Love at First Flight - How I fell in love with Disc Golf
Call it kismet, call it a happy coincidence, but I played disc golf for the first time because my 25th wedding anniversary vacation to Norway was cancelled by the pandemic. And while I am sure our cruise of the fjords would have been incredible, I have zero regrets about ending up in the undulating hills of the Canadian Shield instead. Because there, at Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville, Ontario I tried Disc Golf. Despite playing in a light rain and dodging potentially angry Canadian geese, it was love at first flight.
(Sidenote: we now think going to Norway to play disc golf would be amazing)
The sport had been calling to my husband and I. We had heard of it years ago, and had interest in trying it. We had opportunities to play in the summers of both 2018 and 2019, but the stars didn't align and we never got out on the course. Boy, do I regret that now. Disc golf has become my favourite activity, and I play as much as possible. My first round was August 20, and I ended 2020 with 55 rounds played.
On the most basic of levels, disc golf gets me outside exercising (my 55 rounds added up to 158 km of walking) and that's very important for me. I always found it difficult to be motivated to just go for a walk, and it seems all these years I just needed a disc to throw in a basket to get moving. This is the first activity I've found that I can do regularly since I stopped playing hockey in 2013. But disc golf isn’t just a walk with a purpose for me, It also scratches my competitive itch.
Figuring out which disc to throw to put me in the best position for my next throw and learning to shape shots are my favourite parts of the game. It can be challenging as a person with a slower arm speed to get the distance to find best landing spots, and so improvising and experimenting are always part of my rounds. It is so satisfying to make the disc do exactly what I intended, though it usually lands shorter than I wanted. Landing shorter than I wanted is the story of my life off the tee haha, but I’m working on it.
Each hole of each course is a different puzzle to be solved, and the pieces fit together differently each time. I suppose eventually I will get to a point where the puzzle pieces are the same because I have hit the fairway, and nailed my putt as opposed to hitting a tree, and ending up behind another tree and then missing my par putt (at least I hope I get there anyway). But to be honest, the mistakes I make as a beginner add a hilarious chaos to my rounds that I think I will miss a little once they’re gone. Maybe not though.
I'm looking forward to joining a league in the spring, and hopefully entering a handful of tournaments in 2021. That’s all COVID permitting.
But of course, what's wonderful about disc golf is that you don’t have to compete at all, or even keep score unless you want to. It is a sport that scales incredibly well from just playing for fun, to competing for prize money in tournaments. You can play from time to time, or all the time. You can hold a conversation while you play, so it's a great activity for a group of friends or a whole family, much like curling. I've played with my mom just walking the course with me, and we caught up on all the things going on, and not going on in our lives, in COVID times. We've taken family out to play and they pulled their baby along in a wagon while we played.
The accessibility of this sport is one of the things I love most about it. Almost anyone can play, from little kids to older adults, if you can walk the course, grip a disc and swing your arm, you’re good to go! I know I can grow old with this sport.
While there are certainly many nuanced rules for competition, the concept of the game is so familiar and simple, almost anyone can play with little to no previous instruction. Companies even produce light weight discs for kids and people with slower arm speeds so they can participate with comfortable, effective discs. YouTube is a gold mine of professional instruction; it’s not hard to learn the basic mechanics of the game even in pandemic times. My favourites are the instructional series by Latitude 64 featuring disc golf Hall of Famer Tomas Ekstrom and newbie Jonathan Fastborg.
And it isn't just that almost anyone can play, but that they can play together too. Multi-generational mixed gender sports are rare, and absolute gems when you find them. Disc golf is one of those gems.
As I share my love of the sport with friends and family many of them ask "How much does it cost to play"? They are always surprised that many of the courses are free to play, and that the starting investment is so low, usually under $35 for a three-disc starter set. A family of four can get started and enjoy the sport for right around $130.
Check out Disc Golf Starter Sets
I'm looking forward to fewer COVID restrictions so I can invite people out to play this sport that I've come to love so much (warmer weather would help too). Meeting more of the disc golf community and learning from more experienced players are also things on my 2021 to do list.
I hope to see you out there, tickling some branches!