The modern game of disc golf (also called Frisbee golf in some circles) originated in 1960s Southern California. Largely due to its simple rules and short, inexpensive list of necessary equipment, the sport sport quickly expanded from there. Today, there are nearly 6,000 public disc-golf courses worldwide, half of which are in the United States alone.
It’s no surprise, then, that the unique sport has taken root in Santa Cruz in the form of the De LaVeaga Disc Golf Course, one of the highest-rated and most beautiful courses in the world.
The course, originally established in 1984, is located on Upper Park Road, off Banciforte Drive in the east side of Santa Cruz. It features 27-holes accented by steep ravines, open meadows, towering redwoods and sweeping panoramic views of the Monterey Bay. A breathtaking and picturesque locale to let off some steam and learn a knew game, the De LaVeaga course is free to the public (though donations are appreciated, since they help keep the place up and running) and is open every day from sun-up to sun-down.
Also located within 1,200-acre De LaVeaga Park, situated among lush greenery and worlds away form the bustle of Santa Cruz proper, is an archery range founded and run by local organization the Santa Cruz Archers (SCA). The range, open to the public every Saturday and Sunday from noon to four, features a variety of outdoor and indoor activities, an expansive collection of three-dimensional animal targets and holds a regular stump competition in which archers must survive a marksmanship gauntlet that bares striking resemblance to the basketball game of “H-O-R-S-E”.
The list of notable archers to grace the range with their skills is long — it even includes former world longbow champion Larry Yien. But keeping with its mission of building and continuing the practices of field and target archery while maintaining a spirit of camaraderie among all archers at all levels, the SCA provides various opportunities throughout the year for newbies to learn and practice archery in free-shoots and classes.
Set within a peaceful environment, surrounded by soaring oaks and redwoods, the range is also a great place to reconnect with a different, simpler time, or as Henry Bertram, who teaches an archery class for Santa Cruz Parks and Recreation, put it, “the range lets you hook up with what it’s like to be a more primitive human being.”
At Steamer Lane, Pleasure Point, Moss Landing and just about everywhere in between, local paddleboarders can be seen gracefully rowing along the coast. Pulling from elements of surfing, rowing and even yoga, paddleboarders stand on fiberglass boards, ranging from ten to fifteen feet long and propel themselves through the water, usually using a single oar-like paddle.
Some paddleboards stay near the shore and, seemingly without effort, skim serenely atop gentle ocean waves. Others patrol the Monterey Bay with eyes peeled hoping to catch a glimpse of famed Santa Cruz sea lions, harbor seals and sea otters. Still others take an aggressive approach, intrepidly charging massive waves and cutting through the surf with sharp turns and twists.
Kayak Connection, a Santa Cruz company that offers tours of the Monterey Bay and lessons in a variety of water sports, touts paddleboarding for its multiplicity: it can serve as a powerful core workout, a strength training mechanism for everyone from surfers to marathoners, a vehicle to coastlines and wildlife that are inaccessible by any other means, or simply as a calming and meditative way to connect with and enjoy the Santa Cruz surf.
Grab your roller-skates, pads and helmets and get ready for a rumble!
A sports staple founded in 1920s east-coast cities like Baltimore, Chicago and Boston, the roller derbies of old, which involved both male or female participants, featured professional athletes roller skating around a rink and trying to score before being knocked down (or out) by members of the other team. The game itself involved two teams of skaters, each with a “jammer” who could score, and four other players who would block, hit and try to stop the other team from scoring by nearly any means necessary.
Though the object of the game remains, some aspects of the sport have changed a bit since way-back-when. Today, the sport is dominated by amateur (read: unpaid) females who combine tenacity, athleticism and attitude, resulting in an showman sport that spans the globe — from Australia to the United Arab Emirates — and is truly like no other.
Not the type of place to shy away from this brand of intensity, Santa Cruz has embraced local roller derby leagues with cult favoritism. Notable teams include the Harbor Hellcats, Boardwalk Bombshells, Santa Cruz Roller Girls and Santa Cruz Derby Groms (a daring team of young Derby Girls in-the-making). Our local Santa Cruz derby chicks participate in frequent competitions, or “bouts,” versus any team that dares to meet them and, for those with enough gusto, the Santa Cruz Derby Girls league challenges locals to join their “Fresh Meat” team and see if they can hack it with the high “rollers.”