Disc Golf Etiquette


Disc Golfer MagI got my new issue of Discgolfer magazine in the other day – something I always look forward to.    I mainly use it as a resource to improve my game, get ideas about strategy, and to analyze the growing disc golf community.  Disc golf has grown dramatically in the 21st century and will be one of the first to do the majority of it’s communication through digital means and electronic channels.  I’ve spent a lot of time recently getting a feel for the on-line disc golf community.  We are definitely growing our community digitally; my Facebook and Twitter pages are growing in size daily.  But we still have this one print media outlet to exhibit our sport.

I’m not a big star watcher so I don’t get as much out of the interviews as I should but the historical pieces help me with some context for what is going on in our sport.  I like John Houck’s articles the best.  While he discusses courses from a course design perspective, I think the true value of his article is what it reveals about golf strategy.  In the current winter issue, Houck discusses the terminology of the fairway from a ball golf perspective; he illuminates the similarities and differences between what a fairway means in disc golf and what it means in ball golf.  While he uses his example to make a point about how he designs a course, how many of us can really use this information to help our next course design be a world class one?

We can use this information to look at the hole in front of us more clearly.  It can help us see the obstacles on the hole for what they are – usually simple traps to be easily avoided.  If we look at disc golf holes from the perspective of a course designer it becomes easier to see that the nature of each hole is usually as simple as:  Miss the obvious trap of the right treeline, leave a beneficial line to the pin, make a putt or leave an easy par save.  We often hit the symbolic right treeline – I’m thinking about hole 5 at Shady Oaks here – despite that it is the obvious trap on the hole.  Thinking about each hole independently and discovering the designer’s intended “main trap” and then specifically crafting your strategy to take that trap out of play is a way to consistent golf play.

The day after I received my most recent issue, I slipped the mag into my briefcase hoping to read it during a break at work.  Everyone at my workplace knows about my disc golf obsession and my requests for time off to accommodate my tournament schedule is a frequent topic of conversation.  This day, I left the mag on my desk a little too long and eventually I had to hear about it from several of my co-workers.

First, you should know that I work in an industry involved with print media so the people commenting on my Discgolfer Magazine have some basis for credibility on the subject.  I heard statements about the lack of professionalism with the publication.  Photo quality seemed poor, not a flattering photo on the cover – certainly not one to entice outsiders to explore it’s pages, no bar-code meaning it is not sold at major retailers.  It had the distinct feel of a high-school publication to my peers.

I have no idea what the inner workings of the magazine are or what their stated goals may be.  If it is intended as a members only communication from the PDGA then the professionalism of the publication does not mean as much.  Even if that is the case, the publication still influences public opinion about the sport and the impressions my co-workers got was that we are an intramural flag football league at your local community college.  You have to admit the photo is kinda odd looking.  I wonder if we need to get non-disc golf, media relations, and communications experts involved with crafting our image through all the available channels.  To be a professional organized sport we need to hire professionals and sometimes those professionals won’t be disc golfers.

I did really like the way Houck and other articles in the issue made parallels with ball golf, explaining the difference in terminology and the similarities in strategy and experience.  I frequently make suggestions for change based on the positives we can learn from ball golf.  For me, I most frequently see changes that need to be made in professionalism of appearance but there are plenty of mental and strategic similarities in addition to the cultural differences.  Next post I will review “Zen Putting” by Joe Parent for mental game strategies that can translate to disc golf.  The following post will be on the virtues of pay to play disc golf.


Categories: Disc Golf Etiquette

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