Ravens get me golfing again … with a twist

March 3, 2013 

The first couple of times I saw a disc golf course, I wondered what kind of fools would rather throw a flying disc at poles and chains instead of playing real golf. Now, I know that the kind of fools who play the game are fools like myself.

Of course, over the years I've also wondered what fool needs a smart phone to know the weather, news, sports and directions; what kind of fool watches ice hockey; what kind of fool counts carbs; and what kind of fool listens to jazz music. I've become all those kinds of fools and then some.

And now I'm a disc-golfing fool. You can blame the Baltimore Ravens.

See, all through the NFL season, my wife and I were in a contest to see who could pick the most games correctly using the point spread. As a guy, this is supposed to be my turf, but my wife is a football fan, too, and was determined to beat me. So, we put a wager on it. The winner -- which, naturally, would be me -- got to have anything I wanted.

I indeed won, though it went down to the very last game of the season -- the Super Bowl. I picked the Baltimore Ravens, while my wife picked the 49ers. I won and considered such prizes as being able to retire early or being able to control the TV remote for the rest of my life, but I chose disc-golfing.

I had been leaning toward buying a new set of golf clubs and taking up that sport again. But after seeing how much a decent set was going to cost me, I wondered what is was that I liked so much about golf. Was it the chance to wear ugly pants? Was it being able to drive a golf cart with a cooler of beer on back? Was it accidentally beating catfish and carp with golf balls? No. It was merely being out and about in the great outdoors.

With a new disc golf course at a nearby park, I could do that and never have to pay greens fees or cart fees. And a set of a few discs was going to be an awful lot cheaper than a set of clubs.

I'm not exactly a disc-golfing veteran as I've only been once so far, but I've learned a few things:

One, I get that same worried feeling on the tee box as in real golf when I'm rusty -- worried that someone will see me shank one wildly ... and that my tee shot just might kill somebody. My tee shots were as wild as ever, but discs are a lot safer than golf balls. And nobody is happier about that than the lady on the walker whom I nearly decapitated.

Also, my shots are still attracted to water. I went out there with three discs and came back with one. So I guess that round cost me about as much as greens fees on an average golf course, after all.

The main thing I learned is that just like in regular golf, I've got a long way to go before I turn pro. And, yes, there really is a PDGA, the Professional Disc Golf Association, based right here in Georgia. The better disc golfers out there got big running starts and flung the disc like they were gunning for the PDGA tour.

I imagine I'll be on the disc golf course a lot because it is fun and a good excuse to get out in the sunshine. But I doubt you'll see me doing too many running starts and fancy throws. I'm less concerned with throwing discs on a course than I am with slipping one in my back.

-- Chris Johnson is an independent correspondent. Connect with him at Facebook.com/KudzuKidWriting.

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