I'll Fix Your Flat Tire Merle

(Thursday, 02 August 2007) by Michele Cozzens

The 2007 Disc Golf Pro World Championships are in town. Well, not exactly “our” town . . . and not in any town, really. But the event is nearby—a little over an hour drive--and as near as it may ever be to our little neck of the Northwoods. Talk about old home week for Mike and me.

Mike and his good friend, Bob-o Montes from Oakland, CA, partnered in the Doubles event on Monday and Tuesday, and Joe Weinshel has taken residence in “Uncle Joe’s Room,” a space reserved for him during every tournament we host. Mike came home each evening and told me about all the old friends he had run into—primarily friends from our California shooting days, and various acquaintances who’ve been kind enough to visit Sandy Point for the tournaments we’ve hosted over the years. I had the chance to get hugs from many of them last night when I accompanied Mike to the Fly Mart and helped him sell discs. Mind you, I had spent all day in Arbor Vitae hawking Dream Life Designs jewelry at my fourth and final juried arts/crafts show of the summer. We packed up that show and then hustled back to the resort to unload jewelry and replace the cargo with golf discs. I washed a layer of dust off me, kissed the kids and scratched Cinco’s little head, then bolted off to a second vending opportunity.

Randy Schukar, the designer of our Loon disc, was in charge of the event and he—bless his heart—set us up with a primo spot at the entrance of the room (right across from the bar). Randy truly earned his new nickname “Mayor.” I’ve now got his “TOSS DISCS NOT BOMBS” mini displayed in our pro shop.

When the golfers trickled in, I saw the familiar beard of Hall-of-Fame inductee, Michael Travers, and the familiar faces of Jim Oates, Tom Schot, Merle Witvoet, Stancil Johnson, Tim Mackey, Dave Greenwell, Anni Kreml, Matt LaCourte, Barry Schultz, Jim Hagen, Duster Don Hoffman . . . I could go on and on. It was great to see John Ahart, Tim Selinski, Pad Timmons, Brian Sullivan, Lightning Lyle . . . my buddy, Johnny Rumble Pecunia, our fabulous Wisconsin State Coordinator, Terry Miller. The night felt like a class reunion. We didn’t get home until 1a.m.

But the best part was today when our new friend from Tucson, Jeff Homburg, brought Grand Master, Merle Witvoet, to visit Sandy Point. We didn’t think anyone would squeeze in a trip between the busy days of World’s competition. But Merle heard of a ride here this afternoon and found out why this place is known as Disc Golf Heaven. Merle was one of my most favorite California golfers. He got stuck with me as a doubles partner once in Santa Cruz during my early days of playing, after a local (who shall not be named) arranged for a new random draw when he drew me as a partner. Merle winked at me and said we were going to kick ass. And we did. I’ve loved him ever since.

One night during the NorCal Series finals in the early 1990s, I heard him play guitar in our hotel room. I nearly fell over. He’s one of THE finest classical guitarists I’ve ever heard play. How I wish my guitar were in Wisconsin rather than Tucson, because hearing him play next to the waters of Squaw Lake would have been a highlight of my life. As it was, Mike’s highlight was getting to play 13 holes of the Sandy Point course with him as a double’s partner. I joined them for the final hole and was reminded why we do indeed call this place “Disc Golf Heaven.”

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