Disc Counts Of Hometown
Tuesday the 24th of August was a great day for hitting the links. On this particular day it was an even better reason to bang some chains.On this day it just so happened that me and my good friend Ryan Foster would have the honor and privilege to play a disc golf course before it was even open to the public. Im sure your wondering how this could happen. Well lets go back a few days to the 19th of August. I had taken some time off to attend my sisters wedding reception in beautiful Manchester,Ohio. I knew that I was going to try and get some disc golf in while I was there, cause after all,owning a disc golf shop makes R&D part of my job. I was really curious to see how the disc golf scene has grown, since last visit a few years back. So of course I didn't want to play the same courses I have already played and figured I would look on DGcoursereview.com to see if anything new popped up. Low & behold I saw 2 new courses, 1 was 2 years old and 1 was not even a year old yet. Me being the "me first" type wanted to play the newer one first which as I look closer I see Portage Lakes State Park, my jaw dropped. I thought "NO WAY" this was where I spent allot of time as an teenager, doing things, well that most teenagers do. Most of them consisting of nothing good and wasting a whole lotta time. But to see a disc golf course here! wow, thats great. Without hesitation i called up my good friend Ryan and said lets hit the links. While on the way to the course Ryan tells me there is a new disc golf course opening in Mogadore on Friday. I was pretty bummed because I knew that was the day I had to fly back to Seattle. No worries I was pretty stoked to be able to play Portage Lakes since it was so close to home & I had some fond memories of it growing up. The other one I found was located in Green township, which was the next town over from where I grew up. Now you gotta understand small town mentality if your not from a small town. So most of memories of Green are pretentious,uptight,rich,white people who had more money & economy than Manchester, but we always beat them at sports when we played them. So they were kind of our rival growing up. It looked like I was gonna have to research this one more via word of mouth before checking it out. When asking around about this course I found out it was very overgrown & not worth playing unless you were into looking for your disc in the middle of the fairway in chest high weeds. No thanks, so as we got inside the park I also noticed a skatepark they added and an off leash dog park. Really cool additions to the park , as there was none of that when I lived here. Just woods & the lake. So we got to hole 1 and saw a nice tee sign marking hole #1. Seems like if there was a kiosk it would help quite a bit. The tee pad signs are made from 4x4's and have a cool place to hang the bag on. As noticed with this picture of Ryan
I didn't know there were multiple tad pads until we got to the 2nd hole. Not like we needed it though , we both got lucky & split the uprights for a nice park job on hole #1 @ 222 ft. through allot of trees and elevation change was pretty impressive. As we continue to play we are enjoying the scenery as well as the company. When we got to hole #4 I had a shit eatin grin on my face that i could not get rid of even if I wanted to. As I am throwing my 2nd shot I look over at Ryan to notice 3 state park rangers looking at him & me with a sort of childlike gaze. I decide to walk over to find out they are looking to install a new course up north in Warren Ohio at another state park. Now if you've read any thing on this website you'd know that for at least the past year I have been trying to get some new courses installed in the Seattle area working with City, County and now even State parks employees. So to say my jaw dropped when 3 state parks employees are actually out at another disc golf course asking questions about how to go about getting a course installed & talking to me about it, pretty much is an understatement. I told them my story & how I liked & disliked this course & how to help it and things to do to improve it, or suggestions for the new one. Now when they told me they wanted to start selling discs inside the parks I nearly flipped, and thought is there any way I could come back here to start a "chain" of chainbangerz stores within state parks and they even sounded interested in that. We talked quite extensively about disc golf & I even gave them some discs to throw and pointers on how to throw them. They took some pictures of me & my bag of discs and of me throwing a few.Even at that point I was seriously even thinking is this really happening.Wheres Ashton or some hidden camera with some old friends from high school playing some cruel joke on me? I mean its a 1 in a million that this would happen,on this day,In this park at his time. Truly AMAZING! As we are wrapping things up I ask them if they know anything about the new Mogadore disc golf course opening and if there is anyway for me and Ryan to play it before I go to Seattle. Sure enough one of the the nice young gentleman Doug Lyons, hands me his business card and wrote Todd Metz's # on the back & says "give him a call" "it shouldn't be a problem" WOW! AWESOME! I will review the course & be honored to do so. So I try to gain my composure for the next hole, as I ask Ryan to pinch me,an older gentleman approaches me and Ryan and says he works for Akron Parks Dept. and wants to know more about disc golf & how to go about installing a course. ARE YOU KIDDING ME ?... this is probably the best day of my life. How could I not write about this? So I talked to him for a bit about things to do & how to go about doing it & passed him along my business card, if he ever wants advise or consultation to get in touch with me. This really does not happen like this,at least so far with me and my endeavours out here. So after a great round at a really well designed course I was in the clouds for a few days and doing family stuff until Monday then I call Todd & tell him my story. Of course he says sure come on out play it give me some reviews,tips, pointers all that. I was so excited to be able to play this course, and it wasn't until after I played the round did I realize how much more closer to home this course is to me. First off my grandpa Asa Harbarger used to live right near the entrance to this park. At that time it was not a public park,but a private Goodyear employee park, which at the time was where my dad worked, before he got laid off. So growing up even before my teenage years I spent allot of time inside this park. I had a weird feeling during most of the round about something familiar in the air & that Deja Vu feeling, but shrugged it off since It was already too surreal for me to be playing a round before the general public, that I didn't notice it. So the first thing we notice as we pull into the park is the obvious "not open to public" sign and right then knew we are getting special treatment that others don't get. As we park,the state trooper rolls up and wants to know what we are doing. I explain to him what's going on & he says ENJOY. Next thing we noticed was a Kiosk with a sweet map of the whole disc golf course rightfully named "The Hanger" since this is where the goodyear blimp hanger is located & you can see from across the water on holes 5,6 & 7. Another great feature right off the bat are small maps/score cards & pencils. Wow thats a first on a disc golf course. I had to take a few as souvenirs.
