Instead of starting my post with a typical excuse for not blogging in so long, let’s be real. Life got crazy and I was experiencing some disc golf burnout. Since my last post, I earned two college degrees and started my first full time job. Clearly disc golf has taken a back seat.
But now that I’m settling back into “normal life” with a “normal routine” I see everything really connecting back to the sport. It is my stress reliever and my social life. It promotes the values I want to uphold in my career at the Missouri Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing: accessibility, fairness, health, and community. It’s an activity I can share with my boyfriend. It makes me think. And, most of all, I’ve gotten some pretty badass disc golf stories in my neighborhood lately.
Stories like this one I put together to send out to my local media have helped me to rediscover my love for the game. I hope this inspires you to pick up your bag and play this week, and that your feedback will get me out myself!
(Some alterations to this press release were made to fit the disc golf audience. If YOUR club needs help building relationships with your local media, let us know! I’m happy to provide guidance, and if there is interest, write about best practices or develop press templates for disc golf events. I’ll post links to press coverage here if the release is successful!)
Last weekend marked the 31st Annual Mid America Open disc golf tournament presented by the Columbia Disc Golf Club, Dynamic Discs, and Columbia Parks and Recreation. The event included a doubles event on Friday and a three-round tournament on Saturday and Sunday at Albert-Oakland and Indian Hills Parks. The tournament included 123 players from Missouri, Arkansas, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas.
George Smith, 44, of Columbia earned his tenth Mid America Open title with a score of -52 for the weekend. His Saturday afternoon round on the Albert-Oakland Top Course was 13 under par and rated 1087 (yeah, that’s not a typo). It was the highest rated round of his career to date. Smith began playing disc golf in 1984 at the Albert-Oakland Top Course, the only course in Columbia at the time. He has since traveled internationally as a professional disc golf player, his tour including tournaments in Japan and Finland. In addition to his tournament win, Smith also won the Friday doubles tournament along with Grant Hodges of Columbia, MO.
The weekend’s winners also included: Andrea Meyers (Jonesboro, AR), Open Women; Keith Amerson (Columbia, MO), Open Masters; Justin McCain (Joelton, TN), Advanced Amateur; Gary Harvey (Roeland Park, KS), Advanced Masters; Paul Morrison aka Mo Louis (Columbia, MO), Advanced Grandmasters; Justin Neudecker (Alton, IL), Intermediate; Mariah Flagg (Camdenton, MO), Intermediate Women; Scott Foreman (Columbia, MO), Recreational; Beth Aubuchon (Columbia, MO), Recreational Women; Jack Lowen (Blue Springs, MO), Juniors Under 13 Boys; and Cynthia Riocciotti (Columbia, MO), Juniors Under 13 Girls.
Hey Dogleggers, long time no talk! I promise I haven’t forgotten about you guys—I actually daydream about blogging quite often. For those who don’t know, I’m currently in my junior year of college, so let’s just say that I have to write a lot of stuff that’s not about disc golf during the school year and my brain can only produce so many words in a week.
Anyway, I’ve been DYING to tell you guys a little bit about the crazy winter we’ve been having here in Missouri. It’s been a winter wonderland. Not “wonderland” like the deep snow and beautiful trees on a Christmas card—we’re not quite northern enough for that. I mean WONDERland, like “I wonder if it’s going to be 60 and sunny, or if it’s going to be so cold the news anchors are telling me not to let my dog outside for more than 10 minutes.” So, let’s take a look at Missouri’s last few weekends.
Four weeks ago today I played in the 28th Annual Ice Bowl in Columbia, Mo. Columbia is not only my hometown, but the home of the original Ice Bowl in 1987. As we all know, the official Ice Bowl slogan is “No Wimps, No Whiners,” and for the 28th Annual there was nothing to complain about. The weather was beautiful, in the 40s and no rain or snow. I was very happy to be able to play in a division of 5 women, two of us celebrating one year since our first tournament! On top of that, I shot my personal record on the Oakland Top course with a 2 stroke improvement. It was a wonderful day!
After such a great experience at the Columbia Ice Bowl, I was really pumped to play the following weekend in Jefferson City, Mo. However, the night before the tournament there was an ice storm and it wasn’t safe to make the 30 minute drive. Instead, I spent the day playing a 4-hole NOMAD course at my house and gathering with my neighbors to scrape ice off of my street. Not so wonderful.
