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Dear Diary Part 2

After two days working on the new disc golf course at the Garland Scout Ranch near Shreveport, LA (see DGWN Winter 200) and a 5-day Thanksgiving trip, our hero returns to finish the job.


By the time I got back to the ranch it was almost midnight, and it was pretty darn cold. Two blankets was enough, though. Since the mini-camp is over, I’ve moved from the medic shack to the Garland House, which apparently hasn’t been used for much the last few years. Nice place to film an axe murderer horror film, though. I kept my door locked, just in case.

I wake up fresh and ready to get back to work. I came up with a new routing on the plane last night; maybe it’ll be the one that makes everything click. Two good long days, and I should be outta here.

I notice that the water tower isn’t overflowing any more. That should keep my feet a little dryer. But there’s a gray four-door sedan parked right next to it. Nobody in it. Is the ranger checking out where the course is going? Is the axe murderer stalking me?

I don’t see anyone anywhere, and I don’t hear anyone, which is strange, since whoever is here is the only other person within miles. But man, I need to keep my eyes open -- in the first half hour I walk into three big spider webs. They must have set up while I was gone. As I reacquaint myself with the area where I want to put the first three holes, I’m remembering how hard it is to keep your bearings out here. But I’m getting smart -- I start putting up surveyors tape to help me find important places, places where I might want to put a tee or a green, places where I might try to clear a fairway.

After another half an hour, the mystery man walks up behind me. “Are you hunting?” he asks. “Not exactly. Designing a Frisbee golf course for the scouts.” He seems to know what I’m talking about. “Going to be here long? I’m trying to catch some deer here -- that’s my stand right there.” “I was wondering about that,” I said. “I’m afraid I’m going to be walking around here for the next couple days. I’m sorry, but I’m sure I’m scaring off all the deer -- never saw one in the two days I was here last week. By the way, thanks for not shooting me.” So he leaves. Hope he doesn’t come back with an axe.

I try to work things out with my new routing. Here’s my problem: in the open part of the course, which will basically be the back nine, I have ideas for 4 good holes. First, there’s only one big tree, so I absolutely have to use it. I have a good way to do that, no problem. The hole after that will run alongside the woods. I hate holes like that, but maybe I can find a way to make it interesting. If not, it’ll at least be pretty, and I can live with it. Then there’s the keyhole hole, which is awesome. And the pine grove hole, which I love, too. The problem is when I try to connect them.

I can run a hole connecting the keyhole hole to the big tree hole, but that makes a loop, and there’s no good way to connect it to the pine grove hole. Same thing happens when I run a hole from the keyhole hole to the pine grove hole. And somehow I have to find a #10 that starts reasonably near the #9 basket and connects to the whole thing AND gives my a #18 that gets me back somewhere near #10. And don’t forget that I can’t make too many woods holes, or the scouts will never be able to clear it all.

Making #10 and #11 tunnel holes between Keyhole and Big Tree (I might as well just name them now), looks like my best bet, even if #10 and #11 aren’t very exciting. I could run Keyhole backwards -- that would make all the routing work --but I really don’t want to give up on it. It’s probably the best hole on the course (I’m guessing the best hole in the state) as it is, and it’s pretty boring backwards.

At lunch I call John. He wants to have dinner with Kevin Pelton from the Shreveport club. Sounds good to me. I have a little to eat, and it’s back to work.

I come up with a new routing that makes Keyhole #10. #11 connects to Pine Grove, then 2 holes counterclockwise through the woods to get to Big Tree. Not bad. But it forces me to find 3 holes in a pretty boring part of the woods.

So I try another one with a #10 that leads into Pine Grove runs three holes in the north woods, back to Keyhole, through the woods to Big Tree, which becomes #17. But that means 3 holes in another boring area, plus another woods hole . That won’t work..

Then I get it. Start #10 near the water tower, run one hole through the east woods , followed by a little walk to Big Tree, which becomes #12. Keyhole becomes #14, followed by a connector to Pine Grove (#16). And two holes home. That routing requires only 2 woods holes, and one of them is in a really neat area.

No, wait. It’s going to take two holes to get through the east woods. I’ll take one hole off the end. Now #18 can be a long crush. I need one of those anyway. Sold

So what’s the big picture? My routing looks decent, and I have about nine good solid holes that I really like. Ultimately, I’d like to have at least fourteen. Now it’s time too look at the balance of the holes I do have, so I know what I need to be looking for. Right now I’m looking at:
# Tunnels: 5, 11, 12, 2 (drive)
# Short holes with options: 1, 4, 8, Big Tree (13) -- need more, maybe 16
# Two-shot holes: 2, 3, 10, Keyhole (15), Pine Grove (16)
# Big Crush: 18, maybe 14
# Other or unknown: 6, 7, 9, 16
# Big Hyzer: Big Tree*
# Big Anhyzer: 5, Keyhole (drive)
# Righty Fade: Big Tree*
# Lefty Fade: 7, Key Hole (approach)
# *there are exactly two ways to play Big Tree, so I listed it twice.

