Disc Golf Etiquette

Golfing with Children from a New Parent’s Perspective

Maximus Nebel at snow BowlKids are the future of disc golf.  I really wish I found disc golf at a younger age.  I played 10 rounds in 1996 when I was 21 but even then I was older than many of the rising stars of disc golf.  A young man I know, Sam Minges, is one of the best young golfers I’ve seen.  He won the Lava Creek Classic Advanced division last weekend at 16 years of age.  It was incredibly windy and very challenging but he was aggressive and confident from the beginning.  Look for him playing pro in the A-tier St. Patrick’s tournament at his home course, Shady Oaks.

We have to make sure that we have a sport of integrity to hand down to our children – or our friend’s children in my case.  Nothing is better than seeing kids learning to play disc golf.   They enjoy the game more purely than we.  Getting the disc in the basket IS winning.  The social allure of the game is not required.Stephen and Chris

I frequently practice putting at the middle school soccer field across the street.  A couple of days ago, I met these two kids, Stephen and Chris.  They came by and watched me for a few minutes when I told them they could play with me.  I showed them some things about gripping the disc and using their wrists.  We had putted for 10 minutes when I noticed my wife getting home from work.  I had just enough time before dinner to go get a couple extra putters, matching of course, that they could take home with them.  Hopefully, I will see them on the course one day.  Also, check out this article from Orbit Disc Golf with some good information about the benefits of practicing in public.

Armando and Evi 2.19.13A good friend of mine, Armando Lopez Jr., recently had his first child, Evi.  While being overjoyed at bringing home such a healthy and beautiful girl, he has started seeing things a little differently on the golf course.  People’s behavior has greater impact on parents who bring their kids to the course.  Those same parents also have increased responsibility to the other golfers.

I asked Armando to think about his new role as Disc Golf Dad and to write about his experiences:

A little about myself: I’m 28 and married to my beautiful wife Rachelle of 5 years who I met while attending Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. I was raised in Indio, Ca. near Palm Springs and a lot of desert. I have two younger brothers and two parents who are crazy about their first grandchild, Evi. This little person is the reason why I’m participating in Justin’s blog; I can no longer keep up with my own. I presently reside in San Jose, Ca where I work as an architectural designer. My vision is to become my own boss and build exciting new buildings on my own terms.

My disc golf career began at Shady Oaks when I played for the first time, with my wife, using a standard beach Frisbee. Though it was disheartening and embarrassing, I was hooked and never looked back. I started playing competitively during college with the SLOThrowers of San Luis Obispo. I learned so much through them and I thank everyone for showing me the ropes. I’ve been at it for some 7 years now and I believe my game is ready to take on the advanced division. I have a solid foundation that, even with little practice, I can still be competitive. Just for fun, my favorite course is DeLaveaga for obvious reasons, but Golden Gate is not far behind.

In celebration of my baby girl’s birth, I would like to talk about the etiquette of children on the golf course.  Everyone knows how distracting a sudden noise can be while you’re attempting to shoot. Hearing a crying child is worse, trust me. But what do you do? It’s rude to tell the father or mother to leave on account of the fussy child. In fact it’s wrong, and completely backward, to tell anyone who is just learning to get off the course.  Doing so will continue to portray the sport in a bad light. We need new young blood to learn and respect the sport so we may see it thrive some day on SportCenter. If we push them away the sport will never reach its full potential.

So in order to avoid the awkwardness and the constant “I’m sorry” from the parents let’s set some guidelines for golfing with kids. Being that I’m a new parent myself I will do my best to adhere to these rules:

First, bring your kids! How else will we expand our sport and bring new generations to this game. Second, when you bring your kids, make sure to have his/her favorite toys, snacks, or bottles. If its nap time, let them fall asleep before you start your round. Third, if they’re old enough, let them throw a few off the tee and try some short gimmes next to the basket. There’s nothing more exciting than seeing a little guy make his first basket. Remember to cheer so they can be excited to do it again and again. Fourth, when you do play with friends, make sure they are completely okay with having children around.

Justin’s post, “Keep it in the Foursome,” applies here so limit your child’s influence to within your group. If you’re playing slow, let smaller and bigger groups pass.  If she/he is fussy, take a time out and calm them down, away from play, before continuing. These are simple rules that will make everyone’s day a lot better.

Lastly, and most importantly, avoid playing with kids when cash or prizes are on the line.  A few weeks ago, I played in the first monthly run by the DeLaveaga DG crew. Cash payout and I paid for the bag tag. I enjoyed the group I was in except one of the players brought his son who was maybe 7-8 months old. Needless to say, he cried at the most inopportune times. Luckily, it only mildly affected me – I have gotten used to hearing children cry – but I could tell the other 2 guys were getting frustrated. It doesn’t feel good to lose money to an outside source and it really didn’t feel good when the father ended up winning the monthly. It was unfair but it happened. Hopefully, the father noticed the mistake and won’t do it again.

Until next time, don’t be the douche bag on the course today, and teach your children well,

Armando Lopez Jr
El Capitan

Armando and I first played together in Show Low, Az. in 2009.   Chance put us in the same group at the Gold Pan a year later when we discovered we shared many of the same ideas about professionalism in disc golf.  His available time for tournament golf has decreased but he still makes it out for the big events.  Looks like I will be joining him at the Masters Cup at DeLaveaga in April so look for our review of that tournament in a few months.  First tournament in Advanced coming up next month.  Posts about Dave Pelz’s Putting Games, the Lava Creek Classic, the start of a new series called the 5-Ways, and a Mid-Season Review to come.  Happy Golfing.



2 replies »

  1. I’ve got 5 kids of my own, and all of them are at least a little bit interested whenever I spend some time putting in the yard, or when I leave my bag lying around the living room open; it never fails that when I walk away, every disc will be scattered about. It’s a pain sometimes, but a wonderful pain to have, knowing that they’re interested. A couple of my younger kids have even memorized a good portion of what I throw. 🙂

    So, this kind of thing is a really big deal to me. There are definitely local courses I have no problems taking my kids to. They’re low traffic, and the traffic there is all on the up and up. What’s disappointing to me though, is that the most beginner friendly course around here is one that I’d never take my kids to; it’s too unpredictable as to what I’ll run into there. I never have issues being able to play through larger groups or anything like that, but not knowing if folks are going to be smoking(and not tobacco) on the course is the major limiting factor for me.

    As for bringing young kids, I don’t know that I’d bring anyone younger than my 8 year old. Even playing a quick round can hit 90 minutes and over a mile of walking, which can be quite an ordeal for a little one, especially when you can’t always pay a ton of attention to them, and I usually go by myself, not having had the opportunity to really spin my older kids up yet. I’d consider going with the family, but probably to one of the 9 hole courses, or one of the less busy courses(I have a lot of options locally for course selection).

    My thoughts aside, good post as always.

  2. I played with a friend’s son, 4-year old Max pictured early in the post, easily 20 times. His father, a couple friends, and myself designated a responsible golfer to mind him for a couple holes at a time. We carried him a lot – you’re right that a round can be quite the trek for short legs. We only played on sparsely populated courses. We left the course a couple times when he was not being as manageable as we would need not to interfere with others golfers.

    Thanks for commenting and, more importantly ,spreading the game responsibly.

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