Disc golf doesn't get as much attention or Saudi oil money as its buttoned-up inspiration, but it's a popular recreational sport. Known for a more relaxed atmosphere and cheaper greens fees, disc golf has been part of a tournament with a special twist since 2017 in Colorado.
"One dab per team per hole. No exceptions."
Those are the rules of Discs-n-Dabs
as explained by Ben Owens, who founded the tournament after smoking bowls and tossing Frisbees in college. After graduating, Owens founded CannaVenture
, a cannabis-friendly outdoors group that organizes Discs-n-Dabs as well as pot-friendly hikes and camping trips. Cash and trophies are on the line during the tournament, but the competition is largely celebratory, Owens says, with live music, food, vendors and campgrounds all on site during the weekend.
Before the next Discs-n-Dabs gathering is held on a private course in Trinidad September 2 through September 5, we caught up with Owens to learn more about the event and why disc golf and cannabis are such a good mix.
Westword: What is it about disc golf that appeals so much to cannabis users and the good-vibes crowd?
Disc golf is a laid-back sport. Cannabis is a laid-back pastime. There's some obvious overlap there. But disc golf's appeal to the cannabis and "good vibes" crowd goes beyond its relaxing nature.
Disc golf has an affordable entry point. You can grab a few discs at a local store for under $50 — or cheaper, if buying used. This is advantageous if you've already spent most of your cash on weed, as was the case for me in college. Disc golf typically takes place on courses that are not as strictly regulated [as golf]. Private courses are the exception, but with private land often comes more allowances, not less. This is advantageous for cannabis consumption, which is often prohibited at other facilities, like gyms, courts or country clubs.
Disc golf focuses more on growing the sport than on being the best. Sure, there's competition — increasingly so with the trend toward professionalism — but casual players are welcoming and willing to help one another, especially if you're new to the sport, rather than being irritated that you're holding up their game. It's also easier to find a bright-colored disc when you're baked than it is a small white ball (and even still, I typically lose a disc at each tournament).
Disc golf is just as much of a party as ball golf; it's just dressed down a bit. There's no dress code — and you'll see a wide variety. There's no beer cart, though you'll see plenty of drinking. There's no elitism, and there's plenty of pot. You're more likely to find a fellow smoker than not.
What are the rules of the tournament?
One dab per team per hole. No exceptions. It's in rounds of 18 — though we have gone as high as 22 —
for a total of two rounds, one per day.
There are three players per team, and two to four teams per card. No ringers. Every player must take six dabs. Players can size their own dabs, but they must be visibly dabbing as judged by their card mates.
We have two divisions: Pro, [which competes for] a cash prize, custom glass trophy and notoriety; and amateur, [which competes for] a custom glass trophy and notoriety. These rules vary slightly for our doubles tournaments, as there are fewer players per team and the event takes place in a single day.
Does every player need to take at least one dab at some point?
Yes, and our scorecards and rules reinforce this. Scorecards are laid out to indicate which team member takes a dab at which hole. And we rely on card mates to enforce this with one another, as not doing so will give their opponents a competitive advantage.
Just dabs? No bong rips?
The next Discs-n-Dabs will be held on a private course in Trinidad September 2 through September 5.
As the name suggests, Discs-n-Dabs is certainly a concentrate-first event. With that said, we have previously tried to work flower substitutions into the mix, such as one joint smoked solo instead of that player's dab, but ultimately have stuck with focusing solely on dabs and concentrates for three reasons. It ensures consistency, since everyone is dabbing. It cuts down on fire risks, because lack of combustion is huge during fire bans and high fire-danger seasons. And it focuses on a specific category of cannabis-consuming disc golfers and caters to their interests rather than attempting to be a catch-all event for all cannabis consumers and all disc golf enthusiasts. We can better serve our niche this way and deliver an event that is tailored accordingly.
So one dab per team per hole is required. What sort of strategies have you seen that lead to?
Most often, teams look at that requirement and laugh, deciding that everyone on the team is going to do a dab at every hole, or eighteen dabs per person per round. Not every team finishes this admirable attempt.
Second most common is a "lunch break," which most teams take halfway through their rounds — and dabs — to satisfy their munchies and fuel up for the remainder of the tournament; excessive dabbing while hiking up mountains and across acres will take its toll.
How does the quality of gameplay go after a few holes? Frisbees still flying on target?
The level of consumption affects every player differently, similarly to beer and beer pong. Some players get better the more dabs they take, and we've definitely seen birdies on later holes. And some players get worse, losing more discs with each successive dab.
What else is going on at the tournament? Looks like you have some other fun stuff planned, too.
Each year, we try to add more to the event than the tournament alone, and this year is no different.
Both nights of the tournament will feature live music from Tonewood Stringband, Rubedo, Random Temple and Ducky Burl Kramer. We'll also have vendors set up on site to showcase their licensed products and sell non-cannabis products like discs, merch and art. Until regulations change, we aren't able to allow cannabis sales on site, but there are always plenty of dabs to be taken and flower to be smoked, as attendees come prepared.
Plus, we've got our annual charity raffle benefiting our nonprofit partner Wilderness on Wheels, which has raised thousands of dollars to help keep nature accessible to people of all abilities.
What else does CannaVenture have in the works this year?
If you've followed our cannabis adventures before, you'll know that CannaVenture hosts more than just disc golf events, including our free monthly hikes and our infamous Summer Camp. Our next hike is August 21 with Chef Roilty, and the first few attendees will score some gift bags, as well. We always welcome new and familiar faces to these hikes, and this easy outing in Morrison is the perfect chance to knock out one more hike this summer.
Additionally, while we work to bring Camp CannaVenture back next summer, we are excited to announce that we have secured a private disc golf course outside of Detroit for our second Discs-n-Dabs: Mitten Edition, which will take place Memorial Day weekend 2023.