Friday, December 26, 2014

Highs and Lows... and Chili

Tournaments, man. Tournaments.

I love them even when I'm hating them.

This year's Steili with Chili tournament at Fort Steilacoom DGC was packed full with great people, somewhat decent weather and, for yours truly, a wide range of mental stages.

Here's what I learned.

When I head out to throw I'm usually alone. Since I'm alone I'm able to practice without throwing an entire round.

My routine usually involves stretching, putting, throwing in a field and then playing two or three different holes over and over.

The one aspect of disc golf I don't practice is the very situation I kept finding myself in during round one. I'm talking about the art of the scramble.

This tournament helped me realize that I'm horribly lacking creativity in my game. During practice I need to purposefully place myself in the thickest of shit and gracefully find my way out.

Mental Stage One: Happiness

Steilacoom, WA. is about an hour and a half away from me. In the past I've forced myself out of a warm bed and on to a dark road at an awful time in the freezing morning. The commute there isn't too bad, but the drive home is taxing.

I've had to call my wife before and have her talk to me so I didn't fall asleep on the road while making my way home through Seattle.

This year my lovely wife bought my entry fee and a hotel room for my birthday. We were going to stretch this experience out over two days.

We left Friday morning on December 5th and drove straight to the three-course complex. The plan was to play as much of the NW course as our three-year-old would allow and then practice a couple of holes on the SE course.

Surprisingly we were able to play most of the NW spread, even in the rain, before the baby girl's legs tired out. I think she loved the walk. It's such a beautiful scene.

I went on to practice the SE holes one and four a couple of times while the ladies kept warm and dry in the car. I would have played more, but I was getting hungry and I didn't want them to die of boredom.

My main goal on SE was to choose the right disc for hole four.

Imagine standing on a tee on top of a hill. Not a magnificent, top-of-the-world style hill, but more of a severe beer belly sized hill. There's an enormous mando tree straight ahead with a thousand fingers out-stretched and eagerly waiting to swat down any close attempt at passing on the left side. The basket is out in the boonies off to the right around 700 feet.

For a right-handed backhand player with a weak-sauce sidearm, this drive forces me to throw a high anny around the tree. Here's the tricky part though – I had to make sure my drive didn't flex back at the end.

Considering the basket was in the long position I would need a clear run-up space for my second drive. If my first shot flexed back I would be stuck in chest-high bush.

The Legacy Mongoose I have is more flipper than the dolphin. That thing turns hard and dives. It's a great roller and when launched high on an anny line it has no real glide, but I was OK with that as long as it landed in the open. After practicing a couple of times with that disc I knew it was the right choice for the tournament, or so I thought.

We left the complex in good spirits. I felt like I was ready to compete against the courses and I was also ready to fill my belly with something stacked with bacon.

Since our hotel was in Tacoma we searched for a hamburger joint near by.

Friesenburgers, man. Friesenburgers.

Holy double cheeseburger... with a fried egg!

You walk in to a small room and there's just a couple of folks behind the counter. There are plenty of items to choose from on the menu, but my eyes were immediately pulled toward the word "Friesenburger." It's two buns separated by two 1/4 pound beef patties, double the cheddar, a sizzling egg and a couple of thick, professional slices of bacon.

I can't wait to go back.

After lunch we made our way to our hotel, checked in and went for a peaceful walk to The Museum of Glass. For dinner we found a local pizza joint, Puget Sound Pizza, and discovered that something was up with Tacoma.

The pizza was crazy delicious. I think there was rosemary in the crust, or something. While we were waiting for our order I walked up the street and filled my Boundary Bay growler with Cigar Box IPA from Tacoma Brewing Co.

By the end of the night we were wondering if we should move to Tacoma. Out of four different places we visited, every one of them set a new standard for us to compare similar companies to.

Mental Stage two: Panic

This year's temperature of 40 something was more tolerable than last year's 20 something. I was dropped off early enough to get plenty of warm-up time in. My putting felt good, I three'd a couple of par fours and I stretched, but I felt a little foggy in the mind, like I wasn't fully awake yet, or hungover from bitchin' food and beer from the night before.

We were down one man when my card was ready to tee off. I worried about it a little, but figured there was nothing I could do. We were staring down hole one on the NW course and I was first to tee off.

You know those drives you want to immediately do over? Yep, I clipped a tree right off the tee and thought to myself, "Here we go."

I tried shaking off whatever it was holding me back, but by the time I started shooting well we were on hole 17.

The round was a complete nightmare. I couldn't catch a break. I found myself in the high rough among trees and bushes all round. I probably threw more sidearms, which I usually use to get out of trouble, than I have ever thrown before.

I just couldn't believe it.

I think par was 56. I finished with a 72. It is now, unofficially, the worst rated round (810) of my life. I spent the entire break between rounds wondering how I was going to get out of this disaster.

After eating my warm bowl of chili I started to putt again. I was furious and determined to redeem the day.

Mental Stage Three: Calmly Aggressive

During the break I thought I figured out what my deal was. In practice the day before and early that morning I was taking a second to visualize my line and then clearing my mind and going for it.

During my first round I continually tried to recreate and force similar shots from practice, but I was powering down like my drives were touch shots all of a sudden. I slowed down and became hesitant. I was trying to throw the perfect lines.

Since I failed miserably, I went in to the second round on the SE course with my old plan of attacking the course. I started off with a bunch of pars. I even got the par on hole four after watching my Mongoose flex back. I never thought I would see that happen, but it did and I was lucky enough to land in a semi-open area with just enough room for a small run up.

