Summer = Road Trip!!!!!
Summertime is here, and the warm weather, long daylight hours and vacation accruals of summer bring out that most treasured of beasts: the summer disc golf road trip. What’s that you say? You’ve never done a disc golf road trip? Are you mad? What have you been doing with your life? Don’t you know there’s no better way to burn daylight, gasoline, cash, skin and girlfriend/wife nerves than a disc golf road trip? Well, let me tell you all about it.
As far as I’m concerned, disc golf is the perfect road trip sport. There is no sport more suited for road-tripping than the one where you toss the plastic discs into those barbecue-grill-looking thingees. Now, I’ve heard some great stories about guys traveling the country touring major league baseball ballparks. Sounds fun, but it’s too sedentary. And camping trips are great, but how many different campgrounds do you want to go to on one trip – pitching and unpitching the tent each time? Hunting trips are great, but not everyone involved in the hunting trip ends up having fun (remember Bambi?). Nope, disc golf provides the greatest combination of exercise, sight-seeing, challenge, friend-making and story-creation of any sport out there.
There’s been a buzz on the InterWeb lately about road trips that are going down. If you watch the local Facebook chatter, you’ll see that there have been lots of locals from North County, the Morley Locos, 9@9-ers and Murrieta Rattlers heading out on day trips and overnighters to Wrightwood, Oak Grove, LaMa, HB, Verdugo and Casitas. Mucho linguistico about how many courses, holes, rounds they can cram in in a day or two.
And then there’s the uber-dedicated. No sooner had Cal State San Marcos held its graduation then did we hear about new graduate Max Nichols and someday graduate (fingers crossed) A.J. Risley embarking on a 3+ week odyssey. After stops to play golf in Flagstaff, Albuquerque and Sipapu, NM, the guys made it to Kansas City to play in the 30th Annual Kansas City Wide Open. There they met up with Max’s Kinetic Disc Golf teammate Philo Braithwaite, and Legacy Disc guys Steve Rico and Ben Farris. Five courses in 3 days makes for a grueling tournament, but both Max and A.J. cashed – Max took 29th in Open and A.J. took 4th place in MA1 (Men’s Advanced).
Leg 2 of the trip had A.J., Max, Philo and former San Diegan Brandon Langston driving to Michigan, where A.J. and Brandon are now playing in the U.S. Amateur Disc Golf Championship. They’re joined there by S.D. Aces Daniel Lichtman, Josh Damron, Garrett Tapken and Dale Chambless. Max and Philo hopped on a plane to Colorado, where they’ll rendevous with T.J. Cruz and Courtney McSherry of Team Kinetic at the High Plains Challenge in Fort Morgan.
And what about next week? Well, that’s the Beaver State Fling near Portland Oregon. A.J., Max, Philo, Brandon, T.J. and Courtney will make a speedy drive across the Great Plains to try to get to Milo McIver with enough time left for a practice round. That’s where I join the magical mystery tour after driving up I-5 with my daughter (A.J.’s sister). And of course there will be more San Diego golfers joining us, including John and Cody Kirkland and Steve Mills. And then…the drive back home.
Now I’ve been taking disc golf road trips for over 30 years. In high school, my buddies and I traveled to out-of-town Frisbee tournaments before we were 18 (I still can’t believe we were able to rent motel rooms…). Once disc golf began to grow in the 80’s, I traveled to tournaments all over the southeast U.S. – Florida, Georgia, Alabama, the Carolinas, you name it. But in 1984 I went on a life-changing trip. Tom Monroe (PDGA #33) had just moved to Florida after running the 1983 World Disc Golf Championship, and he was looking for someone to split rooms and gas to go to the 1984 WDGC in Rochester, NY. We ended up making it a 3-week trip, driving first to Toronto to play in the Canadian Masters, and then back down to Rochester the next weekend for the WDGC where Tom finished just a few strokes behind the winner, young Sammy Ferrans. It was a fantastic trip, but we didn’t get to play as much golf as we had wanted, because there was no way to find the courses. From that trip was born the PDGA Course Directory, but that’s a story for another day.
Nowadays, however we have all sorts of resources for finding courses on our road trips. The online Course Directory at PDGA.com is fantastic, and is now available in a mobile form with the PDGA iPhone app. And the course listing at dgcoursereview.com is probably the most info-packed, with course listings, pictures, maps, and reviews of the courses. DGCR also has a road trip tool that allows you to enter a starting point and ending point and it finds the courses along the way. I can’t tell you how much time that saves! And so much of this has changed very quickly. When my son and I embarked on our first big road trip in 2004, we had wrinkled maps and a dog-eared copy of the PDGA directory as our tools. For our 2007 trip to Am Worlds in Milwaukee we graduated to a laptop running Microsoft Streets and Trips with locations of golf courses uploaded from a spreadsheet. When I hit the road on Sunday, I’ll have AAA maps and guidebooks, but I’ll really be relying on Waze on my Android phone, the PDGA Directory on my iPad, and the DGCR website running on both. As long as we make it to Portland before Wednesday and can find VooDoo Donuts, everything will be A-OK.
So, how about you? Ready to get off your butt and hit the road? We’ll see you out there!