All good break-ups need a good breakup song. This one will work ….
I can’t go to sleep
I think about the implications
Of diving in too deep
And possibly the complications
The four opening lines of Overkill by Colin Hay keep ringing in my head. This weekend’s Buckhorn Open where I came in a dismal 1 place from last place (and then only due to technicality) was the slap in the face reality check that I’d been hoping to avoid.
Hello. I’m Hannable McGarity, PDGA # 90754 , and I suck at disc golf.
I like to often make light of the condition of my particular brand of disc golf – I’m in it to have fun, meet people and just enjoy the game, but I have to admit that sometimes I dread the end of an event because of the cold hard fact that yet again on another weekend I’m likely to be at the bottom of the list of contenders. Sure, I embraced it in the beginning – Hell, I even screen printed t-shirts claiming to be “NC’s Worst Disc Golfer” and being on “#theHP’s2017DFLtour” – but it gets old.
Part of me doesn’t even really care – that’s the damnedest thing. I wasn’t raised playing a lot of sports, I didn’t participate in a lot of pee wee baseball , and I didn’t make a single team I tried out for in school – so I’ve accepted that when it comes to athletic prowess I’m pretty much destined to be a spectator not a participant. And then as an adult I did the adult thing and forced myself to try to like golf – but I was terrible at it as well; eventually quitting mid round on a family organized trip and coming home a day early only to sell my clubs and swear” never again”. Now I hate ball golf – when invitations come to play for work related activity I think of every excuse not to have to participate possible.
But disc golf is different. It’s the first sport, or Game, or Activity – whatever you want to call it - that I feel a real passion for. I love the inclusion of disc golf – I love seeing women and men playing in events together, and love seeing that there’s old guys, young guys, fat dudes like me and physical specimens of athletic builds – but all playing the same sport. I like the community (or mostly do), I like the format of the tournaments, I like the support you see everyone giving each other.
But dammit I’m so tired of being typically the worst player at the event, time after time.
It’s this culture of inclusion that I think may have actually hurt me in my growth if that makes any sense. I remember when I posted online I was entering my first event after only playing for 6 weeks I got 50 positive “Yeah – that’s great – you can do it!” responses – and only 1 person was honest enough to say “Hey – that’s probably a dumb idea – you’re going to get slaughtered and pay to play on a course you play every day for free”. In hindsight – that one person was right. I did get absolutely slaughtered, and I did pay for the privilege of learning that I not only was the worst player there, but the worst by a whole lot.
I lied to myself though – I really didn’t want that to be the consummate truth – rather I decided that maybe I was just the worst player who had the nerve to compete , but there were plenty of worse players elsewhere and if they were too scared to play, then I was better than they were. And with that kind of attitude I pushed my way through thirteen PDGA events that year. I traveled. Played the NC Powerade State Games. I woke up and did there and back two day events; I bought hotel rooms. I paid entry fees and bought plastics and practiced and tried to listen to every single player that would talk to me on tips. For nothing. My finishes were abysmal.
During the same time I played an entire season of local doubles – literally the only trophy I’ve yet to earn is one for perfect attendance – but I got to where I dreaded going to doubles because I felt bad for whoever got paired with me. (Fun fact – in the 2017 season, the ONLY night that one local guy did not cash – was the night he got stuck with me. That’ll make you feel good to hear….)
Despite all of these things the sheer love of being part of something as well as finally finding “my thing” kept me going. As 2017 was ending I was building some consistency, if nothing else I could play a round with the bogeys not covering every hole, and I shot a few even rounds. I managed to go to an Ice Bowl on a whim at the last minute and walk away with the win, though unsanctioned.
Especially at night
I worry over situations
I know will be alright
Perhaps it’s just imagination
The second verse of Overkill pretty much sums up my second season. Starting with a fairly confident feeling, I managed to place for the first time ( 5th at Winter Jam ) , won the aforementioned unsanctioned win in Kinston – and I felt like – no I knew – that I was getting better. My rating started to creep up a bit by bit, and I dug my heels in and started traveling even more. In my second season I played eighteen PDGA events, State Games again, some unsanctioned events and played about half of the local doubles league. I played every damn day that it didn’t rain and a few that it did. And somewhere along the line I started putting better.
