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Confessions of a Retirement Traveling Disc Golfer
Retirement for some means moving to a year-round location that caters to hitting a white round ball for fun and enjoyment playing, as some in the disc golf community call it, “ball golf.” I took traditional ball golf lessons when I worked for a bank and I enjoyed playing on country club courses with clients. I know people who love ball golf and have made the move to be able to play year around, and they are quite happy doing it.
For me, disc golf is a happy sideline to the other things I am doing while retired. Finding courses on my travels is good enough. I find it enjoyable to get out on a walk and throw a disc for a few hours. I do not have to live on or near a course or join a prestigious club to play disc golf. The entry fee at most courses is free; the discs cost about $25 or, when purchased used, even less. My joy comes from playing with my friends and family, as well as finding new courses to play.
Last year I wrote about sampling some of the best courses for disc golf in the world. I have been playing disc golf off and on for years. On a road trip about 20 years ago, a co-worker suggested we play a course near the DFW airport as we finished up and had several hours prior to our flight. I still have the disc I purchased that day and used for the entire round. I have been looking for courses to play ever since.
I am not a professional player, or even very good. I enjoy smaller, “easier” courses to the high-power technical courses. I had the opportunity to play over 100 times in 2022, here are my highlights:
- My first Ace, a one throw into the basket from the tee pad in North Carolina at the Haywood Community College Disc Golf Course.
- I played rounds in Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Mississippi, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Arkansas, Kansas, New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Missouri.
- Played rounds in every month in 2022, and my longest streak of rounds was unexpected, playing the first eleven days of November due to the beautiful weather.
- Played a glow in the dark tournament at my “home” disc golf course.
- Played rounds with all of my family (okay—not the 18-month-old) and friends. As a special treat for me, I also played with my new son-in-law as well as his groomsmen prior to the wedding.
I use the UDisc app on my phone to keep track of the score, as well as to track the location of the next pin when I am playing on a new course. My best round was at the Haywood Community College Course and Briar Creek Park with a score of one under par for 9 holes. My worst round was at Idlewild DGC, a 31 over par for 24 holes.
Disc Golfing in Kentucky:
I live near one of the top disc golf courses in the world, Idlewild DGC, and rarely play it due to its difficulty for my (lack of) ability. My “home” course, the one with the most rounds recorded, is Boone Woods, a friendly mid-level course with some technical shots. Since I cannot throw more than 200 feet (225 downhill!) the course is a good challenge for me.
I have now convinced two of my bike riding buddies to join me in playing disc golf. More time on the course has improved all of our results, and we get time together learning, practicing and playing rounds.
This year in October my disc golfing buddies and I played in the 2022 Disc ‘n Dat Day Glow event. We had a lot of fun. I had never played “glow” disc golf before. We played a random draw tournament, meaning, I was paired with a good player, or he was paired with me…
The night “glow” round was better than I could have hoped for. I purchased a glow in the dark disc and we had stickers that glowed to place on the discs we owned. The flights of the discs in the dark were cool to view and, in some ways, the glowing discs were easier to find. My team (my partner) ended the night way under par; “we” ended up in third place overall. We all had fun at the event and may do this event again next year.
I have played a few other Kentucky courses, including Lincoln Ridge Park which is one of the Northern Kentucky favorite courses (currently ranked #4 course in the state). As I was planning on driving past the Wendell Moore Disc Golf Course in La Grange, KY ranked #5 in the state, I stopped and played.
Disc Golfing at E-Town was a good find at the Freeman Lake DGC. We were able to play this course while waiting for our oldest to arrive in Kentucky prior to attending training at Fort Knox. The course has 3 challenging water holes that I do not like, as I do not like to lose discs. Overall, it is a good and challenging course. I managed to play this course a few times.
On the way back home from the Smoky Mountains, we stopped at Briar Creek Park and played a round of disc golf. This is a short course, perfect for a short thrower like me. This course was a good spot for a picnic as well as stretching the legs after driving for a while.
Disc Golfing in North Carolina
One of my typical ideas on a road trip is to take a break from driving by taking a walk. What better than to take that walking break and combine it with disc golf? We needed a break while driving from Kentucky to North Carolina; I found the Haywood Community College Disc Golf course near the North Carolina border with Tennessee. This is the course that I threw my first Ace (or “hole in one”). Everyone who plays disc golf wants to get an ace.
It was good to have a witness to vouch for me that I did throw an ace shot on this round. My wife will confirm my ace shot, and I am so happy to have had her there to share in the moment. We could not see the basket from the tee pad, but we did hear the metal clang as the disc landed (we hoped) in the basket.
Eager Beaver at Elon Park is a course in Charlotte. I used this venue to play disc golf with the groomsmen and the groom prior to the wedding.