OK, looks like the lefties will be happy. I could actually use another big hyzer, and another right fade, especially since the only ones I have now are on the same hole.

The hole that’s really bugging me is the one after Big Tree. I’ve got about 125 yards to work with. Solid woods on the left, wide open on the right. I refuse to cut out a little green and just stick the basket in the woods -- I really don’t like holes like that. I could stick the tee in the woods, too, but I want something with a little more imagination. Finally I have an idea -- make a two-shot hole with the tee deep in the woods. Clear three tunnels out to the open, with the easiest tunnel leaving you a long up shot and the hardest tunnel giving you a shorter up shot. Options off the tee, and a high correlation between risk and reward: it’s perfect.

Unfortunately it’s easier said than done. There are a ton of big trees in there, and we had already agreed that we would only take out small trees, and then only where necessary. I spend two hours on this one hole, but I just can’t make it work. I’m tired. It’s coffee time.

I spend the rest of the afternoon working on #2 and #3, and in the #8-#11 area, but that’s not very productive either. And I need to stick a hole in front of #1 -- right now it’s too long a walk. Guess I won’t be able to finish tomorrow, as I had planned. I can stay an extra day -- no big deal. I have to leave a early to meet John and Kevin. We have just enough time for Kevin to show us the new park they’re working on. Looks nice. Over dinner, I tell John about the deer hunter, and I mention the fact that I haven’t seen a single deer yet.

As I’m driving up to the course, I see... a deer. Hmm. I decide to spend the morning nailing down the front nine. If I can finish the back nine in the afternoon, John and I can mark it and walk it tomorrow.

I take a slightly different path to get to #1, and all of a sudden, there it is. I can see the flight paths between the big trees, and I can see the slope. It looks great. Why couldn’t I see it before? Is it just the slight change of perspective? Is it because I’m fresher in the morning? Or did I finally learn how to focus so that I’m not distracted by all the little trees?

In any case, all I have to do is get the #1 basket reasonably close to the #2 tee, and I’ve got a winner.

I spend another hour and a half on #2 -- have I ever spent this much time on one hole? -- and finally I think I have it. Not only that, but at 10:00 I realize I haven’t seen a single spider web. Guess I must’ve moved them all out yesterday.

I budget an hour to finish #3 and #4, then another hour for #6 and #8. I nail #3, then I nail #4. I really need to throw #4 to make sure it’s right, but there are just too many little trees and stray branches in the way. I’ll just have to measure it, verify that it’s as long as I think it is, and trust my instincts.

#5 is good, but when I step it off, I find it’s a lot shorter than I thought. Wish I could throw it, too, but there’s no way. #6 is a neat hole, maybe 300’, dead straight. But I can’t see the tee from the basket, and I can’t see the basket from the tee. So I can’t quite tell if it’s really straight or not. I put pieces of flagging up along the way, like Hansel and Gretel dropping bread crumbs, but I still can’t quite tell. Maybe if I were a foot taller... If I were a foot taller I’d probably be playing basketball somewhere.

When I get to the back nine, I get stuck on #10. The concept was good: three ways to get to a well-defined landing area, then a tunnel that’s straight down hill. I love the idea of the basket being on a down slope, but it’s a little too short to be a two-shot hole, and it’s too long to be a one-shot hole. I take a break and move on to #11, and #12. They’re both in thick woods, so it’s tough. But they’re not bad.

When I go back to #10, I realize that, as good as my concept is, I need to give it up. I’m trying too hard to force it. There’s a great sports cliche that applies here: “take what the defense will give you.” So I tell the hole, “OK, you win. You tell me what you want. Show me the hole.” Before long I see it. Nice hole.

I’ve only been back for a day and a half, but already I’m getting worn out. Walking through the woods for 9 hours a day can be hard work. I’m ready to knock off at 4:00, but there’s still at least two hours of daylight left. Coffee time.

Where would I be without coffee? In no time I’m ready to save the disc golf world, and I head back into the woods, using my Super Man X-ray vision to see the holes that only I can see. But #11 is still a problem. And so is my genius hole after Big Tree. But I won’t give up. I’ll have some dinner, then I’ll pick up some flagging, string, stakes, paint, and surveyor’s tape at Home Depot. And I’ll call John to tell him our walkthrough’s been put off another day.

As I head out I see... a deer. And only two spiders all day. You explain it.