I didn’t get any golf in the following weekend. There was more snow and I turned 21, so I think you can infer that I was a little busy doing other things…
Last weekend I finally made my way down to Jefferson City to play league at their new course. They still don’t have permanent baskets or tee pads installed, so we played the front nine twice with temp baskets. Just by looking at the front nine and hearing rumors about the back nine, this course is going to be a BEAST. There are a few water hazards, lots of elevation change, and a mix of tight tunnels and long fairway shots that have to be strategically placed. (It’ll definitely be worthy of a course guide when it’s finished.)
Although it only snowed a little while I was there, there was plenty of “leftover” snow on the ground, cause it hadn’t been above freezing in at least a week. The park’s namesake Binder Lake was frozen enough to walk on (although I never recommend walking on ice!), which is pretty rare.
During this round my winter weakness was particularly evident. I’m usually pretty good at not letting cold affect my mental game, keeping my throwing hand warm, and not letting my feet get wet. But the worst thing about winter disc golf is wearing so many layers that it limits my range of motion. For the most part it doesn’t impact my driving, but trying to follow through on a putt when I feel like the Michelin Man is just not going to happen.
Just six days later, I played my first short-sleeved round of the year at Carrollton Park in St. Louis. It was a beautiful, sunny day reaching a high of nearly 60 degrees. Can you say complete weather 180!? Then, fast forward to today, when the high is expected to be only 38 degrees; my disc golf feat for the day will only consist of writing this post and wishing I were at the Gentlemen’s Club Challenge, where it is currently 65 and sunny!
Hey Dogleggers! I apologize for getting so behind on my coverage of Worlds this week. I often convince myself that I’m going to have tons of free time when I travel. I somehow managed to forget that, since I planned on attending the majority of the events going on in Emporia, the rest of my time would have to be used for catching up on rest! That being said, I will be catching up on my posts over the next couple of days. I have coverage of the Player’s Party, Night Ace Race, an interview with Pete May, and an overall review of the event coming to you soon!
Now, on to the ladies-only event!
More than 30 ladies made it out to the Emporia Country Club on Wednesday night to compete for TONS of prizes in a ring of fire. Miranda Fulton put on this great event, and was assisted by the adorable Haley, who was in charge of yelling out “1, 2, 3, FIRE!”
As if a bunch of disc golf girls getting together to putt wasn’t fun enough, Miranda switched it up on us. Some rings were reserved for juniors or required use of forehand putting. Others required us to stand backward, or to “butt putt” by throwing the disc backward between our legs!
At an event where so many female disc golfers travel from so far away, it was really great to come together to be reminded that so many of us share the same passion for disc golf and growing the presence of women in our sport! I hope to see events like this at more tournaments in the future!
PS: I forgot to mention–every lady at the event got an awesome umbrella straw, even if they didn’t win! It was definitely a fun way to show off and start a conversation with others after the fact! GREAT idea!
On Tuesday night, more than 40 people attended the Pro Clinic featuring Ron Convers Jr., Jay “Yeti” Reading, and Robbie Olsen. The clinic’s general focus was on playing in the wind, as Kansas is famous for, but the tips given ranged from general disc physics to distance driving. Here are a few key tips from each of the pros for those of you who missed out!
Ron Convers Jr.
Look for visual wind clues
A common way to test the wind condition is to throw some grass or dirt into the air and observe the direction it blows before it lands. However, this only indicates the wind condition at the tee. Especially on longer holes, it’s important to look to the end of the hole for trees or other things that show the direction and speed of the wind. Your shot should be adapted to fit the wind throughout the duration of the hole and your disc’s flight.
Add field practice to your routine
When you’re just practicing on your home course(s), you tend to throw the same discs on the same lines over and over again. Ron suggests going to an empty soccer or football field and getting to know your discs better in this setting. You’ll have a better idea of what types of distance you’re capable of throwing. The monotony of throwing shot after shot will cause you to step out of your comfort zone and to put your discs on new lines. You’ll never know if your backup backhand driver should be your go-to flick disc!
“The best asset a disc golfer can have is a short-term memory”
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Every hole is a new hole. Don’t let a bogey or OB mess up your entire round.
