Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Day 10: Warwick, NY

Both Todd and I express awareness that Vermont is a transitional state. Geographically, we are now turning south for the first time. (Going from Maine back to the hotel in Massachusetts doesn’t seem to count.) Temporally, we have passed the half way point and are now nearer the end of our trip than the beginning.

So now I’m struggling a bit with that late weekend, Monday’s coming, kind of blues that so often robs me of the joy of whatever I’m doing. I’ve scheduled Warwick late for this very reason, so I know I’ll have something to look forward to.

Warwick Town Park is one of my top 5 favorite courses, or it was two years ago. I’m curious to see how it stacks up to my nostalgic memories of it.

The course is in a huge part in southern New York, hard to find and get to, but well worth the effort. One thing I like about it is that it has four configurations on most holes—two tees and two permanent baskets, so the course can play anywhere from 4400 to 8800 feet. Todd and I unapologetically decide to play the short course.

I have two reasons for this. One is, as Todd is so fond of saying, we are amateurs. That is what it says on our card. The other is that I haven’t been in sniffing distance of 54 since Connecticut. Granted, both the Vermont and Maine courses claimed to have pars that I shot under, but I tend to think of 54 as par on most courses.

Two things go wrong today that I am surprised have not yet gone wrong on the trip.

Todd and I warm up to the first cracks of thunder. We’ve had surprisingly good luck with weather, and Accuweather has said a possible thunderstorm from 4:00-5:00. It looks like it could open up on us at any moment.

Todd and I both started with a birdie on the first hole, and this will be my only birdie of the day. I do have a couple of 12-15 footers (and one 20 or so) to save par, because I’m not approaching real well, but I’m driving okay. Hole 9 is fairly long, and I get a good drive, but I hit the only real tree in the middle of a very wide fairway. Bad luck. This means I have a long approach that leaves me the 20 footer for par. When I make it, solid, I take the turn at -1 and I’m thinking there is the possibility for a special round.

Hole 10 is my one bad tee shot of the day, and it’s not recoverable. The hole is a two tiered downhill with a tree line guarding the tier, so you pretty much have to get it there (if not through) on your drive or getting to the hole on approach is just luck. As I let go of the Stingray and it catches a branch, I’m running up to see its lie, and I twist my ankle pretty bad, aggravating an old ankle injury. Stupid. Running on non-level terrain is the way I usually tweak it. My approach did get down the gap, and I have a 25 footer that makes a good run, but I still take a four to return to even par.

Hole 12 is a 174 foot classic risk-reward. You can shoot through a narrow alley of trees to a visible pin, or you can go around the forest edge, taking an easy three. I split the trees with the Leopard, getting within smelling distance of an ace, but landing 10 feet past and to the left. Psychologically, going from under par to par and then back under is such a huge boost. It allows me to attack holes and feel as though I have room for error without having to “hang on” to par. Unfortunately, this is my one bad putt of the round, and I take a three. I tell myself I haven’t lost anything but an opportunity, but it’s a momentum shifter, because on 13, the rains come.

Playing Disc Golf in the rain is a tough experience, especially in a more open course. If it’s not cold, it’s doable, but it’s a chore. Part of you is saying “speed up” to get in and out of the rain, the other “slow down” because that is when you are more likely to make careless mistakes. Certainly the rain adds weight to the disc and makes distance harder. A firm grip is almost impossible.

I hold on for another two pars, then Hole 15 is where the nerves finally give way. I get a solid tee shot but the approach is blocked by a tree and I take a four. Sixteen is reachable off the tee, but now the rains are coming harder, and with them wind. The wind pushes my Valkyrie right, and my short approach with the Roc is a bit long. I’m trying to wipe my putter, but my rag is wet, and so is my shirt. My glasses are fogging, and my putt glances off the chains and out. Seventeen is a 400+ hole, and I get a decent teeshot that the wind pushes right leaving me a makeable but hard 100+ approach. The wet leopard slips out of my hand, going maybe thirty feet. I save four, and par out on 18.

This is one of those moments where I’m lucky Todd is with me, because my first thought is, “It’s only 4:30” so if I were here myself I might be tempted to change my clothes and wait in the car to see if it clears and play another round. I really wanted to be under par on this one, because I love the course and I know I may not be back for a long time.

Part of being in the moment, though, is accepting the things we cannot control, like the weather. The flavor of the trip is not about trying to control the uncontrollable, it is about accepting the unexpected surprises and coping with the sudden disappointments. I threw well today; it just wasn’t meant to be.

Winding out of the mountain roads towards 287, the rains come hard, but we are eventually rewarded with a safe arrival at my in-laws.

There are pork chops.
There is wine.
There is good company.
There is ibuprofen.
Life goes on.


2-3-3 3-3-3 3-3-3 OUT (26)
4-3-3 3-3-4 4-4-3 IN (31) 57

Day 10 Tally
Courses: 14
New Courses: 8
States: 10
Ankles Rolled: 1
Thunderstorms: 1

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