After playing Northiside and Windwood yesterday, I felt the need to leave the city and find somewhere to be in the woods by myself for the evening, I wasn’t about to camp out in another Wal-Mart parking lot, so after studying the map I found the nearest National Forest and drove about 60 miles north to camp out – at that point, I still had Shawshank in the back of my head, but hadn’t done the research to know exactly where it was located. It wasn’t until I found a beautiful campsite and sat down to write that I thought I would check how close I actually was. Once I found it’s location, I punched it into my GPS to find out I was only 29 miles away, the pieces were falling together nicely. I dialed the number posted on DGCR and got this crazy Steve guy on the phone. After I told him who I was, that I was traveling through the area, and that I was interested in playing some disc golf, his response was “Got a Million bucks?”
“Uhh, I realized that there was going to be a green fee, but on second thought maybe I won’t play this course.”
“Have you committed any crimes?”
“Nope, no crimes sir.”
“Why are you coming to Shawshank if you haven’t committed any crimes?”
“Uh, to play disc golf?”
“Where are you coming from”
“When do you want to play?”
“Tomorrow morning, 9:00″
“Earlier would be better”
“Perfect, see you then, I’ll give you a score card and walk you through the course.”
Awesome, this Steve Dufrane Guy seems like an alright cat, I was excited to see what all this buzz was about, that night I sat around the campfire with visions of tunneling out of a jail cell with a roc. I massaged my knee, I think I had tweaked it during a LDC with a bunch of guys at Windwood, I did out drive them with all three of my discs, except for one errant throw that sailed about 50 feet past any of my tosses, but really, it wasn’t worth it, because now my knee is crying.
Morning came around and I popped enough asprin to numb the pain (I was able to muscle through most of the morning without much of a limp I think, but now I can hardly walk, which is why I’m sitting in the woods typing on a computer rather than getting ready for the minis at Spring Valley tonight). I punched the address into my GPS and headed over there (As an interesting sidenote, I think this was the first time in Texas that putting an address into the GPS actually worked in Texas, I think about 10 times previous to that it never brought me to where I thought I was going, I figured Texas just must be anti-GPS, but today, I ended up right at the end of the driveway) I knew I was in the right place because of the big Innova banner in the yard.
I pulled in, I wasn’t quite sure where to park, but I pulled in next to some work vehicles. I didn’t know what to expect, or where to go – there was a couple of shop/shed looking buildings, and a house, I glanced around and I didn’t see anybody, so I called Steve. He answered the phone and said “Come on into the house.” So I walked up to the house, the door was open and I walked in, Steve and his fiance Terri were in the middle of breakfast, I felt a little awkward, just having walked into a strange house on a couple that I had never met before.
I said, “This is awkward, I’m walking in on your breakfast”
“No, your walking in on my Birthday breakfast!”
“Well Happy Birthday!”
“I’m getting ready to beat you with a rock”
This caught me off guard, it took me a moment, because of the way he said it, and I didn’t know that he was planning on playing a round with me, to realize that he was going to beat me with a “Roc” a type of disc, and I didn’t know that “Come to Shawshank and I’ll beat you with a Roc” was his slogan, but it sure sounded pretty cool. Despite the initial awkwardness, meeting up with Steve to play on his birthday ended up being like a couple old friends getting together for a round, it was great.
He handed me a score card and we approached hole one. I took the box on the “First Offense” a relatively easy, straight forward shot at the basket. The “Second Offense” was pretty similar, as was the “Third Offense” nothing extreme, and at that point we were tied with 3 pars each.But after three offenses, it’s time for “Jail,” a ridiculous hole with a very narrow tunnel shot 12 feet wide to a sharp dogleg left where the basket it tucked away amongst some small trees. I’ll the note the beautiful tee signs created perfectly for each hole, with the “Texas department of Criminal Disc Golf” logo on each one, distance and hole number, these added a special character to the course and were beautifully crafted.
After jail, we had to “Tunnel” out to “Waupon,” run the “Green Mile” and then take the “Hyzer Express”. I parked my drive on Hyzer Express, but missed my birdie putt, by that point I was behind Steve by 2 strokes. “Alice in Chains” kicked my butt, it was nearly a carbon copy of Hyzer Express, but I didn’t quite hyzer the Boss as much as I had planned, the dang thing flattened out on me going about 50 feet farther than I had wanted, diving out of bounds. My second shot, I turned the Wraith over for a beautiful S curve, but that’s not what I was going for, that too, landed out of bounds by a couple of feet. My T-Bird (Brand new disc, had only thrown it once, but I took note that it was much more stable than my previous T-Bird had been) took a safe hyzer route but landed short, an upshot and a 2 putt gave me an 8 on that hole (I realize for the non-Disc golf readers, this paragraph probably makes no sense, hopefully you get the gist of it, all you really need to know is that an 8 is a bad score). I was cursing under my breath, but it didn’t matter one bit! I was in a beautiful location with a great guy who was telling me all of the ins and outs of his course and hopefully was enjoying spending his birthday morning with some random guy from Minnesota.Then it was on to the back 12 holes, starting with “Alcatraz”, I put another disc out of bounds. After that I picked up my game a bit, with mostly pars, a few bogies through “Parole Board,” “Solitary,” “Death Row,” “Hot Box,” and “Strip Search.” Then pulled in the first bird between the two of us on the infamous “Conjugal Visit” the entire round Steve kept warning me about Conjugal Visit, “Just you wait” was the vibe I kept getting. On approaching the hole, yeah it was a nice water crossing, and no I didn’t throw a perfect drive – I put a little extra muscle behind it, I didn’t feel like losing any plastic today, and one of the trees on the other side of the pond grabbed my disc and set it down right next to the basket for an easy birdie. “Amen Corner” was a tough anny route that I bogied, “Cavity Search” was a ‘luck’ shot through a line of trees guarding the basket, I couldn’t quite find the Cavity, but it was an easy approach and putt for par. Then was “Lucky’s Hole” a short 189 feet across a small pond. It was Steve’s box and he put in a great ace run effort, as many times as he’s played his own course, he’s only gotten one ace – it would have been a great birthday present, he hit the post. I followed him up with almost an identical throw that landed at the base of the basket. No aces today, but two easy birdies – I birdied two of the three water holes. “TayCheedah” was followed by the infamous “Tin Cup,” think of the namesake’s scene where dude takes like a 20 on one hole too determined to take his lateral drop. Yeah, that’s what we both looked like trying to hit the small island, Steve put both of his discs out of bounds (yeah, he was only playing with 2 discs, a Roc and an Aviar) I put 2 discs OB, thinking one of them must have landed in I walked up to them to find that was not the case, we never did finish that hole. We sat on the porch and chatted for a few minutes before he insisted that he must leave for work. I payed him the $5 green fee, plus $1 for him hitting metal (we were playing 51), and then I made the rounds to take pictures. About halfway around, Steve was yelling something at me, I walked up to find him with a photo in hand that he wanted to give me. A beautiful shot with rays of light penetrating some low smoke from a fire, behind one of the baskets. Then of course I had to share my photography with him, traded him a photo for a photo. We sat down at his kitchen table and shared pictures, he had a ton of disc golf photos, and I had my nature photos. Eventually Steve did leave for work, Terri picked out the picture of the moose in front of the Grand Teton, I signed the back with a thank you, and then I took off.
Thank you again Steve for an amazing experience at Shawshank. You have an incredible piece of property, a very beautiful course, though very challenge I throughly enjoyed my experience. I hope you had a great birthday, and I’m sorry you didn’t get your birthday ace. If you ever find yourself in Minnesota, let me know, I’d love to play another round with you again sometime.