Disc Golfing in Tennessee
What do you want to do for your birthday? How about a round of disc golf in Tennessee. We played the Cedar Hill Park DGC outside of Nashville on our way to our niece’s wedding.
Winds of Westover—I played this course in Jackson, TN, on the road between Memphis and the Andrew Jackson home, the Hermitage. It is a fun course, but unfortunately it did not have cement tee pads. Dirt works, as it was dry. The layout was tricky for a guy new to the course; I made a few mistakes and had to go back and start again for the correct basket. The map was good but I failed to consult the map as I should have.
Disc Golfing in Mississippi
Our niece got married near Ole Miss. We had fun exploring the area. And we played some disc golf since we were in Oxford. The first course we played, The Ole Miss Rebel DGC, has a strange layout; it was hard for us to find the start of the course. We did find the course from where we parked and were, unfortunately, near the halfway point; we eventually found the first tee box way across the field.
After playing a technical course on our first day, we switched to the family friendly 9-hole course that we played twice, the oldest or first disc golf course in Mississippi, T.E. Avent Park. My sister and brother-in law as well as one of our kids joined us to play. Mr. Joe, as we like to call our brother-in-law, had fun playing some of the holes. Disc golf is a friendly game and all are welcome to play.
Disc Golfing in Arkansas
I have played courses in Arkansas. On the road to see my mom, I stopped to play Cline Park, Clarksville, AR. The course has a lot of water. I should not have played right after it rained nearby. I did find all of my discs, although I had to rescue one from the water.
Disc Golfing in Gorgia Gascoigne Bluff DGC was a fun excursion on our bike ride travels in the Golden Isles. The Bluff is a historically significant spot and we enjoyed playing under the live oak trees.
Forrest Hills DGC Savannah was a short, 9-hole course we played in-between rain storms. We had timed the play well and did not get wet while playing.
Disc Golfing in Illinois
I played The Oaks DGC in Mokena, Illinois, the #5 course in the state and the closest one to the Big Ten 10k location. This was a well-designed course. My oldest and I only played the first 18 holes. It has more. It was interesting hearing some of the players on the course discussing the Idlewild Open Disc Golf Tournament going on while we were playing in Illinois, having driven by that course on our way out of town.
Disc Golfing in Missouri
On the way back from visiting my mom, I stopped in Springfield and played the Oak Grove Park 9-hole course. I ended up playing this course twice as it did not take too much time to play once.
Disc Golfing in Indiana
I really liked the course in Ferdinand (18th Street Park). It was just off highway 64, on my route home and was a fun, hilly 9-hole course. It was easy to find my way around this course, on exit 63.
Disc Golfing in Massachusetts
I did play Maple Hill, the number one world course, again in 2022. It is such a super course and even the easy (red) layout is challenging as well fun to play. I also played at Borderland State Park, a technical course, using the state park discs to play after we had spent a morning running.
Disc Golfing in Rhode Island
My two oldest joined me for a fun day at Slater Park playing disc golf.
Disc Golfing in New York
We stopped to stretch our legs in Chittenango, New York, and play disc golf in Sullivan Park. This was a good course. We did get confused on the layout, which I am sure is easy to do for us out of town disc golfers.
Disc Golfing in Kansas
I stopped on our recent travels from Colorado for a break to play a round of disc golf at Rice Park in Topeka, KS. I do not think the locals at the senior center know that a disc golf course is nearby based on the reactions I got when asking where the start of the course was located. It was a good course to play in the middle of a road trip.
I am following the advice of the pros and taking note of several YouTube videos to improve my play. I am currently following Scott Stokely on YouTube and have learned a lot by the way he is able to explain several simple concepts.
I enjoy looking at the rankings of the top courses by state and have played some of these courses. I have also enjoyed finding shorter, 9-hole courses, and will look for more of them as I travel in 2023.
The benefit of playing in public parks is that a lot of disc golf is free. Sometimes the holes or the courses are closed due to tournaments and other events going on in the park. You have to take the good and the bad.
In 2022, I was able to enjoy a round or two with all of my kids. This is something special for us retired guys!
Having convinced one of my friends to play, we were able to team up on another friend and now the three of us play frequently. It is great to have others share in the experience, and of course we can witness great shots being made.
No bike rides; this is disc golf.
Visiting—Andrew Jackson’s Home–The Hermitage
We noticed the signs for the Andrew Jackson home on our way to and from our niece’s wedding. We did not have the time on that trip to explore, so I planned this trip as a result. One of the many joys of retirement is being able to pick up and visit fun places.
