Truisms learned while playing disc golfPublished 10:28am Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Column: Pothole Prairie
There are certain aspects to life that are just plain true. For instance, no matter how far you travel, you are always here.
This is one of many truisms of life I have learned while playing the sport of disc golf for nearly four years.
It’s not just a bunch of men throwing Frisbees. No, sir. Though it is a sport that is equally as silly as men hitting little white balls with a club or throwing a bouncy ball into a hoop or turning left in an automobile for hours, like all other sports, life lessons abound.
Here are the truisms from disc golf:
• If you cannot find what you are looking for, it’s probably because it isn’t there.
• No matter how well or poorly you played today, the walk through nature and the fresh air were quite nice.
• Someone in every town always wants to play nine or 18 more. In Albert Lea, his name is Dave Sime.
• Getting angry at your performance isn’t going to make it better. Never forget that you are out there for the fun of the game and there always will be another day to do better.
• If you are playing badly, never forget that even the pros mess up. A friend told me that Oregon pro Nate Sexton once scored a 27 on a hole — but he never gave up. A 27 is better than a “did not finish.”
• Question: So what came first, the ball or the disc? Answer: My guess is cavemen were throwing rocks like a ball before they were skipping rocks like a disc. But skipping rocks sounds like a lot more fun.
• Disc golf is mental just like ball golf is, only the people behind you aren’t telling you to hurry up.
• Many of the best disc golfers and disc golf course designers admire the strategies used in ball golf. The two sports are forever linked by the love their players show for their games.
• Nearly everyone who plays disc golf wishes they grew up with the sport. There is a ball golf saying that goes: “If you really want to get better at golf, go back and take it up at a much earlier age.”
• Always watch your disc land. When you think the disc is going to be easy to find there in the rough and don’t bother to be careful about watching, that’s when you will be hunting. When you take every precaution to spot the location of the disc, that’s when it will end up in plain sight anyway.
• Shut up and throw. Talking about what you are about to do commits you to performing well. Keeping expectations low makes success more impressive.
• Grip it and rip it. All players, now and then, forget to grip the disc tightly. Errors ensue. I explain to friends by saying I had the order backward.
• After you make a birdie, don’t get too thrilled. Bogeys try their level best to follow birdies. It has something to do with balance in the universe.
• Tree love is real. Be nice to trees, and they might love you back.
• “Nice up!” This is one of my favorite disc golf sayings. It doesn’t mean get nicer. When a player makes a good-looking approach shot — also called an upshot — other players compliment the throw.
• “Nice run!” This is a compliment for when the shot nearly goes in the basket.
• Don’t nice the shot. That is, try your best not to say, “Nice!” or some other compliment for a throw until it has completed because, chances are, once you say it, suddenly the disc will end up away from the target. Of course, it’s an easy guideline to break. It’s hard not to say “Ooo!” or “Looking good!” when a disc is about to be an ace or even a well-thrown birdie.
• If you are talking about how good your last round was, it most likely is because this round is going bad.
• New discs are liked. Old discs are loved.
• The wind is your ally, not your enemy. Learn how to use wind to your advantage.
• Don’t focus on the trees. Focus on the spaces between the trees.
• That said, focus on what you want to do, not on what you want to avoid.
• It is perfectly acceptable to say, “I hate this game,” when you are playing poorly. Everyone knows you mean the opposite because, most of the time, you are telling people how much you love the game.
• Be a good ambassador of the game. It’s a young sport. It needs all the help it can get to succeed.
• When you are in the zone and playing your best golf, it’s probably because you had a good night of sleep more than anything.
• Form and smarts both trump strength.
• Disc golf starter kits should warn consumers that they are about to throw their life away.
• Your favorite putter should be your best driver. (In other words, go for aces.)
• If you get an ace, don’t hang that disc on your wall. Mark it. Boast about it. Love it. But keep throwing it because it is obviously working.
• Disc golfers love to play different courses. The difference between good and bad courses is the distances disc golfers will travel to play them.
• Disc golfers might go to the Frisbeetarian church on Sunday morning, but they pray that when they die their souls won’t get stuck on top of a roof.
• There is a second or two each time a disc is launched just right when time seems to stop and the world is quiet, still and peaceful. It’s a beautiful zen-like thing. Then someone shouts something really loud.
• The secret to being good at disc golf is convincing your spouse to let you play it often.
• Seriously, the real secret to disc golf is getting in rounds with better players, so you can learn from them. Don’t be afraid to join a league, go to a tournament or get to know the best local players.
Albert Lea Tribune Managing Editor Tim Engstrom’s column appears every Tuesday.