“When I drove up the hill and I saw the discs flying in the air I got so excited my heart started pounding, it was like seeing a cute girl in college for the first time,”
said William Babishoff, an ex-pro disc golfer, now Southern Oregon University Student.
I tried my best to relate this statement as I was about to make my first attempt at disc golf, an experience that could only be made possible by the newly constructed course on the SOU Campus. Its debut tournament last Saturday attracted over 115 players from campus as well as the local community, according to Charles Mathias who spearheaded the project as part of his senior capstone. This made for tough competition.
Despite my lack of training and preparation, relying completely on muscle memory (long-term memory in this case), my self assurance was more prevalent than ever. Sure, I was a virgin to disc golf, but I’ve played real golf before. And by that I mean I’ve practiced my form quite a bit on the driving range. And by “form” I mean as close to Happy Gilmore’s “run it and gun it” approach as possible. So naturally I resorted to the same technique.
We teed off near the corner of Leonard Street and Madrone Street. From there the course continued downhill, towards Cox hall, encompassing three holes before crossing Indian Street.
Hole four. Standing in front of the Health and Wellness center we’ve caught up to our predecessors. The team we now waited on was a peculiar group made up of two old men, one sporting a gray ponytail, the other a bucket hat, and a women similar in age, dressed in a kilt. They represented only a few of the many characters encountered on my journey through the backwoods of the SOU campus on my quest for the disc golf championship.
Hole five brought us back across the street alongside Susan Holmes dorms. The tables have turned, as we are now impeding the progress of the team behind us, their skills slightly more advanced than my own. I step up to throw first as the men behind me were discussing their recent accomplishments in the disc golf world, a world I now realized I was so utterly disconnected from.
Of the group of veterans behind us was Kyle Smith, an Ashland native now living in Portland who shared his excitement of the course’s debut with his teammates as well as others involved in the Rogue Valley Disc Golf Club. Smith claimed he could throw a Frisbee 400 yards, a claim that was further validated as he put my first throw to shame. Not necessarily a hard task given that I hurdled my Frisbee out of bounds and directly into the adjacent dorm building.
When later asked for advice Smith simply told me to “never stop,” saying “it takes practice and knowledge and the will to learn,” of which I have lots of.
We advanced onto the last three holes, which led players far behind the Science Hall on a winding path along the hillside, cutting across the creek through the remains of blackberry bushes, then wrapping up with the last target placed near the Science Hall parking lot. When designing the course Mathias incorporated the use of natural obstacles, challenging everyone ranging from novice level to weathered golfers.
Despite totaling a score well above par, I walked away knowing I’d be back for redemption in the near future. To anyone who thinks they could beat my +21 score I encourage you to give the course a try.