Hole six really change the day. It's an elevated hyzer shot through a gap in the trees and down to a basket roughly 270 feet away. I took my Legacy Ghost out of my bag, visualized my line, forgot about everything and threw. My horrible shaving cream dye swirled rapidly as I watched the disc pierce the gap and start diving toward the basket.

That Ghost must have hit every chain on the basket considering the sound of the ching, but it wasn't enough to stick.

Damn. There went my first tournament ace.

I found out later that nobody had aced all day and I could have walked with the ace pot. Oh well. I got the bird and moved on. While standing on the next tee I forgot all about it and just played.

I ended up shooting a 56. I believe par was 58. I had just shot the best, unofficial round (963) of my life.

It wasn't enough to push me anywhere near the cash, but it was enough to ease my mind.

I felt like I accomplished something and learned a lot about myself as a disc golfer.

Who shoots the worst sanctioned round and best sanctioned round of their lives in the same tournament?

I do.

I hope that's the last time.

After the first round I had the worst score in advanced. My second round was beat by only three other advanced players. They were all tied at 54. One other advanced player tied my 56. There were 26 of us.

What a pure mind beating. I was happy to be there though. The event was ran very well by Mark from Disc Golf Armory and he was helped out by a bunch of others. There were three pairs of Keens raffled off along with discs, we all received a voucher for $15 to use toward anything in the Armory and the chili was yummy.

I can't wait to play it again next year.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Thinking In Type: Disc Golf Swap Meets

The low temperatures have arrived and although it has actually been quite nice in my area along the Puget Sound, I haven't been out playing full rounds. This is the time of year when I usually get out and practice putting and throwing for as long as I can and then call it a day.

I have a tournament coming up on December 6, so basic practice is all I want right now anyways.

The other day, as I was lounging around watching my daughter throw puzzle pieces all over my home, I began thinking of the stack of discs I've been wanting to sell. The pictures have been taken and uploaded to my Flickr page, but I still have to rate them and then post the link to DGCR, or Facebook, or whatever.

Procrastination is a trait that has plagued me for quite some time, but there's usually a trigger. I'm procrastinating this time because I don't want to deal with mailing a bunch of discs out. It's really not that big of a deal and I've done it before, but sometimes I wish selling unwanted plastic was a bit more entertaining.

I watch a lot of woodworking shows on YouTube and one of the channel hosts I watch mentions the different woodworking trade events he participates in. That got me thinking about the swap meets I used to walk around in California. Then I started thinking about how nice it would be to attend a disc golf rummage gathering. Then I started thinking about food, but anyways...

Imagine it's a clear Saturday or Sunday morning and you're not playing in a tournament. Maybe you have plans to meet up with friends and play the local course, but then you remember there's a disc golf flea market going on along that walk between hole this and that. You know, the walk where you're usually cussing yourself out for missing that one putt back there?

Then you recall wanting to try that Innova Dart that Nate Sexton talked about in his last In The Bag video.

Maybe someone is selling a used one at the trail sale?

Then you remember your small stack of discs you've been wanting to sell. "Hey, maybe I can offload some of these," you say to yourself.

Then you grab all your goodies, a little blanket and you head out.

When you show up you see an alley of goodness. All the locals are out drinking coffee, sharing donuts. One guy brought a huge pot of soup and a few people are playing catch a little too close to it, but nobody seems to mind.

You notice the vast amount of plastic, new and old, laid out for people to see and purchase. Maybe that one local from Issaquah with the rad disc artwork you saw on Instagram is there. Maybe the local disc golf suppliers showed up with some discs that have been sitting a little too long in the shop.

"Are those glass minis?" you say.

Yep. That guy showed up too.

"Man, those beanies are killer," you say.

Get one then.

You say hi while you lay your blanket down and organize the discs you want to sell. Then you just hang out and talk with the folks cruising by. Maybe you sell some stuff, maybe not. Maybe you found someone selling that Dart. Maybe not, but after some good conversation and coffee it's time to meet up with your buddies to throw. So you pack up, say bye to the disc bazaar and go.

Could it be that easy? Do these already exist?

I would love to find out.

I'm imagining this is something organized through social media at first. Then maybe a club of some sort emerges. Maybe the marche aux puces (Thanks thesaurus!) is held at different locations each time, so different locals can get involved as the event moves closer to them, but two things remain consistent. There is no charge to participate and this is not a place to sell that heavy-ass TV from the 90's. I'm talking to you Grandma Betty.

Now, how do we make these happen and what are some problems we can run into?

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Aging With The Game

Aging is a hell of a thing.

I celebrated 38 years on November 3rd, and although I whole heartedly don't believe 38 is old, I still can't get away from the feeling that the number doesn't reflect what I feel on the inside. That's what everybody says though, right?

My wish for the day consisted of my family and I going out to throw for a bit before the heavy clouds tired and lost the ability to hold back the water.

We stopped by a local disc golf vendor before our brief session on the Terrace Creek course. I picked up a new Legacy Clutch. I've been curious about the Gravity blend of plastic, so that's what I chose.

As we practiced, I got to thinking about how I'm only two years away from being eligible to play in the Masters division.

What does that mean? Only that I'm almost 40.

If this was a time before the 2002 PDGA rule book change then I could have been playing in the Masters division ever since my 35th birthday.

I believe all divisions like Masters, Grand Masters, Senior Grandmasters, Legendary Senseis and, finally, Walkers are referred to as "age protected." I smile thinking about Masters being age protected, because I know there are a lot of 40-something-year olds that don't need protection.

Playing Masters will in no way be a step down in competition. In fact, I may just stay in Advanced unless I feel like I can compete when that time comes.