Last night John told me there might be a hot shower at the adults-only bathroom near the Big Tree. And he’s right! A shower! (Did I mention that I hadn’t had one since I got back?) Oh, it’s good.

One thing that strikes me as unusual: I’ve spent very little time on paperwork. Usually I have to stop for a few hours at a time to do routing on paper, and it always winds up driving me crazy. There are usually dozens of routing decisions, and lots of holes I love and want to keep. But on this course there are 4-5 decent ways to route it, and I just need to figure out which one offers the best possibilities. The hard part is finding the individual holes once I’ve picked the routing.

As soon as I hit the woods, I’m walking into spider webs everywhere. Do these guys work every other day, or what? Weird. I decide that the walk from Keyhole to Pine Grove is short enough to be workable. I’ll be OK if I don’t put a hole in there. That’ll give me another hole to work with somewhere else. I can make a better #11, make better use of the hills back there, cut down the walk from #11 to #12, and stick in a new #13.

That did the trick: the new #11 has a high tee and a really sweet hillside green. The new #12 has the backside green I wanted so bad on #10, and I’ve got a nice area to work with on the new #13. I’m in the zone, baby.

I fix up #8. It works a lot better as a two-shot hole. Really neat sloping landing area, basket by a big drop-off. Now I can make #10 a one-shot hole, and it’ll work even better. And I can make a two-shot hole somewhere else if I need to. I figure out how to make #6 perfect. I’m on a roll, and everything is finally falling into place.

And it’s time. I need to wrap it all up and get home. Best case is that I’m two days behind schedule. Time to suck it up. I could spend another week out here, but it’s time to be realistic. And I’m starting to understand that it’s going to take a long time to mark and measure everything.

When I break, I eat the sandwich I bought for lunch and the frozen lasagna I bought for dinner. Man, I’ve been hungry the last couple days. I guess just being out here all day uses a lot of calories.

When I go back to #8, I realize it’s not quite as good as I thought. Like pretty much everything out here, it’s shorter than it looked. And the drive was too tight. I move the tee back, and it looks good. That will open up at least one more option off the tee, but it means more clearing. Sorry, boys. It’ll be worth it. I wonder if maybe the up shot is too short, too. I’ll come back.

I go to finish up the hole after Big Tree. Again, I need to stop forcing and take what’s there. It’s a one-shot hole through the woods with three well-defined routes. Decent hole, but more clearing. Sorry again, guys.

I put in stakes for the baskets on #1-#7. #1 still needs a little work. And yes, the up shot on #8 is too short. I’ll have to fix that tomorrow. As it gets dark, I’m trying to find the right tee for #1. It sure would help if I could see the darn basket. I’m struggling. It looked so good two days ago, but when it comes down to finding the perfect tee location... brutal

“Hi, John. It’s John. I’m going to need another day. OK, I’ll let you know. Good night.” Oh yeah, he told me that the paper ran a short four-paragraph piece on the course. I like it.

It’s time. No more distractions. No more ideas. Do what needs to be done, mark, and measure. Here’s my list for this morning:
# #1 fine tune basket and tee
# #6 set the tee, 285’-320’
# #8 find a new green
# #9 from scratch
# #12 double check
# #13 find it

I’ve got three holes to fix and two to find. Then I have to finish staking all the baskets, stake all the tees, paint the trees that need to be cut, and string up the fairways that need to be cleared.

#1 is still tough. The tees I want aren’t flat, and the flat areas aren’t quite right. Too bad. Pick the best one and move on. I spend too much time, but I leave happy.

#6 is hard to measure because of the high brush in the middle of the hole, but I give it my best shot.

I don’t need another backside basket, so that’s not the way to go on #8. I’m still a little short on hyzers, so I’ll favor righties on the approach here. I like it.

I don’t have a lot of options on #9. I know the tee needs to be near the #8 basket, and the basket needs to be near the #10 tee. I have this strange vision of a backhand roller along the creek bed and uphill to the green. Strange, but could be cool. I doubt anyone will wind up throwing that roller, but they’ll think of something. Every course needs a hole or two where the fairway isn’t immediately obvious. Done.

#12 has a big thick nasty area right in front of the tee. Lots of brambles, and little gnarly trees that I don’t think I’ve seen anywhere else on the property. Plus brush piles they made when they cleared the nearby campsite. It’s impossible to tell if I have the tee right. Oh well.

I wanted a short straight tunnel shot on the course somewhere, and #13 gives me the chance to make one that’s straight uphill. But man, it’s short. I look for ways to move the basket back, or ways to move the tee back. No dice. That’s OK -- 165 feet -- we can live with it.

