The day after I had been thoroughly beat up by the, oh so steep, Slate Canyon disc golf course (which you can read about HERE) I made it a point to find a much more mellow course for me to play next. Knowing I only had one more day in the SLC area I decided to go check out Salt Lake’s first disc golf course which is aptly named Roots.
For the quick course guide please click HERE:
Against my better judgement I allowed myself to get excited for this course. From what I had read, Roots had actually been a par 3 ball golf course as recently as 2014. To add to my excitement, the layout was described as mostly flat (seriously Slate Canyon was rough). In my mind, and on paper, Roots sounded awesome. I was picturing mature trees, grassy fairways, good flow with low risk of being thrown on to, and all in all a good relaxing round. Sadly, for the most part, that was not to be the case for me.
Let’s start the story with a positive, if we can… There’s plenty of parking in an actual parking lot at Roots disc golf course…
Well, that’s something positive I guess.
It was right at hole one that I was already starting to see disappointment creep into my round. Despite having just reopened in 2014 the course was sporting rubber tee pads that were in disrepair. Plus these tee pads were extremely small. After such an arduous round the day prior, the idea of having uneven beat up tee pads that limit my srides for a whole round instantly started bearing down on my mental game.
The negative thought had creeped in, but I acknowledged it and tried to let it go. I had a round to play. Hole 1’s layout was long and begged for a RHFH shot that I was more than happy to oblige. I had been actively working on my forehand shot in the weeks leading up to this round and had been throwing the sidearm shot quite a lot up to that point. So I stepped up and let one rip. The pain in my arm was immediate. Now any good disc golfer should say here that if a throw hurts than it’s being thrown wrong, and 9 times out of 10 I would agree, except for this time. I could instantly tell it was strain from all of the reps and lack of rest, not so much the form of the throw. So by hole one I was already disappointed by the tee pad, and I had lost my forehand shot for the round. Very quickly I saw that this round was going to be a good test for the mental part of my game.
I made it all the way to hole 3 before I came across the next disappointing surprise. Despite it being noon and in the high 90’s Roots disc golf course thought it was reasonable to have the sprinklers on. The sprinklers were not on for the whole course, but they definitely were on for a good number of the holes throughout the course. It just didn’t make sense. Why would they have them running that late in the day is beyond me. Unless the plan was to keep them on all day, watering anything in that heat seemed like a serious waste. To add to that, the coverage of the sprinklers, while wide, was spotty at best. So many of the fairways throughout the course either had real thick (but sparing) patches of grass, real dead grass, or, what was most often the case, had bear dirt with a smattering of weeds to accent it.
“Ok”, I told myself, “it’s not a big deal. I can play around the sprinklers easy enough, and even though its not nice and grassy like I had imagined it’s still better than steep dirt and rocks filled with sagebrush.”, and I was right. That was the attitude I needed to play a decent game, and it was true. “Take it for what it is and go enjoy yourself”, I said.
So I started to get into a decent groove over the next several holes. None of them were particularly huge, and most of them were relatively wide open making for straight forward and enjoyable shots. But by hole 7 I had started to notice a trend in the layout of the course that I ESPECIALLY did not like. It seemed that many of the fairways were starting to overlap. Overlapping fairways is one my least favorite things in disc golf. The risk for being hit by a disc is so much higher with a layout like Roots had. Luckily for me it was a weekday, so the course was relatively empty, BUT that does not change how I feel about the layout. This course has a high-risk for getting hit by a disc.
After hole 7 I started getting lost. Now if I had played there even once before, or I was with a local, than navigating from 7 to 8 would’ve been a breeze. That was not the case though. What really ended up throwing me for a loop is where the hole number was posted for the tee pad itself. Instead of being on or at the tee pad the number was written in permanent marker on a bench no where near the hole.
The frustration in my mental game towards the course was quite prevalent during the middle part of my round. Despite my frustrations, I still tried to make the best out of it. I mean, there were some fun and challenging holes. I enjoyed the varying distances from one hole to the next, and by hole 9 I was getting into to some more shade, which I am always a fan of. It was at hole 9 that the river comes into the play on the left side of the fairway with the tee pad not more than 10 feet from the bank.
After the little mix up between 7 and 8 I started to get back into my groove. I shot a 4 on the huge 520 foot hole 10, and before I knew it I was at hole 15 now with the river on the right side of the tee pad. Since the painful sidearm throw on hole one I hadn’t tried a RHFH anywhere on the rest of the course, and I had not wanted to change that on 15, especially with the river to my right. Instead, after some mock throwing motions, I decided to try a thumber. My thumbers were not the greatest at that time, but since getting a Sexton Firebird weeks prior my accuracy for that type of throw had greatly improved.
To paint a picture… About 230′ out from the tee pad sits a DGA Mach X basket right in the middle of a table top mound that is about 12 feet wide. To the left of the mound is a wide open grass area, and to the immediate right of the mound is the river. At this point one might ask why I would even go with a thumber… The risk of it going in the river is almost equal to that of a RHFH shot.
Wellllllllll, I knew that risk and had faith in my shot. I let loose that Firebird thumber to see it flying exactly as I had wanted. BAM!!! About 10 feet to the left of the pin and 2 feet short my disc drilled the left hillside of the mound. I was stoked! That disc should have been done right there, easy birdie. Couldn’t have placed it better I thought to myself foolishly. Then I saw my disc pop up onto its edge, and start to roll to the right, but I wasn’t worried. It had about 4 feet of uphill to go before another 12 feet of table top before hitting the right edge of the mound, where then and only then, it could drop in to the river. No chance it would do that… Well to my exponentially increasing astonishment, that disc rolled UPHILL, then super slowly, I mean like creeping status, rolled across the table top, only to hit the right edge and disappear! I snapped out of the shock and booked it after my Firebird and spent the next 30 minutes searching for it. Alas, that river was not a good river to have a disc go in to. Despite being shallow, it was swift and murky. I just couldn’t find it.
That was a tough loss. It was my new go to RHFH disc, and I had been finding a really clean release and line with it consistently. Well, Roots had truly taken me back to my roots in disc golf by reteaching me the lesson of letting things go… So, officially upset, I stepped up to hole 16. For the most part it was similarly designed to hole 15, just a little longer. Erring on the side of caution I threw a sweeping hyzer of a RHBH shot that left me about 60 feet directly to the left at pin level, and well away from the river. It was at this spot that my round was about to end. I was frustrated at a number of my own choices, I hadn’t particularly enjoyed the course due to expectations, quality, and layout, my body hurt, and I had lost a really good disc that I had for far too short of a time among other things. So instead of doing the smart thing and recentering myself before my approach (which had the river now about 10 feet DIRECTLY behind the basket) I stepped up and ripped an approach shot right past the basket and in to the river. The second I had let the disc go (Discraft Banger GT) I was running after it. I knew it was going in. Despite my effort to keep eyes on it, the disc was gone, the second it touched water it was never to be seen again, at least by me. After a quick desperate second search of the river with no luck I headed back to my bag, picked it up, and walked away.
That was it. I was over Roots. I lost 2 of my go to discs in as many holes. The last two remaining holes were definitely not worth it.
I’m not sure I’ll ever go play Roots again. There are quite a few other full 18 hole courses within the greater Salt Lake area that I’d rather go check out first. I recognize that my issues with Roots were negatively impacted by my mindset and the condition in which my body was in, but in the end I was not a fan of the layout, the tee pads, or the condition the course was in. A lot would need to change for me to want to go back in the future.