As our sport grows in popularity we hear talk about athleticism raising the bar of competition. I know I'm working to become more fit and healthy as I near my forties. I can just imagine what others are doing. In fact, I don't have to imagine. We can all see what others are doing. A simple glimpse into the world of #discgolf on Instagram or Twitter and we can find thousands of posts by people equally obsessed with bettering themselves to better their play.

John E. McCray showed the world this year that just because you're in your forties doesn't mean you can't compete with the best of them. Also, I heard Scott Stokley will be back on tour next year. Will he prove that forty-something-year olds can't be counted out of the Open division on a national stage as well?

I believe the only difference between a 20-year-old and a fit 40-year-old on the disc golf course is time available to practice.

Shoot, it's not all about availability even. It's really about desire. How much time do we want to practice as we get older? So many more things become important as we age, especially if we have a family.

I can't compete every weekend. You know why?

I have to take my daughter camping, or to the beach. My wife and I like to travel, so which do you think I'll pick between a local C tier and a flight to Long Beach, Ca.? Or Venice, Italy?

What will happen with Avery Jenkins when his child is born? You think he'll keep touring the world all year long?

Aging with disc golf, man, it's a trip. Disc golf will be something that will always play an important part in my life, but it will never be more important than a lot of other things. However, it will always be fun to watch the sport and the players grow.

Can you imagine what Nikko Locastro or Paul McBeth will be like when they're 40? I hope I'm around to see those days.

I'll keep practicing and bettering myself mentally and physically. I'll keep competing when I can and I'll enter my forties with a ton of enthusiasm. Hopefully I'll be able to hold my own against the "old dudes" when I get there.

Now, what will I be saying when I'm two years away from 50?


Saturday, November 1, 2014

GHEDI: Griffin Hill Equinox Disc Invitational

Hot Chick award

This is how I remember the conversation starting.

"You know the Count?"

I said, "The what?"

"The Count. Count Ferrari," my friend Don said.

This was the day I discovered there was an actual Count in the disc golf world, and he happened to live nearby.

Apparently the Count hosts a couple of tournaments a year on a private disc golf course designed around his home. There was only one rule to follow if you wanted to be invited.

The sign

You must have the right attitude.

Don said he would secure me an invite to the next one.

But did I have the right attitude? I wasn't sure. What did that mean? I have an old memory of a guy randomly asking me if the door was open. I happened to be standing in front of an open door, so I was confused and wondered why he had to ask. He could definitely see that the door behind me was open.

I said, "This door?"

He said, "No, dude. Is the door open?"

"The door behind me is open," I said.

He impatiently replied, "No, man. Is the DOOR open?"

I stared at him for a second and then as if he gave up he said, "Do you want some cocaine?"

"Whoa... um, yeah... I mean no. No the door isn't open," I said.

So what was this "attitude" Don was talking about? What if it was code? I've only known Don for a couple years. Maybe he's in to some weird shit. Maybe he was about to get me invited to some nudist commune or something. I guess you would definitely have to have the right attitude to play disc golf in the buff. That's a lot of whipping, spinning and picking things up off the ground. I wouldn't have the right attitude for that sort of scene.

I was still curious and hoped what ever it was I was about to walk into wasn't too freaky. So, all I could do was wait for the next tournament to be scheduled.

And so it was.
Don walking through the horse stables.

At the crack of dawn on September 20th I drove into Everett to pick up my friend. Don had a bag of discs and a giant Crockpot full of beefy goodness. Things were starting off very normal. I was glad.

The beauties. "Don't bang a horse."

We made our way into Arlington and after a couple of turns we were headed up the private road leading to the Count's massive piece of property. The place looked amazing. There were white horses walking around, a pond surrounded with lush greenery and extremely interesting homemade disc golf baskets and tone poles scattered about.

Things were starting off very well and everyone I met, including the Count, still had their clothes on.

Don and I started walking the course and playing some of the holes to get familiar with the layout. While we were out more people had arrived.

We cut our practice off and walked back to tournament central. Twenty or so people were milling about and most of them were either making or opening their early morning beverage. There was whiskey, beer, cocktails and I believe bloody Marys being passed around. There was also a ton of food being organized. I had brought chips and salsa from a local Mexican food joint, but some people brought awesome clam chowder, delicious crab bisque and a ton of pastries. The list could go on.

Everyone seemed happy to be alive and everyone still had their clothes on.

Things were looking really good. I started to understand what was meant by having the right attitude.

The fire hazard.

Our format for the tournament was one round of singles and then a second round of doubles. For the doubles round the lowest scores were paired with the highest scores. I landed somewhere in the middle. A well-known local badass ended up setting a new course record with a -15.

The people I met were kind, positive and ready to have fun. It was a disc golf gathering many of us enjoy.

Just like any other sport, disc golf can bring the worst out of your competitive spirit. I've seen grown adults throw tantrums. I've seen people get so pissed off that they throw their entire bag into the air. I've seen people simply stop playing and slowly walk off the course.

I know I'm guilty. Although, I usually get upset and talk to myself when I'm alone. I'm very conscious of my attitude when there are other people around, because the last thing I want to do is ruin anyone else's vibe.

There's no room for tantrums at the GHEDI. That's what they meant by having the right attitude. It's a tournament, but you're not there to win. You're there to play and enjoy the company of others in an awesome setting. It's disc golf in its simplest form.

The day out with the Count was one I will remember for ever. I loved it. It gives me a perfect example to share when I try to explain why disc golf is so addicting.

And I'm so glad I didn't have to come home and tell my wife I was playing disc golf naked with a bunch of strangers.

