My Thoughts, Exactly » Jim Chase

My New Summer Fling

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Jim Chase is an award-
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Okay, so who knew there was an exciting, fun, challenging and stupidly inexpensive sport with tens-of-thousands of devotees being played every day of the week around the world, across the country and even at two venues right here in the Crescenta Valley?

For my birthday last month, my youngest son took me out to breakfast. (Yes, he paid! Another amazing benefit of having a summer job and ever-increasing-independence.) When we were finished eating, he also gave me a present to open. It was a “disc golf” starter set. Disc golf?

Now, somewhere back in the trippy-hippy-dippy-long-hair-and-tie-died days of my long-ago youth, I admit to being deep into the Frisbee® phenomenon. But that always seemed to be more about having something to do at the beach and picking up girls than about playing a competitive sport.

By contrast, the sport of disc golf is serious stuff – in a totally fun and light hearted way, of course. Quickly, the rules for disc golf are similar to what is now called “round ball” golf, the game made famous by big-dollar, celebrity players like Tiger Woods, Arnold Palmer and others.

You play nine or 18 “holes” on a course. However, instead of rolling a little white ball into small round hole in the ground, you flip a disc into a “basket” mounted on a metal pole. The distance from tee to hole varies and each hole has a regulation “par.”

The similarities don’t end there. Just like round ball golfers, disc golfers play with a bag of equipment including so-called “driver” discs, mid-range discs and putter discs. What’s the difference? Good question. As a rank newbie to the sport, I’m still trying to figure that out. Let’s just say my technical disc-launching skills are not even close to being able to effectively use the many types of discs. Frankly, I may as well be throwing a dog food dish or trash can lid out there. It’s pretty embarrassing. But then, that’s one of the big differences I’ve noticed between round ball and disc golf. Unless you’re in a tournament, nobody seems to care how well you play. They’re out there simply to have fun and enjoy being outdoors.

I’ve played round ball golf since high school. I can tell you that the experience is often anything but relaxing and fun. I’ve got bent clubs to prove it. Maybe it’s because a single round can easily cost up to and over $100 for just 18 holes.

Contrast that with what it costs to play the world’s very first disc golf course at the Hahamongna Watershed across the street from La Cañada High: nothing. As in free. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Zippo. Bupkiss.

Granted, for all its historical significance, the La Cañada course is dry, dusty and not always easy to figure where the next hole might be. (I suggest you carry a map and compass, emergency rations and also leave a trail of breadcrumbs to help find your way back to the parking lot.)

On the opposite end of the Crescenta Valley, for a measly $5, you can now play a round of disc golf at the Verdugo Hills course, which added disc baskets alongside the round ball course last year. The course is green, shaded and very welcoming to both round ball players (“bolfers”) and disc golfers alike. I’ve been told that the added revenue from the rapidly growing number of disc golfers may even help save the embattled course from the developer’s bulldozers. That would be a good thing.

Another big difference is in the dress codes associated with each type of golf game. Many traditional round ball courses won’t let you play if you’re wearing jeans or a shirt that doesn’t have a collar. Well, ex-c-u-u-u-s-e me. On the other hand, I’ve seen many disc golfers playing without wearing any shirt at all. Vive la différence! And pass the sunscreen.

I’ll see you ’round town.