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!
Although it has been more than 3 years since I was introduced to disc golf, this is the first time I have had the winter disc golf bug. Today, for example, in Missouri the high temperature was below freezing and there is 2 inches of snow and ice on the ground. This is not my idea of disc golf weather, especially as a beginner who gets frustrated enough when my discs are dry.
These conditions have left me thinking about disc golf much more than playing. Mostly I have pondered my favorite disc golf moments from last year, and those I’m looking forward to most this year. The biggest difference between the two is that now I’m a player, not just a spectator.
Last summer I drove to Charlotte, NC, with my boyfriend and his dad for the 2012 Disc Golf World Championships. At the time, I hadn’t even played a full 18-hole round of disc golf. I was coming as a girlfriend, caddy, and camera girl. From my point of view of as non-player and disc golf spectator of nearly 3 years, here were the top 5 things I loved about 2012 Worlds that I hadn’t seen anywhere else.
5. Beautiful courses
Yes, I’ve been to other courses that were pretty (most notably, Diamond X in Billings, MT, and some courses in Des Moines, IA). However, this was the first time that EVERY course I went to was gorgeous and visually interesting. On top of simply being nice pieces of land with awesome layouts, they were clean with very little litter. Despite the heat of the Carolina sun, it was always fulfilling to be outside just to see the courses.
4. Narrow, straight fairways with tall, skinny trees
When I first started watching disc golf, I thought it was so neat how discs flew in curves and “S” shapes. It wasn’t long before I realized that discs curve naturally, and it is extremely difficult to throw down a narrow fairway. Watching drives on the numerous holes with tight hallways simply amazed me, especially because so many were so accurate!
3. Putting for dough
As the saying goes, “drive for show, putt for dough.” At such a competitive event with incredibly skilled players, putting was for dough AND show. Every throw counted, and long putts created more suspense than any drive from the tee. And, when someone made one, led to more excitement.
2. Watching people of all ages play
As a 19 year old girl, it is often hard to find other people “like me” at the course. Spending a week watching the junior divisions gave me a whole new perspective on the sport (even if I mostly followed the boys!). The disc golf community is so much larger and more diverse than I knew. It was definitely a shock to see kids ten years younger than me flicking farther than I can throw backhand (still)!
1. Watching other people watch
As someone who watched disc golf for nearly 3 years before I started playing, it always seemed so odd to me that I was usually the person in a gallery. The way the discs fly and the relaxed atmosphere of the sport make it such a unique sport to watch. Seeing so many people with so much interest in watching others play was pretty foreign to me. It changed my view on the potential of the sport. Now that the PDGA has announced a partnership with the Emerging Sports Network, the opportunity of having a new role in the disc golf community—spectators—is more possible than ever before.
Sitting around, drinking hot tea, and waiting for spring to come is giving me plenty of time to get excited about the upcoming disc golf season. I haven’t decided how many tournaments I’ll play in or where all I will travel to watch, but I sure hope to get to Emporia, KS and Crown Point, IN to have the Worlds experience again!
Recently I had the pleasure of playing White Oak Park in Dallas, GA. A beautiful open hilly course — nice little pond that comes into to play for holes after 14 too. The air was a bit brisk, but certainly a good day to hear chains as always. After about 6 holes I noticed my go-to Sidewinder not having the same glide it usually has. This made me think…
I’m not a meteorologist or a physicist, but proper disc weight in adverse conditions, no matter the skill level, is extremely important!
Over the years I have heard that low weight discs (roughly 150-168) are easier for distance, but hard to release and control consistently, especially with wind. Heavier discs are naturally more over-stable (slightly), harder to gain distance, but consistent. I find that this is very true.
BUT… I’ve yet to read about disc weights and how to adjust them according to the weather, mainly temperature.
I found that throwing my 172g Sidewinder feels like throwing a 190g when it’s coat-wearing time. It sunk like the Titanic on my first moderate up-shot this last weekend. I bought a 154g disc today to compare, and I had a tremendous improvement.
I highly recommend adjusting your disc weight according to the outside temperature. In these low temperatures of Winter (high 40’s right now here in Georgia) my go-to weight is 160 now, but I am not a high speed thrower. The beauty of Disc Golf is you need to find what works best for YOU. Right now, for me, it seems that lighter weight cuts the cold air a bit better.
Peripheral Blood Flow
While playing at White Oak, the great J.T. of this blog made an EXCELLENT point. When the weather is cold, our hands don’t have as much blood flow and do not move and react as they normally do. So naturally when we throw the disc it may not have the same release point, usually late-whipping it way off track — to the right for right handed back handed throwers.
The way he remedied this is by using a modified fan grip on his drives as he would a long approach shot. Since the fingers aren’t tucked in the rim, they don’t need to get out of the way in time, giving you a smooth release. As long as you have grip on the disc and can still snap it, this is a fantastic modification for cold weather conditions.
As always, these points and tips are something to read, enjoy, and go by – not to live by. Disc Golf is truly amazing because it’s personal. In order to become great you have to practice A LOT and define your own game. I just hope the tips and stories we share here at Dogleg Disc Golf steer you into a happy and successful direction.