Chavez Ridge: The Front Eight

Little known fact: I am an athlete. I not only practice ath, I am in fact quite adept at it. Much as high school mathletes are reknown nationwide for their skills at math, so am I reknown for my prowess at ath. I practice ath here. I practice ath there. I practice ath everywhere. I would practice ath with a goat and I would: I would practice ath on a boat. To be sure, I am an athlete in every sense of the word. Saturday prior I found myself three cocktails into yet another athletic endeavour: the dreaded front eight at Chavez Ridge. Join our group as we relive the moment today, won’t you.

Chavez Ridge – Elysian Park
Course Established: 2006
Description: Eucalyptus covered ridge and hillsides with steep dropoffs and spectacular views of Dodger Stadium and downtown skyline. Climb uphill trail and cross ridge road to 9th tee on opposite hillside.

Remember this part because it will be important:

steep dropoffs

11am:Five athletes assemble in the parking lot. I polish off a burrito de pastor and belch mightily. Our guide this morning sports a mischievous grin behind a robust beard, twinkling eyes and two thermoses of bloody mary. He shakes one and takes a hefty swig. Let’s do this.

We set off for the ridge in the general direction of the third base line. After much confusion, a bout of complaints and profuse sweating, we arrive at the beginning of the poorly-marked course. Tee time. I take a swig from a 24-oz beer fished unceremoniously from a cargo short pocket and gaze fondly now at the baby blue Innova Valkyrie in my hands.

Known for its high speed, mild turn, moderate glide and low fade, the Valkyrie is the disc that once sailed a blistering 820 feet in 2002 as wielded by the mighty Christian Sandstrom. The first hole hole is 240’ away. Piece of cake.

Valkyrie! I caress its face. I sing its praise! The Valkyrie is PDGA approved; the weapon of a true athlete. The Valkyrie is baby blue. The Valkyrie sports a ridiculous line drawing that makes me question whether I am here to play disc golf or Dungeons and Dragons. Above all, the Valkyrie is solid. It has heft, and it has edge. It feels like it could slice a person’s head off without blinking if it wanted. I ponder this last thought, blink rapidly, take another swig and step up to the tee. Gauge the hole which stands directly across a long, steep draw. The fairway curves gently to the left before veering right, following the hillside. A slice to the right or any sort of roll could have me hiking for days, but that doesn’t concern me. I throw my disc. It sails and abruptly plops – “plop!” – onto the hillside some 130 feet down the fairway.

The beard is up. He’s a backhander. He shanks it and trudges immediately down the hill after, eyes twinkling madly all the while. Meantime my second throw is overly ambitious. The blue wonder sails over the hole, thwacks a tree, lands on its side and rolls some 125 feet straight down the canyon wall. Fuck me. How do I get down there?

Eventually all five athletes reconvene at the second tee, some more winded than others. It will be a long vertical day up and down this hill for those of us that favor distance throws; I can sense it with every swig of this third gigantic white trash beer I have fished out of yet a third cargo pocket.

Hole five. I’m in the bush again. I took a bad roll. “Where’s the hole!?” I shout from the canyon floor. Silence in return. Birds. Shouts from the soccer field. “Yeah that’s why they call you Fattie, you Big Fattie! …-attie! …-attie!” The words dissipate. “Fuck it.” I throw my disc straight up in the air and begin a half-hearted crumbling ascension. The air is sticky with eucalyptus fragrance, sweat, beer. I should probably have rethought the Jesus Sandals™ with hindsight. I’d envisioned waving fields of green and a neverending parade of ice cream trucks, not erosion, dust and booze. I gaze at the brownscape when a voice booms down from some 50 meters above. “Well played, indeed!” I look up. It’s the Beard. I climb on all fours now, scrambling madly. The Valkyrie awaits some eight feet from the hole. I par the hole niftily to a lackluster round of applause.

You’re the best!
Nothing’s gonna ever keep you down!

The game eventually draws to a close as we are unable to find the ninth hole. With eight completed holes and as many cumulative cocktails under our belts we retire now to a patio in Highland Park, opting for piñata bashing over further hiking on the back ten (map). But we shall return, Chavez:

We shall return.