Disc has, however, like acne medicine and the soft drink, undergone specialization since the halcyon '60s, and the athletes at Santa Cruz fell in three distinct phyla: Freestyle, Golf and Ultimate.
The effete elite of the fraternity are the freestylers. They are partial to leg warmers and are sometimes referred to as Frisbee dancers. Freestyle pairs keep the disc airborne, or spinning on a finger, to music. Colorful fake nails help minimize friction. Disc dancers are judged on presentation, execution and difficulty, and their maneuver repertoire includes esthetic treats like the digitron, the flamingo, the body roll and the "the." They leap, they twist, they contort themselves in astonishing ways.
Five minutes from UC Santa Cruz is the DeLaveaga disc course, Schot's Golf venue. In disc golf, the saucer is thrown delicately at a post, rather than into a hole. Also called folf—Frisbee golf—it affords the nonathlete a chance to excel. Etiquette in disc golf, as in the traditional game, is painfully correct. The argot is different, though. Folfers do not slice, they flail. To leave a shot short is to be wimpy.
On Wednesday, DeLaveaga's course designer, none other than Tom Schot, stood on the fifth fairway—we should say fair-to-poorway—peering into a dusty crater deep as an old bathtub. Concerning the crater's origins, he explained, "Goddam four-wheelers!"
To prepare the course for championship play, Schot first had to reclaim it from nature and vandals. He spent dozens of man-hours hacking brush, clearing illegally dumped rubbish and smoothing ruts gouged by off-road vehicles. Lo, from three acres of dense woods, boulders and poison oak Schot carved a fair but unforgiving 2,064-yard par 54.
The next morning at DeLaveaga, 40 golfers sniffed the breeze, gauged the course and the wind and sifted through their disc bags with Zen-like attention. Suddenly, a maniacal howl shook the needles of the Douglas firs. Most everyone recognized the howler, and someone noted, correctly but unruffled, "Crazy must be cookin'." He was. The Craze scorched DeLaveaga Thursday for a course-record 50, all but sewing up the Golf portion of the Worlds.
Grazing at the tournament's lunatic fringe was the Ultimate crowd, the L.A. Raiders of disc. In this game—made up of roughly equal parts soccer, hockey and devolution (players sometimes paint themselves for battle)—teams of seven move the disc upfield until a pass is dropped, intercepted or caught over the goal line. The winner is the first team to score 15 goals. Nothing could be nobler, in Ultimate, than to dive headlong, to go horizontal—ho for short—and plow earth with one's sternum, to fill one's nostrils with grass and dirt and come up victoriously clutching the errant disc. For a pastime so pleasing to the eye, the profanity at Harvey West Park was startling, though frequently novel and ingenious.
"When we watch baseball, the most exciting plays are when an outfielder makes a diving catch," says Mike Glass, an options trader from Chicago whose team, Chicago's Windy City, was national Ultimate champ in '83. "Lots of times balls bounce in front of them that we think we could have had." None is a member of the George Foster Fan Club.
There is peril inherent in going ho. On Wednesday, Erin Hart, a comely lab technician from Fredericksburg, Va., snapped her left clavicle cleanly while diving after a throw at UC Santa Cruz. Later, her arm in a sling, Hart wondered how she would get her rental car back to Santa Barbara.
Several thousand friends of disc drifted to Harvey West Park for Sunday's finals. They saw Annie Kreml nip Vicky Satterlee for the overall women's title; Doug Corea run away with the accuracy event; Frank (The Bull) Aguilera win the distance throw. "It's all wrist," said the Bull, "and I played a lot of Fussball before I found disc."