Day 2: The Grange, Spotsylvania VA.
Leaving Georgetown, Bill and I pressed on, and arrived at The Grange. It was easy enough to find, just one turn once you leave the highway. We were very impressed. We met Mike Trapasso, who was very humble. We saw the clubhouse, with a mini pro shop and a ping pong table. Very cool. We picked up some discs, and I brought a Grange-logo disc back to Ohio as a gift for the Jenkins clan...though I believe none have visited there (yet). We then saw the course. The first item that struck me was the basket in the corral...very unique and an interesting obstacle depending on where you land your upshot. Then we noticed the baskets. Flags were on most of them for visibility purposes (something rarely seen back home), and they were painted with eye-catching color. Upon closer inspection and inquiry, another surprise...they're home-made! Mike had made them all himself...they were Trapaskets! They were functionally equivalent to something like a Mach II, and were very well-constructed, welded and painted with rustoleum for a bit of durability. Bill immediately started a mission of trying to have Mike construct one for him to take back to Ohio, though I don't think in his few years heading out there that he ever succeeded, by my recollection. At any rate, it was clear that this course was constructed by someone with a real passion for the sport.
The tees back then were a bit of a unique amusement: most were either carpet remnants or old oriental rugs. I was surprised to find that most of served fairly well. Mike was putting final details on the meadow that made up hole 1, finishing cutting some of the tall grass. We played a few holes before the tournament started, and were amazed by the effort put into the land. There were areas of open, and areas of dense woods, and they all served to make for a treat of a course. I believe there were 20 or 21 holes at the time, which now I believe are now mostly what has become the 18 holes of the "Sunny Side" course. The wooded holes were cleared by Mike, and the "fairways" were mostly lined with chipped wood from what was cleared.
I played in AM II (Intermediate), for which at the time I was normally a middle-of-the-pack player (more love of the game than ability for it), but after day 1, I was astonished to find myself with a 10-stroke lead on the field! Bill played AM I (Advanced), but I can't recall what he did. About the only person we knew was Mike Moser, a pro from Delaware who came to our tournament in Medina to play our temporary course at Allardale (According to Leroy Jenkins, he saw the pictures of the park that I posted online, and said that after seeing them, "He knew he HAD to play there"), and who we'd seen a couple of times at Knob Hill for the Pittsburgh Flying Disc Open. His girlfriend/wife-to-be Amy was also there. That Sunday evening, however, Bill and I developed a love for the course, the people, the culture that is the Grange. Everyone at the tournament was gracious. We had folks offering us pork chops off the grill. We played ping-pong and hung out by the fire. And we played hours of the most fun glow golf imaginable. I hit chains on what I think is now called the "plinko" hole at night, but it didn't stick. While there may be technically more scenic or more finely manicured places than the Grange, it was clear to Bill and I that it is unlikely - HIGHLY unlikely - that there is a better overall experience to be had...anywhere...and we'd both been to a lot of very cool and memorable places and tournaments. This first day here may have been the most enjoyable experience of my disc golf life, beating out even my experiences of De Laveaga & Toronto Island (though these are can't miss as well, and I'll likely blog those soon).
The second day, we played the final round, where much to my chagrin, I blew every last stroke of that 10-shot lead to a local, who admittedly played out of his mind and bested his personal course record by multiple strokes. My second-place consolation, though, was a nice package of gear that included probably my favorite shirt of all time - a full-color, collared shirt from one of the disc golf clubs in the region, with a cool wildlife setting with a coral-type snake that looked similar to the watersnake that guarded the pond in front of one of the "greens". Bill and I watched the final nine and headed home.
On the way home, we stopped in Pittsburgh to play Schenley Park. This, again, was a bit surreal, as we took a wrong turn in this very large park. Instead of the course, we found dozens of men wearing speedo thongs lying in the sun. When asking some leather-bound dude leaning against his car about the location of a disc golf course, he politely replied, "no, I'm sorry, you've found the queer cruising area, but if you want to throw some frisbees, there's this LOVEly little place over on that other hill!" Fortunately he directed us to the right place.
Schenley is a city park located in an area called Squirrel Hill, and sure enough, when we parked along a wooded ridge, I looked down the steep wooded hillside, and I would bet my life I saw 30-to-40 squirrels, perhaps more, from where I stood. I guess they weren't kidding. At the head end of the course, there are some longer, open holes, with a spectacular view of the Pittsburgh skyline. The majority of the holes, though, were tightly bunched in a grove of mature trees. These holes were short, but very technical given the slope issues throughout.
As we finished and pressed homeward, Bill and I were determined to go and do this again, which we did the following year, and I believe Bill continued for a year or two after that, as I ran out of opportunities for the time being as I was raising a family. However, there is a chance I'll get to revisit the Grange as early as tomorrow morning, as I am taking my family to Williamsburg for a week. I'll let you know what transpires!
Bottom line: make EVERY effort to visit the Grange. You won't regret it one bit!