But perhaps it was all imagination – because my finishes by average actually got worse mid-season. I bought Fly Guy, I kept playing, I kept going to events, I kept grinding out practice every day. For not much more than nothing.
At least there’s pretty lights
And though there’s little variation
It nullifies the night from overkill
Somewhere along the line I deluded myself into thinking I was playing better than I do. The truth is I am grossly inconsistent. I played an event and shot 18 over in the first round – and 2 under in the second.
I played another where I had the second worst opening round, and turned in the second best in the second. And it is not always a case of playing blind – I’m replaying courses I know or courses I’ve competed at before. It’s consistency – or the lack of it – that always seems to place me in too deep of a hole to climb out of.
Recently the Kings Cup in Kinston is an excellent example. After an opening round of +14, I had to claw and fight to shoot what I felt were decent rounds for myself, to grab 6th out of 10. It felt like work – and it was the tournament that I needed. I posted elsewhere that it was the first tournament that I had fun at in a while. That was not a slam on the previous events – I mean, I always have fun – but that one was nonstop good times, laughs and “good for the soul” fun.
This weekend though – it was that slap in the face reality check I mentioned.
My rounds – all four of them – are the four WORST rounds I’ve played at that particular course, in that particular layout (except the temp holes but to be honest those changes favored the field, not hurt them ) – in the last 12 months.
Let that sink in. The beautiful local course, #3 in my top five of favorites ( #1 Country Course, #2 Valley Springs) – and I just didn’t, couldn’t perform. It was shameful.
Day after Day it reappears
Night after night my heartbeat shows the fear
Ghosts appear and fade away
Come back another day
This all cumulates in some of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made in my life, and that’s no hyperbole.
I had registered for the 2019 Glass Blown Open and was waitlisted. For weeks I tracked the waitlist, moving from 8th to 7th, to 6th, to 5th, to being on the list – I made it! I was looking forward so much to going – to play the parks I’d heard of , to meet my favorite pros – to get a chance to say I was in the largest tournament, to just enjoy myself – and that’s when it hit me –
I wouldn’t enjoy it.
I know I wouldn’t. If anything, if I continued on the path I was on, it would very likely make me hate the very thing – the only thing – that has energized me in the past 10 or so years – and I can’t do that. I can’t let the GBO be like the golf trip that I left early and sold my clubs when I got home.
Mrs. Fly Guy is always advising me ‘Take it slow …” – and I was not listening. Going to GBO would have been Overkill.
And I love disc golf – I do so damn much it hurts – and I refuse to pay a couple thousand dollars and spend a week killing what I love. Had I flown out to Emporia and come in DFL out of a field of 184 I’d never play again – I’d be so damned incensed at myself I couldn't bear to do it.
So I dropped this morning. And cancelled my hotel. And cancelled my non-refundable flight. And hope that in the end I did the right thing.
I also am going to take some looks at what I am throwing. I’ve been blindly loyal with zero compensation to one line of discs for 2 years now. I fly the banner hard for them, always recommend them, and champion them at every chance – but dammit – I know I’ll never merit a players sponsorship, and it seems despite TD’ing events, volunteering, social media presence, building a course and running a disc golf retail outlet they’ll never recognize me as an ambassador – so I really see no reason not to “see other people” as it would be and see what else out there might help me improve.
Also for now, I’m dropping my plans for next week too, and taking a break. I was slated to play the Rock Ridge Rumble, but don’t have it in me to take another licking. I need a break.
My next event is the ECO event at Castle Hayne. I’m shifting my focus to playing all 10 of those events and trying to prove my mettle in a Rec field of some strong players.
But for now, I need the rest.
I can’t get to sleep
I think ……