Arriving into the Charlotte, NC area after a 9 hour bus ride, I was a little off. It was nice to travel with Avery Jenkins and Leah Taylor, but now we were going our separate ways. Avery’s host picked them up and somehow fit about two cubic yards of luggage into a late-model Ford Fiesta. Avery kept saying, “some how, some way,” and it all worked out. They left and I was soon picked up by Eric McCabe and he asked if I was ready for some golf. “Heck yes!,” I said and we were off to Nevin Park. There we hooked up with Phil Arthur and had a great round, such a pleasure to play with two of the top golfers in the world. They helped me around and showed me the landing zones. Nevin is a very tight wooded course with a few more open holes. Good golf that really forces disciplined decision-making. Get out of the rough safely and carefully. Sometimes a difference of a foot can ruin your next shot or stance. When you have to lay up, you really have to do it precisely. It is very rewarding to get to the right spot in the fairway and then watch your shot carve down the fairway.
From Nevin we went to Renny, where the three of us were joined by Paul Dorries. Renaissance is an extreme course, with tight holes and varied terrain. Hole 2 is a par 4 and features one of the most interesting approach shots I’ve ever thrown. From a grassy landing area, you throw over a ravine to an island green with ob behind, and the ravine in front. The basket is elevated and going out-of-bounds long leaves an all or nothing death (if you go past into the ravine) putt. It is a great introduction to the style of golf that you play here. There is risk reward on the tee, in the fairway, and on the greens. It really is a grind to work your way around the course, and you must keep your focus all the way to the end as hole 18 demands everything you’ve got. A par 5, your tee shot must fly between two large electrical towers and on a narrow fairway. Your second shot looks like you could reach the island green, but would require a perfect 450+ foot shot that finishes to the right and soft. So most will wisely lay up to the left into another narrow fairway island that leaves a short approach to a very small but beautiful green that is fronted by the very same steep ravine that surrounds the front of hole 2′s green. Spectacular finish!
Now it was time to drop Phil off and pick up Shasta at the airport and be off to meet up with our host and area disc golf legend, Michael Johansen. We were welcomed into a very nice home and were quickly joined by his friend Alex. I can’t say what we did after that, but players in the tournament will find out soon enough more to come on that later. I was so tired due to the sleepless bus ride that when it came time to lay my head down, I was out so fast the large fluorescent light shining right on my face wasn’t enough to keep me awake, and I was out for some of the soundest sleep in at least a week.
We took our time waking up the next morning, and once we got going, Michael took us to Nevin park for Shasta’s first look at it. It was great to have a top local pro like Michael to guide us around. He knows the courses as well as anyone and I really felt like we were getting the royal treatment. I played the course much better the second time around, finishing somewhere around 5 under par. Michael was double digits under par, even though he spent most of his time helping us out with the layout. Awesome golf!
We then headed out to Renaissance for another guided tour. It was so awesome to play it again and learn a little more about the ins and outs and Michael’s approach to some holes. Sometimes knowing a bogey is ok is helpful as you approach a difficult hole. One errant drive or upshot and bogey can become a very good score on most of these holes. I really enjoy the courses that have par 4′s and 5′s. It matches the way I learned golf, where you generally must execute a drive, fairway iron, and then a putt. These courses all have at least a few par 4′s and I love them for it!
Another night of deep sleep and we were off to see Shasta’s last course, Bradford. We had a special treat here as well as we were joined by Brian Schweberger. Brian always has a great attitude and really likes to have fun when he plays. He utilized his great overhand hook thumb throw too much success. The course was fun and had a good variety of shots, some open, some wooded. Soon the round was over and we were off to my last course, Eastway.
Once in the parking lot of Eastway Park, we met up with women’s Open Champion, Paige Pierce and Sarah Hokom, who were just finishing lunch. They wanted to join us and a few minutes later we were off. Eastway is a departure from most of the other courses in the area in that it is quite open in comparison. The other area courses have some very narrow, wooded holes that are paths cut through dense woods. Eastway didn’t really have that kind of hole. Most fairways were relatively wide and grassy. There were a good variety of shots that I really enjoyed playing. Hole 18 is a great hole. I won’t begin to explain it until I get a decent photo of it, but I really liked it. Unfortunately our round was cut a little short as a thunderstorm worked its way through, but I saw most of the holes and felt good about my chances there.
More from Charlotte soon… JB