AN EDUCATION IN DISC GOLF FROM THE DISC GOLF GIRL!

Posted by Kris Pfeifer on

Q&A with the Disc Golf Girl

Disc Golf- what’s it all about? I am the first to admit that by blogging about a sport, you should probably know about that sport, right? Oops- I don’t. But I still think it’s cool, and I wanted to learn more about it. And what's cooler than getting to interview a talented and spunky disc golf playing gal?  The inspiration for the Bunkybee blog has been to focus on people who have a special passion for their recreational pastime. I'm psyched to share this Q&A session with disc golfer Casey.

Photo courtesy of the_discgolfgirl

My family has been calling the sport “Frisbee® golf” for a while now, but I now get that it’s sortof a “Kleenex vs. facial tissues” thing, and most people call it disc golf. Our interest started with hearing stories of a game that my husband and his friends played in his yard as kids, with landmarks – a tree, a garbage can, your sister, etc. – that you had to hit with a frisbee. The rules? I think they pretty much made them up as they went along. Then we visited our alma mater, the University of Richmond, and saw that since our time going there, they have installed a disc golf course through some of the wooded paths that lead down to the lake at the center of campus. My kids thought it looked fun. I thought it looked really hard not to hit a tree or send your frisbee sailing into the lake. When searching for a Christmas gift for my tween guy, I found a disc golf set online, and we play it in the middle park area of our neighborhood. So we’ve come full-disc-golf-circle in our family. I set out to learn more about what makes this sport tick- or should I say “bang”. (I picked up that term on Instagram from the “chain bangers” that I now follow. More on that later).


 An example of a disc golf map- from Univ. of Richmond.
Photo from www.bluegrassdiscgolf.org

 According to an article by Daniel Morrill in the publication Sports Planning Guide, disc golf’s popularity is on the rise. The PDGA (Professional Disc Golf Association) was formed in 1976 by a group of disc golfers who wanted to grow the game. Park districts that didn’t have the funding to build their own disc golf course would allow local clubs to build courses, often improving upon areas that had previously been subject to vandalism due to low foot traffic. The sport is often free to play, and allows people the flexibility to play whenever they want to. The PDGA is still working to grow the sport around the world through establishing course construction guidelines, starting club teams at colleges and teaching kids how to play through public schools.

Morrill quotes Brain Graham [former Executive Director of the PDGA],  “There are two things that grab people. People get out and they throw a frisbee, and sometimes the frisbee just goes wherever it wants to go. But once you learn controlled flight—making the disc do what you want it to do—that’s the first thing that grabs you and really makes you addicted to the sport. And then the sound of the disc hitting the chains [of the hole]—it makes a ‘ching’ noise—and that sound just grabs you. You literally dream that sound. The closest thing to it would be the ‘swoosh’ of a basketball going through the net. You have that same sound quality of a successful shot in disc golf.”

On the website for the PDGA, they write about the game:

Disc golf is played much like traditional golf. Instead of a ball and clubs, however, players use a flying disc or Frisbee®. The sport was formalized in the 1970's and shares with "ball golf" the object of completing each hole in the fewest strokes (or, in the case of disc golf, fewest throws). A golf disc is thrown from a tee area to a target which is the "hole". The hole can be one of a number of disc golf targets; the most common is called a Pole Hole® an elevated metal basket.

As a player progresses down the fairway, he or she must make each consecutive throw from the spot where the previous throw has landed. The trees, shrubs, and terrain changes located in and around the fairways provide challenging obstacles for the golfer. Finally, the "putt" lands in the basket and the hole is completed. Disc golf shares the same joys and frustrations of traditional golf, whether it's sinking a long putt or hitting a tree halfway down the fairway. There are a few differences, though. Disc golf rarely requires a greens fee, you probably won't need to rent a cart, and you never get stuck with a bad "tee time." It is designed to be enjoyed by people of all ages, male and female, regardless of economic status.

The Professional Disc Golf Association is a membership-based organization in 47 countries, with over 100,000 members. For more information on the history and rules of disc golf or PDGA events and initiatives, visit www.pdga.com.

Photo courtesy of Casey Della Penna

I mentioned following some “chain bangers” on social media. The videos that disc golf players post are mesmerizing. There really is a lot of skill and athleticism involved in throwing a disc at a target. One player who has really caught my attention on her social media platform is Casey DellaPenna, of Northfield, MA, or the_discgolfgirl, as she is known on Instagram. Not only does she have a killer collection of discs – which I am going to ask her more about – and over 4,000 followers on social media, she is above all, passionate about her pastime – and it shows. Casey graciously agreed to do a Q&A session with me - a complete newbie to the sport.

Q: So first things first- I’d love to hear when and where you first got introduced to the sport of disc golf?  

A: I was first introduced to disc golf by a boyfriend and his friends. We all purchased Innova starter packs and went to the closest course which at the time was a hidden gem, The Highlands of Conway. It has lots of elevation change, natural tee pads and is pretty wooded... the best type of course to learn on in my opinion. I wanted something to do outside and I can get competitive from time to time so disc golf worked perfectly.

Q: You list several teams that you are a part of. How do you  join or form a team?

A: I am indeed part of a few teams, and I am very proud to have strong communities of people who also love the sport like I do too and to have as mentors. A lot of people misunderstand what being a part of a disc golf team means, they tend to think it’s a sponsorship. No, it’s not a sponsorship, but in a way its better than that, especially for someone just starting out. I have people behind me that have played for years that will answer any questions I may have about mental or course play, discounted prices on gear and they have very low expectations. They usually want you to play in about 4-5 A or B tier tournaments and a few C tiers but most of them put huge emphasis on just being a positive role model for the sport and making sure you are staying involved in the community. I did apply for my Team Trilogy spot, they take applications through the official Dynamic Discs website, you just have to answer a quick interview about your bag and make a quick in the bag video where you display all of your beautiful Trilogy plastic. I feel this is great for someone starting out because it sets small attainable goals and gets you to meet new people!

