You still might end up in the water, but in this game you’re tossing a disc toward a basket rather than trying to hit that little white ball.
BRING DISC, play golf. Seemed simple enough. I soon learned it was more like bring multiple discs, play disc golf.
A reader suggested I try disc golf. I did a little research and learned I needed discs — a lot of them.
Thank goodness for Keith Lionetti, who oversees the course at Lakewood Disc Golf Course in Seattle and owns an on-site shop where you can rent or buy new discs from a sea of neon plastic.
Keith showed me the three basic discs — a driver, a midrange and a putter. He explained disc ratings, which I didn’t understand, and showed me how to tee off. The technique requires you to twist in a way similar to a golf drive or a baseball swing. Got it, I think.
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I enlisted my trusty fitness friends, Natalie and Olivia, and, armed with three discs each, we hit the course.
I tried to explain the discs, although I can’t say I did it well. We started at the first basket, or hole, of Lakewood’s 20-basket course. The holes are all par-3, although Lionetti recommended we start closer to the first basket so we didn’t have to throw over a small pond and potentially lose a disc.
We took his advice, and I am glad we did; we had a rough start with our drivers and midrange discs.
The discs often didn’t go where we intended, which was fine at first, once we got past the pond, but tough on the third hole, which featured trees, thorny bushes and a basket hidden behind a curve.
Watching other players helped. I liked doing a skipping windup off the cement where we teed off. The only problem: My disc always curved to the left. All three of us lost our drivers in bushes or trees; blood was drawn retrieving discs.
We got better, adjusting by throwing to the right, and eventually throwing farther, and occasionally more accurately. I had at least a couple of pars.
I was unsure whether I was using the discs as intended. I asked one player when to use my midrange disc instead of my driver. He shrugged and said to use whichever disc I was most comfortable with. None of the above?
By the fourth hole, the pond reappeared. We threw tentatively, worried about the water. Luckily, no discs were lost.
The holes got harder, with baskets tucked away behind trees or up hills. We started to get a workout, trying to keep our momentum going when retrieving discs, throwing uphill and fishing discs out of more bushes.
Lionetti told us the whole course takes about an hour to 90 minutes for experienced players. About 90 minutes in, on our ninth basket, we decided to play just 10.
And the 10th was a doozy — we had to throw along a slope on the side of a hill. I threw my driver into more thorns, and my discs rolled down the hill. I was relieved to skip the rest of the hilly section.
Like golf, disc golf can be played at a slow pace, walking leisurely around the course, or you can play at a faster speed. Maybe it was the thorns, or perhaps it was the guys playing ahead of us, but we didn’t do any sprinting.
We walked plenty, however, and kept testing our skills. Olivia had brought an Ultimate disc, and had more success there.
But mostly, it was fun to hang out with friends and find out more about a new sport. I’ll play again, if someone provides the discs.