Disc golf story time. Indulge me.
Like with any sport, somedays ya got it and some days ya don’t. The shots don’t always fall. Yesterday was one of those days.
I play at Englewood’s course at the Metropark, right along the dam. It’s my home away from home, a course I know quite well. I’ve walked many miles there. I walk onto the course knowing where the tough holes are and remembering successes and failures.
I warm up like always, throwing some putts, stretching and playing a warmup hole. The idea is to just be loose and comfortable. I don’t want to walk up to hole 1 feeling tight.
I walked up to that teepad feeling just as I wanted. A hint of anxiety rolls me up each time, regardless of situation or tournament. I categorically never accept a bogey — I want pars and birdies only. That goal is in my head the entire time. Par or better is acceptable.
The first hole can set the tone for the whole round. I can’t do better than par right now on Hole 1 (it’s too long — I don’t have the arm), but an easy par is a great mental boost and builds confidence.
The drive is slightly downhill but arrow straight. I recognize this. It hasn’t changed. And yet, there’s always the risk of an errant throw.
My first drive yesterday was not great, but not bad either. I landed in the fairway but a tad short, meaning my approach shot to the basket had to be great to ensure the par. It was probably 150 feet or more, which isn’t impossible but does require a tad more power.
That’s tricky — more power might mean (for an amateur like me) a change in mechanics, which can cause one of those errant tosses. That’s what happened.
Adam through one hole? +1.
That sucks. I knew the next few holes were easy and offered birdie opportunities, but in the moment, it sucks.
I easily par Holes 2 and 3. Hole 4 offers a birdie opportunity, provided I throw a low, straight drive. I do just that, but it ends up about 3 feet shorter than I needed it, leaving me putting awkwardly off the edge of a valley right below the basket. I miss the putt. Still +1.
Hole 5 can be birdied, but again my drive was off. Same on Hole 6. +1.
Hole 7 is tricky, a short but very narrow uphill drive that takes touch. My drive sucks again — by now this is a trend that I am very much aware of — but I salvage par. +1.
Hole 8 is easy, and I par it. Hole 9 is a bit harder, and I have a long look at birdie (like 60 feet) but I miss. +1.
Hole 10 is the longest on the course, flat and with a slight bend to the left at the end. If I screw up my drive, I have virtually no chance to save par. The pressure is on. I throw a solid if unspectacular drive that affords me a relatively easy approach. Unfortunately, my approach doesn’t put me in a spot for an easy putt (that’s always the goal with approaches — make the putt easy). From about 25 feet out, I drain the putt. Phew. +1.
Hole 11 can be birdied! I evidently chose not to! +1.
Hole 12 is the easiest birdie on the course, but following my newly established tradition, I screw up the drive and take par. By now it’s clear that my throws are off and I’ll need to grind out par or better. I’ve got 6 holes to do it, one of which is pretty hard. +1.
Hole 13 sees me overthrow (too much anhyzer, which basically means the shot breaks too far to the right) but I grab par. Hole 14 is the toughie, another long one. My drive is pretty decent, but my approach is too long. I find myself on the edge of the rough, facing about a 17-foot putt. No problem? Wrong. The disc clangs off the top of the basket.
Remember, my goal is par or better. I’ve got 4 holes left to make up two strokes. The remaining holes are all birdie looks, but I can’t do anything right. The frustration is mounting.
Hole 15 is short but narrow if you want a birdie, all while being uphill at the end. My drive starts out way too far out to the right, but settles in 5 feet away from the basket. Birdie. +1. Good.
Confidence plays a role in sports. Look at Steph Curry, launching 3-pointers from 40 feet out. Look at quarterbacks stepping into tight throws. My confidence rose after Hole 15, and it carried right into an excellent near-ace drive on Hole 16.
Hole 17 is long and breaks right at the end, meaning I need to essentially mirror my ideal drive from Hole 5 (long, late movement to the right). I get the long part, but not the right, giving me a long look at bird. Disc clangs off the cage. Even.
Ah, but hope abounds. Hole 18 is my surest birdie on the course, a hole I’ve dropped in deuces probably a hundred times. If I throw my drive out to the right, it’ll fade in nicely to the basket, roughly 220 or so feet away.
Well, that didn’t happen. The shot wasn’t wide enough, but the late action left me with a solid 15-foot approach. Birdie. -1.
I certainly felt relief. That was a battle, a mental game the whole way where I had to grind through terrible shots and frustrating putts. But I did so.