The trials and trails of disc golf

So far this spring my nemesis is a 3-foot wooden post topped by three coffee cans.

Like any codependent relationship, my interaction with the disc golf pins on Ashland's Frog Creek Disc Golf Course is a finely balanced give-and-take between love and hate.

They beat me because they love me.

I came to disc golf rather late in life, as in after graduating from college, a time when it is wise to put away childish things and train your focus on getting on with your career, marriage, first mortgage, etc.

In hindsight, my decision to decline the Real World to pursue avocations such as disc golf has proven prescient in the months since financial Armageddon struck our country. Ah, to not be saddled with a house I can't afford filled with children I can't feed.

Look who's laughing now. Suckers.

What is disc golf? According to the Professional Disc Golf Association, "The object of the game is to traverse a course from beginning to end in the fewest number of throws of the disc."

Easy enough, eh?

Mr. Wikipedia chimes in with, "Disc golf is inexpensive and is physically accessible for all ages and athletic ranges and therefore attracts a diverse range of players. A great majority of established disc golf courses are free."

Read: Stoned and lazy hippies welcome.

The Frog Creek course is tucked away in the scenic hills above Ashland. Take Dead Indian Memorial Road to Shale City Road and start looking for orange ribbons tied to trees along the road. The first tee sits just beyond a pond about three miles up Shale City Road.

It's best to go with someone who knows the course for your first couple of rounds. It winds through several miles of woods and a few steep trails.

Sounds daunting, but it's worth it.

Frog Creek is perhaps the best course I've played, and I've rocked a few in my day.

From the first tee's narrow chute through a grove of trees to the long march up to the 10th hole, you know you're in for a fight.

Most courses come with metal targets that measure just over 2 feet in diameter and are anchored by a 6-inch-deep basket.

Frog Creek laughs at such luxuries. Here, you let fly at wooden posts sleeved with three coffee cans that have been taped together.

The margin for error is slim. An errant putt can leave you 15 feet beyond the pin. It doesn't pay to be aggressive, because any stroke you pick up will stick with you until the end. Birdies are rare, eagles are damn near impossible.

The course leaves the best player questioning his sanity by the 13th hole.

Sure, you could play more polished courses in Grants Pass (which are great), but the brutal charms of Frog Creek force you to be a better player in nature's cathedral.

I'm probably going to catch hell by some who play the course regularly because they want to keep this gem to themselves.

Tough.

Things this special should be shared. That's the beauty of public land. If you think you're somehow entitled to play Frog Creek as your personal course and the public be damned, then you're really no different than the hyper-individualist banking and Wall Street vampires you criticize between bong rips, are you?

The only thing I ask is that you do your best to pick up your beer cans and cigarette packs. Lately, I've been seeing an unacceptable amount of litter along the fairways.

There's no better way to spend a Sunday afternoon than chucking an Innova Valkyrie distance driver around the course, embarrassing yourself in front of your friends.

Even a bad day at Frog Creek is not without rewards.

The trek between the 11th and 12th holes on a bright, clear day opens one to a view of Mount Shasta that almost makes you forget about the three-putt you left to rot on the field of play.

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 776-4471; or e-mail cconrad@mailtribune.com.

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