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USA  Ice Is Nice In AZ
Sunday 20th February
Co-founder member of the Bongos Disc Golf Club, Frank takes you
through his experiences on a recent trip to Arizona.

Going into hole three at London's Elthorne Park's Field of Dreams,
I was already well under par after hitting two aces on the trot.
I felt confident as I pulled my arm back and launched yet another
perfect drive. It effortlessly glided and turned sharply left as
expected. Just as it was heading into the chains, I heard a loud
clap of thunder which was followed by a torrential rain storm. I
didn't see what happened to my disc as I noticed the sound of a
loud fog horn coming from behind the trees. At that point, I awoke
with a start as the 0315 freight train from Flagstaff rumbled past
the Arizonian motel where we were staying prior to my entry in the
2000 Flagstaff Icebowl.

It was a glorious morning with no sign of ice.
Flagstaff is situated at 7000 feet elevation and I had prepared
for snow. Alas, local snowboarders had been disappointed again
this year at the absence of snowfall; the disc golfers however
were enjoying the sun and light winds.

I arrived at the City of Flagstaff Disc Golf Course and registered.
The cost was $10 with $5 going to charity and the rest to prize
money as is traditional in Ice Bowl events organised worldwide.
I elected to play in the Am2 division, the lower of the two amateur
divisions, with a feint hope of turning in three H.I.O.s as I had
during my previous night's sleep.

Thorpe Park Disc Golf Course is set in a Pondesa forest and is maintained
by the local authority. They have found that the installation of
the course has increased the utilisation of the park, as well as
reducing vandalism and drug abuse in the local neighbourhood. The
local authority cut trees to use the wood and have asked disc golfers
in the past to mark the trees that they wanted cut down!

Even though some of the trees have been removed, almost all the
holes required an accurate shot through the forest. I was drawn
with local lad Matt and Patrick who had made the 200 mile journey
to Flag from Phoenix that morning. I only took four discs; two XLs
and two Omega Putters. I found the course to be relatively short
and tight, with my discs gaining a little extra distance which I
put down to the thinner air at altitude. The first 18 took only
one and a half hours to complete. I ended up with a shaky 8 over
after the first round, with more than my fair share of "tree love"
as Matt put it. This left me 2nd place in our group of three, with
Phoenixonian Patrick obviously feeling the effects of the altitude
and not returning after his hearty lunch.

Going into the second round, I tried the "Is this next one
through the trees?" gag, but it was wasted. I got into a groove
and was still level par after 8 holes. As is typical of my game,
I lost it for a while,however I didn't show myself up that much
5 over par.

As the day went on, a seemingly endless stream
of locals turned up at the park and started their rounds. It
was fantastic to see kids, adults and whole families playing
discgolf on a Saturday afternoon without anyone batting an eyelid.
Whilst we were playing, we came across a guy walking his dog,
he insisted on holding onto the lead as he threw for ood luck.
Now when do you see that in the UK?

At the end of the second round, the winners returned all but $5
of their prize money for charity and a teacher from the local school
asked if anyone had some old discs to donate to the school so that
they could pay up at the course; an idea that the UK should adopt.
All in all I had a fantastic time in the States. The course was
well kept, all tees signed and with a course map at the beginning.
Locals enjoyed their golf and the course played well. It was great
to talk to people in sports shops who knew what disc golf was, even
if they didn't have any discs in store.

More Arizona Disc Golf Action www.disqman.com
& www.azdiscgolf.com

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