As we get to the first tee pad I call Todd to let him know we have arrived , as Im sure the state trooper has notified him as well, since we were the only two blokes out here not working for the parks.So I figure he's busy and will catch up to us. So lets throw some discs. We had a little trouble figuring out which way to throw since the tee pad lined you up right for the tennis courts & the tee signs did not have flight patterns on then. But after speaking to Todd that will be fixed shortly. So the first hole plays well if you hug the tennis courts & trees to the right. If you go too far to the right you are behind some low lying branched trees which make it really tough to get to the basket from. Hole #2 is a shorty to the left,with a slight downhill elevation change but its technical since your window is narrow & short
as with allot of the holes here you cant see the basket from the tee pad. I personally think thats fine, it makes it more challenging, I know some people really frown on that. The reason I like this hole is it forces you to throw a low to the ground hyzer shot. In the picture you don't see that basket,it is hidden behind the large tree to the left,after the row of pines. Next we were on to #3 slightly uphill narrow fairway that you cant get to unless you do a big annie or a forehand over the first small tree in front of you. Thats a real tight window, or the other option is a roller. All of these shots for me are tough. Since I don't have a great backhand annie or a roller and my forehand is not as accurate is I would like it to be. Thats what makes a good course is the thought process and being forced to try something you otherwise would not. The fact that is manicured like any professional ball golf course really helps too.
At this point Todd met up with me & Ryan and walked to the remainder of the course with us. Now the fact that we are able to play this course before anyone else is pretty cool , but to have a parks employee, who helped install the course cruise along with you is really just about as good as it gets. So like a kids in a candy store,we march on. Along the way I offer up advise about risk/reward factor & as well as multiple pin & multiple tee pad placements. As we got to the next 2 water holes I suggested larger tee pads & not using wood chips. I even talked about using recycled rubber mats like flymats , but since this course is in the heart of the rubber capitol of the world & right next to goodyear, that I'm sure they could come up with a good solution like flymats, but more local to help support local business & economy, as well as represent & support the company that used to own the park the course sits on. Now heres where I really started to like the way that State Parks are thinking. Todd was telling me how one of the activities in the park are going to be renting paddle boats and that the boat house that will be renting them (which is located on the 2 water holes of the disc golf course) will also be renting & selling new discs for the disc golfers. This will be a parks employee run "pro shop" at that point I explained how I am working with King County in trying to do the same thing at our nearby Lakewood Disc Golf Course and that its a great way to generate revenue for the upkeep of the course & park. Another great factor was that parks staff want to take an active roll in running leagues & doubles and possibly tournaments. REALLY ? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? thats so great and they are open to the community helping out & wanting to work with them. This is all new and I think it has allot to do with State parks now offering more recreation & wanting to compete with city & county run parks whose budgets are allot smaller than state run entities. In my opinion in think its awesome. I suggested if they did not make longer & multiple tees that is they have the space to just add an 18 hole championship style course & keep this one as a beginner course. The possabillity of adding a mini disc golf course also came up,which would be a first,inside of an existing course. Todd also wants to offer rare mini discs with the course name & artwork on them and I explained how we offer custom printed designs & how well that goes over. When we got to hole #14 Todd took allot of pictures of me & Ryan both that can be found : http://www.facebook.com/ohiostateparks
specifically on that hole because it is on top of a hill & a wide open shot. Im sure allot of disc golfers will enjoy this one.
If I was to rate this course with 5 being the best it would have to be a solid 5 . I know some people when they play this course may think differently, but with me I got to meet the people who made this course happen & who will continue to make this a great disc golf course, and it already rocks in my opinion, so therefore I rate it extremely high in my book. Im thankful to have the chance to rate it and the opportunity to play it before the general public.
Overall not only my experience with Todd @ Wingfoot but in general my meeting with all Ohio State Parks staff make me want to ask if they can relocate to Seattle & talk with Washington State parks staff to share the pros & cons with disc golf and the desire to be more proactive with disc golf in general.