This article first appeared in print in the July 2019 issue of Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine.
“There’s two kinds of disc golfers.” Photographer Laura Szanto lets the words hang. We’re six playing disc golf at the course near Revelstoke’s industrial park, discussing the finer frustrations of the sport while on assignment. She’s taking pictures and I’m taking notes, tasked with writing a “captivating” story on Revy’s disc golf scene. It’s the start of a perfect quote, but she doesn’t have a finish.
“There’s two kinds of disc golfers,” someone repeats. “Those that disc golf, and those who just like beer.”
Amidst the purple lupines, tall grass and groves of deciduous trees that line the course, we clearly fall in the second group. There are others out there who take the sport seriously – who carry multiple frisbees (discs, if you want to be taken seriously) and can throw them overhand the length of a football field.
Revelstoke is home to three disc golf courses that I know of. There’s an old one along the greenbelt south of the Illecillewaet River, and the Woodchuck at Revelstoke Mountain Resort, whose first nine holes were set up in a haste to provide a diversion for people waiting hours for The Pipe. It has since been expanded to a full 18 holes – nine near the base and nine at mid-station. There’s been attempts to make an official, public course in one of Revelstoke’s parks, but so far they haven’t come to fruition.
Multiple people deserve credit for starting and maintaining the industrial park course over the years. William Eaton, Clayton Carroll and a few friends are responsible for the first iteration, while James Eger and Will Moores rebuilt it last year. It’s the most popular in town and there’s been multiple groups about each time I’ve played. Hole one starts on the river path, just east of Bridge Creek. From there, a series of tee boxes take you around the vacant lot.
The area used to be home to snowmobile races and a motocross track, but now it’s home to this calmest and most casual of sports. It’s a wasteland being overtaken by nature, with paths trod by golfers in the tall grass. The original course had tires as targets, but the city eventually came in and cleaned things out and the targets are now made out from old fire hydrants and metal pipes (chopped up from Mountaineer editor’s Aaron Orlando’s old outdoor clothes drying rack) spray painted orange. They provide a very satisfying ding when you hit one, though disc golf purists might cry out for the proper cages found at most courses.
I borrowed a disc from a friend of a friend for my first game but for my second go, I made a trip to Free Spirit Sports, where the employees were unboxing a shipment of multi-coloured frisbees, some translucent and sprinkled with sparkles. At the back of the store there was multiple stacks of discs to choose from, in all the colours of the rainbow. Like regular golf, there was drivers, mid-range, and putters, each costing $15-20. It’s much cheaper than regular golf, but there’s also no clubhouse and girls driving around in golf carts selling beer. It’s BYOB.
If I can provide any advice on buying frisbees for the purpose of disc golf, it’s to buy a disc, and not a frisbee. Don’t buy them at the Dollar Store, like the first time I ever played, unless you enjoy frustration. Make sure yours is a bright colour, but not green or yellow, because you will spend time looking for it in the grass and the trees.
If you’re not well practiced, throwing a frisbee is awkward and frustrating and you have better luck predicting Donald Trump’s next tweet than knowing where it will land. “I just remembered how much I suck at throwing things,” remarked one friend as took his turn at the tee box. For my first throw I leaned back, side-stepped forward a few times and swung my arm wildly, aiming for the moon. The disc soared high, arcing through the sky, before falling in the tall grass nowhere near the target. Good thing it was bright red.
My friend Nicole preferred to shoot forehand, which involves more of a flick of a wrist than a whole arm swing. It isn’t as powerful, but goes a bit straighter before curving slightly to the right. “If you’re good at it,” she adds. I learned quickly that it’s best to aim short rather than go for the hole in one. I also learn quickly to call it disc golf – not frisbee golf and definitely not frolf, unless my goal is to antagonize the purists.
The 18 holes flow efficiently around the old dirt bike track. Some targets are tucked in the trees and require a bit of scouting to find at first. Some let you throw across an open field and others through a path in the forest. A few have a lone tree blocking a path to the target that I always proved adept at hitting. My first game, on a humid afternoon, we played a full round, but this time we finished our beers after the front nine and called it a night. No one kept track of the score and no one seemed to care. It was a nice change of pace from the usual adrenaline-filled Revelstoke activities.