Where golf balls become meteors | VailDaily.com

Where golf balls become meteors

Andrew Harley
Special to the Daily/Jennifer WagonerOur Frisbee-golf challenged reporter sends a doomed tee shot well left of the fairway.

Have you ever hit a 350-yard drive, reached a par-5 in two strokes, driven a par 4 or overshot an elevated green with an 8-iron from 180 yards into the wind?

Well, the vast majority of us will accomplish one or less of these in our lifetimes. However, at 9,680 feet above sea level, Mt. Massive Golf Course in Leadville offers each and every golfer, from Tiger to the weekend hacker, the best North American opportunity to hit the longest drive of his or her life.

Andy hits the atmosphere

My first tee shot went as high as it did long on the par-4 first, and left me with 190 yards against the wind into a narrow green. A 6-iron landed 15 feet past the pin and held.

Hole 2 plays 180 from the tips, and I pulled an 8-iron, hoping the wind would correct my recently-acquired draw. I found my ball 10 yards past the green – I hit an 8-iron around 165 in the valley.

As I stood on the third tee box, waiting for the group in front of me to clear the fairway so that I could play through, a group of teen-agers passed me on the eighth fairway.

“I think I want a pull cart,” said the lone female of the group.

“Why,” asked a young man wearing glasses and a deep, bronze tan. “All this sweating is doing wonders for your sunburn.”

I assume the young man did not win the honor of participating in a tonsil-hockey match against her after that charming comment.

I blew my tee shot on the third hole, sending it left into the “native area” between the third and fifth fairways – double-bogey land.

I parred the par-3, fourth and pulled my trusty four wood on the 328-yard fifth. My tee shot landed a staggering – for me – 20 yards from the green. With birdie inevitable, I chose to approach with my highly-volatile flop shot and, in the tradition of Shaquille O’Neal, missed a green that lay submissively in front of me like a 30-square-foot basketball hoop.

I was frustrated enough to run to my ball, skip all practice strokes, visualizations of success and attempts at finding momentary zen and blindly smash a flop shot circa 50 vertical feet.

The shot bounced once, hit the pin and fell into the hole.

Shots like that are the reason we return to the golf course, blah, blah, blah. The moment of random golf-related psychosis subsides. We have returned to the form of Dr. Jekyll, and are once again ready to dissect the course.

The rest of my round played out in relatively-boring fashion, pars and bogeys, save a monster drive down the middle of the fairway of the 481-yard par-5 eighth that mysteriously disappeared during my walk from the tee box – I suspect the foul play of the mastermind-criminal, prairie-dog cartel.

Unforgiving Flying Objects

The Leadville Frisbee Golf Course at Colorado Mountain College lurked like a prairie dog at Mt. Massive Golf Course, ready to steal my discs at the first blink of my eyes.

It was my first attempt at disc golfing, and, consequently, my first “drive” flew a pathetic 50 yards, dead left. I proceeded run after it into a forest of pine, spruce and fir trees, and I’m not sure which arboreal form was responsible for stabbing my right eyeball with a branch.

So, half-blinded, I was ten strokes over par through six holes, when I lost my driver on the seventh hole for a solid 15 minutes, only to discover that it was stuck twenty feet up a pine tree.

I recovered the disc, and the disc-golf course continued to have its way with me until hole No. 18, when I threw a sidearm-draw from the elevated-tee box within 20 yards of the target.

Despite the uncooperative discs, my ignorant lack of water and the corneal abrasion, I will go disc golfing again.

I never made it to the Mount Elbert Miniature Golf Course, but it’s apparently open from dawn till dusk.

Andrew Harley can be contacted at (970) 949-0555 ext. 608 or at aharley@vaildaily.com.

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