For some folks disc golf is something they play once a year with friends.
For others it’s a summertime hobby.
I know that for many folks who read this blog it’s a way of life. Disc golf becomes what you look forward to doing with your friends, and you may be friends with people because you met them disc golfing.
For me, it’s my job. It took me a few minutes to find that commercial, it was one of my favorites back in the day.
I’ve been playing disc golf since 2010. There have been highs like when I shot my personal best on the Hawk course, or hitting a hole in one in the backyard in front of my late grandfather.
Then there have been lows, like when I realized while playing a tournament that my arm wasn’t healed enough to play 3 times in a week and I finished a round in shame and pain.
There are two kinds of disc golf funk/slumps.
- You aren’t playing as well as you usually do. It’s frustrating to the point where you question why you’re playing.
- You’re not having fun playing disc golf, and you don’t know why.
Both of these are cruddy feelings to experience. But they’re human and they’re natural to feel. Plenty of people have felt that they weren’t enjoying disc golf in the past. Here’s some people who were reaching out to ask for help. The first pic was on Disc Golf Course Review, the second was Reddit, and the last link is from Foundation Disc Golf’s Podcast. I couldn’t find a twitter thread from the other day, but someone was talking about hanging up their bag for good.
Even 2022 USDGC Champion Gannon Buhr considered quitting the sport. He had an injury in 2020 and broke his left knee. It took him two months to even bend his knee, and the doctor said it was a 4 month recovery to even begin playing. He was upset because he knew what to do, but his body wasn’t doing it.
I’m not in any way on the same level as Gannon Buhr, but I can empathize with him being injured. In fact 80% of disc golfers can empathize with that. Sucking at something that you used to be good at is incredibly frustrating.
Progress isn’t linear. Getting good at disc golf takes time, passion, study, and work. You will have highs, lows, and middling for a time. Here’s 2018 World Champion Gregg Barsby’s ratings over time. The blue lines represent his rating at the time, and the green squiggle shows how many points he improved or lost.
While working with folks in disc golf lessons I make it clear that we’re out there to learn. It may take 20 tries to get a skill for the first time, and then another 5 tries to get it again. Then you may go 50 times in a row without getting the skill right. Take a breath and regroup.
1. Celebrate your victories.
Seriously, you do a lot of things well in disc golf. Maybe you’re a great putter, or you have a fantastic forehand. I want you to focus on the things you’re doing well. In disc golf that could mean you didn’t make any mistakes. If your forehand was good all round consider that a positive outcome.
It’s going to get better. You expect a lot out of yourself, and that pressure can be good at times. Paul McBeth missed the cut at an event this year, and then he won the world championships on that course later that year. Every putt isn’t for $100, that drive that hit a tree can’t be changed after you’ve thrown it. Breathe in and out, and remember that disc golf is fun.
3. Set goals and define how you’ll achieve them.
Maybe your goal will be to shoot under par on a certain hole that’s been bugging you. You could try playing that hole over and over, so when you come up to it in a round you have a better idea of what to do. I find that I’m much better about getting my tasks done when I write them down on my calendar. Try setting dates for your goals.
4. Take a lesson.
Everyone who is a pro disc golfer has taken a lesson at some point, and probably given a few as well. I’ve taken lessons in the past and I will take more in the future. You can’t watch yourself in real time, a coach can help you immensely. I couldn’t see that my release point was killing me, Philo helped me out and I’m hitting my backhand drives with a lot better power now. We offer lessons at SDG, but you can always try reaching out to your local pro on Instagram and see if they’ll help you.
1. Don’t keep score.
This is hard for me as I mentally try to keep everyone’s scores. It’s hard if you play with competitive people. It’s much easier with newer players who may have a few extra strokes per hole. Sometimes they even take the box in front of you when you got a 2 and they got a 5. That moment of improper etiquette makes me laugh, and makes me not take the game as seriously for a moment.
2. Play fetch with a dog.
The WestPaw Zogoflex Zisc is the best dog frisbee I’ve ever used. My dad says if the PDGA ever approves this disc he’ll shave at least 3 strokes per round.
You know who doesn’t care if your disc hits a tree when you throw it?
They don’t care if your disc hyzers out early or flips over. They’re happy you’re throwing for them.
I credit a black lab named Harper for helping me out of a disc golf depression. I was upset with myself for not playing well and she just barked in my face every time until I threw her frisbee. Making her happy made me happy and I was back to loving throwing plastic again.
3. Take a break from throwing plastic.
Plenty of pros have taken a mental health break, disc golf is their job every day. They grind disc golf from March until October and drive all over the US to do it. Go fishing, go hiking, go to a concert, go do anything other than disc golf if you need to get that itch back. I find that a week maybe two away from throwing gets me itching to play again.
I can’t tell you exactly what’s going to get you back into disc golf. But if you ever are thinking of giving up this sport maybe take a moment and remember why you fell in love with disc golf. Here’s a fun video for you to watch of some incredible disc golf shots, that always helps me remember all of the amazing things a disc can do.
May your discs miss all the trees,
Andrew Streeter #70397