ompared to the other holes at Circle Park, the holes that hid their baskets behind combinations of mineral and smoke, fluid and flora, light and mirrors, Hole 5 seemed as simple and direct as a bowling lane. The basket was perched on the edge of a cliff at the end of an long and narrow passage created by two parallel rows of immense palm trees.
“What are you throwing on this hole, Louis?” Scott asked, looking forlornly at the severely depleted disc supply in his shoulderbag.
Louis ignored the question. “Do any of you even recognize just how diabolical this hole truly is?"
“Looks pretty straightforward to me,” William said.
“It's an optical illusion,” said Louis. “These rows aren't really parallel. It's just like it looks: the closer you get to the basket, the closer together the trees get. At the point where a disc can finally get past the last two trees, things are so tight it's like throwing your disc through a vertical mail slot. A good tomahawk isn't sufficient: it's got to be near fuckin' perfect. Either that or you have to hizer your disc somehow, severely, and at exactly the right moment to slip between that final pair of palms. Or you have to lay-up in front of the mail slot and then just stick it through. How lame is that? And then, the friggin' basket is, like, 100 feet beyond the trees next to a cliff overlooking a violent surf that pounds the rocks below. Fuckin' ridiculous. I've never thrown this hole, not once. Never will, either.”
Louis began heading for the 6th tee. We continued to look down the palm tree tunnel in an attempt to verify Louis's description.
The sky, I noticed, was made of bricks.
“Hey,” Louis said, “if you want to play it, you know, fine. But I'm taking the par. Meet ya on 6.”
Taking the par? How does one take the par? Without throwing a disc?
“Perhaps he's become some sort of a black belt Zen priest of disc golf,” William offered.
“What's the sound of an unthrown disc striking chains?” Dirk replied solemnly.
“Wow,” Scott said. “A disc golf koan.”
William teed off. The disc bounced off the first tree and hit him in the head.
They found Louis hanging out at the tee for Hole 6, rolling a limb. This hole was on a vast stretch of beach, on the north side of the island where the waves were as fierce as anywhere in the Hawaiian Islands. It was nine hundred feet from the tee to the basket, as the seagull flies, but with every throw you were gambling with your disc. At high tide the basket was completely submerged, so the hole could only really be played during low tide, and even then gigantic breakers would push hundreds of yards up the shore. You had to wait for a break between waves, run down to the tee, throw, then run and retrieve your disc before a wave hit it and swept it away in the foaming undertow. And if you reached your disc, you might be staring down a tidal wave many times your height, with nothing to do but stupidly try to cling to a square of sand when it came down upon you. If you were swept away, and managed to hold on to your disc, and did not drown, you might be pushed so far up the beach that you were further from the basket than when you teed off.
And it was there, at Hole 6, that we last saw Louis.
We watched as he took aim at a basket so far way it was just a gleam flickering amidst glittering surf and the white specks of seagulls. And as he prepared to release his monogrammed, custom-made Cyclone with the tie-die color scheme, we heard him mutter something under his breath that revealed his intentions.
He ran a few steps, leapt in the air spinning, grunted for emphasis, and executed his finest arc of the day.
The disc sailed into the sky.
The roaring of the surf became quieter, and I noticed a large wave was coming. I squinted at the sea. A very large wave was coming.
The purple dot of the disc descended toward the glint of the basket, and a scatter of gulls rose from the spot, but we could not see whether the disc went in nor hear the chains above the tides. Louis began sprinting toward it. Regardless of whether it had gone in, the disc had to be near the basket, Louis was “there," as we liked to say, it was a gimmie putt, for sure, definitely a deuce. The trick would be getting to it before the waves.
Louis ran away from us. As he got smaller, the approaching wave got bigger. It was skyscraper-sized. “Louis! Give it up!” we shouted.
He raced away. Twenty seconds later we could just see him by the basket. He was doing something. He went to the basket. Was it a hole-in-one?
The wave hit us first. We disappeared into a chaos of turbulent saltwater, but, luckily, the wave pushed us up the beach, and did not drag us out to sea in its dangerous, ravenously thirsty undertow.
When I climbed to my knees in the wet sand, I had lost my backpack, my discs, and, somehow, one of my boots.
Dirk and Scott were within sight, fifty yards down the beach, staggering to their feet.
But there was no Louis anywhere.
We walked around shouting Louis' name until it was dark. Then we sat on the hood of the car and wondered what to do.