I'd never heard of "disc golf" until discovering the sport at Deer Lakes Park, an Allegheny County Park near my home. We hiked through the course a few times and wondered about the weird metal chain baskets. Sometimes we would see people playing the course.
My husband was out of town for work and we'd been enjoying hikes and nature programs put on by the park rangers all summer. So in September of 2015, Julia and I presented ourselves at the park for "Disc Golf: 101."
Two park rangers and a family of disc golf professionals joined us for what was to be an introduction to the course and the sport. We learned that Deer Lakes plays host to an international disc golf tournament. The rangers showed us the different discs and explained their purposes. Then, ever good students, we picked based on which color we liked. We headed to the basket nearest the parking lot for "putting practice."
It went okay at first. Julia and I had a 50% success rate with getting our discs into the center of the chain contraption. The professional disc golf family (they brought their own discs in a wheelie bag) was a bit off putting, but I'm well versed in being unathletic. It didn't bother me.
The rangers discussed safety rules and those worked right up until the moment they did not.
I was crouching down near the goal. I did not realize my precious daughter still had a disc. Had I known she was armed, I would have behaved much differently. As it was, I crouched down and lifted my head to look at her just as she released her disc.
It hit me right in the eye.
The event was well documented photographically because my husband had been in South Carolina forever. I was texting him things like, "Look what your daughter did to me!" all evening.
The rangers, and it bears mentioning these were 19-year-old boy rangers, managed not to laugh at me. "Ma'am, you're bleeding," one said when I removed my hand from my throbbing eye.
He provided first aid in the form of a gigantic band aid that seriously restricted my vision. But I wasn't ready to give up on disc golf. Julia had no remorse. We moved on to play an entire hole.
It turns out disc golf is nearly as frustrating as real clubs-and-balls golf. This is saying a lot because I once played a Par 3 in Moon Township and was ready to dump all of my clubs in the stupid water feature that kept swallowing all of my balls. My poor skill at throwing a Frisbee did indeed translate into trouble with a disc based sport. Who knew?
After several wild throws from the tee, Julia and I decided to call it. We hadn't found a new sport. We should stick to tennis.
At home, the gaping wound in my head was bleeding again. I FaceTimed my mother to ask for another adult opinion.
She said something like, "Eeesh!"
So it was off to the UPMC Urgent Care for three stitches.
I was the first person the Urgent Care doc had ever treated for a disc golf injury. Someday maybe I'll go to that international tournament to find out if my scar earns me any course cred.