November 1, 2012 | Back to: Obituaries

Rocket man

An idea ignited in 1989, which sat dormant for
23 years, took flight Wednesday afternoon at The Ridge Golf Club in Auburn.

On hole No. 1, Doug Frost, a former technician for NASA and retired Grass Valley postman, took a few minutes to set up his shot, counted down from five and blast off — Rocketry Golf was reborn.

Frost, along with club pro Shawn Kelly and a small group of reporters and photographers, watched as a plastic golf ball attached to a model rocket launched into the air. The rocket and ball became lost in the overcast sky, but when it landed, it was more than 420 yards away and within 20 feet of the hole. Frost teed up another two rockets, and each landed on or around the green.

“I am impressed,” said Kelly after seeing how close the rockets were to the pin. “I wasn’t sure before, but I am now. This is about as obscure as I’ve seen, but I’m interested.”

Rocketry Golf is the brain child of Frost, who said the idea came to him 23 years ago when he was driving past a golf course after a day of firing off model rockets nearby.

An avid rocket hobbyist and part-time rocketry teacher at the time, Frost decided to fuse the two vastly different activities.

In 1989, Rocketry Golf grabbed the attention of the local media in the Bay Area, spawning several articles on the game, but a lack of time and funding forced Frost to put Rocketry Golf on the shelf.

With Wednesday’s demonstration, the first since 1989, Frost, now retired, is looking to make Rocketry Golf the next big thing.

“It’s too much fun I got to warn you,” Frost said. “It’s extremely habit forming.”

Frost plans on returning to The Ridge to play Kelly in November and has hopes of getting a Rocketry Golf tournament up and going at the end of May.

“The bottom line is if this is ever going to move past my garage, it’s going to be with tournaments — sponsors and tournaments,” Frost said.

As for who this hybrid sport caters to, Frost said he believes rocket enthusiasts will find it entertaining.

While to take a swing or a launch may take a few minutes longer than it does in traditional golf, Frost contends that the time is made up by the fact he only needs one shot to reach the green.

In Rocketry Golf, drives can reach distances of nearly 600 yards, Frost said.

Once the rocket is on the green, then it is a switch back to traditional golf with regulation golf balls and a putter.

Getting Rocketry Golf to be the next disc golf won’t be easy, said Frost. Major obstacles such as sponsors and publicity for the sport will be difficult. Frost has reached out to several golf and rocketry publications, visited and pitched the sport at local courses and has sent packets on the sport to engineering schools.

Frost has also been working with a game designer in Ohio, Jon Harbor, who is working on a Rocketry Golf video game for the PC. It should be ready in December, said Frost.

To get started in Rocketry Golf, it would cost a new player approximately $175 dollars, including the launch pad and rockets. Each shot requires a new engine, which costs less then $5 apiece.

All things rocketry golf related can be found at www.rocketrygolf.com.

“For me, it’s not for money. It’s for the legacy,” Frost said. “If tens of people enjoy it by next year, then I’m a success. If 100 people enjoy by the next year, then wow.”

To contact Sports Writer Walter Ford call (530) 477-4232 or email him at wford@theunion.com


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The Union Updated Nov 1, 2012 08:17AM Published Nov 3, 2012 12:40AM Copyright 2012 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.