Thanks, Count.

Friday, October 31, 2014

The Terror at Terrace Creek

The morning of the Terror at Terrace Creek tournament looked promising. The sky was menacing, but the ground was dry. My hope for somewhat dry tee pads was blown away almost immediately when gallons of water began belching from the clouds.

I was eating an apple, walking the quiet path into the woods toward basket 11 when it started to fall. 

Oh well, I thought. My plan was to attack and the pacific northwest rain wasn't going to stop me. I was equipped with a giant umbrella and comfortable clothes that kept me warm and dry. In my bag sat two Maw N Paw towels and I planned to use them quickly and efficiently throughout the rounds.

After stretching a bit I began putting. This is when all my past tournament experiences usually begin creeping into my mind. Scenes of me missing putts or hurling uncontrolled throws rush in. This time was different though. I felt fed up. 

I began attacking the basket.

Ching, ching, ching from 10 feet. Ching, ching, ching from 15 feet. Ching, ching, ching from 20 feet. 

My Legacy Clutches were dialed in. I wasn't surprised. I've been putting more than anything else for a while now. I've adopted a new thought process that I picked up through watching all the major tournament videos on YouTube.

If I can see it then I can make it. 

I used to think – well if I miss I don't want to miss and have a long putt back.

Fuck that.

Excuse my language.

That technique left me with short putts and weak attempts. I'm all in now. If I miss the bird then I just make the par. If I miss the par then I need to practice putting more.

This tournament was going to be different. I had more confidence than ever before. 

Rain? What rain?

When I found out my card was starting on hole three I wondered if the Universe just watched my putting routine and eavesdropped on my inner battle. It's as if the starry bastard wanted to see how serious I was and maybe try to call me on my bullshit.

For those of you that have played Terrace Creek in Mountlake Terrace, WA. you know hole three is a relatively easy hole as long as you shoot the gap. For those of you that are not familiar with this course I'll tell you hole three is a short adventure over a ravine. There's a tiny tee pad with a steep drop off and there is a jail of trees to miss in order to make it across. A lot of people hit one of two trees right in front of the tee. Those trees have been hit so much that there are now 2x4s attached to reinforce and protect them from further damage. The photo above is taken from a bit of an extreme angle to show the basket position straight ahead, but that's basically what you're looking at.

Hole three is a birdie hole, but it's also easily a bogey hole.

So be it. I was ready to throw. What ever happens, happens. 

I made it.

It wasn't pretty, but I was across and looking at a long putt for bird. I ended up getting the par, but that was OK. I passed the first test.

Going hole by hole isn't my intention here, but the next hole needs to be written about.

Feeling good about my previous par, I walked on to tee four and mentally designed my drive. This hole is a blind, lazy hyzer shot. You have to bend your shot to the left around a hill and in front of a mando tree. You don't want to cut it too short, because you'll be stuck on the side of the hill, which is plagued with a serious case of fern-itis.

My drive looked great. My card mates agreed. They all had great ones too. We all walked out and everyone found their disc except me. It was hiding somewhere. We all searched. It didn't make any sense. I had hit that line many times before and I usually know where about my disc could land. The photo below shows the different landing areas around the bend. The basket is just behind the third tree on the right.

It was no where. I finally called the three minutes on myself and rushed back to the tee to re-throw. I was livid. I quickly drove and watched my disc hold a hyzer line right past the mando tree.


I took a six.

The rest of the round was a battle to keep a dry grip and a positive attitude. I hit a few birds here and there. One of them was extremely memorable, because it was on a hole I had never birdied before.

Hole 11 is a 357 foot hallway shot. I've always been just a bit off on the drive and that small inaccuracy has consistently landed me in the shite off to one side.

This time around I had a Legacy Rival in my bag, but the problem was I had never tried it on the hole before. It's a new disc for me that I purchased at Discovering the World in California on my recent trip down there.

I used it a lot on the El Dorado course in Long Beach and from what I learned it seemed like it would be the better choice than the beat-in Star Teebird I usually throw on this hole.

One of my card mates saw it in my hand and told me he had only used a Cannon before from the Legacy lineup.

I explained to him that it had been flying for me like a beat Teebird.

I stepped up, visualized my throw and hit such a perfect line that it kind of freaked me out. It just stayed straight. Even at the end. I walked back to get my bag and my card mate said he was going to have to check one out.

I was still on the narrow path when I walked up to putt. I didn't have an easy, short putt, but it was within my range. I found my link, gave it a dead stare and didn't look away until I saw my Clutch hit the chains and fall in.

I was in shock, but I ran up and retrieved my disc like it was usual business.

That round was tough and I was sitting six over at the end, but I wasn't too bummed out because a lot of good things happened. I couldn't wait to start that second round.

Toward the end of the second round I was soaked and chilled to the bone, but I was throwing strong. My card had started on hole three again, but I got through with no problems. Missed the putt, but moved on with a par.

On hole 18 I was sitting at -1. I had three more holes to go. All of them are easy pars and two of them I have birdied before. Unfortunately I let that near 980 rated round slip away and ended the round with a 56. Two over wasn't too bad considering it ended up being my highest rated round (951) in a tournament ever.

I placed sixth over all in advanced and earned the last spot for scrip. I earned enough for a new disc and that made me happy.

My pick for the evening was a Legacy Icon Patriot since I haden't thrown one yet and a mini for the Dish.

After all my drama I'm happy with the way things turned out. I knew I could have placed higher and knowing that inspires me to work harder. My goal is to raise my rating to where I believe it should be and I am on my way to accomplishing that.

