We got out this morning for a solid 18 holes of disc golf. With the weather as nice as it was, we couldn’t miss the opportunity (Did you know it was 60 degrees in February? It totally was!) and although rust abounded, it was awesome.
I’ve always appreciated the mental side of the sport, and playing without a lot of recent practice brings that to light. By now I have plenty of muscle memory built up, but the mental side is even more important than the physical.
It’s more than just “mental toughness,” although a lot of that is necessary too. Disc golf chews you up and spits you out, just like any other individual sport. If you want to grow in this game, you learn fast how to put bad shots behind you, because they are a given. You will screw up, a lot, and it will be frustrating.
Like today, I had a chance for birdie — it was about a seven-footer. That’s a gimme. That’s nothing.
I missed it.
Another big mental aspect of the game is considering angles. My uncle and I have been coaching our mutual buddy in the sport, and one of the trickier parts is helping him see the angle a shot will take. It took me forever to start seeing the sport that way, as a serious of long curves at different lengths and angles.
You also have to be adept at quickly calculating risk. Each shot — and further, each potential shot — has varying levels of potential success, and assessing them is key.
Example: Today, I threw a decent but sorta trash drive on a hole. (Story of my life.) I had two main approach opportunities, both with downsides. The first was a shot straight through a narrow gap between trees with branches all around (note: branches are bad). The distance wasn’t a problem, but the different levels of obstructions gave me pause.
The other opportunity was trickier. I had a look at a hyzer — for me, that means a shot that fades to the left at the end. I had to throw it on a hard angle, but high in the air, and without a lot of velocity because the clearing wasn’t wide — I was basically throwing from the leftside rough into the fairway. If I put too much power on it, the disc ends up in the other rough on the other side. No thanks.
All of that goes through my head while my uncle throws. I decide to go with the latter shot — less risk, believe it or not. It worked. The disc did end up a bit into the rough, but the putt was only about 12 feet away. I hit it, even with the weird footing.
I’ve improved over time with each aspect of the sport, and one significant byproduct of better fitness is better disc golf play. I simply move better today than I did three years ago, and it shows in my game.
Part of getting in better shape is clawing to even better play. I climb on the treadmill, lift weights and throw wall balls not just to move the scale and loosen the shirt, but to toss the disc just a bit further.