Saturday, July 16, 2005

Day 7--Charlestown, RI; Amesbury, MA

Friday is a bit of a shorter leg for us, but I find myself fighting crabbiness all day. Perhaps the lack of sleep or muscle tiredness is getting to me or perhaps it is something else. Nothing big, no big blow ups with Todd or anything, I just find myself more irritated at day to day things than normal.

The day begins with a drive to Target where Todd and I stock up on Gatorade, food in bar form, non-meltable sugar delivery systems (Starburst and Jelly Beans), etc. I get some safety pins to keep my golf pants rolled up on the right, but I resist the urge to get a small bit of laundry detergent. This turns out to be a good idea, since the detergent is complementary at the hotel in Massachussetts.

After Target, we take route 1 along coastline. We past Mystic, Connecticut, and we wave at Mystic Pizza, but it doesn’t have quite the same thrill as Sleepy Hollow.

I’ve checked the distance on Yahoo! It is supposed to be about 30 miles to the course in Rhode Island, but it seems that weaving through little towns in Connecticut takes forever. (Perhaps this, too contributes to my grouchiness.) Actually, though, it is my bad, because I forget that the scales are different on the maps, so once we are in Rhode Island, we get to the park fairly quickly.

On the way to the park, though, we get rear-ended at a traffic light. I get out of the car and check the bumper, and it looks clean, so the impact was, thankfully, not bad enough to do any damage. I wave the lady who hit us on and hope that good karma will be returned.

Rhode Island is the smallest state in the country, just barely double the size of Seneca County in Ohio (where Todd lives). The course is supposed to have 9 baskets and the only other course in Rhode Island is a 27 hole object course, so Tiffin has more disc golf baskets than Rhode Island. Rhode Island does have more people in it than Alaska, though, so that is one thing it has over bigger states.

Ninigret Park is big for a park. It has a nature center, a pond, an observatory (for star gazing). As we approach the first tee, we find benches by it, a little club house (not just a bulletin board) where people can post their names if they got an ace, and a netting tied up between two trees for warming up. What a cool idea. Clearly someone has put thought into this course, and I’m suitably impressed. The first hole has three tees, and we decide to play the short tees to make the round quicker and not have a long day like before. It is 165 feet, and I throw close to the pin but behind some trees. Todd parks his tee shot for an easy deuce.

I try to putt from a sitting position so that I can get under the tree branches and my disc hits the branch, going a few feet but being equally blocked. I take a 4 and announce that I am starting my round over. (My mulligan philosophy is that you don’t take them on any hole but the first because the first is just like tossing in the towel on the round and starting over.) I also announce that if I beat Todd by 2 or less strokes, he can put an asterisk in the eternal record book. (Todd seems unconcerned; he’s just happy he got a birdie.)

I tee off again, park my tee shot and take my deuce.

The second hole is either less than 140 from the regulation tee or 201 from the “pro” tee, so we re-think our decision to play the standards. It is a blind right turn, so we take turns spotting each other, which is a good think, because I’ve convinced I’ve crossed the fairway and landed in the left rough and Todd says I am, in fact, in the right rough. I have no shot so I need to pitch out to the fairway and take my four.

Then an odd thing happens. We see two signs pointing us to Hole #3, but we are walking down a long path and we can’t find it. Eventually we feel we must have missed it and start back down the path, looking for tracks off into the woods where we might have gone. Todd eventually calls to me that he has found a tee for Hole 5, so we figure we will trace it back to the third hole, but we can’t find a close by Hole 4, nor indeed a Hole 5 at the distance stated from the tee. Finally, though, we see two locals teeing off on a hole ahead of us and ask them where Hole 3 is.

Hole 3 is…um…gone. The next hole is actually Hole 6, which they show to us. Some of the baskets have been taken away and the only other ones that have baskets are 6 and 7. There are some paths marked for 8 and 9 and sticks to mark where the baskets would be if we want to play imaginary golf. Hmmm.

Okay, time to play “How Well do You Know Ken?” Can you guess the first thing that pops into Ken’s mind when he hears this? [I figure Cindy knows already.]

Is it…I’ve just driven over 600 miles from the Disc Golf capital of the east, the great state of North Carolina to play the only registered course in Rhode Island that the PDGA web site says has baskets? (Not really.)

Is it…Well, I’ve got 120 miles to Lowell and at least we won’t be tuckered out for the better course, and I’ve got Rhode Island on the board? (Not really.)

Still don’t know? It is…Crap, I’ve got two holes to beat Todd by two or more strokes or he’s going to say he beat me. Asterisk, we don’t need no stinking asterisk! Todd and I both bogey hole 7, then I tee into the rough (a slope along the side of the road on 8) and am in serious, serious, trouble. Fortunately, I pull a rabbit out of my hat with a long, hyzering approach that floats over the road and cuts in the back door for an easy par. Todd takes a four and we are, technically, tied.

Now, here is the difference between Todd and me. At least one difference. Todd figures he shot +1 over 4 holes, so he extrapolates his score and claims he would have shot +2 for the 9 holes. He’s happy. I figure we should both take 2s for the holes we didn’t throw, because we clearly would have gotten deuces on any of the holes if we could have played them, and it is not our fault we couldn’t. Therefore, I believe my score is -4.

