(Editor’s note: Andrew Belet, a member of the U.S. Army stationed in South Korea, has joined Rattling Chains as a writer. He’ll be documenting his disc golf world in another part of the world. This is his first column.)
Hello all and welcome to my travelogues, as it relates to disc golf anyhow.
I’ve been playing disc golf for almost as long as I can remember. It was taught to me by my dad. When I was very young, he used to take me to the local course in Missoula, Montana, which was simply marked trees in the Rattlesnake Recreational Area.
In 1989 or 1990, I started playing by myself using only two discs — a Wham-O ’86 Softie for a putter and a Wham-O Heavyweight catch disc for everything else.
By the time I got to high Sshool and had the ability to buy my own equipment, I stocked up with an Archangel, a Tee-bird, a Puma, a couple of Rocs, a Discraft Shadow and three Aeros.
After high school, I enlisted in the military and this leads us to the present day.
In my line of work, you get used to leaving.
I’ve been away for training more times than I can count and have been deployed for nine months to a year four times before. For my fifth deployment, I’m going to Camp Casey in lovely South Korea.
Previous deployments have robbed me of playing disc golf, but luckily South Korea is seeing a boom in the sport and actually has more than ten courses in place, most of them 18 holes. This bodes well for me, and as South Korea is still in the infant stage of disc golf, I’m able to use my experience to help truly grow the sport.
But first, I have to say goodbye to Colorado in style.
My frequent playing partner, Geoff Law, and I saddled up May 5 in Denver and hit up two disc golf shops (Fly Green and Phenix Disc Sports), as well as playing a bunch of courses that Geoff had never played before.
Our first stop was Exposition Park, a lovely public park that is extremely popular. We met up with my good friend Matt Taylor and we all threw pretty well. I finished even, as did Matt, with Geoff finishing 1 over.
I bid farewell to Matt and we went to our next stop — Badlands and Blair Witch in Westminster, a suburb of Denver. This course is much more difficult, with huge elevation changes, a lot of water OB and the deceptively tricky Blair Witch 9-hole addition. To say the course worked us over would be putting it gently, though I finished even on Blair Witch thanks to two spectacular birdies.
I was 5 over at Badlands and Geoff ended at 8 over. We then got some lunch and hit up Phenix (right down the street from Badlands) and I walked away with a few choice discs to take with me to Korea.
Our last stop in the Denver area was a quaint nine-hole pole course known as Globeville Landing. Luck was with us as we met up with some locals who knew the layout and we proceeded to have a great round. I finished 2 under and Geoff finished even. We headed for home, narrowly missing rush hour, for our final round of this marathon of disc golf, at our local course, Cumberland Green in Fountain, Colorado. By far it was our best round of the day, as I went 5 down with an ace and Geoff finished at a very respectable 2 under.
Tired as I was from the day’s activities, I still had much to do — namely to pack all my stuff! For any military move, we are allowed to ship a certain amount of personal items at government expense. I packed up my dress uniform, some sets of clothes that I wouldn’t need immediately, my portable Innova Skillshot and a whole trunk full of discs.
As a tester and reviewer for InfiniteDiscs, I’m able to acquire all the new hot discs, and I made sure to pack them to share with my friends I’m sure I will be making in South Korea. The shipping company gave me an odd look as the paperwork was filled out, but in short order, my basket and all my spares were on the way across the pond.
My final task was to figure out how to get my bag, with discs, on the flight with me.
We are allowed two military duffel bags and a carry-on for the flight. My carry-on had to have my personal hygiene gear, a spare uniform and my laptop in it, so that was out. My only recourse was to attempt to cram my Physical Flight Contender Bag with all my discs in it into one of the duffel bags.
It was a tight squeeze, but I got it. I made sure to pack nice soft clothes around it so as not to damage my precious discs. Satisfied, I put the duffel bags by the door, ready to go.
And so I go, to the next adventure!
Andrew Belet has been playing disc golf for more than 20 years. He’s currently serving with the U.S. Army in South Korea. A published author and poet, you can see his works on Amazon. He can be e-mailed at email@example.com.