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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.
Walking into the Past at Shaker Village
A fun get away for us, not involving a plane, train or even a bike, was a visit to Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, Kentucky.
Each day we walked along the main street from our East Family dwelling to the Trustees’ office. As we walked the former highway, we looked back at what life was like for the inhabitants at the time and what life is like now in the Shaker Village.
Each building was equal reflecting one of the primary values of the society that all, male and female, regardless of race, are equal with each other. All of the main buildings had two doors and sets of stairs for the separation of the sexes even though they were living in the same house. One side of the buildings were designated for the males and the other for the females. Both were under the same roof, equal and not together. Anything one had, the other did, down to the square feet of each room and the furnishings.
Our group of friends decided that the Shaker Village would be the place to gather and celebrate life.
One of our highlights was the Hard Cider Bash put on by the Village. It was a lively time in the old barn on the property. We enjoyed the band and the food. Some of the offerings were local dishes and most of the food was from the area. I had never heard of or seen Kentucky Burgoo prior to the bash. Many of my friends really enjoyed it. The hard cider was not all that great for my tastes. My friends did find several beverages they liked.
We walked the grounds of the village. When it was thriving, and the village was thriving at one time, it was hard work farming and keeping men and women apart all while making the village profitable. The grounds are very attractive; we enjoyed our hikes around the grounds.
Walking in the village we learned about how the Shakers lived and worked. It was a fascinating tour. Unfortunately for us, no crafts or displays were in operation due to Covid-19. We still had a great time exploring. I would like to have learned how they made the stone walls.
Our hike on the morning of the hard cider bash led us to the barn for our evening activity. We had fun walking with friends and taking a pleasant walking tour for several miles along the property.
We did manage to have good food and we got into the music on the lawn near the restaurant. We ate at the trustee’s Office. All of the settings were well done and the meals were locally sourced. The spiral staircase in the main dining area was really well done and an example of the skill their craftsmen employed.
We stayed at the East Family Dwelling. That building was over 200 years old and very well built. I liked the craftsmanship.
The Shakers were a group committed to their ideals and had several things going for them. They did not survive because their utopian society was an idea humans can never put into practice. All utopian societies have succumbed to similar fates as we are all human.
The Shakers were unable to adapt their strict belief system as society changed and opportunities for work grew. How different will we look 20 years from now looking back on the things we do, like wearing masks while walking on a main street and other odd Covid practices? No bike riding on this trip. We had plenty of hiking and exploring as well as learning some history.