A Love Letter to Disc Golf
Dear Disc Golf,
I was first introduced to you via an ex boyfriend. Remember him? He pitched baseball in high school and had the potential for the big leagues until his unfortunate injury. Needless to say, he quickly picked up the ability to flick a disc. Combined with his athletic tenacity, he was immediately an avid golfer.
I remember my first game with you fondly. The boyfriend and I had stopped at Play it Again Sports, and he picked out two used discs to "start my bag" (Oy! So many terms to learn!): (1) hot pink "flippy" Surge and (1) orange "floppy" Aviar, whatever that means.
We proceed to a local course and tee off. He was "crushing it," and I was throwing in every direction except for parallel to the earth. Despite all the frustration of meeting you and learning your quirks and nuances, I was in love! The fresh air, the nature, the birds, the hiking. My favorite was how the calm and quiet of the course would be punctuated with a sudden but slow "Whoooaaa!" of a group at the next hole, followed by the ring of chains and an explosion of celebratory yelling. That unmistakable sound of friendship, enthusiasm, and reward for a good throw.
Even though that boyfriend and I didn't work out, my love for you sustained. I visited a disc golf store to invest in a bag and some more discs. The clerk sold me on the "Cadillac of mid-sized bags" ...mind you this was in 2012... it was a friggin' SLING bag, and I had to buy the backpack straps SEPARATELY! Lol!!! The kids now a days don't know how good they have it with all these fancy backpacks and carts. The clerk also sold me a clear green Leopard. Clear green. Really? Really? You sold a beginner a clear green disc? It was the first and only disc I've purposely abandoned, even texting the person who found it to just keep it.
But I digress. My guy friends were thrilled to have a girl take up the sport, and they were eager to invite me to play. They were also extremely eager to offer, ahem, so. many. suggestions. I listened to them all, for good or ill, and slowly chucked my way up to 75' throws before plateauing.
Don't get me wrong. It wasn't all dude-tastic. I had a girlfriend who, as it turned out, had been playing for years and she was good! She invited me to a women's league in Kansas City, and lo and behold some professional players were hosting a clinic. I met Catrina Allen! In 2012! Before Prodigy even existed! My obsession grew stronger. "You're telling me there are touring professional disc golfers, and I can follow them on social media?! This just gets better and better!"
Speaking of professional level players, you know my good friend Sensei. You and he go way back, but just in case you need a refresher: Sensei and his brother were Ultimate Frisbee players in college, naturally leading them into disc golf in the '90s. Any hoot, with decades of experience under his belt, Sensei was watching me struggle with my form and consistency during a round, and out of frustration growled, "We're going to do field work tomorrow."
We met at a practice soccer field near Sensei's house. He had me warm up with a couple practice drives. Well, "drive" is a strong word, more of a clumsy-painful-throw-as-hard-as-I-can-chuck. He shook his head and instructed me with the following:
Take out your cross-step.
Plant your left hand on your left thigh to keep that arm out of the way.
Never for one second take your eyes off the disc; follow it from your wind up to release.
Bam! It was like fireworks. I remember the feeling distinctly. It was a sensation of power and control over the disc as I watched it glide without that stupid flutter, just as I had envisioned in my head! The icing on the cake? It required almost ZERO effort.
The fireworks dissipated. Then came the gut wrenching question, "Why haven't I been doing this the whole time? How much time have I wasted trying to throw it as hard as I can, as if I was trying to throw a bowling ball? " Oh the ups and downs of loving you my dear Disc Golf!
I continued with the sport, and slowly improved. My 75' throws grew to 100', then 150', almost 200’ on a good day, nearly 300’ if it was downhill!! I also thoroughly enjoyed doing field work, but I especially enjoyed learning with Sensei and all the trick shots and ways to get around obstacles or out of the weeds. So much to learn!
Fast forward eight years, and I'm still in love. I wish I could say that I've been playing for this entire eight years, but sadly that is not the case. For the last four years I let life get in-between us, and I didn't carve out the time to visit you and to meet new friends on the local courses. It was the usual excuses: moving, new job, moving, new stressful job, moving again. Sure I would go out and practice in a field every now and then to keep my muscle memory up, but I didn't make the time to commit. And such a shame! It was during that time I lived in Maryland and Colorado and missed out on some of your most breathtaking courses!
But now I'm settled in the Dayton, Ohio area. I've started thinking about you a lot and I’ve been practicing again. I've also started to realize you have grown and expanded in so many ways in the last four years while I was away. I've already mentioned the bags, but also all the new discs, all the young new professionals, and all the online coverage! How did we live before Jomez?!?! It is so refreshing to have 100X more videos available of women crushing it!
But most importantly, I'm excited to see the very outspoken push to get more women to meet you. I personally believe that women will one day dominate this sport, but I feel it will be hard to accomplish that goal by watching and learning from almost exclusively men. I mean, just look at Paige Pierce! Much like a ballerina, she makes all that power, speed, and control look effortless and graceful. And Sarah Hokom? Are you kidding me? She practically contortions into a human corkscrew with that forehand! Being built differently means we'll have that feminine advantage of having life-bearing power in our hips, and less in our upper body.
I hope my love letter to you will help inspire more ladies to take up disc golf. And if any guys reading this want to help their lady friends play, remember to keep the sport fun! Every beginner loves genuine compliments when a good toss flies flat and down the middle of the fairway, no matter the distance. Because if and when she really falls in love with disc golf like I did, she will research technique on her own, and she will discover and fall in love with field work. She'll work out the kinks in gaining distance at her own pace.
Or if she is really lucky like me, she'll have a seasoned veteran take her for a private one-on-one clinic in a practice soccer field.
Peace, love, and plastic,
About the Author: Becky “Bex” Clark is not a professional disc golfer and an even less professional writer. She currently resides in the Dayton, Ohio area with her non-disc-golfing-husband and plans to adopt a dog soon. Her favorite discs are Jade, Valkyrie, Verdict, and Judge.