Disc Golf: From a Beginner
I remember the first time I ventured with my husband to play disc golf. He threw a pretty, pink, rainbow-stamped disc that sailed so beautifully through the air; I thought it would never land. His bag was full of colorful discs, and even ones that glowed in the dark. He spoke about the angle of the discs, how they were different from other discs, and things that could make them go further. His powerful legs and broad arm span contributed significant torque to their release, and one of the smoothest forehands I have ever witnessed. He knows the discs, the courses, the people and the lingo. When he has time to consistently play, he continuously improves his game and changes up some of the discs he throws for reasons I am still learning to follow. On social media, he has had ‘disc golf’ listed as his ‘job’ since grad school. I do not think I am even listed as his ‘wife’.
My first time throwing a disc was not so graceful. I did not get to watch a colorful disc cut swiftly through the air and come down some astonishing X00 feet from where I stood. Instead it kind of ‘flooped’ straight up into the air and then by some turn of events veered 90 degrees to the left, before finally bushwhacking its way right down into the middle of a briar patch just a few feet away. I was crushed. My first instinct was to leave it there in the cold, hard sticks as punishment for not cooperating. First of all, why would they ever make something meant to be thrown in such a way? Secondly, why would anyone in his or her right mind want to do it twice? But then thirdly, as I embarrassingly realized this is an inanimate object, I felt my frustration dissipate into its familiar by-products of problem-solving and determination, and wondered how in the hell do I get from ‘here’ to ‘there’. And so it began. It turns out I love the outdoors and this is a lot of fun after a few tries, and so there is no reason in the world for me not to play disc golf!
As my supportive husband patiently waits for me to throw at least three shots toward each basket to his every one, helps me fish my ‘griplocked’ discs out of the woods, encourages me when I feel like giving up, gives me pointers and helps me pick out discs, all with no expectations of me ever getting better, I am reminded just exactly why I’ve loved him since we first met nearly 30 years ago. Thanks to him and disc golf I am learning to be more patient. This is especially useful as I am recovering from an injury that put an end to the high-impact activities I enjoyed in prior years. I am not yet physically able to do all the walking required to take on a PDGA-sanctioned tournament, even though there is a novice division just for beginners like me. But sometimes I tag along to his tournaments for support or to volunteer, or just read or practice my own beloved hobby of abstract nature photography or lately, when our local Club needed pics for the website, even trying my hand at sports photography! And getting to know others who show up to play, volunteer, support players, or just hang out and see what’s up. Because that is how welcoming the sport of disc golf is, and the community of players that make it up. The disc golf community happens to be one of the friendliest, most helpful groups of people I have ever come across. I have been welcomed, thanked for coming, encouraged to sign up for tournaments, and even picked on like one of them in what little time I’ve spent amongst the Crossroads Disc Golf Club in Terre Haute, Indiana my first year in the area. You can literally just show up to a league and say I’m interested in disc golf, where do I begin? That is fortunate because for a beginner, getting started might be the hardest part of all. There are so many discs to choose from and they all do different things. So how does one know where to start? There are not many resources for beginners to turn to for information, and not everyone has a knowledgeable husband who has been eager to share the sport with them for ages.
I also didn’t realize how much disc golfers give back to their communities until I met this group. They do a lot of work to raise funds to support various organizations and efforts. For this year’s Mother of the Valley Tournament, founder and director Jason LaBella proudly announced that proceeds from that tournament would go toward replenishing food banks in areas devastated by the hurricanes. It was an amazing turnout and I’m so happy we got to be part of it. I feel the same sense of community and philanthropy as we travel around the Midwest, from Valparaiso, Indiana to Aurora, IL where our Team is based. Our Death By Par Team is another amazing group of individuals; a topic for another post.
I don’t know about these ‘ice’ bowls I keep hearing about, but as my favorite season of Hoodie weather approaches I can’t wait to spend more time at the courses! It is a lot of fun to watch the pros, and even they love it when new people show up, because everyone was a beginner once. Even if you’re just curious about disc golf, I would definitely encourage you to reach out to your local league or just come out and play. Hope to see you there!
What was your first time like? Share your beginner stories in the comments!
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