I'll never know where my Pro Destroyer landed on hole four that first round. I even went back the next day to look more thoroughly. It simply vanished. Maybe the Universe took it. That's OK though – it makes for a great story.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Hello ELDO: The Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda Round

My three-year-old daughter usually freaks out around mannequins. My wife and I were wondering how she would react around giant Disney characters silently walking around. It was a Monday when we decided to test it out. We arrived at a hotel near Disneyland early in the morning to have breakfast with some of the characters.

We walked in. Mickey was hanging out with kids while their parents were snapping photo after photo.

I looked down at Olive. Was she panicking? 

Where did she go?

She had bolted toward Mickey. 

The rest of the morning she was in gee gee land hanging out with Daisy, Minnie, Mickey, Stitch and Pluto.

They seemed to love her enthusiasm.

After exposing her to a glimpse of a future Disneyland trip we headed out, dropped Grandma and Olive off at Grandma's and then Dish and I headed out to Eldo.

Our friends, Gabe and Tabetha, were already two rounds in when we arrived. We also met Ryan and Brian there. They were all ready to throw, so Dish and I warmed up a bit, stretched a leg or two and tee'd off.

The round started with a little episode of When Animals Attack.

While I was setting up for my second shot I noticed Ryan get startled and jump. The group walked over to see about the commotion. Apparently Ryan was getting chomped on by a praying mantis. 

As we walked over to tee two Gabe did a similar dance and discovered another mantis crawling up his leg.

After a good laugh and viewing session we continued on. 

Everything was working for me. I kept hitting my lines off the tee and had a great run of birdies. This is what my score looked like going into hole 14.

Hole 1: Par                     
Hole 2: Birdie                
Hole 3: Birdie                
Hole 4: Par                    
Hole 5: Birdie
Hole 6: Birdie
Hole 7: Par
Hole 8: Par
Hole 9: Par
Hole 10: Birdie
Hole 11: Birdie
Hole 12: Birdie
Hole 13: Par

I was sitting at -7 as we walked to tee 14. That's when Gabe, Tab and Ryan had to take off. We said our goodbyes and then Brian, Dish and I continued on.

I knew I had a chance to beat my record of -9, so I was excited to throw.

I hit an early tree. I took a four. I immediately started blaming Gabe, Tab and Ryan for leaving. Everything was going so well when they were around.

The rest of the round was a disaster.

Hole 14: Bogie
Hole 15: Par
Hole 16: Double Bogie
Hole 17: Double Bogie
Hole 18: Par

I finished the round with a 52. Par is 54. 

I shoulda shot better. I coulda shot better. I woulda shot better.

That round is going to haunt me for a bit. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Hello ELDO

El Dorado DGC in Long Beach, Ca. became my sanctuary when I started throwing discs again after a 12-year break. My home course in 1996 was Huntington Beach, but I played Eldo once.

I recall hating it. Too many trees.

That feeling was still there in 2008 when I picked up my old discs and started throwing again, but the stale hatred quickly evolved into a love for the course and an obsession for the game.

My first recorded round at Eldo was a +14.

I quickly developed a major desire to beat up on this course, so I started to practice by myself. After a couple of years I recorded my best round of -9.

One of the greatest attributes of Eldo is that solo rounds don't last long. I met a solid group of people and we began meeting regularly in the mornings to play.

In August of 2011 my wife and I moved to Washington with our three-month-old daughter. Still playing regularly, I immediately started exploring the disc golf scene up here.

I've fallen in love with a lot this state has to offer, but whenever the time comes to travel back down to California I get crazy excited. Part of that excitement comes from the fact that I will be walking out on to that El Dorado course and throwing with my old friends.

That chance came again recently. We shot through the sky on JetBlue and landed in Long Beach on Wednesday, Oct. 15. We left 50 something degree temperatures and landed in an assault of sun beams and mellow, hot air.

I couldn't see shit. My eye lids collapsed on to my melting cheeks. I lost all elasticity in my skin and slowly melted in to a large brown puddle.

Then my brother-in-law pulled up along side the curb and yanked me back to reality.

Early Thursday morning I waited in my usual spot for my friend Bill to pick me up. I usually send him a text informing him that I'm under the golden dolphin drinking coffee.

To the early morning risers driving past I'm just a random stranger stretching with a bag full of Frisbees close by. To Bill, I'm just the northerner ready to throw.

We arrived at Eldo around 8am and our friend Dennis was already in full golf mode. He was putting and driving getting ready for the showdown with the northerner. We said our hellos and talked about the news in our lives.

Then the moment I'd been waiting for arrived. It was time to tee off. I couldn't wait to show these gentlemen my progress from many hours of practice in the north west. 

I believe I was first on the tee. I lined up the shot and... 


I hit one of the closest trees to the tee pad. Everyone had a good laugh and we moved on through the course and had a fun, peaceful round. Although I didn't play as well as I wanted I was happy to be back and couldn't wait for each one of the days we gathered while I was in town.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A Great Four at Terrace

Terrace Creek DGC in Mountlake Terrace, WA. has seen many recent changes. Holes 14, 16 and 17 were redesigned after some major construction by the city and more recently the mando tree on hole eight was cut down because the damn thing was dead. 

Adding to the mix up is a new tee pad on hole four. I love that the old, slippery pad is history.

That slick slab of rocks and concrete had my number. I had a feeling one day it would take me down. I'm extremely happy with its replacement. 

Thank you, Terrace locals!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

New Gems at Juel

Check it out, folks.

I love showing up to a course and seeing something new.

Juel DGC in Redmond, WA. has a new message board. Nice work!

