First of all, don’t call it Frisbee Golf or Frolfing.

That will infuriate the people who play it.

It is called Disc Golf.

Yes, we use discs that, while similar to Frisbees, are designed differently so they will fly much farther.

I’ve seen professionals throw them over 400 feet, sometimes even 500.

By comparison, I’m pretty thrilled if I throw my driver 230 feet. And yes, we have drivers, putters, mid-range discs in our bags. They are classified as under stable, over stable, stable.

They weigh anywhere from 140 grams to 185 grams. Your strength level determines the weight you throw.

Most holes are par three and the game is scored just like ball golf. Holes range from 200 feet to 700 feet depending on the course.

The baskets have chains hanging from the top to grab and hold onto your putter disc. They are brilliantly designed.

It is really fun and anyone can play — for free.

Santa Maria has two courses—one at Waller Park and one at Preisker Park. There are additional courses all over the Central Coast. Lompoc, Lake Cachuma, Lake Casitas, San Luis Obispo (2), Goleta and Atascadero all have courses.

You can find a course just about anywhere. The game has blossomed so much in popularity that Roseburg, Oregon, on its advertising brochure about activities to do in the city, lists disc golf first.

But the best part of the sport is not necessarily the game — it is the people you meet who also play.

They are some of the finest people I know.

One of my very best friends, Rich Crain, tried to talk me into playing for two years. I kept coming up with excuses not to try it.

I had seen the people who played since my cross country races and practices when I coached were conducted at Waller Park and I formed an opinion that I am ashamed of today.

But I eventually tried it and became addicted, playing at least four times a week. I would like to tell you about some of the extraordinary people that I have met and now consider friends while on the disc golf course.

There is Lee. He drove a kind of vintage car and always had his dog with him. We played together a few times and I learned he knows a ton about cars and had a car detailing business. I asked him if he would work on mine. He agreed and came to my house and did just an outstanding job. He now details my cars on a regular basis. Not only did I make a friend, I found a quality business I could rely on.

Steve Wagner, or Wags, is an outstanding history teacher at Righetti High School. He has been a wrestling coach, among other things. He always seems to know what all the athletes in the area are up to — not only the Righetti athletes. He has genuine interest in their successes and futures. We play regularly and talk sports, politics, religion (all the things you’re supposed to avoid) and I am a better person for the time I spend with him.

Justin Lieberman is a local house painter but he has taken on the mantle of running disc golf tournaments and helped design the course at Preisker Park. I’ve hired him to paint the windows at my house.

You’ve all heard of Don Shin. He plays with one disc and wears a glove. He has recently been invited to play in the world championships in Kansas this year. Don is remarkable because he has only been playing for five years. Big deal, you say.

Don is 97 years old and sometimes outdrives me! And Wags is going to drive him to Kansas.

There’s Roy, who, because of injury, was forced to throw with both hands. He has gotten so good that he and his partner recently won the December Doubles event, going 46-under par in a 54-hole tournament.

I play three times a week with Pete Palma. He has become a dear friend. He is an artist at leatherwork, making belts, holsters and other cool leather goods. (His dear wife Linda makes a fantastic potato salad I’ve been blessed to enjoy).

But the best friendship I’ve made is with a man named Bob McNally, known to disc golfers as Birdie Bob.

He is the course pro at Waller Park and makes certain tournaments are properly run and that the course is well maintained. He installs new baskets, moves baskets and repairs broken ones.

In short, without him there probably would be no disc golf here.

He is unbelievably generous with his time and money (both of which he has very little of) but he doesn’t care. He is the game’s greatest ambassador.

He frequently uses his own limited funds to make sure the park is always in top shape. I profess to be a Christian man and do OK at it, but Bob lives it better than anyone I know.

He has hired people to work for him even though he doesn’t really need them; this helps them when they are down on their luck. He always pays his employees first, doing without himself if it means they won’t get paid.

There is a Bible parable where a poor woman gives two coins to God and is mocked by a rich person. Jesus proclaims the generosity of the poor woman because she gave all that she had. This is the kind of man Bob McNally is and I am blessed and privileged to know him.

These are just a few of the people I’ve met while playing disc golf. My life has been enriched by these folks. You just never know where the true saints are.

I’ve met them on the disc golf course.

Greg Sarkisian coached high school athletics on the Central Coast for around 30 years. At St. Joseph, Sarkisian's track and field athletes won 24 individual CIF championships under his tutelage. He also taught mathematics for 38 years at the high school level and for 27 years at Allan Hancock College.


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