R.I.P Wasp. Your Loss Stings.

Well last weekend I lost my first disc.  It was a yellow Discraft Wasp just like this.  An actual wasp sting pinches the skin with immediate pain which slowly fades.  Losing a disc, on the other hand, is quite opposite.  First you chuck your disc in the general direction of the basket.  Second you squint and squirm with pain as you watch it soar in the completely wrong direction.  Third, you suddenly remember to pay attention to where it lands if you want to maintain any hope of finding the poor thing.  And fourth the pain starts to kick in as panic turns to frustration which finally turns to despair and ultimate defeat after searching with no avail.

Now I am completely aware that all I lost was 173 grams of plastic in the shape of an aerodynamic picnic plate, but according to Sheryl Crow, “the first cut is the deepest.”   Sorry for getting all sappy on you there, but the truth is, my Discraft Wasp is out there somewhere on the course, probably covered with sap under some big pine tree!

To all of you who have ever felt the pain of losing a beloved disc I raise my glass and say: It’s better to lose a disc than it is to find this bear.  If you’ve ever lost a disc and can relate, I officially open up the comment section below this blog purely for grieving purposes.  Us disc golfers have to support each other and stick together.

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Well I’m off to the Providence Course for a nice round of 18 holes.  Until next time,

Play disc. Eat Bacon.

The Unseen Force…

Check out this dramatic wind toss!  I don’t mind wind in my hair, but don’t mess with my disc!

This clip sums up my night on the course yesterday.  It was my first tournament round with The High Desert Disc Golf Alliance (HDDGA).  When I pulled up to the course in Providence , UT I looked up to see the American flag waving furiously in the wind.  Less than half of the guys showed up due to the wind.  That’s weak sauce.  We had a cash division for the six guys who wanted to pay $6 bucks into the pot. Since it was my first time I decided my money wouldn’t blow away in the wind if I left it in my pocket. I played with the other four guys in the non-cash division.  Before we started the first round of nine holes the guys all flipped their discs on the ground to see who would play with the first group of three in the cash division.  I thought this was funny.  It’s like I Texas-sized coin toss! 

We played a total of 18 holes, the first 9 being the A-tee’s (longer throws) and the second round being the B-tee’s (shorter throws).  All of the nine holes are par 3 expect for one, which is a par 4.  After the first couple holes my arm was already sore.  My shoulder felt tight and brittle like an old rubber band.  After a few more holes my arm was warmed up and it didn’t bother me too much the rest of the night.  I never realized that throwing a Frisbee would put so much strain on my body!  I ran track in high school and in college.  I would often stretch and warm up before and after work outs and competitions.  I guess next time I’m going to warm up my arm with some simple stretches and light throws.

Besides coming to the conclusion that disc golf is a real sport that requires physical exertion and preparation, I also met that force of nature so affectingly referred to as the wind.  With that in mind, let’s talk about hole 2.  The throw is moderately slopped downward.  There are trees to the right for a bit, then it opens up on both sides to a peninsula shape with very steep drop offs on both sides and a drop off 30 feet behind the basket.   Two bushy trees are guarding the basket itself from your view.  The wind is coming hard from your right.  How would you throw your disc?  I hope not like me.  Remember that I’m left handed.  I threw my standard overhand which upon release curved out to the left, then back toward the basket.  Suddenly my disc was lifted into the air as in it were a puppet in strings!  It soared over the basked altogether, over the drop off and into some rocks at the bottom of the drop off.  My second throw was straight up from the drop off.  As soon as it was touched by the sun as it cleared the ridge the wind grabbed it slammed it into a tree.  It took me another two throws for hole 2.  Nice.  A boogie.  That was about how my whole night went.

By the end, there were two guys who were even less lucky than me.  I placed 9th overall out of the eleven guys playing.  I was as satisfied as a peach on a sunny day.  I wasn’t last, and I have PLENTY of room to improve.

The next time you go for a round in the wind, aim low and don’t let those gusts twist your arm, unless you are trying to stretch and loosen up that is!

Until next time,

Play disc. Eat bacon.

