|Day 1 - July 27, 2005 - I had work to wrap up on Wednesday - data
that had to be sent off to a client. While I worked that morning, A.J.
pulled together what he needed for the trip. Around noon we
finally packed up the Honda Pilot and
headed out. We left San Marcos late in the
afternoon, heading north on I-5. Our first stop was
Park in Tustin, CA. This is a small but nice 9-hole course,
laid out around a playground and racquetball courts. Pine trees
provided most of the obstacles. We played 9 holes on our own, then
met up with a couple of locals and played another nine.
After finishing in Tustin, we continued on up I-5 to South El Monte and Whittier Narrows Park. This 22-hole course has been in place for quite a while, at least since the mid 80's. The ground is generally flat and covered with grass (good for rollers if cut...). The course was mostly open, playing through some larger pine trees and a few huge power line towers. We finished the round as the sun was setting - no time left for more play. L If we hadn't played that second round at Tustin, we might have had time to swing over to Northside Park in Azusa, but it was not to be.
As the sun set it was time to make tracks. We drove north through L.A. (in a rather roundabout way...) heading to where we wanted to start the next day - Tehachapi! We stopped for a quick dinner at the In-N-Out in Santa Clarita. We drove on to Tehachapi, and found the park we would play at in the morning - Meadowbrook Park. Thinking that we could just camp out in the truck overnight at the park, we rearranged our sleeping space and changed into our jammies. But the Tehachapi Police had other things in mind - Smokey Bear let us know that camping was prohibited in the park. He was nice enough, however, to direct us to a spot just of the freeway where truckers parked their rigs overnight for the same reason. That's where we spent our first night - just down the road from Denny's.
Day 2 - July 28, 2005 - Rise and shine early, to the sound of cows mooing as they plodded out to their favorite grass spots. We packed up and went in search of COFFEE! We found what we were looking for at a little drive-thru java shack called the Daily Grind. We got a few coffees and rode over to Meadowbrook to play some high-altitude golf.
Meadowbrook Park, Tehachapi, CA - This is a very short pitch 'n putt course that winds around some youth baseball fields. The most interesting thing about this course are the homemade baskets. It's clear that these baskets were made for larger catch discs, because our putters kept falling through the bottom of the baskets.
Riverview Park, Bakersfield, CA - This shortish 9-hole course winds through a wooded park, out past the outfields of some softball fields. We were here in the summer, but it looked like a few of the holes might play through some swampy areas during the rainy season. There was one spongy piece of ground and in the picture on the right you can see where one of Rizbee's tee shots plugged edge-first into the muck. A fun 9-hole play.
Silver Creek Park, Bakersfield, CA - This 9-hole course is in a newer park on the west side of town. The park is really nice, with some great picnic facilities and a great shaded basketball/volleyball area. The course is a fun layout, but it runs along the periphery of the park in parallel to some pedestrian paths. We played in the middle of the day (95° temperature) so this wasn't a problem for us, but I wonder how hard it would be to play on a cooler day or weekend, when there were lots of walkers...
Franklin Field, Taft, CA - This must have been the day for courses around baseball fields! The 18-hole course in Taft winds around and in between three softball/baseball fields and a BMX track (looks like it was built on the footprint of a fourth ball diamond). This was a fun course. It made great use of trees and some elevation change provided by drainage gullies. It was also laid out to minimize the type of pedestrian problems we expect they have back in Bakersfield. If it weren't out in the middle of nowhere (no offense), we would expect to see a lot of play on this enjoyable course. I'd love to come back for a Central Valley Series Tournament.
Day 3 - July 29, 2005 - Day three started with a trip down to Cannery Row in Monterey for breakfast. We found a cool little bakery/coffeehouse called the Central Avenue Bakery to get some coffee and breakfast stuff. We grabbed breakfast and headed down to the waterfront along Cannery Row to eat breakfast and watch the seals. Along the way we came across this bust of John Steinbeck. This was rather coincidental as A.J. had recently read Grapes of Wrath in his English class. Breakfast was good and the waterfront was very soothing, but we had golfin' to do!!!
Carmel Middle School - Mid-morning we made it to the campus of Carmel Valley Middle School in Carmel, CA. This school has an 18-hole disc golf course winding around its running track and athletic fields. As we pulled into the parking lot we could see that there was a lot of activity at the school - there was a youth soccer camp going on, with little soccer-campers spread out across the infield of the running track. We teed off on the first hole with the tweet of whistles and squeal of kids playing in the background. This course was rather short and open, as you might expect for a course on school grounds, but it was very playable. Whoever designed it made good use of the available changes in terrain, and used the available trees and obstacles well. We had a good time playing this course, and worked up a good appetite that we satisfied with tuna fish sandwiches made right on the spot. As we chowed down on lunch we marveled at the clouds that were starting to roll in from the ocean...