The Switch Up

I created 400 Bound to document my driving progress. The site immediately morphed into a more general disc golf focused personal outlet.

Then I had an idea while going through old boxes of crap. Do any of you remember zines? You know, the little homemade booklets full of art, poems, rants and raves published by young adults and personally distributed to coffee houses all over town?

I wanted to take an old printer on the verge of an E-waste heap and force it to puke out a disc golf zine for as long as it could. I thought it would be fun for the locals and a great way to bridge our disc golf world with those who know nothing of the sport.

The first issue was almost complete. I had a full interview with a local pro, Jason Carr, and a full interview with the owner of a new pay-to-play course in Monroe, WA.

I'm not a page designer, but I messed with it a little bit during my short-lived journalism career. I had a lot of fun putting this together.

Then something came along and diverted my attention away from this time-consuming, non-money making journey. I'm on a new path unrelated to disc golf, but if I can succeed I will be able to help my local disc golf scene as a business owner willing to help sponsor events.

So, until everything works out I'm back to blogging occasionally. I plan to get some of the information out that I acquired for the printed version of Disc Golf Beat and I still plan on documenting my drive progress, but I will also continue to write about anything and everything I find interesting in the disc golf world.

Here's to a new start.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Farewell, 400 Bound.

The DG Beat will be taking over here.

I will explain the change in my next post, but right now it's disc golf time.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Battle Benny Two

For one brief moment I broke free from the familiar mind voodoo I experience during tournament play. Then things went back to normal, but with that little bit of confidence came enough of a lesson that I may be making a run out of the intermediate field and in to the advanced this year. Hopefully.

Battle Benny II was a fundraiser event for the annual Battle of Seattle tournament held in June. This tournament was the first event played on the newly designed SeaTac DGC. The course is now home to 27 awesome fairways and quite a few brand new Mach X baskets.

I was blown away when I saw the result from all the hard work put in. This place is even better now in my opinion. SeaTac was already a beast of a course, but now it's a beast with a baby.

The event layout was simple – play one round of 27 and call it a day. I was happy when I realized my card was starting on one, but I had no idea that nearly five hours later I would be even happier putting out on 27 to end the brutality.

My confidence level remained at an all-time high up until hole 16. I was playing safe, making pars and taking birdies when I had the chance. Everything was working just like casual play, but I'm not sure if it was the rain, the cold, my hungry stomach or the speed of play that got to me. Maybe it was a little bit of everything.

I was sitting at even with 11 more holes left when I placed a drive in to the shit of 16. That's where I boarded the bogie train and rode it to the end of the line. I couldn't stop the horror.

My world came crashing down around me. Nothing was making sense anymore. I had no grip, no aim. My discs were falling like the heavy droplets of water responsible for the chill in my bones.

Finally the massacre of a good round was over. We were one of the last groups to arrive back at tournament central. People were already leaving. Our card tallied up the scores and handed them over.

I ended up with a 101. Par for the course was set at 86. First place in my division was a 93.

It wasn't my time to win, but I feel my time is coming. This year perhaps. The lesson I took away from this tournament was something I had heard, or read before. If you want to play well in tournaments then you have to play tournaments.

We'll see.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Video: Silver Lake DGC

Here's a foggy look at Silver Lake DGC. This is a small nine-hole course in Everett, Wa.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Interview: Rip Disc Golf

Interviews with folks from the disc golf world is something I've been wanting to add to this blog for a while. The interview that follows is an E-mail conversation with Skipper and Charity Hamilton from Oregon. They own Rip Disc Golf and were kind enough to participate in this process of back and forth. 

Hi, Skipper. This is your Facebook friend John Synco. Thank you so much for agreeing to participate in this E-mail interview.

Before I jump in and start asking you a bunch of disc golf related questions I'm curious about the hard apple cider you're making. I just heard on the radio up here in Seattle that the hard cider business is booming.

What inspired you to make your own?

What other alcoholic beverages have you made?

I moved into this old house just over a year ago along with my wife and three little girls. There are a few fruit trees in the yard as well as concord grapes. So this summer, not wanting the fruits to spoil in the trees and grapes on the vines, I went down to the local brew shop and got my first few carboys along with a few other things needed for fermenting. 

The first wine I started was from the plums in the yard. With no other friends having the know how to make wine I turned to good ol' YouTube and started right in. 

About two weeks later the black berries were ready just one block away from my house, so I went berry picking and started my second batch of wine. At one point I had started a batch of pear wine, but my two-year-old took the airlock off and got stuff in there making it turn into vinegar. 

That was dumped over the compost pile. 

Then my wife's uncle stopped by with 20 pounds of Elderberry wanting me to make wine from that, so there is another five gallon batch. After that I collected all my grapes plus some from the same uncle as before and started my grape wine. 

The cidar I just started comes from one of two apple trees in my backyard. I juiced them and got them fermenting, again turning to the Internet for help as I had no clue how to make cider and wanted to make sure that I didn't just make apple wine. 

With all that said I'm not really much of a wine drinker, but I hate to see things go to waste. This really started because I really want to start brewing my own beer, which I have not had a chance to try yet but that is coming soon.

Now wait a minute, Skipper. You said in a reply to my first message on Facebook that you feared you would be boring. I don't think you have anything to fear. We haven't even started talking about disc golf yet and you have me interested just by talking about fruit and booze.

I can't wait to hear how your cidar turns out. I'm also glad to hear you're going to attempt beer. I would like to try that one day too. 

