Monday, June 11, 2012

One Day, Five New Courses – Part Two

I accidentally turned down the correct street and pulled up to N.A.D. disc golf course. The GPS on my iPhone was the tool getting me around town and I was unsure as to whether or not I had the right street, so in a last minute effort I made an erratic right turn. I figured I was wrong and pulled in to a small dirt parking lot to turn around. Then I saw it. How I didn't notice it right away, I don't know.

N.A.D., which stands for Naval Ammunitions Depot, has a plane parked on the grass near the disc golf information kiosk. I recognized it from pictures I've seen online, so I knew I was in the right place. Instead of turning around in the parking lot I just parked.

The kiosk had a great deal of information, maybe the most I've ever seen on one. I stood there for a minute to read, then I looked around and absorbed my surroundings. The park is beautiful with huge mossy trees. Folks were scarce and cars were driving by intermittenly, so it was easy to hear the sounds of nature.

I found hole one easily with the help of a little yellow sign made of wood. Rob hadn't arrived yet, so I sat and studied the fairway. I had decided three times which disc I was going to throw by the time Rob walked up. I went with a Buzzz for the slow right fade.

N.A.D. allows you the opportunity to play from AM tees and PRO tees. Rob and I played from the AM (or red) tees and I had a great time. I was throwing extremely better than I was at Dalaiwood. The grounds here are beautiful. After each throw I would take a little time to look around and enjoy the scenery. After our round we decided to play from the PRO tees, but noticed a bunch of people piling up on hole one, so we left for Bud Pell at Ross Farms.

I felt so lucky to have met Rob at Dalaiwood. I thought for sure this was going to be a solo trip, but instead I had met someone willing to guide me through all the courses I wanted to play. I followed him to Bud Pell and as I pulled on to the property I couldn't help but laugh.

This place looked like a haven for activities. On one side there was a miniature golf course and just beyond that was a driving range packed full with golfers. The disc golf course occupied the other side of the property, but dropped somewhere in the middle of the property sat a wooded area designated for paint ball.

I immediately fell in love with this place. The course didn't disappoint either. We had the opportunity to play from AM and PRO tees again and we opted for AM since it was my first time. I can't wait to go back though. I believe it was hole three that had 1000 feet separating the PRO tee from the basket.

My game was OK here. Fatigue was setting in. After the round Rob had to start the drive home, which was somewhere near Tacoma. I began thinking about beer and Pagliacci pizza, but decided to hit up one more course. I drove to Kitsap Fairgrounds, stood on hole one and contemplated whether or not I should attempt this last course for the day.

The first hole was a long right turn and proved to be too enticing to skip, so I dug deep, found some energy and threw hard. When I saw my yellow Champion Mamba flip up and start gliding right perfectly down the fairway I knew I had it in me to accomplish my goal of five new courses in one day.

The day light was beginning to diminish and skeeters were coming out to feed. When I caught up to a group of three kids smoking pot and chucking their way through the forest I decided to call it quits. They didn't let me pass them on hole six, so after I watched each of them throw two to three discs each I patiently waited for them to putt out and then stood on the tee. I decided I wasn't willing to follow these guys for 12 more holes, so I called it quits. I took my par and made my way through the trees back to my truck.

It was time for a beer.

I made it back to the ferry just in time for the boat to close up and drift away. I drove the last automobile on. I believe it was around 7:00 p.m. The ride home was peaceful. I sat in a booth and stared out on to the Puget Sound reliving the beautiful day in my mind.

I love that this part of the world is my new home.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

One Day, Five New Courses – Part One

At this time last week I was throwing discs around at Van Zee DGC in Port Orchard. This peaceful nine-hole park was the first on my list of six courses I wanted to play throughout the day.

My wife had left to visit her mother down in California and since grandmothers can turn animalistic if they don't see their grandchildren she brought our daughter along for the ride. They were to arrive home Sunday morning and I had to work everyday of the week, so Saturday was my only day for a solo adventure.

I've been wanting to play these West Sound courses for a while now, so I decided to roll myself out of bed at 5:30 a.m. I quickly grabbed my gear and walked out into the crisp, cool morning air.

I had never driven on to the ferry here in Edmonds, so I thought it wise to arrive early to insure my place on the 7:10 a.m. boat. When I pulled up to the pay station around 6 a.m. the attendant asked if I was aware the boat wouldn't be leaving for another hour. I shook my head yes and explained that I wanted to beat the crowds. She playfully congratulated me on my overwhelming success and sent me on my way.

The journey across the Sound was peaceful. I had never been on a ferry by myself, so I just walked around a bit. I found my way up to the first level. The roof of the boat. The sky was gray with hints of sunlight bleeding through. The water was on the move, calmly swirling in all directions. I had to turn my face away from the cold wind because my eyes started to tear up.

Van Zee was roughly a 30 mile drive south. I decided to start at the southern end of my disc golf course list and work my way back north to Kingston where I could board another ferry and head home. Van Zee wasn't actually the furthest course south, but I read it was a little nine-hole spread so I figured I would warm up there before heading a bit further south to play Dalaiwood in Olalla.

Rain was falling hard when I pulled in to the tiny parking lot at Van Zee. There was no way rain would stop me from throwing, because I'm a Washingtonian now – plus I just spent $33 on a round-trip ferry ticket. So I stretched out and then went on the hunt for tee pad number one.

I found my way around the course easily and also discovered that the course had long tees for each hole, so you could get in 18 holes if you desired. I didn't. Van Zee had a little bit of everything. All the holes were short, but there were wooded, elevated and wide open fairways. The design mostly calls for midrange and putters off the tee, but there were a few holes that made me pull out a driver. I don't think I would want to play this course while it is crowded with park goers, but I would definitely hit this course up in the early mornings if I lived close by.

I didn't want to play the long tees, because I wanted to give myself enough time to play the big courses coming up like Dalaiwood.

I had been to Dalaiwood before, but it was for the 2011 Ace Race, so I didn't get to play the actual course. Dalaiwood is a private piece of land owned by Discraft pro Scott Papa. When I pulled up I noticed one other golfer walking up the driveway toward the house. It had stopped raining, so I ditched my jacket, grabbed my gear and headed up the driveway too.

I ended up playing the entire round with the only other person on the course. Rob was nice enough to act as my guide. Dalaiwood is tough the first time around. I know I can shoot better on that course, but on this day I had my butt handed to me. I was forced to use my entire arsenal of shots. I even had to drive off a couple tees with a forehand. I never drive with a forehand.

After a round through thick trees, winding fairways and barn yard obstacles Rob and I stopped and chatted with Jeanne in the pro shop. Not only does this family have their own 18 hole course, but they have their own fully stocked store ran out of a garage. Dalaiwood makes you want to play better, but it also makes you want to stay.

Back at Van Zee I had smacked a tree and warped my Pro D Challenger, so I decided I was going to buy a new one here at Dalaiwood. I ended up finding a super-flat white one and I splurged on a yellow Legacy Clutch too. I've been wanting to try those ever since the Rico brothers produced them.

Rob had to run a quick errand, but was willing to meet up with me at the next course on my list. NAD park was only a few minutes away and I was excited. I mapped it out on my phone in my truck, flipped a U-Turn and headed on down the tree-lined road. The sun was glaring through clouds now. This Saturday was turning out better than I had expected.