CSUMB Cypress Course - We arrived at the campus of Cal State University Monterey Bay not knowing what to expect. I knew that the campus was on the site of a closed military base, but I didn't know that most of the base was still there as a sort of ghost town. Fort Ord had been closed for quite a few years, I guess. Parts of the base had been torn down and cleared, but there were still quite a few old buildings still standing. The CSUMB Cypress Course wound back and forth across a few fields that had been created by the demolition of some old military buildings. On some of the fairways you would walk across the old foundation slabs of buildings, or se the front steps of a building that was no longer there. Eerie. It is a relatively open course, winding through and between some old growth cypress trees. The weather was turning on us as we played - the fog rolled in and socked in the campus, and the cold, wet wind kicked up. The conditions made it a little difficult to score well and I think we both got a bit frustrated by that, but it was a weird experience all around. Oh, yeah - another strange thing about this round was that as we played there was a constant parade of what looked like high school cheer squads walking across campus, chanting as they walked. They were headed towards the stadium, probably there for some sort of cheer camp. Were we dreaming?
CSUMB Oaks Course - How lucky to have 2 disc golf courses on your college campus!! The Oaks Course at CSUMB was relatively new at the time we played, and it is the tougher of the two courses. It plays through patches of scrub oak, manzanita and poison oak on what used to be the Fort Ord athletic fields and obstacle course. The holes are considerably longer than those of the Cypress Course. We were lucky enough to join in with some locals who were playing - I don't know if we would have found our way around without them. The course made good use of the elevation changes available - a couple of holes played to the edges of small cliffs or caused you to play up the steep slopes. The hole that will always stick in my mind was one that teed off from such a small cliff - you teed off over the corner of an abandoned baseball field. The fence of the field, dugouts and scoreboard were still relatively intact, but the grass was completely overgrown by weeds and brush. It looked like some sort of post- WWIII Mad Max kind of landscape. This place was truly funky - we can't wait to get back there some day!
We hit the road and headed off towards Santa Cruz, and the northernmost point in the Tour. It was late afternoon by the time we made it to Santa Cruz, so we knew we wouldn't have time to play the course we were drooling for - DeLaveaga. Instead, we decided to head northeast of town to Felton, to play a little course we had read about at a junior high school.
Black Mouse DGC - Tucked on a hillside on the back side of a junior high school, you'll find the Black Mouse course. It's not terribly well marked, but it's worth looking for. The course is rather short, but plays up and down some steep hills through a canopy of trees. We had fun here, but it was cut short by the setting sun. We did spend a lot of time looking for lost discs - the course is so full of shule that we ended up sending a spotter down the fairway so we wouldn't lose sight of our tee shots. This is a great asset for the kids who go to this junior high school. I wish I had a course so convenient when I was that age!
After leaving Black Mouse we stopped off at a Vons to refill our provisions, then headed down to the Santa Cruz Boardwalk to soak up some local color. We had fun walking up and down the boardwalk checking out all of the games and rides, and the locals having fun. There was a free live concert down on the beach, so that was cool. After an hour or so of this, though, it was clear that we needed some shut-eye. We decided to try our luck again at urban camping. We started out by driving up to the DeLa course after dark, just to get an idea of where our next day would begin. Along the way we came upon a small herd of deer! That's right, I would call 8 deer a herd. We waited a few minutes for them to clear the road and headed on our way. We decided that the neighborhood just below DeLa was ripe for urban camping. We found a quiet side street and shuffled our gear around in the Pilot to make enough room to stretch out. It was a little cramped, but worked out OK (and saved a good chunk of cash!). We woke up with the sun, said hello to a few dog-walkers as we re-packed and headed off for a round of golf.
Day 4 - July 30, 2005 - We woke up with the sun, said hello to a few dog-walkers as we re-packed and headed off for coffee. We found some great coffee and breakfast baked goods at Emily's Bakery on Mission Street in Santa Cruz. The coffee was strong and the muffins were tasty! It was a good start to the day. Let's play golf!
DeLaveaga Park - Back in 1984 I self-published the first PDGA Course Directory (few people remember that, but you can ask Rick Rothstein and Tom Monroe to corroborate). I remember that the DeLaveaga course was one of the courses in the directory, but at that time it only had wood posts for targets. Nevertheless, lots of players regarded the setting and layout as one of the best in the country. As we started our round the fog was just lifting from the course, giving it an eerie look. We picked up some locals around 5 holes in, but then lost them when they jumped ship for a challenge round after 18. While we were filling up our water bottles to head to tee 19 Nate Doss, the newly crowned world champion showed up. This was just a week or two after he won the title, and he was seeing his local homies for the first time. Pretty cool. We finished up the round, emptying our bags from the "Top of the World" tee and hit the road to start the long drive back home.
Veterans Park - We made it to Veteran's Park in Sylmar about an hour before sundown (a recurring theme). The course had just been re-designed, with new red, white and blue Discatchers installed. This new design is great - lots of long shots twisting through the big trees on the park grounds. There's a modest amount of up and down - enough to make you think about the distances before you throw. We finished up just as it became impossible to see our shots after they left our hands - too bad we didn't know about mini-lights back then.
And the return home! We packed up and headed south on I-5 to return to reality. A stop at In'n'Out for the drive and we headed back to San Marcos. Another great tour, a truckload of memories, and two tired arms.