Jay “Yeti” Reading
Play by the laws
The laws of physics, that is. There are four major forces that impact the flight of your disc. Of course, there’s gravity and lift. Then there’s momentum—everything in your throw should be utilized to increase momentum. When you’re doing a run-up, it will only add to your momentum if the elements of your standstill form are still intact! Lastly, the little scratches in your disc impact drag. Contrary to popular belief, blemishes on the outer edge of the disc are less important than those on the inner edge. Some of these can be smoothed out by rubbing the disc with a terrycloth towel.
Play to your strengths
When it comes to playing in the wind—or really any time—first consider throwing whatever style is most natural for you. If you throw right-handed backhand, you should always be on the lookout for a hyzer route, because chances are it’ll be the easiest for you to control.
Distance is all in the hips
Just like a good golf or baseball swing, movement in the hips is key to any good disc golf shot. The hips are where the momentum begins, and using them properly will add distance to your throws.
Keep your core tight
In order for the momentum from the hips to travel to the arms, the energy has to travel through the core. By making sure your core is tight and is acting as a connection for your hips and upper body, you won’t need to pull back as far to still see an increase in your distance. As all of the pros at the clinic agreed, extra crunches or core-focused yoga can give your drives a boost!
Watch some of Robbie’s drives here: https://vine.co/v/h7Ivgl7F6pr/embed/simple
I’ve had the pleasure of walking the Municipal Golf Course’s temporary disc golf course three times this year, although I have not yet had the chance to get out there without the purpose of caddying! Municipal, located just outside of Emporia, KS, uses only half of the ball golf course, and plays a total distance of 8,608 ft for the long tees and 7,987 ft for the short tees. Course par is 65.
Throughout the week, this course will be used for the PDGA Amateur World Championships. The A and B pools of Advanced Men played it today, with a hot round of 55. Tomorrow the C pool of Advanced Men and Advanced Grandmasters will play the course. The Advanced Men will play it once more on Thursday or Friday.
Because I have not personally played this course and because I’m trying to spend as much time out experiencing Worlds while I’m here, I’m going to let the pictures speak for themselves (they are worth a thousand words, right?). For an overall course map and hole-by-hole distance and OB information, head over to the Dynamic Discs website: http://www.dynamicdiscs.com/2013amworlds/courses/. Dynamic Discs has been very supportive of my efforts to keep you all updated on the Amateur and Junior World Championships by allowing me to use bits and pieces of their course map here on Dogleg. Thanks for being so great!
And now, to the course!
Hey Dogleggers! I’m very excited to have the opportunity to spend this week at the 2013 Amateur and Junior World Championships in Emporia, KS! This small town is booming with disc golfers, with more than 540 competitors here. During my time here, I plan on bringing you daily updates on all things worlds. Tomorrow [Tuesday] I plan on posting a course guide of the Municipal Golf Course, where the Advanced Men division will be playing in the morning. Other than that, I’d be happy to take requests on what you’d like to read. Just let me know in the comments, or tweet me @MLeeFry.
Since driving in from Columbia on Saturday, I’ve been to 4/5 of the courses, hung out at the field events, attended the players meeting, and socialized in our campground (which is PACKED with disc golfers!). The photo collages below make up just a small portion of what’s going on here in Emporia, and I look forward to updating you on more throughout the week!
About three weeks ago I made my first visit to Branson Cedars Resort, home of Treehouz Disc Golf Course and The Journey Post. The occasion was Journey Post’s First Stop Presented by Prodigy Discs. I chose not to play in the tournament for a few reasons, including the difficulty/length of the course, which I think was a good decision at the time. I’ll be ready for it before I know it though! Anyway, since I didn’t get to play very many of the holes myself, my analysis is based mostly on observation of the Advanced division players, specifically my boyfriend Adam Morrison, and our friend Brad Bullerdieck from Columbia. I also had the pleasure of following the Advanced Grandmasters card for a few holes, and of watching the Pros from afar!
So, a little background on the course. Treehouz is located in Ridgedale, Missouri, between Branson and the border to Arkansas. Its 19-hole course’s par is 60, and is a total of 7,407 feet in length. The course uses DISCatcher baskets and has multiple tees and placements on some holes. Treehouz is pay-to-play: $5 per person for a full day.
