Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Where the Frisbee Landed: Part 3

Post No. 3: Developing the Game: Rules & Routines 

Note: Read post No. 1 here; read post No. 2 here


In May of 2013 the 71st singles tournament under the auspices of the Greater Richmond Frizbee-Golf Association will be staged. As noted before, the group began holding tournaments after it had been playing for a couple of years.

Accordingly, in 1978, there were two singles tournaments, spring and fall. Three were played the next year (1979) and then just one the following year (1980). Three was clearly overkill, but I don’t remember why there was only one tournament held in 1980. I’m guessing it might have been weather related. Nonetheless, since then there have two per year, every year.

The GRFGA has also had lots of other tournaments with different formats, including various configurations of partners and teams. We’ve even played some of our courses backwards. The less said about that sort of thing the better.

By the fall of 1978 we had established Friday afternoons as a set time when we would meet, without any sort of checking in with one another beforehand. More than tournaments/special events, our game became institutionalized as a pastime flowing from those scheduled rounds on Fridays, which throughout the 1980s, were inevitably followed by a trip to a nearby pub for happy hour duties … maybe dinner after that, too. Much of our social life revolved around the group of regular golfers.

We play year round in all but the worst of weather. The regulars know without question there will others there to play at least nine holes on Sunday mornings at 10 o’clock. In good weather the playing of 18 holes is preferred. The Sunday morning time to meet and play goes back to the early-‘80s. In those days several of the guys also played on a softball team in a bar league that practiced on Sundays in the spring and early summer. So we began playing golf afterwards and it stuck after softball season ended.  

In the beginning we were all roughly the same age, somewhere in our 20s. In 2013 a typical weekday afternoon’s group might range in age from 29 to 69. Some of the same tees and objects to hit have been in use since the start, although mostly the history of our courses is one of change. By the way, none of the tees or target objects are marked. We make a point of being stealth in that respect.

Over the years of play the courses have been changed for two basic reasons. One has been necessity, which meant one of the target objects -- like a tree -- died and disappeared. The other most likely reason has been something that went on mostly during the ‘80s and ’90s -- the radical evolution of golf discs. We lengthened our courses repeatedly in that time period to adjust to the greater distances the newer discs could fly.

The rules we developed to govern our game were created out of necessity, as well. We made no attempt to look outside of our own experience to set our rules.

That remains true today, although some of our younger players -- who also play on other courses with baskets as targets -- grouse about how our rules differ from those of the Only True Intergalactic Professional Disc Golf Federation, or whatever…

Examples of our rules and practices which differ from the OTIPDGF’s are:
  • We require a player to throw with one foot on the spot where his disc landed. But it can be either foot. So the foot on the proper place is like a pivot foot in basketball, which means a player’s front foot can extended toward the target. Some heathens outside of our group like to call that extra step the GRFGA (pronounced griff-guh) Stretch.
  • Although we use objects other than trees as targets, mostly we use trees. One nine-hole course, called the Dead Dog Nine, uses utility poles. Otherwise, our targets are usually prominent trees, which frequently means exposed roots. So we needed a rule for how to count roots and how high on the tree counted as good. The way to handle that has been the same since we started. The shot is good if it strikes the tree’s trunk below the first major limb. Roots count as good, so long as they are connected above ground to the trunk.
  • We have water hazards on two courses, a lake on one and a creek on the other. If your disc goes into the water in either case, it earns a penalty stroke, even if the disc doesn‘t end up in the drink. The player is obliged to throw the next shot from approximately the place where their disc entered the water. Landing in mud puddles and other such temporary gatherings of water is not a penalty. 
  • Hitting a parked car earns a penalty stroke (tires don't count). If the car is moving it's two strokes. 
  • It has been our practice to play in large groups. For tournaments we play in foursomes, but for everyday play we play in one cumbersome group. In the pretty weather that can sometimes mean 15 or 20 players. So, such outings move slowly and are as much social gatherings as they are athletic contests.
As much as anything we do, the large group factor keeps the young and impatient golfers from joining us for a round too often. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The younger players in our group know what they’re in for and that’s a good thing. And, from the start, collectively, we haven't felt the group's best interests would be served by over-recruiting.    

Other rules, peculiar to the GRFGA, will be outlined later, when this meandering history touches on the dicey topic of cheating and particularly amusing incidents of such.


Note: The photo above (by Steve) is of the area just behind the target object (a pole) on the tough fourth hole of the Carillon West course (aka the Back Nine). Part Four in this series will be posted soon. 

No comments: