By Michael S. Green
Of all the memorable Motherlode moments, and there are many, there are none like the time Josh Fluke whipped a forehand TeeBird that skipped and slammed chains for an ace.
And none like the evening where Steven Mott stole the show, almost beating an Orangevale player three times his age in the putting contest.
Oh, and definitely none like Terry "TNT" Tirey’s birthday, which he spent climbing out of a soggy start in his first tourney. Terry didn’t shave strokes off his previous day’s score, he mowed them down with a smile and a great attitude.
Yes, there are many wonderful tales to tell of Motherlode 2005, but they mainly involve — let’s be honest — a bunch of old guys who play too slow. Not only can those old guys tell their own stories, you’d be hard-pressed to get them to shut up. Instead, let’s focus on the three young men in the juniors division, who represent the future of disc golf.
For the record, Josh is 13, Steven is 12 and Terry turned 12 on April 24. The day before, April 23, it was cold and rainy and not much fun. We’re talking double- and triple-bogeys galore, with Terry taking the brunt of the punishment.
Steven’s cousin D.J. helped out both days as caddy, umbrella technician and stand-up comic, but the weather took its toll on kids and adults alike. Perhaps the kindest thing that can be said of Saturday is that nobody was drowned, intentionally or otherwise.
Fast forward to Sunday. Josh and Steven, who lives near Placerville, started two strokes apart and continued their head-to-head battle almost to the end. They both have very strong forehand drives, but are also quite good at hitting trees, finding water and missing short putts. This made for some roller-coaster scores, like Steven’s birdie after triple-bogey.
In the meantime, Terry from Vacaville found his forehand — and his confidence. He could have been a whiner, kicked his bag or given up. Instead he decided to "go for it" with each throw, which gave him the tee once or twice after some impressive pars. Terry wisely ignored the advice he got from golfers who were older, stronger and better than he was. He made up his mind to have fun, and he did.
As for Josh, well, the Penn Valley local has a bit of a temper that almost got the better of him. He shanked a drive here, missed a putt there, and watched Steven rack up a series of strong pars and birdies. After hitting water in the third round at Condon, Josh exclaimed out loud that he should quit.
Good thing he didn’t, for he wouldn’t have taken the lead for good when Steven struggled early in the fourth round. He would not have won a first-place plaque, some cash and some brand-new discs. And he most definitely would not have banged that ace at Hole 8, which he sadly didn’t see because his head was turned away. (Don’t worry, I’m sure he’ll hit ace again.)
Now, some folks might have felt stuck watching these juniors, preferring to focus on their Very Important games. Older players might have shared their Infinite Wisdom, which always starts like this: "When I was your age…."
But as a highly trained scorekeeper I wasn’t stuck at all, just a lucky witness to an exciting game played between newfound friends. With good competion and great sportsmanship, these boys set the standard for all NorCal players — and it was they who shared their wisdom with me.
From Terry, I learned to relax and have fun, especially in those damp, dreary times when you just don’t feel like it.
From Steven, I learned the importance of focus, how to play with all your heart to win and still be gracious in defeat.
And from Josh, I learned something that’s so simple in theory and so hard to do in real life: Never, ever quit.