Journey Post owner Jaysin Smith designed Treehouz in 2012. Smith said his vision while designing was to create a, “championship level course with a lot of elevation change and a mixture of wooded holes, open holes, and hazard holes; as well as long and short holes.” When asked what other courses inspired him, he referred to Sioux Passage in St. Louis and Hole 1 on Water Works in Kansas City, in terms of their length and elevation changes. (These courses are particularly iconic for Missourians.) He also wanted to incorporate the difficulty of water hazards as seen at Fountain Hills in Arizona. After seeing this course, I’d say this course definitely lives up to his expectations. As if this isn’t enough, the resort is considering adding more holes, pin placements, and tee pads to make the course larger and more accessible for players of all skill levels.
Just for comparing holes and getting a sense of direction, check out this map of the course from Disc Golf Course Review: http://www.dgcoursereview.com/course_files/5830/993ec582.pdf
Now that we have the basics out of the way, let’s get to the pictures!
1. Your disc’s placement in the fairway is critical to playing this hole well. If your disc lands too far to the left, or too short or long, you have to make a difficult upshot down to the basket on slanted ground. If it is too far right, you end up in the woods. Even worse, I saw a few players land their discs in the fairway, but they ended up rolling into the valley on the right!
2. Knowing how your discs behave in the wind and with large elevation changes helps significantly on this hole. It’s challenging from both tees. The view definitely makes it one of the favorite and most iconic holes on the course.
3. Beware of this hole’s water hazard, sloped terrain, and tree placement. Although this is one of the shorter holes on this course at 337’, it can be deceivingly difficult.
4. This hole is all about placement. With the water hazard so close to the end of the hole, you must decide from the tee where you think you’ll have the most success with an upshot. Landing near the water’s edge gives you a straight shot at the basket, but possibly an intimidating putt toward the water. Landing to the right (the path is not OB) is more technical with the trees and the slope, and may lead to a more difficult hyzer upshot because of the possibility of skipping toward the water. However, this positioning will probably allow you to land you closer to the basket and prevent you from putting toward water.
5. You wouldn’t know it from the tee sign alone, but it’s obvious what the challenge is from seeing the terrain of this hole. Be sure to know how your disc flies and how it lands—or you’ll be rolling down the hill!
6. This hole’s hard turn to the left is sharper than it appears from the tee—the sign gives insight into the degree to which your flight path should curve. If you’re too narrow, you’ll hit the trees to the left. If you’re too wide, it may hit the trees and not come back in bounds. Trees surround the basket, and the green slopes toward the water.
7. This hole combines a water hazard, sloped landing zones, and guardian trees to make it technical. The lower left picture is of the placement designated by the yellow circle on the right and is represented by the basket on the tee sign illustration. The lower right picture is of the left placement, which is not shown on the sign.
7B. Hole 7B was temporarily used for Journey Post’s First Stop Tournament. Orange flags on the edge of a putting green designated the tee. The fairway curves to the right and slopes upward. Past the curve, trees line the fairway.
8. Hole 8 is characterized by its steep uphill fairway and dense trees. I saw several birdies on this hole during the tournament. I took a 4 using only a midrange when I snuck this hole in between rounds.
9. The slope of this fairway in addition to the trees makes the line of your shot very important. When preparing to throw, consider how throwing uphill will affect the stability of your disc, and how your disc will roll when it lands.
10. The biggest challenge on this hole is the combination of the OB on both sides of the fairway and the trees that surround the basket. Accuracy in your line is key!
11. Hole 11 is also characterized by having OB on both sides of the fairway. The basket is located on a putting green with a pretty steep hill behind it (the bottom picture is taken from behind). Be sure your upshot doesn’t roll!
12. The gap to hit on this hole is very narrow and makes for a difficult shot (especially for righties). From the tee, the basket is barely visible, as illustrated in the center photo. Because you have to step off to the left of the pad, as seen in the far right photo, it can be difficult to judge the angle of the throw. If you’re unlucky enough to hit a tree or an “invisibranch,” you could be in trouble if your disc decides to roll. Off to the right of the fairway is a fairly steep hill covered in trees—not a place you want to end up!
13. I think the photo for this hole really says it all. The fairway is pretty narrow with pretty dense trees on both sides and behind the basket. The ground slopes a bit to the right, but not enough to make a significant difference on how this hole plays out.