I enjoy reading history. A long time ago I read the Andrew Jackson biography. Earlier this year, on our way through Nashville, I noticed the Hermitage, Andrew Jackson’s home. Being retired, I planned a trip to visit the home for the seventh president of the United States. As a bonus, I listened to the audio book recording of Andrew Jackson and The Miracle of New Orleans, read by the author. This is a really good book and one to get you into the mood when visiting the house. Several of the museum artifacts are about topics covered in this book. One of the fun facts that I learned on the tour was that the Hermitage is the second oldest presidential museum outside of Mt. Vernon, in part because the Jackson’s adopted son went bankrupt about 11 years after Andrew Jackson’s death.
I took the Mansion tour; it was really well done. No pictures in the house were allowed, but you can see a glimpse of the inside on the YouTube video on the Hermitage website. The place was interesting. I think a tour on a day other than a Saturday would be at a more leisurely pace. It was good to see the guides in costume. They were all knowledgeable and well spoken.
Nearby the Hermitage is Stones River, the Civil War battlefield site at Murfreesboro, Tennessee. I did a quick visit here, although spending more time is on the agenda for a future visit. The battle at Stones River follows the battle in Kentucky at Perryville, a site that I visited in 2019 with my friends. As anticipated, the battlefield was too much to see or take in on one afternoon.
I purchased my ticket on-line prior to my visit. This was good as several of the tours were sold out when I arrived. Also, in purchasing the ticket I realized the Hermitage is on Central Time and I am on Eastern Time.
I had the routes for my travel all mapped out and did not anticipate any possibility of rain. I should have thought about the possibility of rain. It did start to rain in Murfreesboro, but not too much. I think a better plan in the future is to check the weather forecast prior to booking or planning an outdoor event that is only about 4 hours away. No harm, as I can be flexible in my plans and I do not melt in the rain.
I did not take the direct route back home. I was able to plan the round trip back home through Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois and Indiana.
On my drive, I found a fun place to visit in the future, on my way to locate a disc golf course in Jackson, Tennessee. A surprisingly large number of people (to me, who had not heard about this spot) were gathered at the Casey Jones Museum. I think I will need to stop in the future and tour the museum, house and the rail cars.
I got out of the car to stretch my legs and play at least 9 holes of disc golf in Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri and Indiana.
I have seen a lot of corn from the highway over years. Until this trip, I had not seen cotton on the side of the road ready for the harvest or just harvested. The fields were pretty, all white and wavy. The big machinery ready to pick the cotton was in several fields along the highway; in some, I saw the tractors in action. I took a picture of a cotton field near Memphis, and it looks like it was doing just fine and ready for the harvesting machines.
One of the tidbits I picked up from the Hermitage tour was that Andrew Jackson tried to grow cotton. Apparently, Nashville is at the far northern edge of the country that can support growing cotton. He did not do well growing cotton, although some small area of cotton growing is on display at the Hermitage.
All along my route I saw pretty colors. October is a fun time of year to drive. The fall colors were nice to see, although some trees had already lost their leaves and others had yet to turn colors.
On my travels, I like to visit family and friends. On this road trip, I was able to visit with my mom and check out her new apartment. I also saw my younger sister, my in-laws and some friends along the way.
No bike rides on this trip as it was short. The National Park Service does encourage bike riders visiting the National Military Parks and Battlefields. I will have to think about that for my next visit.
Golden Isles of Georgia
As a kid I went to summer camps. I think a bike tour is a lot like summer camp for adults. Fun and adventure in a new place with new experiences and new friends along the way.
I am not sure I knew that Georgia had islands. Not that I had really thought about Georgia and islands prior to this bike trip. I did know that Georgia has a coast line on the Atlantic. Now I know that Georgia has “barrier islands” on that coast line and some of them are called the Golden Isles. We discovered that the Golden Isles are almost due south of Buffalo, NY. I did not realize, before my visit, just how far inland the Georgia coast is located.
We took the Golden Isles of Georgia Charleston Bicycle tour this year. It is fun to let someone else do all the planning and just go along for the ride. This is our third tour with the Charleston Bicycle group and we really appreciate their first-rate rides, hospitality and dining selections.
Our travels started in Savanah; we drove south from there onto St. Simons Island where we stayed at a “base camp” (hotel) the rest of the week. We rode around all of the beautiful barrier islands—St. Simons Island, Sea Island, and Jekyll Island. We were enchanted seeing the stretches of marshland that create the appearance of a continuous stretch of land.
St. Simons Island, GA St. Simons is the largest island; we devoted two days to exploring this isle on our bicycles, including seeing the Bloody Marsh Battle Site, where, in July 1742, British and Scottish soldiers protecting colonial Georgia defeated a larger Spanish force in a battle that helped end Spanish incursions outside Florida.
We were struck with the beauty of the tree lined entryway into The Inn at Sea Island. We had a good time exploring the hotel and grounds as well as biking around and exploring St. Simons Island.
