Good friends and good beer make for a great disc golf day trip

Disc golf is a fringe sport. I make no bones about that, and I understand it isn’t for everyone.

That being said, I am always looking to get more people to try out the game. I figure that, since it is relatively inexpensive and I have had such a good time playing, others might get hooked as easily.

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So when I was able to swindle seven of my friends — most of whom had never played — into driving an hour and 20 minutes from home to play a course, I thought I had hit the jackpot.

Thinking back on it, I suppose the beer probably helped, too.

You see, the 80-minute trek wasn’t just for any old course. It landed us at Anderson Valley Brewing Company in Boonville, Calif. Home to its own valley language and delicious craft brews like Hop Ottin’ IPA and Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout, the facility also boasts an 18-hole disc golf course.

In short, this place is my own personal Mecca. The fact that I suckered my buddies into coming, though, was a total bonus.

It all started with some innocent emails. My friend Shane Andersen was coming back into the states for some R&R after working in the Middle East for a few months, and he was hoping everyone might be able to get together in our hometown in Northern California.

Since I had been wanting an excuse to head to Anderson Valley, I casually threw out the idea of heading up for the day, playing a round of golf, and imbibing a bit — emphasis on imbibing. Expecting to be roundly rejected, I didn’t get my hopes up too high, knowing that I could always go shoot a round at the local course with my dad and still do plenty of drinking of craft beers without the big trip.

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Casual golf’s competitive summit: an epic and friendly grudge match

I rarely dedicate an entire post to a first-person account of a disc golf round, but on rare occasions I feel it makes for good enough reading and I break my own rule.

This round is at DeLaveaga in Santa Cruz, California, and I’ve included links to hole descriptions so you can better visualize the situations.

jackFirst, let me give you some background. My friend Alan and I have played together since the late 1990s. We used to gamble small wagers. In the early days, he was an established — he won the Faultline Classic/California State Championship in DeLaveaga in 1994 — and I was playing Am1 and still learning.

More often than not, he hustled me. But I paid attention and, eventually, my improving game and injuries on his part swung things in my favor. I’ve had the advantage for the past eight years or so, but Alan has really cranked his game up in the past few months. We’re pretty even now. I’m sure most readers would agree that it’s more fun if your more evenly matches with a playing partner.

We attempt to play when the courses aren’t too crowded. This time, however, a 2 p.m. Saturday round was the only time that worked for both of us. We’re not used to being on the course at such a peak time and it was like a party spread out over 80 acres. For us, that’s not a goof thing on a golf course.

Discs were flying everywhere and voices continually cascaded up and down the ravines. It was wild. Crazy wild. The wind was crazy, too. It was pretty gusty, but the challenging aspect was that it kept changing direction. You’d factor the headwind into a certain shot and then it would change to a tailwind.

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