Whew! I am back in the office catching up on a week of mail while the better players are getting ready for the finals. I can still picture the majestic pines at Kimble. I can still smell the majestic pines at Kimble. I can still feel the sticky feeling on my non-throwing hand from holding on to trees for balance as I readied an upshot. I can still picture my fellow golfers, Kazuhiko Gomibuchi from Japan struggling with his putting on our difficult last round. Randy Rence from our host town of Kalamazoo playing in one of his first tournaments. Randy and I both have both shared stories of our coronary bypass operations. Brad Zimmerman from Oklahoma. made a nice par on the 420 foot last hole. A good finishing memory. He asked about the sticky pines. Randy and I, northerners, explained it to him.
We felt as if we had played more than one afternoon round. After all, we had taken enough shots to last a couple rounds. As much as Kimble Pines overwhelmed me I was struck by the beauty of the tall trees and the needles on the forest floor. As tired as I was, I did not want the tournament to end. I wanted to savor all the little moments with my fellows of the disc.
I savored a practice round at Fort Custer. We never played there but just decided to try it out on one of our days with only one round. I went there with my travelling buddy Damon and with Kurt, with whom I have played a number of tournaments back home. The setting at hole one reminded me of the old Hamms Beer commercial. We were on a small lake with beautiful trees in the distance. It felt like we were in the land of skyblue waters. I could almost hear the Tom Toms.
I savored a lunch at Bells with Hans from Cincinnati and with Damon. Hans had car trouble on the way into Kalamazoo. He will pick up his car today. He found an angel in another of my Chicago area friends, John. John was staying at Hans' motel and drove him to all the rounds. We shared a nice meal and conversation and, of course, a frosty beer, in between rounds before returning to Robert Morris.
As I prepared to tee off on hole 4 at Begg the spotter asked who we were. The spotter was Dave from Philly. He had found my beloved Champion Roc that I had lost at Sedgley Woods a couple years ago. We had spoken and e-mailed and arranged for him to drop the disc off at my father in law's office. I had sent a supercolor disc from the Prairie Open as a reward disc. We had never met each other despite a lot of digital communication. It was real cool to meet Dave in the flesh. I hope to play with him when I get back to Philly this December.
As the week wears on you more or less settle into your position perhaps going up or down a card or two but basically playing with the same guys. I had good rounds with Kawachi (Chari) from Japan and Jeff and Ted who are also from Oklahoma. I talked baseball with Tomcat who umpires baseball games. We figured this out when he brought out his broom to sweep off the teepad like it was home plate. Tomcat had his practice basket up for us before each round. I didn't get a chance to play with Jan from Texas as he was always a couple of cards ahead of me. I enjoyed seeing him before and after rounds to download our day. I couldn't forget playing with the guys from round one. They, of course, all left me for higher cards. Mark from Texas by way of Michigan, who tipped my caddie Andrew for being a good spotter. Andrew is the son of my old college friend Katie who housed Damon and myself. Thanks for the hospitality Kate! Lee and Rick. RIck is a freestyle champ. We asked him to show off a couple of his moves after the round. As expected, he was a magician with upshots.
I appreciate the pros who I followed including Brett, who gave me lessons that helped me play much better than last year.He is a high school teacher on his day job. If you ever take a lesson from him you will understand why he is not only a profesional disc golfer but a professional teacher. Brett played very well while I followed his group. I feel bad that I left him to watch the leader cards. T-Dogg was on second card that day but still came up to shake my hand and say "hi" while competing with the big boys.
I will not forget laughing with club members at the Kings game last night. Dan, Brett, Damon, Diabetic Dave and Kenny. We were zinging those Buzz Lights at each other. Dave and Kenny are top 20 in Advanced and still competing. Way to go guys.
All the memories of the Fellowship of the Disc were in my head as we walked up that last hole on the worst round of the week for me. I still felt fine. I started singing (with apologies to Michael Stipe) as we approached our last putts of the week. We were on hole 16 and none of us were going to the Semis. I sang,
"Its the end of the Worlds as we know it. Its the end of the Worlds as we know it. And I feel fine. I feel fine.
Kimble Pines hit a tree. Don't know where my disc can be.
There it is in don't know what. How'm I gonna sink that putt.
Its the end of the Worlds as I know it..."
Brad, who has spent some years in the radio and music business, just snickered. He and Gomibuchi had been discussing that their hometowns are sister cities. He called him "my brother" and asked how to say brother in Japanese. He then went to put down his mini and hit that last put. Nice Par Brad. I'm gonna miss you guys.