The afternoon was a crisp thirty-six degrees, and the sun shone warm and amber like honey. Winter in Tennessee can be a mixed bag, ranging from Twister-level tornados, to gifting us with an unexpected eight inches of snow, to flip flop and shorts season–all within a single week–but, the afternoon in question was chilly and clear. It’s all too easy to become restless and bored during the winter months, especially if the weather’s bad, so we seized the opportunity to enjoy a beautiful sunny day. My husband, my sister, and I packed up our disc golf gear and headed to our favorite course one county over.
One of the best Amazon purchases I’ve ever made has been my set of Innova beginner’s discs and a nifty bag in which to carry them. Now, I’m no athlete by any means. If anything, I’m the opposite and probably fall into the stereotype of the Videogame Nerd. (The sun, it burns! Ugh, my lungs are going to explode. Are these endorphins–what is this magic?!)
I jest, I jest, it’s not quite that bad. I like to believe I’m fairly active, albeit more out of shape than I’d prefer, but that’s one reason we got into the sport. I personally find golf boring, but turn golf into anything but golf? Golden. There’s just something about trying to hit a long-distance, often out of sight, goal with a frisbee that really incites competition amongst your party. And it goes without saying that much practice is required to hone that precision. Now, the discs are no ordinary frisbees either. They are special polypropylene discs of varying weights, and similar to golf clubs there are different ones, each with their own function. I use the three basic tools: Fairway driver, mid-range, and putter. The fairway, being thinner, is used at the beginning tee box to get that initial distance on the first throw or two. It tends to have a good balance of distance and accuracy, unless of course you’re like me and struggle to achieve either no matter how much you practice. (Weak arms, maybe, I dunno.) The mid-range is the most versatile of the three discs and can be used really at any point of a hole, but keep in mind it may not be able to achieve the same distance as the fairway. Then there’s the putter, which…acts like a putter. You use it to approach and sink that final shot into the metal basket that is your goal. I am proud to say that while I hardly ever achieve par, at least my short game has shown improvement lately, and out of the three discs I am most adept with the putter. All discs display a set of four numbers representing their flight rating. This encompasses Speed, Glide, Turn, and Fade. While I have a beginner set of discs, I can already tell that discs with different ratings can operate very differently, and my goal is to experiment with different ratings. I intend to purchase discs that better fit my personal ability, skill level, and play style.
So we trudged across the icy ground, skirting our way around sodden mud patches softened by the sunshine, with the intent of hitting all 18 holes before dusk. It was cold but we warmed up quickly as we traversed the course. This course, I need to add, delves into hiking trail territory, so some of the holes come with natural obstacles such as forest, ponds, rock formations, and steep hills. The most formidable of the obstacles would be the ponds. (Who am I kidding, I’m too cautious to lose my disc in the ponds, so my real enemy is the steep, rocky hill that allows me to meet my inner asthmatic.) But for the sake of fun course traps, the ponds pose a malevolent threat to the life of discs. When we approached the first pond, it was with delight that we found it frozen over with a good inch of ice.
Numerous branches were suspended at the pond’s edge, frozen halfway in, halfway out, the lingering evidence of fishermen past who had tried to reclaim lost discs. You’d think the discs would float, being plastic frisbees–they do not. They slip under water faster than a catfish sensing you waiting to net it and throw it into a cornmeal batter and a hot cast iron. That day would have claimed one of my sister’s discs, but the disc just skipped across the ice to the other side. We carried on making good time at each hole, keeping our individual pars noted on our phones. I almost called it quits at the halfway mark, happy that I reached hole nine with no real physical complaints in the cold, but competitive nature pushed me forward to complete the course.
By the time we hit hole 18, I felt thoroughly winded but determined to end on my terms. I drew from all my internal strength and endurance and gave my best throws. I still came in third place, but my overall score showed improvement. To me, that makes me a champ, haha. Even though I’m still a newbie to the sport, and even though I’m not that great at it, what matters is that it’s great exercise and I always have a blast playing. I think that I will practice more on the metal basket we bought to keep at our house. But maybe when it warms up first.