Q: What’s one experience you’ve had while playing disc golf that when you think back about it, it makes you smile?

A: The one thing that makes me smile when I look back on my few years in disc golf is how far I have come as a player. I really enjoy going back and watching videos from when I first started really playing and it always makes me realize how far I have worked to get where I am. I smile every time.

Photo courtesy of Casey Della Penna

Q: Do you have a favorite course to play?

A: It’s funny you ask this question because I was just discussing this with some other players recently. What course is my favorite, or “home” course? In my mind my favorite course is Crane Hill is Wilbraham, MA because its where I really started to dedicate myself to the sport with countless solo rounds in the rain and snow, driving over 45 mins to be there because it was the closest course to me at the time. That’s also where I found the community that disc golf has to offer, certainly an inclusive one. Boy, when I drive in to that course, my heart sings. I think that would have to be my favorite, for now.

The disc golf rainbow! Image courtesy of Casey Della Penna

Q: So I think I could get into disc golf just to collect discs for their cool colors and designs. Is there something special that you look for in a disc, and do you have a favorite “go-to” one? And how many do you carry with you on a round of disc golf?

A: Well “wall hangers” are certainly a thing! HAHA I have a full wall at home with multiple current pros signatures adorned on them, and then just some limited molds or stamps I’ve been lucky enough to pick up! I have an ever changing “go- to” as my form and style improve and change, but for now it’s the RENEGADE from Dynamic Discs. Its perfect for my arm speed to hit those fair way lines and get me that little bit of hyzer flip for that extra distance. I tend to play a round with 18 – 20 molds in the bag, two putters, a few throwing putters with different stabilities, a few midranges. Then I have my fair way drivers the Northman, Renegade, Jade and then I have some distance drivers or utility discs like trespasses and freedom. I try to be prepared for most situations.

Q: Is there a maximum number of players that can play a hole at the same time?

A: Well, in a tournament I would say yes there is a max of four players on a card at a time, but Im guessing you’ve seen my MOB Golf posts! HAHA Well, in a casual round if you are courteous to those playing the course like letting them play through and not being too loud. I think there is no limit to players when it comes to casual rounds, I’ve once played with 20 people all on 5 teams at once, but it was close to a 5-hour round, but we had some of the most hilarious moments ever!! Its not for everyone but I love it!

Q: What advice would you give to a disc golf newbie about getting involved in and learning the game?

A: I would tell you to learn to love your failures because as much as no one wants to talk about them… they happen. So, prepare yourself mentally but take pride in the accomplishments. Save those moments in a positive space in your mind so that when those rounds happen where you aren’t playing your best you can say to yourself, I have done this before, and I have the experience to do it now. We learn more from failure than success, learn to love it.

Acker's Acres Disc Golf course- Photo courtesy of Casey Della Penna

OK- now some questions from the golfers in my family:

Q: Do you prefer open courses, or ones with lots of trees or obstacles?

A: I like both, as someone who lives in a predominantly wooded area, I usually have little choice between open and tight courses. I think that hitting lines and learning speed control are important and can only be learned in the woods, but I’ve found that the second I get to an open field I am beside myself with all the options as to how to get there. So I think that both are important. Learning to play in cross winds and rollers are some things that a lot of players from my area struggle with because we don’t get a lot of those options. 

Q: Like golf, is there a penalty stroke if the disc goes in the water or out of bounds?

A: Yes, you receive a penalty stroke for any OB or hazard. If you never came back in bounds you take it from where you first entered the OB.. and you can never stand in OB and play your next stroke.. so take that 3 meters off the OB line to make your next shot.

Q: I saw that you recently posted about shooting a 61 on a course. What’s your best score for a round?

A:  I think I shot a 58 at Rapscallion in MA, a 59 at 501 short layouts and a few times I’ve had some rounds at 60 at Otter Brooke in Keene NH. Nothing to write home to mom about but hopefully this season I can get below 60. 

Photo courtesy of Casey Della Penna

 Q: Have you ever played disc golf at night? I assume with fluorescent discs? That would be cool!

A: I have played one night round or glow round as some like to call it. I would say that at the right course it would be fun but I was up at a challenging course in the light and they ran out of glow sticks on the last 5 holes so it was needless to say a challenge. Plus I didn’t have the right equipment, I had purchased those little light up bits you can tape to your disc to find it in the dark but if you hit a tree it could come flying off the disc in the opposite direction and it'll make for an interesting round.

An example of "glow" disc golf - from www.glowcity.com

 

Q: Is there anything else that you would like to share about your personal passion for the game?

A: I would really like to be the OG disc golfer one day... I want to play this game for as long as I can... and after meeting Elaine King it made me start to look down the road at what I want to accomplish and stand for in this sport.

Wow- great answers! And inspiring for sure. Thank you Casey for helping us get new insights into your game, and sharing about your personal experiences with playing disc golf. We wish you many more happy rounds! You can find Casey on Instagram, and watch her videos on Facebook, and can check out her game stats too.

The_discgolfgirl was not paid or perked to participate in this blog post- she was just really cool to agree to do it. And she is not affiliated with or sponsoring our products.

Bunkybee salutes those who are living the Disc Golf Life with our fan tees. It was one of the very first designs added to the Recreation Nation! Take a look! https://bunkybee.com/collections/alternative-recreation-nation/disc-golf


Source: Disc Golf Soars in Popularity, Daniel Morrill, Sports Planning Guide http://sportsplanningguide.com/disc-golf-soars-in-popularity/

Some disc golf swag that would look great out on the course! Clikc on the product for link info.

 

 

 















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