Bored with the same old, same old summertime activities? Here’s a look at two unique ways to spend those lazy summer afternoons.
Take up the sport of land paddling and you can honestly say you are among those who carry a big stick in and out of the boardroom.
Land paddling has emerged just in the last year as an alternative to stand up paddle surfing for the landlocked. Stand up paddle surfing is an ancient form of surfing that involves standing on a normal length surfboard while using a paddle to propel oneself out to sea.
But surfers without waves have long used longboards instead of surfboards, which is a type of skateboard only longer and wider. Longboarding became popular alongside the emerging surfing culture through the mid 1950s. And Utahn Steve McBride, owner of Kahuna Creations, a company that carries longboards, found a way to connect it to stand up paddle surfing and essentially, create a new sport.
“My car was in the repair shop 11 miles away and I couldn’t get a ride to get my car and I thought, ‘Well, I own a longboard company, why not take a longboard?’ By the time McBride arrived, though, his back and muscles were sore. “I started thinking there’s got to be a better way.”
He remembered seeing surfers in Hawaii and California using paddles instead of their arms. “I put two and two together and thought, ‘There’s got to be a way to put that on the road.’” McBride invented a paddle called the the Kahuna BigStick, which is designed to give the same feel as a surf paddle. It weighs only 16 ounces and the tip design provides a slight spring as you transition through the stroke to make it feel as if you are paddling on pavement. Vibration dampening helps keep the ride smooth.
Last summer, the company sponsored the first “Big Ride” land paddling race in Morro Bay, Calif. as part of the 2008 National Skateboard Championships. McBride says land paddle races are also happening this summer in Florida.
Schools in Hawaii and Utah are now using land paddling in physical education programs. And the sport has already gone global. “Adults and kids of all ages and abilities can use [the longboard and BigStick]. “We have not met a person that can’t—we even have several students in schools with handicaps that are able to stand on it and use it.”
Up for a Round of Frolf, Anyone?
Frolf is actually an urban name for disc golf, which is played much like traditional golf, but instead of a ball and clubs, players use a flying disc, or Frisbee.
“Disc golf is very inexpensive to start; you can use your Frisbee in the closet or you can go buy the special disc that they use for disc golf which are anywhere from $8 to $15 each. And a lot of families go out playing with their kids,” says Brian Wilkinson, manager of the outdoor recreation program for the University of Utah. He oversees the new disc golf course on campus that opened in May, replacing the 86-year-old golf course that was part of the Fort Douglas Country Club.
The object of disc golf is the same as traditional golf, which is to complete each hole in the fewest number of strokes (or, in the case of disc golf, the fewest number of throws). A golf disc is thrown from a tee area to a target; the most common is called a Pole Hole, an elevated metal basket. As in traditional golf, the player must make each consecutive shot from the spot where the previous throw landed, course terrain provides challenging obstacles, and when the “putt” lands in the basket, the hole is completed.
But there are a few differences. “Disc golf is something you can start in multiple places. You don’t necessarily need to start at hole number one and throw to nine—you can join in anywhere and then finish in that same loop,” says Wilkinson.
Also, disc golf can be played year round. At the University of Utah, the course is open all day, everyday and it’s free. You can rent a disc from the University of Utah for a few dollars if you don’t have your own. “We just ask that people pick up their trash and don’t bring their dogs,” says Wilkinson, who notes though, that service animals are allowed.
In the fall, Wilkinson says the university plans to offer night tournaments through the Intramural Sports Department. The university will illuminate the baskets with glow sticks and provide discs that light up.
There are other tournaments and championships in the state. Team Utah Disc Golf (www.teamutahdiscgolf.com
) is a local disc golf club that provides multiple competitive opportunities for players of all skill levels and features weekly doubles tournaments. You can also get information on other disc golf courses in Utah, as well as on the PDGA (Professional Disc Golf Association) Website, www.pdga.com
. Several resorts including Brian Head, Solitude and The Canyons in Park City also feature the game.
“It’s a challenge—people like to have a personal challenge and to have something to compare themselves with,” explains Wilkinson. “[In disc golf] they are comparing themselves to the last throw that they made, but in traditional ball golf, if you make only one good shot a round, that’s a good day.”