14. Some call it a fishhook, Adam says it’s a “P” for Prodigy, and I say it’s a question mark for “Where is the basket?” when you’re standing on the tee. From the tee, the fairway looks like a hallway that goes all the way to the tee for hole 15. The trees get less dense 200 feet or so down and to the right of the fairway where the basket placement is. The ground is sloped, so make sure your discs aren’t going to roll!
15. I think the tee sign and the photos of this hole really speak for themselves. I’ll let you figure this one out.
16. Because of the OB on the left, righties need to be especially aware of the distance, wind, and the line you’re throwing your disc on. Knowing that your disc is prone to rolling on this smooth terrain may impact your disc selection!
17. This tight shot is especially technical because the fairway is uphill. This means your disc is going to be more stable.
18. In most cases, the OB should not make much of a difference on this hole if your disc goes where you intend. If you have the arm for it, you’ll want to make sure you get across the valley in the fairway. The closer you are, the more level you’ll be with the basket.
19. My advice for this hole is similar to hole 18. I would recommend trying these two holes as well as hole 2 out before playing them competitively just to get a feel for how the elevation changes effect how far you are able to throw. Additionally, you’ll want to get a feel for how your disc acts when it lands on the putting greens.
I’m really excited to share with you all the first of many photo-based course guides I plan on creating. I got the idea to start these when I realized that many members of the Dogleg community would not have the opportunity to practice the courses for Amateur Worlds until they arrived for the competition. Since Columbia (my hometown) is only 3.5 hours away and St. Louis (where I go to school) is only 5 hours away, I figured I was in a great position to help non-Midwestern disc golfers prepare for such a big event.
But, making a trip to Emporia was easier said than done. I sat on the idea for a month or two before Adam and I decided Valentine’s Day weekend would be the best time for us to take a disc golf trip. (Jealous? Refer to my last post: Love Is In The Air.) After a few near-death experiences caused by our failure to realize that some highways outside of Kansas City were icy, we made it safely to my first Emporia course: Jones West.
According to Disc Golf Course Review, Jones West, an 18-hole par-54 course, was established in 1989. The topography has some gentle hills, but is mostly flat. After all, it is Kansas we’re talking about! Trees—ranging from broad and branchy evergreens to skinny deciduous trunks—definitely factor into the strategy on this course, but not to the degree that it creates the feeling of playing in the woods. There are two ponds on the course, which create water hazards on 5 holes. Each hole has two different pin placements, red and blue, for the Mach 3 baskets. (For more info: http://www.dgcoursereview.com/course.php?id=1403)
As with most other Midwestern courses, the difficulty will vary with different weather and seasonal conditions. Wind wasn’t a huge factor the day we played, but I’ve heard it can be pretty extreme in Emporia (there was a tornado nearby during the weekend of the Glass Blown Open last year). The seasonal changes to the course will be a little more predictable. Just like anywhere else, in spring and summer trees will be thicker and have more leaves; in the fall and winter they’ll thin out and leave more gaps. The size of the ponds will change depending on precipitation in the days and weeks before. This will cause the water hazards to be more or less extreme on some holes. (The water was pretty low when I took these pictures; there was a drought last summer, and the heavy snow didn’t hit until a few weeks later.)
After playing the course, we swung by the Dynamic Discs store and talked with Adam Searle. He said that all of the courses in the area will be getting new tee signs before hosting Am Worlds. (The ones they have at Jones West now are pretty nice, but several have been vandalized. I edited most of the vandalism out in my pictures.) As of my correspondence with Dynamic Discs on Thursday, I learned that Jones West will not be used for the Glass Blown Open this year, but it will be for Am Worlds. They are in the process of finalizing which pin placements will be used for the tournament.
Now that I have all the details out of the way, enjoy the pictures!
