't take their game seriously. They do. Serious disc golfers warm-up by stretching and practice their “putts.” They carry a multitude of different discs, each specially weighted and shaped for long distance, middle distance, approach and/or putting. And they use them. Each of them. At the correct time.
We don't. Do any of that. At the correct time. And we yell a lot.
We do usually start our games with some traditional golf etiquette. We take turns on the first tee, complimenting each other on our first shot – even if it rebounds off a tree, landing behind the tee box. This has happened. More than once.
First shot out of the way, we fan out to help find the discs (on the off chance one of them has gone farther than 20 yards), because it's hard to see where your disc went when you're laughing so hard you're doubled over. And we stand behind the other players as they make their next throw.
This is a key rule of safety, etiquette and support. No one likes to have to ask the other players to move so you don't hit them with your disc. Especially when they know, and you know they know you know that there is no way you could possibly throw it that far.
Our first time out this year was particularly ugly. I'd like to say our skills were a little rusty after a long winter and wet spring, but the truth is we didn't have any skills to begin with. In a true show of group effort, the three of us combined for a record high seven tree hits. On one par three hole. That does not include “leaf-burners” (throws that ripped through the canopy) or discs that rolled up to hit a tree. Let's see Tiger Woods top that!
Like traditional golf, a disc golf course typically has either nine or 18 holes. Unfortunately our limit is 12 holes. It take those three extra holes to prove to us we aren't getting any better and that the longer we play the longer it takes to find our lost discs. This also get us as far away from the parking lot as humanly possible.
The last time we played at Turkey Creek I exercised Mom Authority and we packed up after the front nine. It was slightly after noon, the college boys had woken up and it was getting crowded (they were all playing faster than we were: play a hole, let they boys play through, repeat). At first it was OK. The boys were polite and helpful, offering to help look for our lost discs while they played through. Then I realized they were really only trying to help The Cute Teenage Princess (in shorts and a tank top) look for her disc. The Prince and I were just two more natural hazards to avoid.
This reminds me of most outings with the Princess lately. I've noticed a distinct increase in customer service from young men (plentiful in a college town) when accompanied by an attractive young girl. I've started to think about renting her out when speedy customer service is required, but I think there's another term for that.
I could tell the kids were loosing interest in the match when they cheerfully announced we were adopting Street Rules: a literally no holds barred phase of the game. There was anarchy before, but now it was perfectly legal to distract the thrower by any means – yelling,jumping, hitting them with your disc and full-body tackling. It was also acceptable to deflect any throw and to defend the basket at any cost.
Forget loosing a disc, someone was in danger of loosing a tooth or and eye.
In other words, another typical day at our house.