That’s right, I’m going back into the vault to reveal another secret, well not really secret so much as I just haven’t talked about it, skill that some of you didn’t know I had.
I am a professional frisbee golf player.
What? Stop laughing, really, I am.
For the last four or so years I have played competitive Frisbee® golf. It’s usually referred to as disc golf cause Frisbee® is trademarked. Those Wham-O bastards. It just so happens that I have some proof of this one too, but we’ll get to that.
Do you know what I’m talking about? Well the object is to throw your disc from point A, the tee, to point B, the hole, in the fewest number of throws possible. And the hole isn’t really a hole in the ground, it’s an above ground basket that is designed to catch discs, like in the picture above. Sound silly? Well it is a little bit. But no more than regular golf. And it’s not nearly as expensive or frustrating.
There are different kinds of discs just like there are different kinds of golf clubs. There are drivers, midrange and putting discs. Some that go left, right and straight. Some are good for rolling on the ground or throwing overhand like a baseball.
My friend from work, J., and his wife got me and M. out to the local course to play a few years ago. I had played a few times in high school but not very much. For some reason this go around I was hooked instantly. We were going out there about three times a week and it’s about a 45 minute one way drive to the course. We played tons that summer and starting in the fall we found out about tournaments.
The international disc golf organization is the Professional Disc Golf Association. They sanction tournaments all over the world. But for various reasons, in the southeast the tournaments are sanctioned with the Southern Nationals tournament series. The SN is simpler to deal with and there’s a SN championship at the end of every season that pays out pretty well to amateur and professional players.
I started at the lowest level of competitive play, the Novice division. This division is meant for first-time tourny players and people who are new to the game in general. My first tourny I played Novice but I had been playing casually for a few months. Well I won that one. W00t!
I moved up to Intermediate Amateur. After a while I started winning some of those tournys too. Some of them had 30 or 40 people in my division. So next I moved up to Advanced Amateur. This is the last level before going pro.
Advanced Ams generally have most of the skills of a professional, they’re just not as developed or as consistent. And putting is probably the biggest dividing factor between ams and pros.
My first tourny that I played as an Advanced player, I won. That did not make some of the more “seasoned” Advanced players happy. I decided at the start of the year that no matter how good I got I was going to stick out the entire year in the Advanced division. I would travel around and play tournys all over the south and see how I stack up on different courses playing against different people.
To make a long story short, I did pretty well. I traveled all over and had a ton of fun. And spent a lot of money.
The Southern National Amateur Championships came around and I was listed as the favorite to win. Let me tell you, I have never known pressure like that before. I put some of it on myself but there were a lot of people picking me to win.
The format would be three full rounds and then only the top third (or half, I can’t remember) of the field would play a final nine holes. The horn sounded for the start of the first round and. I. choked. At the end of the first round I was six strokes off the leader and about 22 people were ahead of me. Not good, but not insurmountable.
I came back strong the second round and shot about the second best score for the round. Unfortunately for me the leader boy shot the same score so I was no closer to him but I did jump ahead of a lot of people.
I was about the third card down (four people to a card) for the third round on Sunday morning. Once again, I shot the second best score for the round. Leader boy didn’t fare as well and I cut his lead to three strokes. I was in third place going into the final nine.
At the end of the third round, when I saw the standings and that I was only three strokes out, I knew right then that I would win. It was the coolest feeling in the world. I knew that if I didn’t win it would be because the two people ahead of me would step up and play really well in the finals and I might not catch them. But. I knew I could do it. I had total confidence in my abilities at that moment and throughout the remainder of the tournament.
During the regular season play, I caught a lot of crap for staying in the Advanced Am division when I was doing so well. I got called a sandbagger more than once. But I knew that sticking it out was the right thing for me to do and I think because I stuck it out and learned how to win in all types of situations, it allowed me to have that feeling of total confidence when I needed it most. Had I moved up to the pro division earlier and started taking my licks from the pros, I would have learned a lot but I don’t think I would’ve learned what I needed for that moment in the championships.
Well it came down to the last hole of the finals, but I won. And it was a great feeling.
At the awards ceremony, after I accepted the first place trophy, Jim Orum, the father of Southern Nationals disc golf, announced that they were starting a new award that year call the Amateur Player of the Year. It’s tradition to name the award after the first recipient. So if you take up disc golf in the south, practice hard and play lots of tournys, you might win the Kary Rogers Amateur Player of the Year Award. How cool is that? I can imagine years from now some future recipient wondering why he’s winning a girl’s award.
Truly one of the best days of my life.
So I play pro now. Two weeks after the Am championship was the Pro championship. It’s also a tradition for the Advanced winner to get a paid entry to the Pro championship. I went and played and tied for last place cash, which isn’t too bad for my first outing in the pro ranks.
I’ve had a lot of fun the last four years and met a lot of great people. Luckily MSU just recently installed a disc golf course on campus so it doesn’t take three hours to drive and play in Columbus anymore. If you’re local to Starkville and you want to play sometime, let me know. We’re going to have regular outings at the course on Thursday’s at 5:45pm starting this week. I’ll be happy to show you around the course and I’ve got plenty of extra frisbees.
Oh yeah, the proof. Check out this highlight reel:
(7.5 MB, Quicktime)
These are some clips from two tournaments I cut together from SouthernShots! courtesy of DiscAppear productions at DiscGolfDVD.com.