Play Angry – A Zenless Guide to Disc Golf – Chapter 1

Note: This is part 1 in a series of posts which make up the chapters of a tongue-in-cheek look at the game of disc golf and why we love it so much, despite the lack of reciprocated affection. It is not actually intended to improve your game…unless it does…in which case we’re happy to take the credit.

Chapter 1 – Why Do We Play?

Before we dig too deeply into vast stores of experience, knowledge, and advice concerning the game of disc golf, let’s make it unmistakably clear what we’re talking about.  

“Disc Golf: A game in which a concave plastic disc is thrown into each of a series of metal baskets situated on an outdoor course, the object being to complete the course using the fewest possible throws.”

That definition is from the all-knowing internet machine. Google told me, so that pretty much settles it. I would like to point out one key part of that definition, and it’s stated in the first two words. Disc Golf is “a game”. It is not life. It is not a philosophy. It is not a state of being. It is also not as boring and cripplingly expensive as traditional ball golf. As a game, I think that we are safe to say that it is intended to be fun.

There, now that we have that simple, yet often forgotten point out of the way, let’s unleash the boundless wisdom that will make your game “better” or at least “more fun”. There are different approaches toward that goal of improvement, and I tend to gravitate toward the one that satisfies me more frequently as a player. That satisfaction isn’t necessarily based upon the results of my game, or my skill set, or my latest score, or my abysmal ranking among the growing throngs of players. It is a satisfaction that emerges after fighting a battle, having experienced the emotional roller coaster of the game, and having spent time with friends seeking a level of unrealistic proficiency that constantly eludes our grasp. When looking at the reason I love to play disc golf, the reference to a roller coaster is a perfect one. When you ride a roller coaster, there is a reason you strap yourself into that little car and hold on tight. That reason isn’t to coast smoothly into the end of the ride and get out. The reason is the rough-and-tumble thrill you seek once the ride gets going.

Another approach to the quest for improvement and satisfaction in your disc golf game is to seek a state of zen. What does that mean? Well, zen sprouts from Asian philosophy which basically promotes complete focus in becoming one with the world around you. It is a state of being that unites body and mind. It clears your vision of the world from the distortion caused by chaos or lack of focus. Now, there’s nothing wrong with that philosophy, which I’ve undoubtedly simplified to the extreme. If you want to sit in meditation and feel at peace with yourself, the world around you, and your disc golf game, then I give you my blessing. Just don’t sit in meditation on the fairway, because my disc might hit you in the face.

Perhaps the different approaches to disc golf ultimately lie in the varied hopes and goals we have toward disc golf’s role in our lives. I spread the possibilities on the table in front of me and try to be honest about the realities. When measuring disc golf’s place in my life and the reasons I play, I might give these options some consideration:

  1. I could quit my job and aim to go pro before I starve to death.
  2. I could keep my job, but ignore my non-disc golf relationships in the quest for more game time, thus nullifying any zenlike peace in my disc golf world with alienation and chaos in my home and social life.
  3. I could simply play when my schedule allows and try to pack as much fun as I can into those precious couple of hours, regardless of how well I play.

I’m sure there are more options, perhaps achieving the perfect balance, but lists are very boring… kind of like meditation, or ball golf. The more time I spend making lists and evaluating the options, the less time I have for disc golf. So, let’s move on and take a look at some of the important steps in making your disc golf game better, at least in terms of emotionally strapping yourself in for a good ride.

So, why do we play disc golf? It could be like the age-old response to the question asked of hikers, “Why do you climb the mountain?”

Answer: “Because it is there.”

Now that we know the game, and we’ve felt the joy of flinging plastic at metal chains, we have to do it. It calls to us. It taunts us. It beckons us, “Come try again.”

I actually hike too. Mountains have called to me before, but now my hiking experiences are tainted with new thoughts that I can’t seem to suppress. I can’t walk by a meadow of wildflowers, or a picturesque creek, or a sloping ravine without thinking, “a disc golf course would sure be great right there.” Heck, I can’t even stand atop a lofty peak or perilous cliff without wishing I could chuck a disc, just to watch how far it flies before diving to the ground far below.

We all have our reasons for playing. Whatever your reason, let’s focus on making it more enjoyable.

Coming Soon: Chapter 2 – “Be the Basket / Be the Disc”

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