Disc Golf: The Church of The Flying Disc
Anything that was kind of a fuck around thing, I was good at.
Anyone who knows me knows of my love of playing Disc Golf. I have been a champion of spreading the word, turning the sport onto many new people through the years who now have the same addiction that once snagged me. It is not a bad one to have weighing the other options. I did it for one because I hate to go to the gym, and I got my exercise and physical therapy this way. Lived for being on the course having fun and shit talking bad shots and praising the good ones. Never a dreadful day on the course, just a challenging one. Like any sport, days can chew you up if you let it. There is a certain Zen to throwing plastic as we say.
I had never been a sports guy. I had been athletic in the past I guess, but never a jock (makes the sign of the cross). Not completely devoid of sports. Growing up I liked soccer and volleyball. I played baseball for a couple of years as a kid. A year on YMCA basketball league. Playing football was never a possibility for me as I was just completely uninterested. Sure, we played in the neighborhood but never had a jersey to misspell my name on.
I dabbled in wrestling but was kicked off the team because some dickhead who wanted my weight class told the coach I was high on weed at a party the weekend prior. I had no recourse. For one what about the other kid at same party drinking, that was excused for some reason. The coach was a fuckhead who would not even allow me to defend myself. Kicked me off the team in front of everyone. The truth was I had not even tried the devil's lettuce or any kind of drug at that time. Just because I had longer hair and was an artist did not sit right with the coach. He once used me as an example as he picked me up and through me over his shoulder onto the floor without any floor mats or warning for that matter. Funny thing is as I was walking home after getting kicked off the team... guess what I found? I found something on the sidewalk. It was just lying there. I was told it was called a Zeppelin. A marijuana smoking device, how convenient. I stop on the sidewalk across from the high school. Mid October and a slight chill I unscrewed a chamber and there was weed in it. It was packed with Irony. That was the day I smoked pot for the first time. I always thought that was hilarious moment growing up on how life works.
I took martial arts in a few distinctive styles over the years and into my adulthood. I always enjoyed martial arts. I was really drawn to the meditative part of the philosophy. Sports. It was not for me. Even watching traditional sports, I could not get into it at any level. You will never find me alone doing that, ever. If you do that means I have been cloned by Aliens of Lex Luthor. Not that I mind if a game is on, but I will find something else to do quickly. Unless my kid was in a game or competing, I did not bother to watch any games or competitions other than those they were involved in.
My Dad was not a sports guy either. He was into music and was a professional magician. Entertainment breeds a different kind of surroundings and way of thinking I would guess. What are you going to spend your time on? Watching the game or becoming a better artist or musician, etc.
I also have three older sisters and an older brother who had allotted TV time and sports just was not on the agenda or the TV in the house I grew up in. My uncles all watched, followed, and knew stats, but my family never took interest. We constantly listened to music and I was always drawing something. Always had a pencil in my hand and paper not too far away. I would draw everywhere, and I became a good artist. Most of my siblings were good artists and dancers. We liked to dance. Over time I was always more advanced than others in the art area and I loved it. Art did for me what sports did for others. Watching the games then ten recap shows of the games you just watched never made sense to me and that is ok because it is not for me anyway. I drew my own conclusions (see what I did there).
One day when I was fourteen or so, we went to this forest and field area a few miles away, they had some frisbee thing set up. Saw it once on Marlo and the Magic Movie Machine or some other kid centric show, might have been Zoom. I do remember Steady Ed (the inventor of the frisbee, superball and hula hoop, not to mention Disc Golf) on The Johnny Carson show. Being a 70’s kid and the youngest of five your bet your ass I could throw a frisbee, not a typical sport. Anything that was kind of a fuck around thing I was good at. I could not make a basket, but I could throw something in the sink from thirty feet away. That was not a problem. So, we all get to this place (traditional frisbees in tow) and you must throw from a marked spot and either hit a pole, stick, or throw it through a hula hoop suspended between trees. That was the goal. Well, we did that a few times and we thought it was cool and no one knew about it unless you knew about it.
Flash forward fifteen years and I move back from L.A. to Chicago area and one of my other friends mention disc golf and asked if I wanted to play. By this time, it had advanced as a sport and there was cement or peat gravel pads to drive from (first throw or to tee-off in ball golf) and metal baskets with hanging chains to catch these differently designed discs with slightly sticky surface. They were not frisbee’s. Although invented by the same guy Steady Ed Hedrick, these were far more dense, heavier, and hurt like hell if you get hit by one.
Having recently freed up some spare time by not drinking like a fish, (I was not a mess or anything, just did not hold the luster it once did) I needed something positive to fill my time with. Disc Golf was fun and better yet free to play. There were enough courses that every weekend we played other local courses but played out home course every day. I quickly became addicted.
