Edit note – I had NO IDEA how long this would be. I debated making it into tow posts – but decided to just get it all out of my system in one long story. As it is – like it or hate it – there some raw honesty in here – hope you enjoy.
Like a lot of other facets of life in these weird Covid / post quarantine times, the past few months have seen an absence to my recounts of disc golf adventures. I did try to get back on the horse in late June, but after posting it just didn’t feel like the time was right and I let things lapse again. The time feels right again – at the least to try – with this past weekend offering up an adventure I have here before never had to deal with, and the accounting of the ensuing results. I think it is a story best told in pieces – some directly relatable and others seeming with no shared value at all – until the end when one can see how just interconnected they happen to be.
Fly Guy post Covid
Leading up to this weekend, post Covid disc golf has been an interesting proposition. There has been an undeniable ground swell of disc golf interest among new players as well as folks who had tried it years before and walked away, as well as those who have an active disc golf lifestyle. This has been an absolute boon for the disc golf retail side of reality – quite simply any retailer who is not making money right now simply isn’t trying. Between second hand equipment and new supply, the appetite for disc golf goods is through the roof, and many manufacturers have the desirable problems of how to keep stock of inventory flowing to the consumers. Retailers are struggling in so much as keeping the orders to their wholesale contacts in pace with the demand and inventory walking out of their doors.
Since Mid-June , Fly Guy Disc Golf worked many events – CADL Summer Quarterly, Crosstown , Contentnea Creek, 2 different Trilogy Challenges, a Flex Start in Kinston, Scotland County Showdown, ECO tour stops in Wilmington, Clayton, New Bern and Jacksonville, as well as payout merch for the CADL PDGA singles league. We were also weekly prize sponsors for Kentwood Summer Doubles. We have been able to get in great variety, even adding some product we have not had before, and have implemented a new electronic payout voucher system that event organizers can select that will allow for both in person as well as online redemption.
We have upcoming events – a flex-start in Farmville, the DEPCUP, Pine Cone 4, ECO stops in Ahoskie and Farmville, CADL Winter Quarterly, UNC Neonatal Fundraiser, Victory Junction – and also have had some previously reserved spots opened up due to changes in scheduled, plans and TD preferences. All in all its going to be busy to the end of the year. At the same time, we are renovating and upgrading our physical location, and hope by early spring to have a state-of-the-art disc golf pro shop that’s road trip worthy for folks to make a destination shopping experience.
My Disc Golf Play Post Covid Part 1
As for me - my disc golf play has really taken a down turn. Despite being the happiest I have been with my bag in a while (ironically, more on this later) I have not been putting together good rounds. My rating is actually a whopping 804 – and while I have never been rated high, that’s even 20 points lower than it was a year ago, and 22 points lower than my best rating (October of 2019).
Looking over the score cards it’s a little more frustrating. I can play about 12 to 13 good holes on average – and then I am running into streaks of absolute destruction. I want to break down the past weekend to illustrate this – but first we need to talk about something important.
The Archer – not the Arrows Part 1
You ever hear the phrase “It’s the archer, not the arrow”? Or maybe “It is a poor craftsman that blames his tools?” Either way you cut it, it boils down to as a human we should take responsibility - both blame and credit – at an outcome, but we cannot place blame or credit on our equipment. And I believe that.
Funny thing is I often observe players who want the best of both worlds. If they have a good round, it’s because they practiced, they’ve been working on a shot, they know the course well, they felt good that day, etc. But let them loose – and its everything and everyone’s fault – except theirs. In good times, they want the credit – but in bad they need to lay a blame.
The reality is we make our own fortune, and we cause our own struggles. I will make a bold statement to kind of bolster my point – Every disc golfer has the exact same potential to succeed with a different set of discs as Paul McBeth has when he switched from Innova to Discraft. (I can hear folks huffing through their teeth already.)
Think about it. Paul McBeth is inarguably the best disc golfer in the world at this moment. He knows what a disc does, he knows what wind does, he knows where to see a line – but even more than all of that he knows how to do what he has to do to make a disc – any disc – perform. And in a meta point of view – so does every single other disc golfer. It’s not the arrows – it is the archer. Blaming a new disc for not doing what you want it to do is basically saying “ I don’t know how to throw this disc to make it do what I want” or “I misjudged this discs capabilities and could have made a better choice” – but the disc, a 175 gram piece of inanimate injection molded plastic, made absolutely zero decisions in the process. I am willing to bet you could give him a bag from any of the large manufactures, unmarked, and an hour – and he could still know what to throw where, and how – because he’s the archer. He knows his craft.
