Thursday, April 10, 2014

A Torture Round

Hey amigos, where have I been? Spring is here - so I've been playing disc golf even more than my usual overly-obsessive self. It feels almost unnatural to throw in <GASP>shorts and a teeshirt</GASP>! My discs aren't frozen solid anymore and I have even started sweating on occasion. It's been weeks since I tee'd off on a drive only to have my foot slide out on snow and then I end up slamming to the ground. 

We're back into DISC GOLF SEASON or I guess it's really wind season. Honestly there's days when I don't know which is worse, playing in the frozen tundra or playing in 20mph head winds. Lots of character building rounds, that's for sure. It's a chance to work on letting stuff roll off your back. I've lost count of the dead center putts I've seen blow right back out from recent rounds.

In other news, the wind can suck it.
I'm not a particularly superstitious guy, so when I started a round on Saturday morning I had no reason to believe that it would spiral so badly out of control. I hadn't walked under any ladders or even seen a black cat. I had stolen a pet ferret from a one eyed witch, perhaps that was where the bad luck started... there's just no way to tell.

I had shot a personal best of +2 for the 21 holes at the same course the night before, so I was actually feeling confident. My newly acquired ferret sat relaxing in my bag's cup holder with a dark twinkle in his eye.

I stayed confident after 4'ing the first hole, which I rarely par anyways. The first inkling of pain came on the 2nd hole where I putted 6" over the basket and right into the street. Double bogey.  From 15' no less, so I shook it off as some early round jitters and moved on. Still confident - after all, there was lots of disc golf left ahead of me and the ferret was only a bit agitated. 

A nice drive on 3, but then I soft armed my upshot and left myself 40' short. Missed the long putt. Racking up the strokes, the bleeding continued. It was just painful - with another missed putts from 15' and the feeling in my gut was dropping into my shoes.  If there was an iron blade of grass out there, I was hitting it... then I'd hit it's long lost cousin on my next shot. I hit a short metal sprinkler head trying to skip up the basket, stopping my disc cold 75' out.  Next shot, I hit a bush 40' out.  

Missed putts followed by missing the comeback.  Upshots skipping 2' OB. The bleeding didn't stop. Ferret update: he crapped all over my discs and ate my snickers bar.

My buddy Kyle tried to console me, "It's sunny and we're throwing discs - it's not so bad... and you've got that ferret that you stole from the witch. It's not all bad!" But it was like I was staring at him through binoculars facing the wrong way. He was a million miles away and I was swimming in despair.

By the end of the round I was frustrated that I couldn't seem to turn any part of my round into a positive. I ended up shooting +15, which was 13 strokes more than just 12 hours previous. 

I went home confused but not exactly angry, just truly unsettled and even if I rationally knew it wasn't true - I felt like I had lost all my skill. I setup shop in the backyard to throw 200 putts from 15' away and try to replay the round in my head. I wasn't going to miss from 15' anytime soon after that session. It wasn't like I was throwing anything THAT horribly wrong - I just kept ending up outside my putting range and taking a stroke. 

I returned the ferret and payed the penance to the one eyed witch, which turned out to be that I had to sacrifice three goats. Messy affair, but she promised to lift the curse.

It's so easy to focus on the negatives, replaying the missed putts that you know you could make 100 out of 100 times. I forced myself to replay the entire round in my head, and find some of the positives. The best way I can describe it, was that I felt like my hands were frozen and I was wearing a tight coat that restricted my movements - even though I was wearing a tee-shirt. I couldn't get loose and just throw the disc.

I had a few hours the next day and I ran out to join my buddy Ryan and Andrew for an afternoon round.  I decided right then that regardless of if I picked up where I left off on the bogey train - that I was going to throw the disc with confidence.  I wasn't going to leave any up shots 50' from the pin. I was going to throw what my gut told me to, not what that second voice lobs into the mix.

Without question, I played a better round. If I'm honest with myself, saying, "Throw this confidently" doesn't really translate to me actually throwing it confidently. There's going to be rounds that just don't come out well, and I think what it showed me was that I REALLY have to get warmed up. After sitting on my butt for eight hours at my desk, running out to squeeze in a quick round means that my body is NOT ready to go. 

If you ever do fieldwork, you'll see it happen very clearly. My first 20-30 throws are often a bit of mess. It's not until I've got a solid 10-15 minutes of throwing under my belt that I am hitting the lines I want to without effort. Why should I expect that off the couch after a full day of sitting, that I'll be able to throw 4-5 warm up drives, 5 minutes of warm up putting and be "in the zone." It's just not going to happen... at least for me.

It finally dawned on me - I had thrown field work on my lunch break before my best round. Then I showed up Saturday morning feeling stiff and tired and not very surprisingly, I had a horrible round. Sunday, we played later in the day and I'd thrown 200 putts in the afternoon before playing.  I was physically ready to go and it showed.

In other news, I've been really happy in the wind with 4 specific discs: DGA Breaker, Discraft Drone, Champ Firebird and if it's not too windy - my Champ Destroyer. Having under and over stable discs for windy days has been a huge help in taking some of the sting out of big head winds and tail winds. Putting is still a mess, but getting to the pin is much less stressful.


  1. Still Reading!

    I've had a couple rounds that left me feeling this way. Over the winter up here in NH I had to battle single digit temps coupled with Gale force winds. It was the first time I had ever tried playing with a full on winter coat on. . . Not a pleasant experience. Shot the highest score of my life on the course and I learned. Being humbled is important to keep you appreciating the good in life.

    1. Well said Jordan. I know it happens to everybody... and that helps to try to shake the rough ones off. Being humbled is a huge motivator as well.