Not too long after this addiction started a little boy came into my life who already had an arm on him at four years old, shortly after that a baby arrived. The boys quickly adapted to playing disc golf and had an affection for it and it was something we could all do, without cost and be outside in the woods and having fun. Instead of constant video games, the warmer months were spent disc golfing and the winter we practiced inside. Obstacle throws and putting in a high arc over the cabinets and into the living room into a basket of clothes. Disc Golf was and is a constant in the family, like Superman.
I was even the host for cable TV pilot for Disc Golf TV as a goofy comedic performer. I get to location at The World championships and suddenly, they wanted a sportscaster, so it didn’t work out. One thing that survived though is my interview with Steady Ed Hedrick and is the last on camera interview he gave. That now plays on loop at the Disc Golf Hall of Fame in Appling, GA from what I have been told.
My sons and I are still going disc golfing 20 years later. The younger not so much, but he will go. He is just doing his own thing right now as we all do and that is cool with me. However, the oldest boy (now man) T.J. and I play regularly, not too much since Covid but prior to that we would go often. Covid also messed up our Bourbon toast we would have on Saturdays that I really enjoyed. When things worked out, we would play on a weekly basis, sometimes more if able. It is always fun, and he has grown into a talented and formidable player. The boys were good young because they played with advanced players growing up and that only made them better. This year we have gone out locally a few times as my son drags my ass out to the course, knowing I need to get outside or have activity and just to hang out. Yesterday we went to a new Disc Golf course, not yet finished with cement pads, but prepped and about 85% there. Wind blowing like a mother fucker, a slight chill but the sun was shining, and the foursome is a good group. All good people and fun to hang out with. T.J.s good friend Konrad and his Dad, who is my age make for a chill grouping. We are simply happy to be out, in good company and doing what we love to do with no hassles.
I have heard many people swear at a Maple tree, curse a pine, and freak out at water hazards. But it does not matter because it is still a good day because you are out in nature as it was intended. Disc Golf courses use what parks have to offer. Wooded? Cool. Open? Cool. River or lake? We can throw over it, even cooler! Designers do not take out trees and swaths of land changing it into a manufactured nightmare of conformity. Every course is different and the challenges even more so. We have courses in cave systems, on and off islands, across gorges, on ski hills and all kinds of interesting and compelling spots in nature where people can work out their inner shit throwing some plastic and having fun.
Having some physical issues as well as getting older is not only a layer of obstacle added on for me but for many others who play. How do you play around your health issues? Do you have chronic pain or physical limitations? You can and have to adjust your style of playing even if you must make it up as you go, that is what you do. Goal is still the same. Hit the basket. Make it count. Leave smiling.
I have had to change my way of playing due to my issues I have going on. Illness from last year really took it out of me and took a few months to recover from. Then Covid and some other things that made for a year where just did not play much.
This week's excursion to the course left me humbled as I could see how much strength I had lost in my throws. It surprised me. Kind of freaked me out. That is how I gage not only my playing but myself, or at least did. My drives (throws) could be monstrously crushing and was always a skillful player. Sometimes even played great. When I needed something just for me, that is where I got it. Looks like I must start working out and taking better care and that is ok, we all are hit with that at some point. Sometimes on several occasions. At this point it is time to take some action and with what is going on being heathier is just smart to do or make extra time to do it in.
We all need our asses kicked by something now and then. Yesterday Disc Golf did it, but in an effective way. I know I am not thirty years old anymore. Playing three rounds of eighteen holes a day on the weekends and eighteen and a nine on the weekdays before the sun went down. I was simply demolished by eighteen holes in high wind, the hike was awesome. But you know what? I had a fucking blast! I also know I must work on myself physically if I want to try to make two rounds of eighteen and be able to semi-active the next day.
I might be moving slow today but I like to know where I am at with things and that told me. Now my job is to listen and adapt to change the outcome. Not saying I will not be affected by playing moving forward. Not at all. I have always used it to keep my body moving and some moments of overdoing it through the years. I am going to have to deal with chronic pain anyway and have for the past twenty years but I am not complaining. Everyone has some pain to deal with. I just want to fight mine constructively. Chronic pain can fuck right off as far as I am concerned. Shit, if Mike Tyson can come back and be a ferocious fighter, I think I can drop a few pounds and make my body work as best as it can for my age, body type and limitations. My goal is lesser, just to be able to play two rounds of disc golf. What a weird goal but a weird year it is. I
It is all good though, not to worry. All part of the story, not a complaint at all. I know ten years from now I will be teaching the grandkids how to play and make a putt as their Dads are out on the course competing for fun and the right to shit talk each other as the next generation waits to play eighteen holes with their Dad’s, one day beating them at the game they love. When that day comes as it did for me last year, they will love it even more. See you on the course! Enjoy the day!