That other game – the one with the clubs and cart – Steve Simmons calls it “ball-golf.”
His game is disc golf. And while there are plenty of similarities, Simmons sees a few differences.
Disc golf is comparatively cheap – free, if you’ve got an old dog-chewed Frisbee and don’t mind being passed on the course like a Saturn at a speedway.
There are no greens fees or tee times.
And it’s easy to play.
“It’s not easy to be good at it, but anyone can do it,” said Simmons, who has his own nine-hole course, called Stimpi Ridge, operates the pro shop there and knows about as much about the pastime as anyone in Spokane.
“The most fun wins.”
“Fun” being difficult to score, disc golfers keep track of tosses, just as ball golfers keep track of strokes. Low score wins.
You can play just about anywhere, designating distant rocks, fence posts, mailboxes, trash cans and whatnot as holes. Or you can play one of the free public courses that have tees, fairways and chain baskets for “holes.”
Starting out, you can toss your hubcap-sized Frisbee the way we all learned at the beach: feet planted, with a cross-body fling of the arm.
Eventually you’ll notice that others on the course are getting a lot more distance with a maneuver Simmons compares to starting a rope-pull lawnmower. The player starts the motion by facing away from the hole and then … well, it makes sense when you see it.
After you’ve watched their form you’ll notice the experts’ discs. They’re about the size of dessert plates – 7 or 8 inches in diameter, depending on purpose – and made of dense plastic.
Simmons carries a case of 20, in a variety of weights, diameters and profiles.
Some are driver discs that can cover the 400-foot fairways at Spokane’s Downriver Park. In fact, it’s not unusual for a newbie to overthrow, putting the disc in the Spokane River.
Other discs are mid-distance fliers or putters. Some fly true, while others are designed to drop to the left. Or to the right.
Some are Frisbees, but there are more popular brands. They cost from $8 to $17 apiece.
It hurts to be hit by one of these discs, and they are not for playing catch, Simmons said.
The wooded Downriver course (just across the street from the ball-golf course of the same name) has 21 holes. A group of two or three people can cover it in a couple of hours.
The ground’s pretty trampled by users, but it is still a natural area. You have to play your disc where it lands – which could be a problem if it lands in the rare colony of poison ivy.
Otherwise, said Simmons, “it’s a nice little walk in the woods.”