Hole #1: We played this hole in the red placement. For those of you who have played at Jones before, you may notice that the giant tree in the middle of the fairway (the one on the tee sign) is no longer there, which makes the hole play out a lot easier. Water shouldn’t affect you on this hole, even though it can be seen on the tee sign. Scores: Emily 4, Adam 3
Hole #2: We played this hole in the red placement. The road on the left is OB. Scores: Emily 5, Adam 2
Hole #3: We played this in the blue placement. Righties, beware of the road that runs down the left of the fairway, it’s OB! Scores: Emily 5, Adam 4
Hole #4: We played this hole in the blue placement. The fairway is gently sloped downhill. When the pin is in the red placement, water may come into play. Scores: Emily 7, Adam 3
Hole #5: We played this in the red placement. Scores: Emily 4, Adam 5
Hole #6: Based on the pictures I took, I can’t remember which placement this hole was in. Tee for this hole is right up next to the edge of the pond, whose width will vary depending on rainfall. I didn’t quite have the distance or confidence to go across, so I played around it. The top center picture shows the view from the pad. The far right picture looks back at the pad from across the pond. The picture across the bottom shows the length of the pond; you can see the tee pad on the left. Scores: Emily 7, Adam 4
Hole #7: We played this in the red placement. I didn’t get any pictures of this one because I ended up in the water (which shouldn’t typically happen for lefties, but I kept griplocking REALLY badly). Water will come into play though for right-handed hyzer shots if they go too long. Scores: Emily 5, Adam 3
Hole #8: We played this in the red placement. Scores: Emily 6, Adam 3
Hole #9: We played this in the red placement. The fairway is slightly downhill overall, with a drainage creek running across it. There is a cluster of skinny trees surrounding the tee pad, and a few larger evergreens guarding the basket. Scores: Emily 5, Adam 4
Hole #10: We played this in the blue placement. The big tree on the tee sign that used to be in the fairway is gone. It previously played as a mando, so the shot to the basket is significantly more open than it has been in the past. Scores: Emily 5, Adam 3
Hole #11: We played this in the blue placement. The fairway curves to the left for both placements. The green slopes down then back up, creating a bit of a valley. Scores: Emily 5, Adam 5
Hole #12: We played this in the red placement. The right side of the fairway is lined with trees; the left side is relatively open. The basket is within the treeline on the right, and is surrounded by trees on 3 sides. Scores: Emily 6, Adam 3
Hole #13: We played this in the red placement. The road on the right is OB. You can see that it is roped off on the edge of the pictures; the ropes are a few feet from the edge of the road. Scores: Emily 4, Adam 3
Hole #14: We played this in the red placement. The basket is tucked between two evergreen trees, and behind a smaller tree. Scores: Emily 3, Adam 3
Hole #15: We played this in the blue placement. The road on the right of the hole is OB. Past the evergreens on the left is wide open, in the event a shot doesn’t land in the fairway. Scores: Emily 5, Adam 3
Hole #16: We played this in the blue placement. I didn’t get any pictures of this hole because, for me, it was long and frustrating, and Adam’s shot didn’t turn over and landed in someone’s yard across the road. Whoops! Scores: Emily 9, Adam 3
Hole #17: We played this in the red placement. There is OB on both sides of the fairway (road on the right, houses on the left). Water comes into play for the blue placement, but not the red. Scores: Emily 5, Adam 3
Hole #18: We played this in a special placement that is usually used for Hole #1; it goes all the way across the pond and rests on the edge instead of being on the left side of it, as is seen in the red and blue placements. You can see the basket from the tee in the top picture, where it is to the right of the brown trees. The water makes this placement especially difficult. We learned from experience that, if faced with a difficult putt, it is vital to throw a shot that will not roll if it hits the ground. I ended up 50+ feet from the basket more than once on a roll. Also, for the blue placement, it may be important to know that the road is OB behind the tree line. Scores: Emily 11, Adam 4
If I had a dollar for every time a disc golfer told me he wished his girlfriend played disc golf, I’d have enough money to install a course in my backyard. If I had a dollar for every time I have played disc golf with another girl…well, let’s just say I would be thankful disc golf is free to play.
The ratio of male to female disc golfers is astounding. As of this month, only 6.7% of PDGA members are women. Of the 3,523 players registered as professionals, 250 are women. These ratios mean that many tournaments offer more divisions for men than for women. This was even the case at the 2012 Amateur World Championships, where there were 3 fewer women’s divisions; no lady champions were named for the Junior <19, Senior Grandmasters, or Legends divisions. It is clear that there is a lot of room for growth in women’s disc golf. For a sport that is so focused on progressing, girls could be a huge resource.
