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.