Disc golfing brothers, 13-year-old Anthony Cruz and 9-year-old Jayden Cruz, own a collection of small, frisbee-like discs.
Anthony shares, “Disc golf is my passion. I love the sport. I want it to grow in Carlsbad.” While the Cruz disc collection hovers above 200 or so, occasionally, during tournaments or particularly busy weekends with new players, Anthony explains that he and his brother will give away as many as 25 or 30 discs from their collection. They do this to kindle the love and excitement of the sport in others. The brothers want new players to have a foundation for a collection of their very own. Hopefully, then, they will continue to come around to the disc golf course at Lower Tansill Dam because they felt welcomed and encouraged by the club. The boys recently recruited their neighbor, Mike Gutierrez, to the sport. Mike has been throwing with the Carlsbad disc golfers since mid-2020 and already sports 12 discs in his collection.
Like the Cruz brothers, fellow disc golf club member Tim Melendez, and his son, Benji, own a similarly sized collection of discs. Tim and Benji share about 100 discs between them and Tim has carefully sorted and stored another 100 or so discs in a tote container he keeps in his car to share with friends coming in for a pickup game or for new players to use. The Melendez collection regularly fluctuates in numbers like the Cruz collection.
The ever-changing size of these disc collections is reminiscent of the Northwest Native American custom of “potlatch.” During a potlatch ceremony, a host gifts many of his/her belongings to others. The act of gifting belongings actually increases the status of the potlatch host and in many ways, in the disc golf community, the same holds true. The Cruz brothers, as young as they are, and the Melendez family are teachers and mentors in the inviting disc golf community of Carlsbad. They share their knowledge as well as their equipment. The Cruz brothers and the Melendez father-son duo grow the sport they love and the community they are a part of by sharing their collections.
Traditionally, while collections are meant to be kept together permanently, finding multiple collections which increase and decrease in size expands the idea of what a collection can be. In this larger definition, the entire disc golf community of Carlsbad can be a collection. This collection of disc golfers is on display through its Facebook group, Carlsbad NM Disc Golf. To become a member of this group and to find tee times at the Lower Tansill Dam course, search the group on Facebook and hit the “Join” button. One of the group’s administrators, Alex Luna or Alberto Ornelas (also the founder of the 18-hole disc golf course in Carlsbad), will approve your membership to the online group.
The Carlsbad NM Disc Golf “collection” is family-friendly and for folks of all ages. Players range in age from 7 to 70 and come from all different walks of life. Member and group secretary, Trevor Fray, fondly recounted a pickup round with a couple of missionaries from out of town that happened recently and explained that men and women from the armed forces regularly play a round or two while visiting Carlsbad. Group vice president, Whit Storey, shared that before Trevor moved to Carlsbad the two had actually played rounds together at the Carlsbad course when Trevor visited. Little did they know that in a few short years they would serve on the same board which steers the club. Collections have many different purposes but they seem to have a funny way of bringing people together.
Article written by Kaity Hirst and originally published in Focus on Carlsbad 2021 spring edition.