Tuesday, January 20, 2009
A SUNday frolf match Jan. 18, 2009
With clear skies and a light southeasterly breeze, sunday's tournament had the conditions to make for a low scoring round. Players arrived early to warm up there shoulders, the dogs practiced sitting on the tee box and a band of hippies from Portland, led by Val, showed up to test the limits of the Mendocino High School Disc Golf Course. To really understand a round like this, we need to follow in the shoes of one of the greats; one of the founding fathers of the MFC. Jim Eldridge has his own share of tournament wins tucked away in his underware drawer next to his fake dog poo-poo and his monogrammed handkerchiefs. A day like this beckoned him to the parking lot and out on the course for a shot at a 2009 title. As all the players split up into groups and score cards were etched with the appropriate names, one by one they lined up for their first shot out over the soccer fields and hopefully into the basket. It was not until 11 of the twelve drives were tossed that Jim approached the tee for #1. Parked. #2. Parked. 3,4,5,6,7. All birdies. With a score of -7 after seven, even with his handicap that clings to his back like a frightened kitten, digging its claws deep into his shoulder blades, Jim still looked the safe bet for a win. A couple of pars on 8 & 9 gave him -7 after 9. The big toss across the football field and back past the bleachers may just be the longest "par"able hole on the course. Jim dug deep into his burlap sack of gumption and let fly a smooth gliding, arching, shot that despite the southerly (or easterly depending if your name is Jim or Ryan) component to the wind fought back towards the hill. Unfortunately the shot landed a yard short and forced him to putt from the dreaded "corner o' death" at the base of the bleachers. It was at this point that something happened. A clandestine force slipped into Jim's bag and wrecked havoc on a flawless game. As readers, I know you want me to stop now. You say, "Jim is a great player. He's shown his mettle on the course and deserves the respect of a champion. Let us not delve down to the depraved state of gossip. We don't need the juicy details. Tell us who won. Who placed second. It just wouldn't be right to read on if we are not going to get the happy ending we all want.". I say to to you, "Bravo. Thank you for being the rational head in this world of paparazzi. I will continue if only to tell a story. I will remember your request for restraint when it comes to taking pleasure in the demise of a man's frolf game." Let the story now unravel like a ball of yarn racing to prove that it is not just a ball of mass, but a long, long line of braided cotton which if manipulated correctly could yield you a sweater, a pair of gloves or even a winter scarf. None of these articles of clothing could have prevented the foreshadowed events. Jim's shot for 11 came out of his hands and received a well deserved smile and nod of the the head from the author of this post. As if to say, "you don't have control over your own destiny", a small branch just barely visible in the high hizer line smacked Jim's shot down, potentially robbing him of a much anticipated 8th birdie. After birding I believe 12 & 13, Jim set his sights on the anhizer line to the left of the trees on 14. Let it be known that there were no gremlins witnessed in the trees at this spot on the state park property. No gnomes, no menehune, not even the chupacabra, the goat sucker himself, made an appereance; although apparently bigfoot prefers the more forested areas to make his presence known. Jim's shot vaporized into the tree. An unlikely "lost disc" was announced and Jim reteed. Standing on the tee box all alone, shooting for par, one can only imagine his dilema. Do you take another risky shot at the basket or play it safe and shoot for bogey. Not a position you or I would like to be put in and without knowledge of how Jim chose to play it, a 5 was scribbled on his card. Very seldom do we see that number on Jim's card but twice when the 5th and 15th holes are labeled. Things slowed down and Jim continued his brand of steady, calculated disc golf. You can count on brands. Orowheat for one will produce a hearty loaf of bread packaged to keep freshness in and contaminates out. My beloved Bear Republic brewery homogenizes their Racer5 to taste just the same time and time again. These patterns do not have their exceptions. Even these two examples of excellence (I am expecting care packages from the above mentioned brand names) may produce a "bad egg". Willy Wonka's factory was equipped with machinary to weed out the offending products and save the brand the embarasment of letting a mistake slip through the quality control. Let it be said that Jim would have scored much, much worse, were he to haul around a 2 ton quality control machine and pass every shot he took through it. The rest of the players would have been burdened by such a device, possibly blocking otherwise open shots or just slowing the pace of play. Jim did not have such a contraption for the game and was left to take his shot like everyone else. The imposing distance of 17, the undisputed #1 handicap hole on the course, showed not even a flinch in the otherwise stoic demeanor of a concentrated Jim Eldridge. Out of his hands came a perfect rip that landed him skipping on the track out by the #11 bleachers. A veteran shot by a veteran champion (let it not be overlooked that Val the hippie almost landed on the parking lot, ramming about a foot below the benches for #1). Sitting just below the the hill and with a clear view of what the hole required to produce a par, Jim used his patented "use the thumber to make the disc vertical when it passes the trees thus giving it a better chance for a clean getaway" shot. An excellent choice that more often than not leaves Jim with a decent par look. Oh how I wish it turned out that way. I wish I could tell you that Jim not only got through the trees, but mimicked none other that Dave "don't tell me when it's coming, just hit me" Stein, and birdied to take a commanding position into 18. I wish I had a robot butler that cleaned the clothes, did the dishes, emptied the cat's litter boxes, raked the leaves, vacuumed, cooked (sometimes, I think I might prefer to cook on nights that I can prep and hang out in the kitchen), scrubbed the bathroom and fulfilled any other chores I can't think of right now but until we either learn to expand our communication systems to link us with genies hiding in lamps on far off shores, this will never happen. Jim's shot got lodged in the tree, high enough to warrant a stroke penalty and a razor sharp glare from the champ. Another 5 and deep breath later, we all stood on the 18th tee. As the final group to finish, the rest of the players were down by the goal posts to judge the final shots. After a few misses by the rest of us, Jim fired a well placed upright disecter right at the hole. Unfortunately, and in Jim's own words, "that was the story of my whole back 9", the shot careened of a tree right next to the basket and rolled far enough away from the hole to leave a tester for birdie. Does he make the shot, does Jim hit the birdie? I don't know. I can hear you now. "You brought us on this forsaken journey. You dragged us through this muck you call a leisure game and you end the whole thing with 'I don't know'. How dare you. How dare you be so vain." I must defend myself by saying that I too was having a less than stellar day and my shot on 18 (I hoped) could save my score and maybe back me into second place contention. I was so focused on that shot that I really can't remember what Jim did. What I do know is that Tim the Navarro Nightmare won his second straight match and is now in contention to tie and possibly eventually break the long standing record of "three-in-a-row" held by the man who's pen you follow right now. Since the record was set, a few attempts have been made but none have been staunch enough to earn the triple crown of frolf. Will the Nightmare step into history with a big win, or will his rising handicap slow down the freight train momentum built up over the last couple of weeks? Time will tell. The last run at the record was made by Mendocino's own Nathan "Nate dog" Anderson of Anderson Alternatives in Mendocino, "your eco-lumber provider". The same Nate dog that won second place in a three way playoff between Rusty, Erin and himself. Despite a valiant birdie run by Rusty and a creative "coffin shot" by Erin, Nate dog split the uprights and nonchalantly flicked in the winning putt. Congrats Tim and Nate, well played. Thank you Jim for not hating me after this posting and thanks Erin for the legwork on this blog. Stay Frolfy Mendocino.