What is the connection between disc golf and pot?
Nearly everybody who plays the game is aware of the stereotypical dude who hangs out at the disc golf course and tokes a couple of joints, though I have to say I’ve only seen a few of these dudes at Grand Forks’ Lincoln Drive Park and they were enjoying cigarettes.
But the stereotype is something some disc golf enthusiasts are pretty touchy about, probably not without good reason. Grand Forks has a great disc golf course at the park and part of that is because of the area disc golf community’s work in mainstreaming the sport. They’re the ones who persuaded the Park District to add the second 18-hole course.
They’re also the ones who called me this morning to tell me how bogus Hugo Gomez is. Hugo’s the guy who’s working on a major disc golf tournament that he’s calling "4-2-0 Frolf." See Page 17 of this PDF to see the literature he sent to the City Council.
I had to laugh when I heard the event name because of the connotation of the number 420; it’s slang for pot. It wasn’t until a few years ago that some friends clued me in what that meant. The joke among them was I thought they were talking about one of those fictional sexual positions made up by imaginative frat boys. Half the guys I hung out with in senior year in high school were potheads and I’d never heard any of them call it the 420, so that’s my excuse.
Anyway, Hugo doesn’t seem to see the awkward connotation of 4-2-0 Frolf. He maintains that he came up with it because he’s charging $4 per player, with two to a team and the "O" looks like a disc. I don’t think anyone on the City Council or the Park District is buying that, though some seem more concerned than others.
Steve Mullally, the Park District’s superintendent of parks, said that after he learned about the 420 — someone told him to Google "420" and he found a video like this one — he told Hugo the name wasn’t gonna fly. He was led to believe, he said, that Hugo thought it would attract a lot of people to the event.
Hugo didn’t put it quite that way when City Council members on the service committee challenged him today about the name. He said he doesn’t intend to attract pot smokers but, if they came, the cops could get them and the city would probably make some money from citations.
Steve said Hugo had said he would net a certain percentage of profit from vendors, so it made sense to Steve that Hugo would want to have as many people come to the event as possible. Hugo has since clarified that his profits would go to charity.
Council member Terry Bjerke, as can be imagined, was not thrilled with the whole 420 thing and thought it would attract a bunch of party animals like Springfest does. He apparently prowls the event every year, I’m thinking to look for political ammunition.
Council member Art Bakken, Eliot Glassheim and Curt Kreun seem to think the idea of a tournament has merit and the name was just a technicality. Change the name and the problem’s solved.
When I first wrote the story yesterday, I underplayed the 420 angle because I didn’t want to make an issue out of it all by myself. I thought it might be kind of controversial, but I have to let others decide that. As a result, some of my colleagues who glanced at the story didn’t realize the 420 angle was even there.
The second story covered that angle in more detail because, as I thought, there was some push back from city and Park District officials.
I personally feel pretty laissez-faire about pot smoking and its legalization — The people that I know who did it or still do it are a pretty mellow lot who are no threat to society. — so I hope my story doesn’t come off as some sort of scare story. I know well the news media’s reputation for fearmongering. There’s nothing sinister about it; every writer wants a big readership and scaring people makes them want to read more.
What I wanted with my story was just to point out something amusing, as in, hey, this dude just totally reinforced a stereotype.
I also wanted to point out the political reality of Grand Forks, but didn’t do so explicitly. If Hugo thinks he can make the similarity between 420 and 4-2-0 Frolf sound like a mere coincidence, he clearly doesn’t understand how conservative this city and state are. No elected official would feel comfortable approving an event with that kind of a connection to an illegal drug, even if they think it’s harmless.
I suspect that if pot were ever legalized, we’d be among the last in the country to do it. In my observation, trends elsewhere don’t necessarily get here until some time has passed.