So, let's talk disc golf. Can you answer the five W's for me? You know:


Who got you started in the sport?
What made you want to start throwing plastic?
When did you start?
Where did you first play?
Why play?

Most of my life I have lived in Alaska, and most of that time was spent in Juneau, AK. I had a few friends that had gotten into disc golf and talked about how much fun it was, but the truth is it took me a few months to take the step. 

After all how much fun could throwing a round chunk of plastic at a metal cage be, right? 

But my friends Nathen and Marshall really liked this sport they had just discovered and who doesn't like a walk in the woods with friends and beer? 

So, as for what made me start playing I think that is well covered that I just did it to hang out with good friends. This was in the summer of 2007 at Aant'iyeik Park (yeah try saying that) in Juneau, AK. At the time our first born was around seven-months old. 

My wife would carry her in a child backpack while playing.

Once we had to put her in a Marshall's normal school-style backpack as we didn't have the child pack. I can tell you that even though I really had no interest in playing the game before hand, the first break I took was 18 days later without missing one day. 

I think that my wife Charity missed one of those days. After that it was still around five days a week that we played. My second child is just a year younger then my first, so my wife was playing with one in the oven right up until the day before birth and wanted to play within a week after. I made her wait two weeks. 

Why play?

That may be one of the easier questions here. The sport is something that my wife and I love to do together, and the three girls (yes three now) like the walk and our seven-year-old girl is not too shabby. 

Disc golf is also healthy and keeps us in the great outdoors. I hurt my back doing what I grew up doing – construction work, like building homes and buildings, so where I am unable to do many of the sports like snowboarding that I love I can still play disc golf.

Alaska?! I can't wait to visit that state. Someone told my wife you can see bears walking through town once in awhile. Is that true? 

Yes. You see bears all the time. Mainly black bear around town. They love getting into the trash. I have chased off black bear many times – standing there on my front deck yelling at them from 10 feet away with my door open and ready to jump back inside. 

There was also one that hung out around the disc golf course in Juneau.

Did you ever play a round of night golf during the day?

We would leave to play disc golf in mid summer around 1 A.M. and it would be pretty much daylight out. In Juneau that does not last as long, but further up north, like Kenai, AK we would start at 3 A.M. and it was just like mid day! 

The family aspect of the sport is something I love too. My wife likes playing and now we're hoping our two-year-old daughter will want to play when she's older.

When did you leave Alaska?

I believe it was around 2008 or 2009 when we left Alaska. I would have to ask my wife on that. She is a little better about remembering dates and what not.

Picture from

Oh man. I bet you have some good stories to tell about your time in Alaska. 

So, let's talk eBay. Every once in a while I will see a Facebook post by you that reads something like this, "Got another 90 pounds of discs coming in this week." Or, "I just finished posting a million discs on eBay and now I'm going to drink wine and sit in my hot tub."

OK, I made that last one up, but I'm not far off. You have a huge selection of discs for sale. Did this seemingly simple activity go from spending time outdoors with your family and having a beer with friends to a full-blown plastic addiction?

What happened?

What made you want to start selling disc golf gear?

When I got into disc golf there was only one shop that sold discs. At the time they were selling DX for somewhere around $16-$18 and the price just went up from there. So getting into selling discs was a way to get discs cheaper for myself and for my friends, or anyone else I ran into at the disc golf course.  

I already sold stuff on eBay, so selling discs was the next step. At that time it was my hobby, now it's a small business, which in fact belongs to my wife along with the rest of Rip Disc Golf.... though it is still small and more like a hobby.

I've been on your eBay site and have seen all that you offer, but can you tell the readers of this blog about your inventory?

What will they find when they visit your online store?

As far as what they'll find, I guess thats best answered by just linking them there Among the large picks they'll find very good prices and even faster shipping time. 

The eBay store has most brand names, and what it does not have gets added when people start asking for them most of the time. That is often the way we hear about some of the small brands, just listening to what the consumers want.

I've thought about trying my hand at selling discs online, but I'm not sure I have the patience to be successful at it. How hard has it been to stay motivated and organized? 

Do you have any advice for people that are thinking about trying it?

Selling discs online can be slow and boring truth be told. At times it's listing up to 300 auctions at one time, then getting up every morning to make sure eBay shipping goes out on time – eBayers do not like to wait. Sometimes I think they want it the day before they ordered it. For the most part I have been able to keep them happy and maintain great feedback.

Three hundred auctions at one time?! That sounds painful. 

Do you have any fun facts about your operation? Like, is there a best selling disc or a worst selling disc?

I'm sure there are a few fun facts, but I'm not sure what they are. I'm not really sure what the best selling disc is, but of course the best selling brand is Innova. 

Over the past few years sales have started changing and other newer brands are taking more and more sales. I guess one fun fact is that the money from the discs sold on eBay goes right into making new molds for the Rip Disc Golf brand discs. So thank you to all the other brands for your help.

You know, all these questions are directed at you, but since you told me Rip belongs to your wife I'm wondering if she would want to answer some too. What are her responsibilities as owner?

My wife and I work together as a family unit, with the three girls and the part time job she works outside the home. We are both busy most of the time. For those of you out there that think the ladies have an easy job staying home with the kids.... think again! :) 

I am on disability. I had a big operation just over two years ago. With that being said I am not able to or allowed to work. So my wife works the company that I started. 

Based on the available item numbers next to each company name it looks like you have more Innova, Discraft, Lightning and Dynamic Discs products to sell. 

Your inventory of Lightning discs and bags surprised me. Why do you offer so many products of that company?

Lightning discs do not move too fast for me on eBay, but they offer a number of cheap bags and a handful of colors. I started with just a few. I noticed that they sold right away and so I ordered more and more. 

