Poor Man’s Golf

My wife Kim and I camped our way across the country from Florida to Lake Tahoe in 1999. We arrived dirty, tired, and broke. We had no prospects other than the possiblility of a job waiting tables or a minimum wage job working for Heavenly ski resort. We didn’t have anywhere to stay, and each morning when we woke up at the campground by the lake it was colder than the morning before.

I knew we would be all right. Half a mile down the road from the campground, as if it had been put there just for us, was a twenty seven hole golf course that we could play for free anytime we wanted to. We didn’t need a bag of expensive clubs, or a membership, or a golf cart, or a fancy pair of pants. We just needed a few hours of free time, our own two feet, and our discs.

Disc golf is just like regular golf. It has the same rules, and the same conventions. It offers the same escape and the same exercise (without the back pain). It offers a diversion with the same good friends. It’s also just as difficult. To be really good, a player has to have a great drive, a great approach shot or two, and then a brilliant putt. Miss any and the score on the card grows and grows. We live further from the lake now, but we still return to Bijou Disc Golf, and we have discovered new courses in Incline Village, in Carson City, at Kirkwood, and even right across the street from our house. Some are in the mountains. Some are by the river. Some are in the desert. They are all different, all challenging, and all beautiful.

Writing is like poor man’s golf. It is always there for me. I just have to go out and play. Some days, I can’t hit the broad side of a barn door. My disc flies at right angles to where I wanted it to go, or else dives straight into the ground, or else it gets stuck in a tree. Some days I can see the basket (they have chains, so that you can hear it when the disc flies into them) but I am too tentative, and I can’t get the disc to land in it no matter what I do. I just keep playing. I wait for that perfect drive, or that long approach that bangs the chains and drops in place. Writing is just like that for me. I keep putting words on paper. A lot of days, it’s crap. Then, every so often, it all matches up and comes together. I remember that I can do it, that there is something inside of me that can make magic. Those days are worth waiting and working for. I have to keep trying. There is no other way to reach them.

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