Episode 1: Beginner’s Luck and my New Pet Squirrel

Episode 1: Beginner’s Luck and my New Pet Squirrel

 

In high school I played a lot of ultimate Frisbee with my buddies from the track team.  Anyone who has mad the ultimate-disc golf transition knows what I am going through right now.  Throwing an ultimate disc is like driving a big powerful truck that has a wide turning radius.  Going from a truck to a touchy performance car like a BMW or Mini Cooper (a disc golf Frisbee) is an exhilarating change of pace, but can be difficult in the beginning.  Both have their place in the garage, but they are driven very differently.  

 I showed up at the course in Providence Utah where I met four other friends, all of which are avid disc golfers.  This particular course, which I’d never played before, is very hilly and covered with large pine and willow trees.  It’s situated above a gravel pit between a park and a residential area on the foothills of the Bear River Mountains.   The very first hole was a par 3.  It was pretty much a straight shot to the basket, except for two oversized bushes in front of the basket.  I watched as the others threw out to the right and curve their discs back to the left around the bushes without going too far and hitting any trees.   I tried to do the same thing on the left side (since I’m left handed) but my disc landed square in the middle of the two bushes.  Somehow I was able to toss my disc about 15 feet through a narrow gap between the bushes for a birdie!  The other guys all hit par with 3 tosses a piece.  I was feeling pretty good. 

The disc I used was a neon yellow Platinum Flying Squirrel, by ABC Discs. It looks like this.  My friend Allan had given me a couple of his discs to try for the day.  I instantly fell in love with this one.  Alan told me it was under-stable.  An over-stable disc follows the direction of release.  An under-stable disc still follows the direction of release, but is more conservative in its path.  I guess you could say it flies straighter.  An ultimate disc is under-stable.

As our game progressed the other guys showed me up.  They knew each whole and where the baskets were.  I would watch them throw and listen to them say: “Oh, oh, oh…nice!  Good work!” I just looked forward and saw only trees.  How did they know if that was a good throw?  Sure enough, we’d walk toward the discs and there would be a Frisbee sitting 10 feet from the basket tucked around a corner hidden by branches and across a dried up stream.  These guys just knew where to throw from previous experience.  

The next disc I tried was the Discraft Predator ESP, a very over stable disc.  It only took me one throw to realize that it’s a completely different animal from the squirrel.  Upon release it soared straight and then bend right and followed that path down a hill, over the river, through the woods and to grandma’s house.  I’m glad the Predator is bright orange, otherwise I way have never found it!   Its course basically followed a “Post” football route: fly straight toward the goal and cut to the corner.  I put that disc away for another day when I will have time to learn how to handle it.

For the rest of the game I used that yellow squirrel.  It flew like a more streamline ultimate disc and felt fantastic in my hands.  I’d recommend it for any beginner.

I’m excited to learn more about how over and under-stable discs fly and when to use them. 

Until next time,

Play disc.  Eat bacon.

That Ain’t Your Basket Easter Bunny!

Do you remember the first time you threw a disc?  You saw that funky chain Easter Basket across the way and thought: I’m bigger, better and badder than the Easter Bunny.  This will be a piece of carrot cake!!  The next thing you know you’re up there in front of your friends about to throw feeling as awkward as you did the moment you asked that 6 foot tall girl out when you were in Jr. High.  You pull back and release.  Your disc flies straight for the basket when suddenly it gets intercepted by a big oak tree.  “That wasn’t there before,” You say to yourself.  “Maybe there is more to this than I thought..”

If you can relate to this story than you can relate to me.  My name is Matt Vance.   I’m a mostly normal guy.  My dad is Canadian and my mom is from Arkansas.  I guess that makes me a Red Neck Canadian.   I played ultimate Frisbee in high school and ran track and cross-country.  Currently I am a college student in Northern Utah.  I love my wife’s homemade rolls and bacon. 

The purpose of this blog is to document a beginner (me) learning the disc golf game and culture.  The more important purpose of this blog is to get beginners and experienced players together to share your thoughts, feelings, and bacon (if you’re feeling extra generous) with the rest of us.  I invite you to join me on this crazy journey as I dive head first into the world of disc golf.

Check back in soon.  I’ll be sharing Episode 1: Beginners Luck and My New Pet Squirrel.

Until then, Play disc. Eat bacon.