There are many new and many young golfers out there and these are pretty good starter bags.

Based on the same numbers I noticed that the categories, Legacy, Skyquest and MVP, have the fewest options. Why do you have so few Legacy and MVP products? Do you sell a lot of them and so you're running out of stock, or do people not ask for those often?

I love MVP discs, but I had a run in with one of the owners of the company and I just don't buy from them any more. Any MVP I have are sent over from other places. 

Legacy is a good selling brand and I just have to put in an order some time, just like with the other brands. There are so many discs out there and we try to carry as many as we can, but that can be hard to do. Also, like most disc golf stores, winter sales are much slower making it hard to keep up the normal stock. 

That's too bad about MVP. I'm sure you probably don't want to go into detail about the incident, but was the issue about ordering discs?

I do not want to get into the problems with MVP. They make an awesome disc – one that I had not heard of or seen until some time after I made my discs. 

MVP thinks they invented two part discs and own the idea. The first two part disc was from Quest AT Disc Golf. That's as far as I'll go on that matter. I'm sure now that Innova is making them they are not so worried about me.

I've discovered a disc I've never heard of while browsing through your store. What's the story on the Horizon Vulture disc? 

I do not know much about the makers of the Horizon brand discs other then they are molded by the first company I used to mold discs – Quest AT. 

I didn't want to bug you with many more questions, so I'd like to end this interview talking about your disc company Rip. Is the official name Rip Disc Golf, Rip or R.I.P., like Rest In Peace?

Marshall Street spells it like R.I.P. and that confused me because I always thought it was just Rip, like, "rip that disc booyyyyy!" 

Sorry, that was the 90's coming out of me for a second.

Tell me about Rip. What was your inspiration? Where did the name come from? 

The name is Rip Disc Golf. I have seen it as R.I.P many times. As I was at the local disc golf course in Dexter, OR there was a group of guys standing at the tee pad just yacking away. My group was waiting behind them so that we could start when one of the guys in the group standing at the tee said "Grip N Rip" lets go guys!!! I liked that enough to use it as my company name Rip Disc Golf.

I'm extremely interested in the process of making discs, but I know nothing about it. I think it's awesome that you went out and successfully made your own discs. Is it a process you would rather keep to yourself, or are you willing to walk me through your experience?

It's a long hard road and I would not want to give anything away :)

Why did you start making your own discs?

How did you design your first one? Was it a putter? Did you base the dimensions on any other disc?

I first wanted to start making discs to fill a need I saw. Many players had hard putters that did not grip the chains and when driving an up-shot they would skip 20 feet. Others had a super soft floppy disc, which was great for sticking to chains and not skipping on the up-shot, but the soft discs for me seemed like they were harder to hold and did not go where I wanted them to go. 

I wanted a putter that could have a soft rubber lip and a firm flight plate. At the time this had never been done to the best of my knowledge. Quest had a two part disc, but not the same idea and later I found out that MVP also was just starting to make an overmolded disc. Again MVP's discs are harder on the lip in order to bring the weight from the center of the disc, so still nothing like what I wanted to do. 

At this time the closest thing out there is Innova's new line Atlas and Nova. 

So I contacted Quest AT and started talking with them about making a new disc. Myself and the crew at Quest came up with a design, we did use a few other disc molds to get ideas at what I was looking for, but when all was said and done they are stand alone molds and have their own feel and look.

I just ordered my first Rip disc. I decided to buy your Ballistic driver. I told you on Facebook that I'm hoping to add video reviews on my blog and I would like to review Rip discs especially now since you're going through the process of remolding them with different plastic.

What does the future hold for Rip? I know you have a few sponsored players and I think you've sponsored tournaments too, right?

Will you make a full line of discs?

As for the future of Rip Disc Golf, I'll keep dreaming big and my wife Charity will keep pushing to make it grow. 

We ran into problems keeping the putters stocked. They had started selling fast and I have always got great feedback on them. The only bad feedback that I was getting was about the plastic being used for the flight plate being too hard. That was a problem we had been working on since day one but were having no luck working with Quest. 

Working with these new local molders have been great. They have everything needed to make this happen. We might be adding a third putter to the line up as well. 

So the line up will have three putters. The Graboide, which is over stable, the Relic, which is stable, and the new un-named putter being under stable – along with our high speed driver the Ballistic.

Next Rip Disc Golf will be making two new over molded mid-ranges. Looking again for an over stable and slightly under stable mid driver. This is unknown as to when this is going to happen as we just had all molds remade and the cost of making molds is very high.

I'll be launching a new website as well sometime this coming spring/summer.

Skipper, I'm going to end this interview here and I want to thank you so much for participating. I hope it wasn't too annoying for you. I wish you and your family well and I'm looking forward to watching what's in store for Rip in 2014. Happy New Year.

Wait.. one more question. 

How has disc golf affected your life?

That's kind of a hard question to answer as disc golf has changed my life a great deal. Disc golf has always been a positive thing in my life. When I was feeling down and having a hard time learning to deal with my injury, sometimes just getting out and playing was one of the best things for me.

For my wife and I, disc golf is something that we both enjoy and something that we can do as a family. My three daughters enjoy walking along and from time to time throwing a disc.

As I messed up my back a few years ago and two years ago had back surgery I can not do many of the things I enjoy in life, such as most sports, fishing hunting and on and on – but I can still play disc golf. I enjoy the game and it helps keep me outdoors and fit. We have played in a number of places. We always meet new people and make new friends that we otherwise would have never had the chance to meet.

Thanks for reading.