The title of this story is “How I Beat Todd by 6 Strokes on a 9 Hole Course.”
We get lunch and fill up on gasoline on our way out of town and it is a 120 miles jaunt up 95 and 495 to Lowell, making a slight circle to avoid Boston. Traffic is a little slow, but not as bad as Connecticut. We pass the exit for Walden Pond, which is slightly more of a charge than passing Mystic Pizza, but it’s not enough to get us to stop. (We’ve got more golf to play, darn it.)

Also, for reasons I know not, Massachussetts seems to have more Dunkin Donuts than anywhere I’ve ever seen. Every exist has a gas/lodging sign that includes a Dunkin Donuts. Now I love Dunkin Donuts (I would rank it somewhere above Mystic Pizza but below Walden), but I think the Massachussetts people are a little too proud of their donuts.

Well, we get to the Fairfield Hotel and Lauren (our check in person) is terrific. It’s busy, but she’s efficient, helps everyone until she’s finished before going on to the next person and stays cheerful. Best service of any hotel so far.

After a 10 minute nap or so (it’s about 4) we head out to Amesbury. By now we are starting to get rush hour traffic, but Todd finds a bypass to the busiest part and we arrive at the park in good stead. There are kids playing Little League (which warms Todd’s heart), and I mention as I warm up that I have a good feeling about the round. Some of the baskets are Machs, but they have been spray painted yellow to make them easier to see, an innovation that I put up there with Druid Park’s use of the metal ring around letters on the pole to tell you which pin placement is in play.

I’m mentally thinking about shooting par, but I’ve misread. Turns out the course is longer than I thought (5233 feet; 8 holes 300-400), with the alternate tees being the novice tees that are shorter (too short) rather than being the pro tees that are longer. So there are a lot of 300 foot holes uphill, through the woods. It’s a nice course, but it takes me a few holes to readjust my expectations. I’m starting to putt better, so I’m not playing bad, but there aren’t really any deuce opportunities when you are throwing 300 feet in the woods.

Also, I lose my Sidewinder.

Okay, technically I don’t lose it, I throw it in the pond. I’m mad because the pond really shouldn’t be in play, I can go well right and let it slope in towards hole, but I’ve been turning the Sidewinder just a bit, so I throw this straight at the hole, not thinking I’m going downhill and always get more fade when throwing from elevation. (Dan, if you’re reading, this is because fade comes at slow speed, so the higher you throw from, the more likely it is that your disc will stop spinning before it hits the ground.)

I’m bummed. The Sidewinder was one of my favorite discs on several levels. It had very nice glide. It was a beautiful, easy to find cherry red that showed up nicely in grass or forests. Also, it doesn’t have one of those names that suggests the thrower is phallically overcompensating (MONSTER! VIKING! ORC! BEAST!). When I get home, I use the Internet for Play-It-Again sports to see if I can get a replacement tomorrow. I shoot +2 on back nine for a 60, which I find odd because I thought I played better than I did at Druid Hills and I thought DH was a harder course. It may have just been longer and so I was driving better that day. On the bright side, I get a drop from a meter (since it crossed over before going out), and I nail a 25 footer uphill to take the rarest of all amateur scores—the circle 3. Later, as we play 18, Todd and I realize that we were actually throwing at the wrong basket; this is 18. So I figure I would have take a 3 anyway, but I wouldn’t have lost my disc. Then I would have had the Sidewinder and maybe been able to make a birdie on the signature hole (16) over water or the 240 approach on 17. Then I would have been in the 50s.

It’s a nice course, really, and I rather enjoy playing it. I was just too fixated on throwing a good score that I forgot to enjoy what I’m here for.

No problem with traffic returning and Todd and I have dinner at Cracker Barrel, which is inexplicably jammed at 9 on a Friday night. Our service is slow and Todd is grumpy. (The waiter asks him if he wants the cornbread that comes with the meal but doesn’t ask us if we want refills on iced tea and doesn’t show up with our check until we ask the hostess for our bill.) As we are waiting for the bill, we both say, almost simultaneously, that Lauren has spoiled us to bad service.

Back at the model, a tough day ends nicely as I get a load of laundry in (with the complementary soap) and 45 minutes of free dryer time when the person ahead of us takes two pool towels out that have already dried.

I now have clean underwear for my rounds tomorrow, which was a worry that I know was on everyone’s mind.

2-4-2 2-2-4 3-2-2 (23)*

3-4-4 4-3-4 3-3-3 OUT (31)
4-3-3 3-4-3 3-3-3 IN (29) 60

Day 7 Tally
Courses 10
New Courses 5
Discs Lost 2
Birdies Carded Today 6
Birdies actually Made 1
Dunkin Donuts Passed in Massachussets 4000
Outstanding Hotel Personnel Met 1
Outstanding Cracker Barrel Personnel Met 0
Money Spent on Washing Machine $1.25
Money Spent on Dryer $0.00

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