There are about 100 times more frisbee golf courses in the US than there are in the UK. This put something of a dampener on my enthusiasm to give it a go after reading about it in Kim Stanley Robinsons’ Fifty Degrees Below, but then, I already knew there weren’t any courses in any of the parks I’d been to in London.
Frisbee golf is exactly what it sounds like – throwing frisbees along a course to reach a ‘hole’ which for frisbees is more like a chain basket. If that was it, I wouldn’t be that interested since I’m not that great at frisbee and not that interested in golf, but KSR’s description of doing frisbee golf while running sounded like real fun. Running is a fine thing to do, and I try to do a few miles whenever the weather’s good, but let’s face it – it’s not that interesting. Especially when you live in a city.
It takes games, or at least variability, to make running more interesting, which means things like fartlek or high intensity interval training; or perhaps hash hound harriers. The problem with the former is that ultimately, HIIT gets pretty boring as well, and the latter games tend to require multiple people, which is all very good but potentially tricky to organise.
Hence frisbee golf. It sounded like a great way to combine running with throwing and hitting stuff in a reasonably artful way. Given that my local park, Clapham Common, doesn’t have a frisbee golf course, I resolved to simply run laps around the park throwing a frisbee at trees in sequence. Getting the frisbee was the easy part – £2 from a nearby shop. A couple of hours later, when I got together with a couple of friends to throw it about, it became painfully apparent that my frisbee skills had dramatically atrophied since about seven years ago, when I’d played ultimate frisbee at Cambridge for a term. I was still okay at catching (not a terribly useful skill when you’re doing single-player frisbee golf) but my throws were going all over the place.
“This is what the cerebellum is for,” reminded Alex.
“I can feel my inferior olives working,” I admitted. Sure enough, after some practice, we were all much better.
This evening, after a pretty long day at work, I ventured out half an hour before sunset to give it a try. I felt distinctly wary about the fact that I would look like the result of a freak mind-meld between a human and a dog, throwing a frisbee around, running over to pick it up, and then throwing it again. As a result, I decided to run around for a mile to get my courage up and find a more suitable spot. Towards the centre of the common, I found a rather nice area with trees spaced about ten or twenty metres apart, and chucked it around. This was pretty fun, but it seemed a bit silly to be sticking to one spot when there was multiple square miles of greenery around, so I went over to a long tree-lined path and zig-zagged across it from tree to tree, going downwind. Now this was nice, and I didn’t get even a single comment from passersby.
Unfortunately, single-player frisbee golf running is quite hard on your back; bending over to pick up the frisbee a hundred times, combined with running, is not comfortable. So it seems to me that either I have to learn how to throw the frisbee several times further, or I need to find other people to play with. All in all though, a fun diversion and I’m already planning to try out some aerobies.