I know right now that we’re all social distancing, not seeing our friends. One of the things that people may be planning is to take their friends disc golfing for the first time when we’re allowed back out on the course. Today I’d like to talk about some tips for bringing your first time disc golf friends out on to the course. Disc golf has become a part of many people’s DNA, and I can’t imagine ever giving up the sport now that I know about it. One of the biggest joys in disc golf (for me) isn’t hitting a big putt or shooting a tight gap with my forehand; it’s sharing disc golf with those who don’t play. I’m sure many of you feel the same way and love introducing new folks to the sport. It’s a great feeling, and I’ve had mixed success in getting people to play more than once. Sometimes our enthusiasm for the sport gets us overexcited and turns people off from throwing discs. So here are 9 tips I have that I think can help when bringing new people to the course.
Score doesn’t matter to some people, especially new players. I know that I keep track of every round I play, but some people don’t want to know that they’re over par. So for this round just leave UDisc out of it and enjoy the round. Trust me there’s something freeing about not keeping score. If someone asks the score just say “You’re fun under par.” This round is about introducing them to disc golf, not showing them that you’re 38 strokes better.
Give the person two discs to use for the day; one is a putter, the other is a stable/understable mid range. If they can be different colors that’s great! Sometimes people forget which one is the putter so different colors can help. Letting them learn just two discs to start stops them from being confused.
Limit the tips you give them. You’ve been playing for months, or maybe even years! Everything you know about disc golf you’ve accumulated over a long time and you can’t condense it into 18, holes no matter how hard you try. Give players a sentence or two of advice if they ask for it. If they don’t, maybe give them a tip after the front 9.
Be like Elsa and just learn to let it go! If they step off the tee pad when driving, let it go. If they pick up their disc without marking it, let it go. When they slap their disc in the chains and don’t release it, when they foot fault putting, and when they put their back foot on their disc and stretch towards the basket, let it go. They’ll have plenty of time to learn the rules and you can laugh together about it later.
As a former soccer coach one of the best pieces of advice I was ever given was to make sure that everyone eats after the game. When you get excited about an event such as someone’s first round, you block out other daily activities and focus on that one thing. So pack a sandwich for after the round, or go out and grab something to eat. I love having something to eat right after a round of disc; it’s more physically tiring than you think.
If they’re hooked and want to buy a disc right away, don’t go for the 14 speed driver from Innova. Look at getting them an Innova Starter Set. It consists of a 7 speed driver, a mid-range, and a putter. Buying a high speed disc is just going to frustrate most new players.
If you're bringing your friend to SDG, don’t play the Eagle if it’s their first time playing. I say that as a full fledged member of the SDG Eagle fan club. It’s beautiful, but it’s also incredibly challenging for even pro players (only 1 shot under par in our tournament in 2019). Take your beginner friend(s) for a good time on the Owl, or the Hawk. The Owl is great for learning how a disc will fly and the Hawk is forgiving to new players, while still exposing them to one of the best courses in the world.
Let your friends know what to wear beforehand. I know some people show up in flip flops, and that’s not usually the best footwear for walking through the woods. I generally tell people it’s like hiking, but that they can wear sneakers. An athletic t-shirt is also something I recommend, because it can get sweaty out there on a nice day.
Be patient with them and remember that you too started this game with little to no knowledge at some point. Getting frustrated and losing your patience will just turn your friend off from wanting to play again. We want to grow the sport, not growl at it.
I hope these tips help if you’re interested in bringing a friend into the sport. Disc golf is incredibly fun, it’s welcoming, it's great exercise, and it can be a fantastic stress reliever. I always look forward to new players coming to SDG and learning the sport. If you have any questions let me know. Do you have any tips for people that you think will help bring people in? Let me know in the comments.
May your discs miss all the trees, Andrew Streeter #70397