Discs replaced balls and clubs at DeLaveaga golf course Sunday for the first time in the history of the course, an important step towards bringing together two sports which are wildly different in spite of the fact that they are almost identical.
Aside from their shared goal of maneuvering a small and cumbersome object to a distant but precise location, ball golfers and disc golfer often reside on opposite sides of a vast cultural chasm.
In many ways the sports are like opposites: Ball golf is expensive, but disc golf is free. Ball golf is played on vast manicured lawns, and disc golf involves wading through a sea of poison oak. Ball golfers are known for being dignified and well dressed, while disc golfers do not necessarily have that reputation.
But if disc golf is ball golf's hillbilly cousin, then Sundays family reunion went over pretty darn smooth.
For the first time the DeLaveaga Golf Club opened it's back nine holes to nearly 100 disc golfers for the 'Good Neighbor Open,' a Disc Golf Association sanctioned competition.
Sunday's competition was a dream come true for Chris Edwards.
“I have dreamed of just letting them rip on these long grassy fairways for all the years I have driven through on the way to DeLa, (the disc golf course further up the road),” said Edwards. “I'm kinda giddy right now.”
The green fairways were kind to Mark Rose, 33, a farmer from Watsonville, who ended the round in a three-way tie for 1st place in men's open division, at 6-under par.
"You definitely can't beat this, " said Rose,. “This course definitely suits my game. I play a lot at Pinto Lake, which is mostly wide open shots, so this was actually a kind of similar experience.”
Rose shared the win, his first, with Shasta Criss and Myles Harding.
The wide open greens came as a welcome change to many players who have grown used to the brambles and thickets of the area disc golf courses.
"In Nor-Cal we don't have grass courses,” said Tom Schott, one of the organizers of the Good Neighbor Open. “We are always biting trees, biting rocks, twigs, you name it.”
Schott said that disc golf could be part of the answer to the ongoing fiscal woes of the city-operated golf club, which cost the city more than $2 million in May 2011 when the city council voted to continue funding the park.
“The city wants to get more people into the park, and we want to show the city, we want to show the ball golfers that disc golfers can play on this property and respect it and have fun,” said Schott.
The event was an instant hit, according to Schott.
“We sold out in I don't know how fast,” he said.
The presence of the beverage cart, which legally served alcoholic beverages, was a novelty to golfers who frequent area disc golf courses, where alcohol consumption is illegal.
“It's like they are kids in a candy store,” said Jana Page, 42, who operated the beverage cart.
“They have never seen this kind of thing up there at the disc golf course. They have been deprived. I have everything from chocolate cake to champagne. They have been crazy good for business,” Page said.
The future of disc golf on DeLaveaga's grassy fairways is uncertain for now, but many of the disc golfers hoped the event would become a regular gig.
“I paid 20 bucks to play this today, and I would totally do it again. A buck a hole is a great deal,” said Greg Doubledee of Watsonville, a comment which elicited a wave of agreement from other disc golfers with in earshot.
“If it was once a month, I could see a turn out of at least 60 to 100 people, said Tom Cole, 49, a bartender at 99 Bottles.
“If they want revenue, that's revenue, man,” Cole said.