A great place to start utilizing this resource is to get your girlfriend (or wife, or other special lady in your life) interested in disc golf. This seemed to be the trend at my first tournament, the 27th Annual Ice Bowl in Columbia, MO, the home of the Ice Bowl. Of the 55 players at the event, 6 played in the women’s division; all of us had a male significant other who was also competing.
So, then comes the big question, “How do I get my girlfriend to play?” As a disc golf girlfriend, here are 10 tips I recommend trying. No guarantee, but they worked on me!
1. Match her personality
One of disc golf’s best qualities is that it is a sport for everyone. It can be tailored to fit any level of skill, competitiveness, timeframe, or budget. The first step to getting your girlfriend to play disc golf is showing her that it is a sport for her. If she’s generally not interested in sports (like me), present it as a fun game and a great way to get outside on a nice day. If she’s more athletic, make it competitive, but still friendly. To get her interested, you have to make sure that the way you talk about disc golf appeals to her as an individual.
2. Easy on the terminology
The words we use to describe disc golf make up an entirely new language. You’ll need to pay attention to which terms she already knows and which ones are still new. You don’t want to confuse her, but you also want to make sure you’re not condescending by explaining too much. For me, it took a lot of effort to learn the lingo. I wasn’t familiar with basic golf terminology like “par” and “birdie,” so learning things like “hyzer” and trying to memorize that Wizards and Magics are putters was sometimes overwhelming. So, in the beginning, make sure you clearly define what each term means, and don’t get frustrated if you have to explain it several times each round.
3. Make sure she has the right discs
An important aspect of disc golf strategy is using the right disc for your throwing style. For beginners and for women, chances are that the right discs for them will not be the ones you use. Most beginners should start with just a putter and maybe a midrange; at such an early stage, most people throw putters and drivers the same distance. A putter can be used to get comfortable with playing—learning courses, developing good form, and snapping the wrist. Once these skills have been mastered, it will be easier to recognize patterns of how other discs fly. When she does need a driver, start with low weights and fairway drivers (I used an Innova Starlight Roadrunner until I lost it in a pond, then moved on to Discmania’s Jackal). These discs are easier to control, especially if she’s still working on building power and strength in her throws.
4. Start easy
Once you’ve been playing for a while, it can be hard to remember how much work it takes to play a round at your favorite par 64 course. Keep in mind that it is unlikely that your girlfriend will have the same disc golf endurance when she starts playing. You’ll probably want to start at a course with shorter holes that aren’t heavily wooded or surrounded by poison ivy and thorns (common course conditions here in the Midwest). If your options are limited, start by playing 6- or 9-hole rounds at a difficult course, and progressively play more as she gets more comfortable and develops her disc golf muscles.
5. Ladies first
Let her take the pad in casual rounds, regardless of whether or not she’s earned it. Be a gentleman. Easy enough. The only exception is if she asks you to go first, which may be the case if she’s unfamiliar with the hole and wants to learn from your shot.
6. Use “lady par” to score
When anyone first starts playing, it is unlikely that they will be able to regularly par holes. In order to make scoring more encouraging, add 1 to the par on each hole. A standard par 54 course becomes par 72. Playing and tracking progress will be a lot more fun if she has scores to be proud of—no one wants to announce a round with 13 double bogies, even if its better than they normally play. Adjusting the par will more accurately reflect how well she is doing as a beginner.
7. Make it a date
Pack up a picnic lunch or take a trip to a course that is especially scenic. If she’s not quite hooked on disc golf yet, she may feel like a third-wheel when she’s out with you and the course. Make sure she knows that the important part is adding disc golf to your relationship—not the other way around.
8. Encourage her to play with other girls
For a girl, learning to play disc golf only by watching experienced males is like being raised by wolves. No matter how much time and effort you want to put into helping your girlfriend, her body is fundamentally different than yours. A man’s center of gravity is in his shoulders, whereas a woman’s is in around her hips. Generally speaking, women typically have less upper body strength than men. Obviously, the process of pulling one’s arm across the chest for a backhand throw is significantly different for the two sexes. Your girlfriend will be able to get more detailed tips from girls who already throw, and not feel like as much of an “outsider” in the disc golf community. A great place to start is to introduce her to girls in your local disc golf club, then encourage her to invite her friends to come out and play too.
