The story starts in 2013 when I decided up sticks and move to the outdoor sports haven that is Whistler, in Canada. My main motivation for moving out there for a year was the snowboarding but as the winter season finishes and the last of the snow melts away, a whole new world of adventure opens up. The sunshine really encourages you to get out and explore the lakes, parks, bike trails and forests that surround the village.
The town of Whistler has a very diverse population made up of 3 distinct groups: tourists(over 2.7 million a year), seasonal workers (about 3,000) and locals (about 10,000). Depending on the category you fall into you will see a very different side to things and a lot of that has to do with local knowledge. As a seasonal worker I tried to distance myself as much as possible for tourist hotspots and activities. Once you start to peel back those layers and learn a bit more, it becomes clear why so many people move from seasonal work to becoming permanent residents for 10+ years. There is an amazing wealth of knowledge held within the local community whether it’s the best tree runs and powder stashes in the winter or secluded rope swings, abandoned villages and moonlight parties in the summer.
One particular pearl of wisdom I gained from chatting to some locals was Wiffle Golf. I can’t remember exactly how I first heard about it (probably chatting to someone over a couple of beers) but I only got a vague outline of how the game worked and a very vague location. As with most modern problems, I turned to Google to help me find out where I could go and play. All I could find were a few very vague blog posts from a few years back that gave a description of the general location of the course. I think in my mind this only added to the excitement and that I was actually going to have to do a bit of work to even find the first tee.
After a couple of failed attempts and a few more conversations to try to narrow down the location of the course, I finally felt I was on to a winner. I cycled up to the vague location I had, locked my bike to a tree and stumbled into the forrest with 9 iron and Wiffle ball in hand. At this point I still wasn’t entirely sure what I was looking for or what I’d actually find, if anything at all. After a few minutes fumbling around and moving deeper into the forrest I caught a glimpse of a wooden crate and a couple of things nailed to trees, I’d hit the jackpot.
Part of the reason the Wiffle Golf courses are so hard to find is that they are created by the locals from scrap materials and the knowledge of them only really spreads by word of mouth. There is an amazing air of mystery about it and even as you stand on the first tee, completely hidden from civilisation in dense forrest, you still don’t know where the course will take you. The tee is made from a wooden palette with a strip of astroturf for striking the ball. About 10 meters away amongst the undergrowth there is a patch of dirt outlined by a ring of stones, otherwise known as the ‘green’. In the centre of it is an old rusting tin can buried in the ground to act as the hole. The rules of the game are simple 1 shot per hole, +2 points if you get it in, +1 if it’s on the green, -1 if you land in a hazard and 0 for anywhere else. As far as I remember the course was more than 18holes long and wound it’s way up, down and round the trees back to where you started. The only instructions were the hole numbers next to the trees and arrows to point you in the direction of the next hole. It was clear that the course had survived a few winters and as such had lost a few bits and pieces along the way but it really just added to its charm and it just added to the sense of magic and adventure of this hidden world.
Fast forward 2 years and I’m on my bike again, but this time out exploring the trails of Dundee. I start to notice that in actual fact the forests of Scotland very much echo those of western Canada. That’s when I start to ask myself why don’t we have more activities in our woodland areas that are just a bit of fun? That thought led me to the question ‘well why don’t I just make a start?’ and the idea of bringing Wiffle Golf to Dundee was born.