Now I have to mark it all. One thing I’ve learned: I always think I can mark the course in 45 minutes, but it winds up taking two hours. But this time I have to run string along both sides of each fairway, so they’ll know where to clear. And on #1 I need to string up a right alley and a left alley. I’ve never done this before. It doesn’t seem like it should take too long, which means it will probably take forever. I’d better get started.

But first, some coffee! Did I mention how much I love and respect and rely on coffee, especially seven hours into a ten-hour day?

I do as much as I can until dark, and I call John. “Tomorrow at noon. Bring your long pants.” I eat a big dinner.

I get on the course as early as I can and get back to stringing. It’s not so bad, except in spots where I can’t really walk where I need to. After I’ve got everything strung, I try to walk it again, measure the holes, and draw maps of each one.

I should be able to get through it by noon. But #1 turns out to be tough to measure -- there are too many trees in the way for my laser binoculars to see through. Plus I can’t see the basket stake from the tee. I measure to one tree straight ahead, then to another one, then another until I get there. It can’t be right: 240 feet? Downhill? It looked a lot longer than that.

Same deal with #2. It can’t be only 220’. What’s happening here? #3, the 500’ two-shot hole, is only 425’. My God, what have I done? What if the whole course is wrong? I just spent 60 hours on it, and it’s worthless. And these are the good holes. What about the weaker holes like #12 and #13? It’s all falling apart.

I need to get a grip. There’s nothing wrong with this course; I’m just really tired. There’s nothing wrong with tight 220’ and 240’ holes. Settle down. 300’ would be a good drive on #3, and then it’s a tight 125’ uphill to the pin. You’ve always wanted holes with a good tough short approach, right? Yeah, right. You’re just tired. Yeah, I’m just tired. Everything’s fine. It’s a great course. Now quit talking to yourself like Stuart Smalley, and finish this thing.

I give up on measuring. The scouts will have to do it after it’s cleared. I go through and make my maps. Man, there are some really nice holes out here. But there’s no guarantee what they’re going to look like when they’re cleared. In any case, I did the best I could -- I even stayed three extra days to get it right.

It’s getting a bit windy, and a bit dark. Oh good, maybe it’ll rain. Great.

When I get to #12, I get discouraged again. This hole is going to be really tough to clear, and I can’t even tell if it’s a good hole. There’s just no way to tell. This sucks.

OK, I’m just tired. It’s OK. I have a little time before John gets here. I can stake the open holes as we walk them. Maybe I can fix this. Maybe there’s another way. I could put the tee over here, and take it around the hillside instead of over it. I was always hoping I could make a big anhyzer hole that follows the slope, maybe I could do it back here. Not here. Not here. Arrgh! Maybe... yeah, that looks OK. Follow that route. Not bad... nice big trees... not too many little ones to take out, yeah. Where does it go? Ooh, nice green. I like it. Is it too good to be true? Look again. Yeah, it works. Sweet.

Just as I always suspected: I’m the man.

Now to fix #13. Forget the little straight uphill shot. I want a fairway that runs all along the hillside, and I’m gonna find it. Lots of big trees, down by the creek bed, natural fairway. Awesome. Done. Now we got a course.

As I walk back up the the open area, I see a car pulling up. Perfect timing. But it’s not John. It’s Tim Cefalu, head of the Order of the Arrow, the kids who’ll be doing the clearing.

Soon thereafter, John shows up. It’s getting dark, and Tim says that any time it’s coming from that direction, it’s bad news. So let’s giddy up.

I give them the individual hole maps and let them lead the way. I want to make sure they can understand them. We walk all 18, and it looks good. John seems happy, and Tim says his crew can handle tougher jobs than this. When they leave, I go string up the new #12 and the new #13, finish marking a few things here and there, and here comes the rain. I’ll send John instructions on how to mark the kids’ tees on some of the long holes. It’s 4:30, and I’m gone. It’s gonna pour. Home by midnight. But first I have to make a sacrifice.

I run back into the woods by the new #12 and make the standard offering: “Disc Gods, please look over and protect this course. Make sure that everyone has fun and enjoys the course and gets along. Help them keep it clean, and make sure they get enough birdies. And an ace every once in a while. Keep this course safe, and make it a place people can really enjoy.” I take the brand new beautiful LF I just put in my bag -- the sacrifice won’t work unless it’s a disc you like -- and I launch it deep in the woods where no one should ever find it. Nice shot for someone who hasn’t thrown a single disc in over a week. I must be the man. OK, settle down. Let’s go home.

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Circular Productions - Disc Golf Course Design, Disc Golf Equipment, Disc Golf Tournaments, Disc Golf Tee Signs, and other Disc Golf Services

Circular Productions - Disc Golf Course Design, Disc Golf Equipment, Disc Golf Tournaments, Disc Golf Tee Signs, and other Disc Golf Services