Vineyard Frisbee golfers ring in the New Year

Phil McAndrews putts at the basket. — Photo by Sam Moore

The cold, quiet woodlands of the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest just off Barnes Road echoed with cries of “Fore!” on Friday as 54 Islanders played their way through a golf course created for Frisbees in the eighth annual New Year’s Day Disc Golf Tournament.

Disc golf, although similar in some few respects to its buttoned-up cousin played on manicured courses, is characterized by a different sort of decorum — disc golfers are apt to issue a victorious holler when the Frisbee hits the target basket amid the clatter of its ring of chains, or a profane howl of disappointment when it sails too far. In the same way that a golfer has various clubs, players carry small, precisely weighted driving, midrange, and putting discs, the object being to send the disc sailing into vertical metal baskets set over 27 holes, each with a par of three.

As tournament play approached noon, the gray of the morning faded into dappled sun and a pleasant wintry temperature.

“The first year we did this, it was 25-miles-an-hour winds, and it was snowing,” said Sean Patrick as he made his way to the next basket. “There were like, 12 of us.”

Patrick was playing with Jake Gifford, Phil McAndrews, and Josh Robinson-White. The four veterans of the tournament were both friends and competitors, moving from basket to basket not as a team, but as individually scoring players grouped for convenience and conviviality.

Gifford and McAndrews started the tournament, which is also a fundraiser, as a collaboration between their two businesses, the Lazy Frog and Offshore Ale Co., both in Oak Bluffs. Gifford is sharp, a competitive player statewide, while McAndrews is by his own admission a bit rusty.

That is the allure of this tournament, which differs from a more hierarchical contest that will take place in March. Teams were mixed, and friends bandied encouragement and advice between all skill levels.

Robinson-White made a beautiful throw down a lane full of dead snags, and the other players murmured appreciatively. But his disc arced around too far, and they chided each other for cursing its flightpath with premature praise. “I don’t believe in all that hogwash,” joked Robinson-White, taking full responsibility for his unfortunate turn.

In general, as in golf, when players line up to huck (throw, for the uninitiated), respectful silence is the rule.

By the end of the tournament, Lucas Brewer and Alex Maloney were tied for first, having completed the course in 78 throws, three under par. They settled their draw in a three-hole playoff, which Brewer won to take home the trophy. Sportsmanship and good cheer ruled the day.