So – why bring all of this up? Because this weekend I did what I had heard of others doing and always thought impossible – despite months of knowing the date, the location and the plans for an event – I left home and left my discs behind. Now – of all 100 or so people in the Saturday event in Jacksonville and all 90 of the people in the Sunday event in New Bern, I among all of them could be viewed as the least to have to worry about having discs to play with – I mean, I literally had a triler with 2,000 discs hooked to my truck.
But I made a decision based on two factors: How I have been playing recently – and how it’s the archer, not the arrow – and thought maybe, just maybe, I could walk away form this having learned a few things.
My Disc Golf Play Post Covid Part 2
As I said earlier – my scoring has been down – despite having a real comfortable bag and selection of discs. I honestly had decided that it likely sprang from several reasons. In no particular order:
- Moving to MA40. While I had my reasons for wanting to play with more experienced disc golfers and challenge myself a bit – I’ll be honest and say the field of players was even tougher than I anticipated and the constant beatdowns and feeling like a fool playing with 900+ rated guys took a mental toll on me. I found myself dreading second rounds – and honestly dropping a time or two just to not feel any worse.
- Okay, okay – no one can control the weather. But in a steak that goes all the way back to Tupelo Bay 2019 I swear if I played a round that was rated, I did it in wet shoes and soggy drawers – and I had had enough. If it called for rain, I’d drop.
- Caring too much about ratings and not enough about personal improvement. I was (and still am) watching my closest friends' ratings climb at a time when mine are reclining – and it is frustrating. I started feeling like a fool by the end of events, when it seemed that my poor play was the weight bringing down our collective group, and even worse is when it felt like folks were taking pity on me. It’s a disgusting feeling to do your best and then be pitied.
- Worrying too much about things that were going on elsewhere – and not just being in the moment of playing the shot in front of me. How were things at the tents? Were folks happy with our service? Could we have done more ot make the event better? How is the relationship with TD? All these things in my mind when I am looking to try an make an elusive putt from 23 feet.
- Wrestling internally while playing with how I may feel about other players/ staff, and letting those emotions get in the way of clear thought while playing.
I had gotten to a point where I was going to shut it down for the year, and only play 4 more sanctioned events – Victory Junction, Tupelo, Dep Cup and Year End – and then any other play I did would be casual and a little stress free to try and rekindle the fun I was missing out on. I had taken to setting up before an ECO and staying through lunch to vend, and then we would breakdown and leave mid-2nd round to get home earlier – and I was also using this as an excuse to not “be able” to play.
Simply put – from a competition point of view, my mental game was/is suffering, and I went into hiding mode.
About a week ago I called Jay Clark to discuss the Jacksonville and New Bern setups – and in the course of our talks he pushed me a bit on playing. I can admit it – I kinda bristled at it – I literally physically tensed up and flashed a bit angry – because I wanted to hide. But he made a solid point, and I committed that I'd play one of the two events that day – and then later that I’d play both. Between those talks the Airborne opened up and I signed up for it, too. If I’m going to go scorched earth ad be rated 538 soon, might as well go down in a flame of glory, am I right?
The Archer – not the Arrows Part 2
So now here we were, 5:30 in the morning, halfway to Jacksonville when I realized – I don’t have my bag! Turn around and I’d never make it there in time for first card – keep going and I don’t have discs – what a damned dilemma! (In hindsight, I could even be convinced it was a mental block - that my psyche made me forget it, trying to avoid adding to the embarrassing record. That or we had a lot going on and I forgot. Or – I could just have forgotten it like you sometimes do your wallet. Who knows. )
In this scenario – there are a few outcomes:
- Don’t play.
- Make a barebones bag of my favorites and play.
- Use a Trilogy Challenge set for all four rounds for the experience and something to write about maybe.
- Single disc it – all 4 rounds of the weekend - with an Emac
- Make a full bag of my regular molds and essentially have more backups in the future.
- Make a bag from all molds unfamiliar to me and evaluate them with zero pressure to perform well in the event.
I went with 6. I figured that if nothing else it may help me in explaining some of the other trilogy molds – and that as a Dynamic Discs Ambassador that I could use more rounded knowledge of the offerings – and who knows – maybe I discover a disc I had overlooked and want to give an extended look after the weekend was over. Mitchell and I discussed discs as we drove, and I even called Jay to see what the weekend's event's discs were (since Dynamic Discs sponsors the ECO tour) because so long as they were molds I don’t bag and fit the criteria, I could work them into the experiment. My criteria was simple – I could not bag it currently; there had to be a variety of plastic types, and stock stamps were to be avoided at all costs if any custom hot stamp option was available – because I also had a plan: Once the 4 rounds were over, I wanted to auction of the bag and all the disc sin one lot, with 100% of the proceeds to go to Fly Guy’s Victory Junction fundraising efforts.
