It’s a fairly innocent question most of the time. I know that each and every one of you have heard it at some point too from your family, friends, and coworkers. “Why do you play disc golf?” It almost feels like an accusation sometimes. No one is asking Justin to defend his model airplane hobby, or why Julia keeps putting together 1000 piece puzzles.
It’s followed up with “Why not ‘real’ golf?”, or some joke you’ve already heard about pot smoking hippies. I wonder collectively how many times people have rolled their eyes at the sport we love.
It’s kind of a bummer to be dismissed, I don’t enjoy ball golf (what I refer to it as) the same way I love disc golf. Each sport should be respected at least. I’ll admit to not caring about motorsports, Track & Field, or Basketball. But if they came up in conversation I wouldn’t make a snide remark about the athletes who spend their lives training to compete at an elite level. “Anybody can throw a frisbee”, “That doesn’t look too hard”, “I bet I could do that.” are all things I saw online when disc golf was featured on ESPN a few times in the last month.
NFL Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe jokes about joining the DGPT.His dismissive attitude is pretty common, despite the comment section of disc golfers offering to buy him discs, pay for tournaments, and play rounds with him. This is the only negative comment I found. But he didn’t respond to hundreds of genuine offers, because he was joking.
This weekend on the trainzwholesale twitter account I asked people why they play. If you’re not following @PlaySDG I start a poll every weekend, as well as interact with folks who love our sport.
Man it was an easy decision to click the heart button on Benjamin Smith’s answer.
I’d like to see if you can ask this question of yourself. Don’t answer right away, really think about what makes you enjoy it. There’s no wrong reason to play this sport. I just want you to think about it and write down some reasons, then pick a main one, something that drives you to play when the weather isn’t perfect or you’re not “feeling it today”.
So why do I play disc golf?
- When I’m playing with my buddies or my dad it’s for fun.
- I’ve met so many dozens of awesome people who I like playing with. Everywhere I go I see smiles of friends who I’ve played with over the years. Sometimes it’s camaraderie
- If I’m playing dubs it’s for competition lite. I want actual pressure but not too much.
- I love walking in the woods, and I often end up on a different path if I hit a tree. So sometimes it’s because I love the outdoors.
- If I’m practicing putting it’s because I love the sport and missing 20-25 footers makes me so angry I could scream.
- If I’m playing in a tournament it’s for the competition. I especially love the second round where I mentally compare my score against whoever is on the card with me after every single hole.
- I got good enough at it to coach, so that’s part of my job now.
All of those reasons and more work for me. But in the end I think it’s mostly about physical exertion and competition. So I’d like to focus on those parts of my game and make them better for me.
How can I make the disc golf I like better for me?
Well since I want it to be more like exercise and competition I suppose this year I could play fewer casual rounds and more competitive ones. I can continue my weight training and practice putting, and maybe even some cardio. That will improve how I score. I could also drop a couple pounds.
To improve the competition I could play in more tournaments, last year I only managed to get into 3. If I want to enjoy the competition more I could try playing courses that I score well on, maybe try to travel more to compete with different people.
So why do you play disc golf? How can you improve your disc golf experience this year?
Maybe you’re someone who is doing it to hang out more with friends. In that case I recommend trying to play different games every once in a while. Find out the course record and see if you can beat it in a scramble, play RIPT Revenge, make some custom tags. Set up a league where you all play 4 or 5 courses and add your scores up.
If you’re doing it for exercise reasons maybe use a pedometer, figure out exactly how much disc golf is benefitting you. Figure out how many throws you’ve done and how far you’ve walked. Maybe try timed disc golf, where you jog from hole to hole not worrying about the score.
If you are doing it to enjoy nature, maybe take some extra pictures of the course. I’m terrible at photography but I love seeing other people taking pictures of trees, mushrooms, flowing water, and animals out on the course. Maybe to improve your experience take a picture each round of something other than your scorecard.
Let me know why you play disc golf in the comments, and what you’re going to do to make sure you enjoy it more. Remember there’s no wrong reason to enjoy this sport.
May your discs miss all the trees,
Andrew Streeter #70397
Great points and awesome article, Andrew. I think this question is super important especially when considering why we get up, get outta the house, and jet over to the course in the first place. If you don’t even know why you’re playing, it can easily fade from your life without you even knowing it.
Speaking for myself, disc golf gives me a reason to get off the phone, out the house, and into the outdoors with the sun on my face. As with other sports like skateboarding and snowboarding, I’m in love with that feeling of progression and mastery and seeing my weaknesses turn to strengths. Keeping that consistency through putting after work, or getting out to the courses on my days off are always opportunities to train and develop a more well-rounded game.
There’s been those few times where the disc has become a true extension of myself, and I’ll be throwing it with precision, snap, and perfect angle that it’s almost like I’ve tapped into a greater part of myself (some might call it “flow” state). You are not in your head, your focus is solely on your line, and the body obeys the mind’s commands in perfect sync. That feeling is indescribable. When your game is fire. More often than not, I’ll get those moments of disc golf clarity in smaller spurts, but all I need is a few for that disc golf fire to stay lit. Ok, I’m done rambling. lol