The hardy walk among us, their smiling faces in ours only to be recognized in the harshest of conditions. Some say they are crazy, but those who know the secrets of playing disc golf in the dark, depths of a Saskatchewan winter understand each other as if members of an exclusive club of dedicated survivalists.
The sport of disc golf is exploding across Canada, particularly in the Prairie provinces where the playing season is purely dependent on Mother Nature’s whim. In Moose Jaw, Sask., a small group of weather-beaten players will not be stopped regardless of Her temperament.
About a dozen players, most of them in their 30s and 40s, have vowed to play a few rounds of golf every week of the year, including the torturously frigid months of November through March. They call themselves the Moose Jaw Huckers and they have proven to be among the hardest-core disc golfers on the windswept, snow-packed Arctic Prairie landscape.
“We’ve played winter golf in many different conditions, but I think the toughest day was two rounds in minus-35 (degrees Celsius) with a windchill hovering below minus-42,” says Dustin Usher, a busy tradesman and hockey dad who prioritizes time to join the other MJ Huckers on their weekly rounds.
Many of the club’s members are hockey dads. If they’re not at the rink on the weekend, they are at the local Wakamow Valley Disc Golf Course or a longer, more adventurous, lesser-known track they have created just up the Moose Jaw River. Both are in the southern portion of Moose Jaw, a city of about 35,000 located along the Trans Canada Highway an hour west of Regina, Sask.
“We started from the first snowfall and actually never stopped,” says Dustin, who has been golfing for about three years alongside his son. Many of the other Huckers have been playing about two years after the course was installed in 2019.
The winter of 2022-2023 is the first in which the club members have committed to playing weekly.
“If the day ends in ‘Y’, it’s very likely that a few of the Huckers are up for a round,” Dustin says.
“There are a handful of reasons why we play golf in the winter, but I think the main one would be for the sport of it. There’s nothing like nailing a 25-foot putt to take the low score on the card in any weather… I can guarantee we’ll be out again next winter.”
Tripp Sevs, a bachelor who doesn’t have to chase kids across the province through the winter, is a Hucker for different, less competitive reasons.
“I play to get the hell off of the couch, to get the blood flowing through the body and to just keep moving,” Tripp says. “It’s also fun to develop your skills and see them improve over time. You surprise yourself by being able to do certain throws or techniques that you didn’t think you could do before.”
Tripp created a text message board for club members to coordinate tee times.
“We’re usually the first ones to trudge around the course after a heavy snowfall with it coming up to just below our knees on one particular day,” Tripp says.
“When it all melts in the spring, we put on rubber boots and walk around in the large puddles in the fairways. Some holes get flooded in the spring which makes it hard to find discs wading in the water. But we’ve become pretty good at finding them (year-round). In deep snow, the trick is to find the impact hole. Leave no soldier behind.”
Mangy Coyote Media is a multi-media venture covering disc golf, its culture and community in Canada. Find us on Facebook, Instagram and at mangycoyotemedia.blogspot.com. Mangy Coyote seeks submissions from creators wanting to write about disc golf in Canada. DM us on FB or IG for more information.