Tornado of a Time in Kansas

With this year’s spring tour coming to an end, it seems fitting that extreme weather would be at our doorstep. We knew that heading to Emporia, KS, for the 2012 Glass Blown Open the weather would be as spontaneous as it has been every trip we’ve made there. Mother Nature did not disappoint this year.  There has been a scary trend over the last few GBO’s with perfect conditions early in the week but less than desirable conditions (cold, rainy, and windy) as the event started. This year we were lucky enough to avoid the rain and cold but the wind was enough for everyone to handle.

The GBO is a great tournament to play, but mentally you have to ready for anything. It is important to capture the opportunities when you have a chance because you never know what the next round has in store.  Unfortunately for me, the strokes were falling out of my pockets like dollars in a casino.

The tournament play was only half the story at this year’s GBO, as Saturday night a huge tornado came heading our way. We were glued to the Weather Channel and TorCon 9 for hours awaiting the arrival of the storm. The closer the storm got, the more we realized how hard it would be to leave our home out in the parking lot to get destroyed.

So, at about midnight, Val, Avery and I took Big Blue and headed west to avoid the worst of the extreme weather. While they suggest to “never run from a tornado” we were under strong suggestion of a Kansas local that we make a break for it while we had the chance. After a white-knuckle drive, we made it to Strong City, KS, and pulled behind the nearest gas station to find some cover. As Emporia was under the Tornado watch and everyone was in bunkered storm shelters, Strong City barely saw a drop of rain. We were not the only ones dodging the storm, as we found company in Ricky Wysocki, Big Jerm, Paige Peirce, Devan Owens, Paul McBeth and Brittany Blair who had found the same gas station to bunker down in. We stayed glued to the radar just watching and wondering what was going on in Emporia.

When we finally saw the storm had passed at about 2:30am, we all headed back to town to get some well-needed sleep. Unfortunately in Kansas even though storms pass through, the wind continues to blow. Needless to say, Sunday’s weather was crazy with some of the worst wind I have ever played in. I was happy to get on the course and off without too much damage to my ego, but it was definitely time to leave Emporia.

We next headed to Lawrence, KS (Larryville) for a meet and greet signing at the local outdoor shop; Sunflower. We played a showcase round at their local course, Centennial Park, which brought around 50 spectators to the event. Val, Avery, Justin Atwater-Taylor (Owner of Grip Equipment and Lawrence local) and I played 18 holes for the entire local disc golf community to enjoy. The entire event was a great experience with a chance meet some great local players and play a fun round with my closest friends. After the round, it was dinner and drinks at the local brewery and one of our favorite stops, Free State Brewing. We shared a few beers and an amazing dinner that ended our great day in Larryville.

The next morning, Val and I headed into Kansas City to hang with one of our best friends and legend, “Crazy” John Brooks. It was great afternoon spent playing disc golf with Crazy and one of his long time friends Bob. Bob has a sweet course right in his back yard (that they call “Buck and Dough”) so we decided to play doubles/skins. The teams were Val/Crazy and Bob/I.  The match was so much fun! Val and Crazy jumped out to a big lead in the beginning but with local knowledge of Bob we were able to make a big comeback and take the match in the last few holes. The night ended with a great BBQ and bon-fire in Crazy’s backyard till the wee hours.

Another great trip to Kansas, but the tour must continue. We packed up Big Blue and started our way west back to California, with a stop in the New Mexico Rockies for a tournament on some unexplored territory for us.