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.