The bag we came up with turned out to be:
Trilogy Challenge Crown; FG VIP Warship, FG Lucid Patrol, Crosstown Opto Anchor, Handeye Tournament Burst Harp, Pine Cone 3 VIP Gatekeeper, ECO Fuzion Raider, Biofuzion Pine Cone 2 TFR Renegade, ECO Lucid Maverick, Lucid Pine Cone 2 Saint Pro and a CADL Winter BT Med Pure. On the second day I added an ECO Opto Compass that Geoffrey gifted me for the effort.
I played some decent disc golf. I didn’t feel any pressure – and it showed.
Saturday in round 1 ( started on hole 18 ) through 12 holes I was only +1. I made a mistake and looked at live scoring and suddenly the pressure was there – and I forgot about “just making throws” and instead suddenly felt like I had something to lose – and I ended up taking 9 additional strokes in 8 holes, to finish +10. Sat at lunch – evaluated what I did and where I lost focus – went out in round two and cut 5 strokes off of it, to finish +15.. Round one was under my rating (775), but round 2 was over (816).
Pretty much what I think I would have done with my old tried and true bag – it fits my pattern of second round improvement – so I left thinking that the “strange” bag didn’t negatively impact me at all – if anything I was a little bit surprised at the potential I had seen in some discs I had tried a long time back and passed over – the Saint Pro and Maverick in particular.
Sunday was a bit different because despite all the plans we had, the Fly Guy routine changed up a bit ( Mitchell didn’t feel well) and in the first round I played 4th highest rated round in all of 2020 with a 840 rated +8. I was on a chase card in a 20 player field for the first time in over a year – in a five way tie for 6th. I played clean ( for me ) I didn’t get (too) risky - I took par 13 of the 18 holes – and I was happy with it. And incredibly the +8 was started when I took a triple on the first hole I played – so despite spotting the field 3 strokes in the fist 10 minutes of the day, I calmed down and only gave up 5 more thought the round.
Second round I had a plan – don’t risk anything – lean on the Saint Pro and Maverick – play smart and safe and take lay ups – and just don’t throw it away. It was a good plan – if only I had stuck to it. Again starting on the same trechorous hole, I took a 5 – so that +2, 17 holes to go. And then I threw out of bounds two holes later to make it 3 holes played, score +3. Then I managed to calm down and I played pretty ok for a bit – Taking par on 5 of the next 7 holes with two bogeys in between. I took a double bogey on hole 8 – which I earned because I made a critical error in disc selection and threw a disc I had no reason to use – before taki9ng a deep breath and paring the next 2 holes. Here I made an error. When I hit the par putt on 10, it was from the circles edge (painted – not guessing) and I did some quick mental math and realized I was likely +7 already – I’d need to par out 4 of the next 5 holes to match my morning score. In that same run in the morning, I went 3 for 5 and took 2 bogeys.
I abandoned my plan, I pressed – and I took back to back to back fives on the next 3 holes – adding 6 strokes to get to +13 before taking par on the last 2 holes. Incredibly both of those holes I was circle on the drive, and I just couldn’t close the birdie putts out.
Sunday, I ended up +8 (840) and +13 (799), again one over and one under my rating. Average the four together for the weekend and I get an 807.5 – pretty much shooting my rating on a bag full of discs I never throw, new and unseasoned.
So – it is not the arrows – it’s the archer. I’m glad I played. It helped me gain some insight on my mental approach. Things to guard against thinking about – and things to focus on. And a renewed faith that I can play well , if I let myself go and allow myself to do so .
Take aways –
I like the Saint Pro and The Maverick – going to give them a little more bag time for a while and see what I can do with them . I also liked the compass, but not enough to try and see where it would fit with the Truth / EMac / Bounty mids collection I bag now.
Not a fan of the beveled edge of the Pure. I didn’t get a lot of clean backhand release from it – but it did forehand well.
Emac / Truth combo > Warship / Gatekeeper combo
In a pinch, I could put with the Crown. It missed just a smidge of the hand feel I love in the Judge – but it was good. I did not like the hybrid plastic. It took me one throw before I found some sand and aid it top down and just ground it into the sand to roughen it up and get some of the slipperiness off of it.
Renegade – was fun to see an old friend – but I can’t commit to them with their being OOP and seeing supplies of them dropping.
Did not like the Harp. Made me actively miss my Suspect.
And the Anchor. I always thought it as a Justice-esque disc. The one I threw felt more like a stiffer Suspect – a great disc – but one I don’t need a slot for.
And finally – that’s the weekend and we’re all caught up. I’m going to post the bag up for auction, likely around 9/21/2020.