Since I had not heard of the islands prior to the trip, I did not remember a battle from 1742 or the National Park Service Fort Frederica National Monument, which preserves archeological remnants of a British colony and its defense against Spain. The purpose of the fort reminds me of cold war deterrence by strategically placing (weapons, missiles…forts) military installations away from population areas and near the perceived threat to protect possible invasion by that potential enemy. We enjoyed the tour and were happy to be inside during a rainstorm. The bicycle tour was timed just right for an inside visit of the fort, and then the rain passed for an outside tour and ride back to our hotel.
On St. Simons Island, we played disc golf at Gascoigne Bluff. This was not part of the official tour. We played well on the course as liked learning the history of the area. The bluff was one of the first possible landing areas for a ship entering the harbor in Georgia. Gascoigne Bluff was the headquarters for a military invasion (if you were paying attention in July 1742), a Sea Island cotton plantation, the site of a lumber mill and a shipping point for timber. We played under a forest of live oak trees. It is interesting to think that live oak timbers from this area were used to build “Old Ironsides,” the U.S.S. Constitution.
Home to the formerly wealthy and famous group of 50 or so industrialists, this island is now owned by the state of Georgia.
We had a good time circling the island on a paved path. One of the highlights for us was seeing Driftwood Beach on the north end of the island.
After the ride around the island, we stopped at the museum and enjoyed reading about the history of all that we had seen on the ride.
We were delighted to ride our bikes from the hotel on St. Simons Island onto Sea Island. We rode across the causeway to the island. I always think that you have to go across a “big body” of water to have an island. However, that is not the case. I found out that many of the Golden Isles are close to each other and only separated by small inlets and rivers.
As we were biking along on Sea Island, our tour stopped to gawk at the island’s biggest home, called Entelechy II, which was undergoing some renovation. The home is not opened to the public; we just stopped by to look and wonder at this interesting house on this exclusive island.
We rode to the end of the island and then onto the sand beach.
From the beach we went on a tour of the Cloister hotel. This hotel once hosted the G-8 summit, and the hotel and grounds were very impressive.
After riding around the island, we took advantage of the Sea Island club and enjoyed swimming and walking along the beach. We made it down the beach far enough to see the back of the Entelechy II. This was the perfect spot to break up a day of bike riding. Lunch on the grounds was delicious.
Another island bike tour: We took a short boat ride as part of the tour to Sapalo Island, GA. This island was really different from the other islands. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources manages the island and runs the ferry service. Imagine having to take all of your groceries to your home on a ferry. A small population lives on the island full time; the lighthouse, R.J. Reynolds mansion and the Georgia research facility are the main areas on the island. Georgia research facility are the main areas on this mostly undeveloped island.
We arrived on the island and found the bikes we would be using for the day. Our bike trip on this island was on asphalt, sand and gravel roads. It was a good ride for the bikes that were provided as a part of the tour, as our road bikes would not have worked too well.
We managed to see a small portion of the island on the tour and were taken by the beauty of the island, largely unspoiled by development.
We did manage to see a few alligators; fortunately, we left each other alone.
We had lunch at the lighthouse grounds and enjoyed the view from the top of the lighthouse.
We finished our tour with a stroll through the R.J. Reynolds mansion. We really liked the circus room and all of the modern devices in the mansion. It was similar (although much smaller) to the Biltmore with the bowling ally in the basement.
Running on St. Simon’s Island and seeing some of the wildlife.
Walking near Columbia, SC. On our way to Savannah, we spent the night near Columbia, SC. On our evening walk we saw some turtles swimming. A Fun sight. We tried to go to the Harbison State Forest and ended up walking on the Harbison Place walking trail. Maybe next time we will go all the way to the State Forest.
Walking and running in historic downtown Savanah.
Dinning with the tour group. We ate at several fancy restaurants as a part of the tour. We dinned in our bike clothes as well as dressing up on the last night out with our group. We shared several meals together as well as a bottle of Kentucky bourbon. Some of our favorite restaurants were Halyards and Delaney’s Bistro and Bar where I had buffalo and others had elk and duck. We enjoyed spending days biking and dining out with our new group of friends.
Walking around St Simons Island (over 10 miles on our own) and finding fun places to shop and dine out.
On our own, we found places we enjoyed (we did not have a bad meal the whole time). The Golden Isles have several great restaurants and shopping areas. We like to have ice cream when biking or after biking…well you get the picture. We indulged our need for ice cream at both the Moo Cow Ice Cream shop and Certified Burgers and Beverages on St. Simons Island. We liked the shakes at Certified and my wife raved about the “Dixie,” a grilled pimento cheese and bacon sandwich, as well as the tots. Some in our group made fun of us for having dessert first on a few occasions. I am sure they were just jealous that they had missed the opportunity.
We biked about 100 miles in the five day biking adventure. We had a fun tour with each day being a good combination of riding, sightseeing and delicious meals.
See you on the road on our next adventure.