9. Resources and Networks for Women
In addition to introducing your girlfriend to individual female disc golfers, make sure she knows about the groups and networks that have been created to expand her opportunities. Start by finding ladies leagues in your area, or a disc golf club that has bag tags specifically for women. Beyond the course, the Internet is a great place to stay up to date with the female disc golf community. PDGA Women and DiscGolf4Women.com both have a strong presence on Facebook and Twitter, and have a variety of resources for ladies of disc golf to get more involved in their community.
10. Return the favor
If she’s willing to take a chance on disc golf, it’s only fair for you to do something equally out of your typical realm of interests for her. Suck it up and watch a chick flick or go to the mall with her. Let her know that you appreciate her giving disc golf a try. She’ll be more willing to play again in the future, and be more likely to get hooked. Eventually, she’ll be the one begging YOU to go out for a round.
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The disc golf community received lots of exciting news last December. Clearly, as I addressed in my earlier posts, the discopalypse and announcement of Prodigy Disc Golf stirred up tons of gossip. Dynamic Discs released its new line of discs. But the announcement that has the greatest potential to impact the sport went unnoticed in comparison. On December 21, PDGA Executive Director Brian Graham announced that the PDGA would be joining with two other sports organizations to create the Emerging Sports Network.
The purpose of the ESN, according to its website, http://www.emergingsports.info, is to recognize and celebrate the “most innovative, exciting, and competitive sporting endeavors available today. Though each of these sports might not have millions of fans and dollars to support their play, they do not lack the passion or the skills necessary to create great broadcasting.” The other two organizations pairing with the PDGA to make up the ESN are the Upstate Watercraft Promotions-International Jet Sports Boating Association (UWP-IJSBA) National Tour and the Extreme Volleyball Professionals (EVP) Tour. Before the PDGA became involved, the two sports had partnered together to form the Beach Sports Network, which has now evolved into the ESN.
As a partner for the ESN, the PDGA will produce four 30 minute video segments this year. The first of the four disc golf episodes will cover the Memorial Championship in Scottsdale and Fountain Hills, AZ at the beginning of March. Between the three sports, 20 episodes will be created, then distributed by Comcast or another sports network. These episodes have the potential to be picked up by networks all across the country and to be seen by 66 million households.
The group who owns the rights to the ESN website and who will provide key help in producing the first disc golf shows for television is the Terra Firma Media Group, who specializes in strategic communications and “helping your company reach its audience.” Terra Firma already has a big role in disc golf. They run DiscGolfPlanet.tv and their clients include the USDGC, the Japan Open, Innova, Red Bull, and Kimberly-Clark.
I expect that partnering with the UWP-IJSBA and EVP Tours will have several, large effects on disc golf in the next couple of years. The most direct effect will be that disc golf will be more well known, and therefore, more people will want to play. This could eventually lead to more course installations and cooperation from Parks and Rec-type groups.
Although I do not see this until next year or later, I believe that if the ESN is successful, the PDGA will collaborate with the UWP-IJSBA and EVP to organize a tour made up of mega-events where all three sports are represented. Graham said in his announcement on Disc Golf Talk Radio that he hoped to have one of these events in the future, but I expect that there will be several if the ESN is a successful alliance. The other two sports have already synced up the time and place of several of their major tour events for the 2013 season, and this trend could easily transfer to include disc golf events as well.
These large events would put disc golf in a new position. They will attract better bids from Convention and Visitors Bureaus, which would cut costs for tournament hosting. They will also make tournaments more appealing for sponsors that apply to all three sports–like Nike or Gatorade. We can also expect that the cities that will host these big events will be on beaches, so they can accommodate jet ski racing and beach volleyball. Cities like Kansas City, who hosted the 2009 Pro and Am World Championships and is home to the Kansas City Wide Open (a national tour event), will be less likely to host these giant events. Large cities in coastal states will have a higher chance of hosting disc golf’s biggest events.
For Brian Graham’s announcement: http://discgolftalkradio.com/2012/news-from-the-the-pdga/
For the full interview with Brian Graham: http://discgolftalkradio.com/2012/interview-with-pdga-executive-director-brian-graham/
How do you expect the ESN to impact disc golf? Tweet @doglegdiscgolf with the hashtag #EmergingSN to let us know!